Jon Cournoyer, Pussy Willow (detail), serigraph, ink and collage, 22 by 33 inches, 2012.
The cut-out pages and covers of old books comprise the dominant material thread in this exhibit of new work by St. Louis-based artist Jon Cournoyer. A large print of a swirling night sky framed by dark trees — an image extracted from an anonymous vintage source — is the exhibit's centerpiece and casts a hypnotic spell over the surrounding work. Drawing you into a nighttime realm of fantasy and memory, the collaged, multimedia pieces bear the unmistakable patina of an indeterminate past, incorporating old game pieces, large-scale overlaid prints of wandering children and swatches of brand labels from a bygone era. A suite of three square-format works are almost entirely composed of book covers, each of a different solid hue (red, green, yellow); their clothbound surfaces covered in thin layer of wax, they're both abstract and narrative, revealing glimpses of titles (Gulliver's Travels, The Story of Electricity) but holding any deeper meaning just out of reach, as in a dream. Other more painterly works echo the rectangular shapes of book covers but are placed on top of white-painted feed-sack substrates whose central compositions include everything from faucet handles to plastic dice to small, cut-out etchings of geometric forms. All in all an entrancing collection, luring you into a treasure-chest world of childlike wonder and retrospective wisdom, where the most seemingly meaningless talismans — gilt edges, rusted cans, torn-out maps — acquire significance over a lifetime. Through November 25 at Hoffman Lachance Contemporary, 2713 Sutton Boulevard, Maplewood; 314-960-5322 or www.hoffmanlachancefineart.com. Hours: noon-3 p.m. Fri.-Sat. and by appointment.