Born in St. Louis in 1935, Oliver L. Jackson was active in the Black Artists Group (BAG), a local, cross-disciplinary collective of jazz musicians, dancers, actors, poets and visual artists that spawned a host of creative experiments in the late 1960s and early '70s. Though he left the city in 1971 to pursue teaching opportunities in California (where he has lived ever since), his time in St. Louis made an impact: He ran arts workshops at the Pruitt-Igoe housing project, laid the groundwork for Pan-African Studies programs at several local colleges and was widely involved in the community as an activist and educator. CAM assistant curator Kelly Shindler has selected a half-dozen of Jackson's recent large-scale monotypes to show alongside its Great Rivers Biennial exhibition, thereby inaugurating a season of local programming for the museum. Set low on the gallery walls, the rich, riotous works on paper are imposingly human-scaled and rise to meet the viewer's height. Consisting of watery, expressive brushstrokes of ruddy browns, deep blues and other earthen tones, the mostly abstract prints have a way of intimating the body without wholly disclosing the figure. Moreover, they feel palpably carved by the hand — revealing the overtly physical traces of wiping, scratching and other marks that can only be generated by aggressive movement. This is a salient group of works that feel as vulnerable as they do formidable, betraying the kind of fluidity borne of a lengthy career that spans a significant gulf of history. Through June 10 at the Front Room at CAM (Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis), 3750 Washington Boulevard; 314-535-4660 or www.camstl.org. Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tue.-Sat. (open till 8 on Thu.), 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sun.
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