When Olivia Lahs-Gonzales left the Saint Louis Art Museum in 2001 to become director of the Sheldon Art Galleries, she faced a whopping challenge. Newly fashioned out of a former parking garage, the mazelike linked galleries have all the charm of Holiday Inn reception rooms, and they can't seem to shake the identity crisis born of their literal attachment to the better-known Sheldon Concert Hall (it's acoustically perfect, you know). Lahs-Gonzales remained undaunted, and this year she curated and/or scheduled some of the best shows in town, including Human Condition/Global Position
(contemporary Chilean artists), Regarding Objects
(a fabulous still-life show), Tina Barney's European Photographs
, The Automobile in the Garden: Suburban Photographs
by Barbara McDonnell, Richard Serra's Rounds
and exhibits of emerging artists Cheryl Wassenaar and Thorsten Dennerline. Savvy, resourceful and whip-smart, Lahs-Gonzales is the only curator in town who could see beyond the limitations and legitimize the Sheldon's gutsy foray into the gallery scene. See for yourself by visiting the space, located at 3648 Washington Avenue in St. Louis. Hours are 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, as well as an hour prior to Sheldon performances and during intermission; call 314-533-9900 for info.