St. Louis Art Capsules

Jessica Baran encapsulates the St. Louis art scene

Richard Aldrich and the 19th Century French Painting The uniform 84-by-58-inch white-primed canvases that compose New York-based painter Richard Aldrich's exhibition appear, in their close-hung repetition, like pages in a notebook. Upon each page paper clippings, splints of wood or the erratic trace of a brush's single gesture are collected, producing the effect of a most intimate journal, perhaps written by a cloud. The gestural focus is underscored by what is presented as Aldrich's historical forebears, a select four paintings, drawn from the Saint Louis Art Museum's collection, by French intimist painters Vuillard and Bonnard (with one Irishman's self-portrait added, for discontinuity's sake). These nineteenth-century footnotes, describing in obsessional detail daily artifacts such as fruit, the domestic space and the more immemorial varieties of light, place Aldrich's contemporary fixations (Syd Barrett, slide film, BAM Cinema ticket stubs) firmly in an elegant tradition. Granted, these "newer" artifacts are throwbacks in themselves, suggesting a more complex relationship to the daily in which the present, and our most banal and intimate moments, are no longer a safe source for nonderivative authenticity but yet another space to compose the myth of oneself. Our masterpiece is, indeed, the private life. Through May 1 at Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, 3750 Washington Boulevard; 314-535-4660 or www.camstl.org. Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tue.-Sat. (open till 8 on Thu.), 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sun.

Ryan Thayer: Timemachines In this exhibit of photograms, local artist Ryan Thayer suggests that temporal distinctions of the past, present and future collapse in the tiny frames of portable devices with LCD screens. When you're holding an archival image in the palm of your hand as it's displayed on, say, an iPod, the future is essentially now. Thayer exposes cell phones, laptops, iPads, all those gadgets that have come to define how we now experience daily life to traditional photo processing, rendering something akin to an x-ray trace. These ghostly archeological imprints of planned obsolescence, in their characteristic black-and-white severity, simultaneously recall turn-of-the-century avant-garde techniques and ultra-contemporary technology making something wistful and timeless out of tomorrow's recyclables. Through March 25 at PSTL Gallery at Pace Framing, 3842 Washington Boulevard; 314-531-4304 or www.paceframing.com. Hours: 10:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Tue.-Sat.

Printmaker Tom Huck's Brutal Truths.
Printmaker Tom Huck's Brutal Truths.

Thea Djordjadze & George Maciunas For this Front Room exhibition, co-curators Mel Trad and Mari Dumett couple George Maciunas, one of the founders of the mid-century art movement Fluxus, with Berlin-based contemporary artist Thea Djordjadze. Maciunas, who was primarily a graphic designer, is represented via artifacts posters and postage stamps, business cards and brief, atmospheric films tracing the lineage of a conceptual medium that blithely elided any false promise of providing logical meaning. Djordjadze, who constructed her piece during a brief residency in St. Louis, takes her title, His Vanity Requires No Response, from T.S. Eliot, a dual homage to the birthplace of the poet and to the poetic in general. Gathering salvaged fragments swaths of carpet, a bent screen, a terra-cotta shard she arranges the discarded materials on the floor to form an assemblage that draws attention to the simple consequences of overlapping, proximity and the movement of the hand. Above the piece hangs a series of printed instructions Maciunas designed for installations by fellow Fluxus pioneer George Brecht. A kind of dialogue, like that between gravity and rain, emerges and proliferates here, yet manages never to conclude in a tidy summary rendering this exhibit an elegant testimony to the durable tradition of visual mystery. Through March 20 at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, 3750 Washington Boulevard; 314-535-4660 or www.camstl.org. Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Wed.-Sat., 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sun.

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