This gallery-consuming wall mural by the Screwedarts Collective — locally based street artists Christopher Burch, Daniel Burnett, Stan Chisholm, Christopher Harris, Daniel Jefferson, Kris Mosby, Jason Spencer, Justin Tolentino and Bryan Walsh — is a dystopic fantastia riffing on themes of war, dominion and, of course, chess. Pawns populate a menacing army; knights, rooks and bishops grimace, ogle and grin; medieval-looking villages emerge from a massive grid of oversize game-board squares. It's a dark vision, executed in black, white, red and gray, that vacillates between cartoonish caricatures and diffusions of spray-paint drips, brush swipes and speckled haloes. Scrawled words punctuate the mostly ravaged landscape, bearing bleak portents: "illegal," "exhausting," "taketh & giveth." In the center of the gallery stands a sculpted mountain, looking like a set piece from Close Encounters of the Third Kind. A chess set rests at its peak, its board made of AstroTurf. Executed en masse over the course of several weeks, the project was recorded on video, which adds a dimension of performance perhaps not unlike game strategizing or choreographed dance. And for all the bloody, ghoulish wreckage, the show reeks of (beer-drenched) fun — as if to say war is as much exhilarating sport as it is hell. Through February 10, 2013, at the World Chess Hall of Fame, 4652 Maryland Avenue; 314-367-9243 or www.worldchesshof.org. Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Wed. and Sat., 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Thu.-Fri. and noon-5 p.m. Sun.
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