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Best Local Artist 

Sue Eisler

Sue Eisler has ranked in the top ten of St. Louis artists for years, and has shown her art in private galleries and one-person exhibitions at the Saint Louis Art Museum. Now it's time to give her her due: Sue Eisler is St. Louis' best. Her work is frill-free, the antithesis of the fashionable, the trendy, the predictable. Probably, for her dealer, it is a challenge to sell. Nevertheless, for those who are attracted by the mystery and wonder so evident in her industry, these sculptures—created from humble stuff found in hardware stores or smashed in the road or washed up on a beach possess an irresistible magnetism. In early summer, Eisler showed a group of sculptures, collages and drawings at the William Shearburn Gallery. The material transformed into a small, cogent and affecting colony of objects had been, pre-Sue, lobster pot buoys. Although recognizable as such, and beautiful as such in their sea-scoured way, once Eisler touched them with intelligence and muscular, magic-working hands, they were transformed, and now were aesthetically buoyant enough to float into a space beyond. Although their beauty is manifest, their meanings are not. A reviewer once said her sculptures "look as if they have some function, but for the life of you, you can't remember what they do." These works seem to have lives of their own, rather than mere function, yet any description or taxonomy eludes you, tantalizes you, challenges and thrills you all at the very same time.

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