Everything's Coming Up Laskey

Leslie Laskey
Leslie Laskey's lengthy resume can at times read like an artistic history of the 20th century. Born in Michigan in 1921, Laskey enlisted in the U.S. Army the day after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. Serving in a combat engineering unit, Laskey was among the troops that landed on Omaha Beach early on D-Day.

As a student after the war, Laskey studied at the Chicago Institute of Design (now the Illinois Institute of Technology) with famed American Bauhaus pioneer Lazlo Moholy-Nagy. He settled in St. Louis in 1956, when he accepted a faculty position at Washington University, where he developed a basic design program.

His demanding classes inspired both fear and awe in his students. On the one hand, students would leave his classes shaken by Laskey's incisive critiques (for years a campus STOP sign read: "STOP Laskey"). On the other hand, Laskey received a distinguished faculty award in 1982. In 1986 he received the Distinguished Professor Award from the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture, and to this day he is visited by an unending train of grateful students he taught during an academic tenure that spanned five decades.

No doubt, Laskey's career has been productive, and he has exhibited his work widely throughout the United States. But there is a area of Laskey's career that -- while he has continually returned to it -- he has largely cordoned off as a personal pursuit.

Until now.

This Friday, September 29, Laskey descends on St. Louis with dual shows exhibiting his botanical drawings, prints and photographs. The first show, hosted by the Sheldon Art Galleries and titled "Ars Botanica: Works by Leslie J. Laskey," is an exhibit of Laskey's 50-year interest in botanical subjects. Exhibiting Laskey's work in a wide range of media, the show acts as a mini-retrospective of his diverse approach.

The second show, "Leslie Laskey: Lilium," is hosted by the Ellen Curlee Gallery on Washington Avenue. This show features a selection of botanical photographs Laskey has taken over the years.

Both shows are intended to celebrate the announcement of Studio L -- The Laskey Fund. Founded by former students, friends and colleagues, the fund will support a summer grant to honor professor emeritus Leslie Laskey, and 10 percent of all opening-night gallery sales will go toward supporting the fund.

Ars Botanica: Works by Leslie J. Laskey September 30, 2006 -- January 27, 2007

Opening Reception: Friday, September 29, 5-8 p.m. (Complimentary drinks and hors d'oeuvres 5-7 p.m.)

Bellwether Gallery of St. Louis Artists Sheldon Art Galleries 3648 Washington Boulevard St. Louis 63106 314-533-9900

Leslie Laskey: Lilium September 29 -- October 21, 2006

Opening Reception: Friday, September 29, 6-9 p.m. (Complimentary drinks and hors d'oeuvres)

Ellen Curlee Gallery 1308A Washington Avenue St. Louis 63103 314-241-1299

-Malcolm Gay

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