Chicken or the Sprague?

Which came first?

Mary Sprague's not fooling anyone. Her series of large-scale, mixed-media drawings, Six Foot Chickens, doesn't really depict chickens. Granted, at first meeting, those feathery upsweeps and beaked faces certainly approximate the outline of chickens — but look deeply into the eyes of these birds. The boundless vitality that animates each bird? The "you-can-drop-dead-right-there-buster" glare of Seething Chicken? The iron-spined beauty of the strutting bird in Full Regalia? The sense of wonder the mother hen in Pipping Sound reveals in the cast of her head and shifted-to-the-side weight at the sight of yet another flawless creation? That's Mary Sprague inside the plumage. Every one of these would-be chickens breathes and primps and lives with a bit of that old Sprague spirit, the tough old bird who keeps greeting each spring and each new batch of chicks with generous amounts of enthusiasm and corrective pecks. Six Foot Chickens is a self-portrait show, no doubt about it. Make your own judgment on Friday, March 30, from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Duane Reed Gallery (7513 Forsyth Boulevard, Clayton; 314-862-2333 or www.duanereedgallery.com), when Ms. Cock-of-the-Walk herself hosts an opening reception for Six Foot Chickens. The show remains up through Saturday, May 5; gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and noon to 4 p.m. Saturday.
Tuesdays-Saturdays. Starts: March 30. Continues through May 5

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