By way of an elaborate sculptural assemblage, Tennessee native Mike Calway-Fagen explores the notion of transience and the nature of the trace. Calway-Fagen scoured St. Louis-area alleyways and junk shops, picking up cheap vases, discarded dining tables and the dislocated bases from an assortment of trophies, selecting them not for their aesthetic or collectible value but for their distinctive marks of use — such as the water ring left by a coaster-less tumbler — whose language is untranslatable and whose worth is incalculable. The central work, then — a hodgepodge of chair legs, bureau drawers, vanity mirrors and the like — speaks of none of those mundane objects, whispering instead a pile of personal histories and collective experiences. At a far corner of the gallery, a large tri-part photograph of a bouquet of wild native flowers is printed on foam board, its scale emphasizing its significance as a gesture of hospitality. At the room's opposite end, a similarly scaled photograph of an Oldsmobile station wagon filled with flowers and driving away from the viewer suggests something more elegiac. Thus is celebrated an equal exchange of loss and accrual. Outside, a billboard on the gallery roof underscores the point, displaying a photograph of the phrase "I was here but now I'm gone" written in chalk on a rural two-lane. In perhaps the ultimate gesture of exchange, the artist shot the photo as he hung from a bridge in Tennessee, while his mother held his legs. Echoing in action this fleeting message, articles from the sculpture will gradually be removed over the course of the exhibition, leaving behind imprints in the found swaths of carpet beneath. Through February 25 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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