St. Louis Art Capsules

Jessica Baran encapsulates the St. Louis art scene

St. Louis Art Capsules

Newly Reviewed
Featured Art Review: Commonwealth Time Bandits — the 1981 Terry Gilliam film about technology, treasure hunting and time-traveling dwarves — isn't a bad aesthetic analogy for this far-out multimedia installation by Derek Larson. Using video projection and freestanding screens cut to fit the projected imagery, Larson creates a dense virtual garden of Greek statuary, in which fountains and figures pulse with all the frenetic insistence of the Las Vegas Strip. The lascivious Barberini Faun, for instance, surrounded by twitching bulbs, a faux rustling shrub and neon-hued throbbing fractals. And a precarious-looking bridgelike arrangement that features a life-size marble bust, a cascade of men's dress shoes, and a pearl necklace that dangles from a chain of drastically scaled-down piles of fresh timber. On the gallery walls, framed prints take up the theme in two dimensions: grid-patterned 1980s-era landscapes that depict antiquities amid a techno-ether of conspicuous commodities and shades of hot pink. Close inspection of the prints, however, reveals that each contains a digital watermark: All of the works are property of the Getty Museum in Los Angeles. It's not hard to glom onto the dialectic of the publicly sharable versus the privately owned, but it's far more rewarding simply to enjoy it as playful absurdity. In the event you're still dubious, there's a series of crude pig drawings in one far corner of the gallery that ends in a pile of miniature money bags. How evil can evil be, if it has such a goofy face? Through November 5 at Good Citizen Gallery, 2247 Gravois Avenue; 314-348-4587 or www.goodcitizenstl.com. Hours: noon-5 p.m. Fri.-Sat. and by appointment.

Follow the Leader All the assaulting joys of navigating an amply stocked thrift store are harnessed here in this large-scale sculptural assemblage by Guerra de la Paz (a punny but accurate composite moniker for Cuban artists Alain Guerra and Neraldo de la Paz). Using cast-off items accrued through a local clothing donation drive, the artists crafted an enormous snake of piled shirts, pants, skirts, ties and then some, all set precariously atop a static marching line of boot-clad mannequin legs. Like the children's game of the show's title, the hollow and headless ensemble follows itself through the gallery space with mindless and aimless propulsion. Those polyester neon paisley bell-bottoms that looked so great (and terrible) at Goodwill? They're here, along with every other species of absurdly loud, outmoded fabric pattern, tossed in dessert-topping heaps. At the mouth of the gallery, the otherwise orderly chaos collapses as the now-legless mass becomes a solid mound that confronts you with the imperious scale of collective wastefulness. So much stuff, so few excuses for it. Through January 29, 2012, at the Craft Alliance Gallery (Grand Center), 501 North Grand Boulevard; 314-534-7528 or www.craftalliance.org. Hours: noon-6 p.m. Wed.-Sat., noon-5 p.m. Sun.

Ongoing
Adrian Kellard: The Learned Art of Compassion A show of rare impact, this concise but powerful retrospective of the late Adrian Kellard's work reveals an artist of masterful formal skill and emotional immediacy. Held on the 20th anniversary of Kellard's passing and the 30th anniversary of the discovery of the HIV virus, the exhibit collects a number of signature large-scale painted and carved wood assemblages that celebrate Kellard's identity as a gay man and devout Catholic. Originally trained as a printmaker — as an undergraduate his instructor was the woodcut artist Antonio Frasconi — he uses printmaking tools to carve pinewood blocks that depict images of Christian subjects, often derived from canonical art-historical sources including Michelangelo and Giotto. Kellard's style is a combination of German expressionist and midcentury illustrative: Jagged but meticulous black lines etch the outlines of his figures and patterns, while bright, comic-book primaries fill them in. Though his career was brief — he died from AIDS in 1991 at age 32 — Kellard forged an indelible style; this survey conveys a sense of a mature, self-assured artist with a lifetime's worth of range. As he bore witness to the passing of many of his peers during the AIDS epidemic and illness ravaged his own last years, his work took on fresh urgency, resulting in exuberant shrines to those who'd passed or were soon to. The effect is profound and generous: Rising above the specifics of Kellard's narrative and identity, the works speak boldly of something at once grievous, celebratory and fundamentally human. Through December 11 at the Museum of Contemporary Religious Art, 3700 West Pine Boulevard (on the Saint Louis University campus); 314-977-7170 or http://mocra.slu.edu. Hours: 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Tue.-Sun.
Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara in the Form of Khasarpana Lokesvara, late 11th or early 12th century, India, Bihar or Bengal.
Asia Society, New York: Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection
Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara in the Form of Khasarpana Lokesvara, late 11th or early 12th century, India, Bihar or Bengal.

I'll Be Your Mirror Taking its title from Nico's ethereally creepy Velvet Underground ballad, this group exhibition of work by artists near and far delves into the realm and refractory meaning of doubles, doubling and dopplegängers. According to curator Daniel McGrath, look-alikes aren't just deeply unsettling; they're harbingers of evil. It sounds forbidding, but do not fear: The artwork assembled is strangely melancholic yet elegant. From his Drawings from the Cave series, Juan Chávez contributes two pieces that riff on the sci-fi film Blade Runner; the pairing and the film itself create both a cross-historic dialogue and one about real and ersatz versions of the human. Bookending the interior gallery is an inspired pairing: Slater Bradley's Dark Night of the Soul, a video in which the artist's doppelgänger, dressed in a space suit, wanders New York's Museum of Natural History; and B.j. Vogt's Trespasses, a video in which two crudely and identically masked characters (in fact, the artist and his brother) harass one another in alternately comic and sadistic ways. Projected at opposite ends of the space, the two pieces seem to illustrate the pendulum swing of any given interior life: fraught by duality, at once lost and contemplative, or aggressive and confounded by action. The reverberations continue with works by Nick Crowe and Ian Rawlinson, Hannah Greely, Pablo Helguera, Gunther Herbst, Charles Ray and Darren Harvey-Regan. Through February 11, 2012, 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. Wed.-Fri., 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Sat.

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