In the Galleries – Something Happened CLOSES March 31 at the Luminary Center for the Arts

A retrospective of work made by nine former residents in the Luminary Center for the Arts' studio program? Bound to be a scattershot affair, right? Wrong. The participants approached the project with so much joie de conceive that the disparate contributions are united by an air of giddy experimentation. Kristin Fleischmann sets the tone with a bouquet of golden balloons arranged to spell out the word WONDER, anchored to a series of TV monitors aglitter with light. Jessi Cerutti captures the imprint of place in ersatz bricks and stones made of handmade paper. David Weinberg substitutes sound for cartography, planting recording devices in remote locations and then, having retrieved them, arranging them here. Alex Elmestad eliminates the middleman, arranging for a stenographer to attend the show's opening reception, eavesdrop and type; now nuggets from the transcript are projected on the gallery wall for all to, well, overhear. Daniel McGrath's painted anagrams and ironic personal ads suggest a palpable cynicism about the creative racket, but their precise and unblinking focus conveys the spirit of a diehard believer. Dani Kantrowitz has created an elegant video of looping image stills that depict quirky arrangements of mundane objects, accompanied by a soaring musical score that recalls Douglas Sirk melodramas — the juxtaposition of aural grandiosity and material modesty is a salient statement in itself. Aaron Bos-Wahl displays delicate, nostalgic watercolors with odd found objects and childhood photographs in an installation titled Ode to Spring. Ann-Maree Walker, meanwhile, eviscerates the myth of the private life by airing her daily studio visits via live surveillance camera; in the footage she appears like an astronaut, learning and exploring the alien rituals of that peculiar species known as an artist. Finally, in the upper-level installation space, Katie McCullough's Pools unfurls wildly as a fitting grand finale, exploding the two-dimensional constraint of abstract painting — paint swaths, the string of unraveled canvas, stretcher-like wooden planks, colorful detritus, all scattered about like a torn carcass after some sacrificial rite. Through March 31 at the Luminary Center for the Arts, 4900 Reber Place; 314-807-5984 or www.theluminaryarts.com. Hours: noon-6 p.m. Wed.-Sat.

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