St. Louis Art Capsules

Jessica Baran encapsulates the St. Louis art scene

 Newly Reviewed
Featured Review: Marshall Plan: The Intra European Poster Competition of 1950 This artfully weathered collection of mid-century posters the product of a juried contest held by the Intra-European Cooperation for a Better Standard of Living — displays the winning designs from participating European countries. The spare imagery in flag-bright colors tells multiple stories: of hardened hope in the wake of World War II devastation, of renewed faith in industry and of an almost pragmatic faith in diplomacy and peace, which appear not as far-fetch ideals but necessary solutions. An enormous key drawn in hard lines bears an edge painted in interconnected global flags; barbed wire is cut by similarly globe-regaled shears. Smoke stacks and brick patterns appear as decorative motifs, as elegantly portentous as branches of budding white flowers or firmly clasped, interlocking hands. The collection, on loan from Joe and Vicki Stone of Foristell, Missouri, is a small gem of a certain kind of design, informed as much by the spare aesthetics of the era as the imagery determined by momentous history. Whatever vestige of propaganda is displayed here, it seems not only warranted but far beyond the superficial flourishes, shallow styles and commodity-driven intentions of our current saturation in the glossily virtual and the ideologically anchor-less. Also showing: Regarding Place is a group exhibition of area art juried by Jana Harper, which includes work in a wide range of media that explores the notion of place. Highlights include pencil drawings of daily receipts by Joseph Lupo, charcoal and ink drawings by Mary Lamboly, paintings of domestic interiors by John Sarra, light drawings (photographs) by John Early, and a video of passing traffic, distilled to a wash of colored lights, by Felicia Chen. Through August 20 at the St. Louis Artists' Guild and Galleries, 2 Oak Knoll Park, Clayton; 314-727-6266 or www.stlouisartistsguild.org. Hours: noon-4 p.m. Tue.-Sun.

Ongoing
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 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.

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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