St. Louis Art Capsules

Jessica Baran encapsulates the St. Louis art scene

Newly Reviewed
Featured Review: Beyond XY Transgender photographer Loren Cameron (San Francisco) documents himself and other female-to-male subjects naked from head to toe, muscularly flexing or in straightforward exposure of their transitional bodies. Joshua McVeity (Calgary) and David Vance (Miami) see a more commercial aspect in the male physique, capturing young men in Calvin Klein briefs or bronzed, Grecian specimens in athletic contortions. Trix Rosen (New York) — whose earlier work discerned a new, lesbian street chic that developed post-Stonewall — follows a single male subject (a French performance artist) in various states of subtle drag in a recent series of portraits. An introduction by Washington University Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies professor Alexis Matza suggests that a "manaissance" is in our midst, wherein masculinity and, of course, femininity are now defined by qualities beyond chromosomes, hormones and genitalia. And yet classic paradigms persist here that suggest otherwise: a "man" is still something physical, and comprises broad musculature, chest hair, prominent genitals and facial hair (well, maybe not all three at once). Whatever the case, the show provokes innumerable questions — about the differences among art, documentary and kitsch; about erotica and and its non-titillating counterpart; about hetero- versus homosexual norms. In the end the primacy of the desire to attract others who will see one for who one wants to be is at the show's core — which seems as historically entrenched as the ancient statues to which some of the subjects pay homage. Through August 7 at phd Gallery, 2300 Cherokee Street; 314-664-6644 or www.phdstl.com. Hours: noon-4 p.m. Thu.-Sun.

Jay Wolke: Architecture of Resignation While traveling through the southern Italian region of Mezzogiorno, Chicago-based photographer Jay Wolke documented the incongruous encroachment of contemporary architecture (often in decay) on the elegant ruins and natural landscape of this historic countryside. A crumbling terra-cotta brick structure is punched through and re-settled into with a teal mattress and a nest of fast-food paper waste; a cliffside of cascading villas is overlooked by what appears to be a spankin'-new restaurant terrace outfitted with white plastic porch furniture; a lush botanical garden is edged by the garden's offices, the exteriors of which are girded by a hedgerow of electrical power sources, each sporting the company logo. The inelegance of the modern era's material culture (predominantly an American export) is made plain in these images by their harsh juxtaposition with the earthen stock of ancient structures. In a previous series, Wolke juxtaposed the congested Dan Ryan Expressway with its Chicago environs; the current project is a compelling analogue, only with a wider historical gap between its polar elements. Through September 4 at the Sheldon Art Galleries, 3648 Washington Boulevard; 314-533-9900 (www.thesheldon.org). Hours: noon-8 p.m. Tue., noon-5 p.m. Wed.-Fri., 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Sat.

Ongoing
Brandon Anschultz: Stick Around for Joy Compulsive exercises in the deconstruction of painting yield new forms of painterly pleasure in this year's Kranzberg exhibition, which features St. Louis-based painter, sculptor and printmaker Brandon Anschultz. Canvas is removed from the stretcher frame and wrapped into amorphous, folded sculptures; wall-hung canvases are flipped, revealing seeped-through imprints of paint; canvas is forgone altogether and replaced with fiberboard or plaster as the painting substrate, which then occasionally takes a sculptural shape; canvas is chewed into by saw cuts or severed in half. In the supreme act of creative desperation, piles of paintings on wood appear in a life-size bag after having been fed through a wood chipper. In challenging every method for taking apart and re-inventing the traditional parameters of painting, Anschultz illustrates both a capricious compendium of the medium's history and the peculiar plight of the artist at odds with his own expertise. An intense desire to unearth something both fundamental and fresh seems to lie at the heart of this exhibition. Whether that desire is fulfilled is not entirely the issue; rather, the rigorous and playful spirit that pervades the exhibit is its most rare discovery — and one made solely on the work's own terms. Through September 26 at Laumeier Sculpture Park, 12580 Rott Road, Sunset Hills; 314-821-1209 or www.laumeier.com. Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tue.-Sat., noon-5 p.m. Sun. (Outdoor grounds open daily from 8 a.m. to a half-hour past sunset).

Erik Spehn: Tape Drawings Strips of masking tape used in the creation of this St. Louis-based painter's signature woven-pattern acrylics on canvas are reused in this series of small works on matte board. While calling these pieces "drawings" may imply that they're not as formidable as their painted counterparts, the exhibit proves otherwise. Arranged in chromatic groups, crosshatchings of red-, then maroon-, then blue-flecked strips appear to explore different approaches to pattern. Wide swaths of tape overlap in loose diffusions, while minute, finely cut pieces interweave in tight grids. As one moves through the gallery, the palette brightens, opening up to a full room of yellow- and golden-hued pieces that seem to be uttering among themselves a complicated language in lines, layers and other distinct and serial marks. Through September 18 at the Sheldon Art Galleries, 3648 Washington Boulevard; 314-533-9900 or www.thesheldon.org. Hours: noon-8 p.m. Tue., noon-5 p.m. Wed.-Fri., 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Sat.

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