St. Louis Art Capsules

Jessica Baran encapsulates the St. Louis art scene

Larry Fink: Attraction and Desire — 50 Years in Photography This generous survey of the notable Brooklyn-born artist reaffirms the durable pleasures of black-and-white figural photography. A nimble chronicler of society's more extreme coteries, Fink moved among New York beatniks, Vegas gamblers, mid-century jazz musicians, the young Mike Tyson and other boxing strivers, rural Pennsylvanians and the lacquered elite of fashion, art and Hollywood. His preference for Caravaggio-esque high contrast dramatizes what is essentially an obsession with fugitive detail: the long, alabaster, manicured hands of a man clutching the back of a black-dressed blonde; a silver radiator in an angled swath of daylight; the heavy-lidded eyes of a lone woman in a crowd at the Cedar Bar; drops of rain on the black sedan bearing Coretta Scott King to the 1968 Poor People's Campaign. It would be easy to marvel at the fabled personalities and events chronicled here, but Fink's most anonymous subjects serve as the firmest testament to his peculiar eye — a complex gaze that is at once empathetic, excoriating and salacious. Intimate and disarmingly wearied self-portraits of himself, his wife, his child and dogs reframe a narrative that might otherwise tip completely into an obsession with cultural novelty. In the end, the show functions much like that other beleaguered medium — the novel — telling stories about living, loving and other less conclusive failures. Through August 20 at the Sheldon Art Galleries, 3648 Washington Boulevard; 314-533-9900 or www.sheldonconcerthall.org. Hours: noon-8 p.m. Tue., noon-5 p.m.

One of Eliza Newman-Saul's My Dear Impotent World ship drawings on display at Snowflake.
One of Eliza Newman-Saul's My Dear Impotent World ship drawings on display at Snowflake.
Zoe Saldana: "Ersatz" Series
Zoe Saldana: "Ersatz" Series

partly cloudy with a chance of scattered showers In a series of candy-colored, tapestry-esque digital photographs titled "One Ordinary Day of an Ordinary Town," Mimi Kato portrays a world of petty daily rivalries, casual voyeurism and glossy brand-name consumerism, with herself as the sole actor. Wearing costumes as wildly varied as truant schoolgirl, meddling old neighbor and eerily ferocious giant rabbit, Kato enacts scenarios that draw upon traditional narratives of her native Japan as well as the stockpile of unfortunately universal pessimistic truisms about human behavior. In this pastel-hued, cookie-cutter town, nothing is safe from either minor calamity or corporate branding, be it laundry, the assessment of fresh produce at the market or an afternoon ice-cream break. As the sun rises and sets in this series, another suite of four images depicts the passing seasons, their imagery more spare and, as a result, more surreal. Spring brings cherry blossoms and bizarre drunken picnics; summer seems to lure hooded thieves and the urge to compare fresh cuts of red meat. Gifted with a seemingly limitless ability to assume every age, gender and small-animal species, Kato imbues this otherwise impossibly absurd world with enough shades of truth to keep it both freshly strange and unexpectedly trenchant. Through July 22 at Good Citizen Gallery, 2247 Gravois Avenue; 314-348-4587 or www.goodcitizenstl.com. Hours: noon-5 p.m. Fri.-Sat. and by appointment.

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