Quiet Impressive

Francis Cape whispers from the corner

Francis Cape's site-specific installation pieces are, by design, nearly invisible. Not invisible in the strict sense but in the way they fade into the background of the gallery, almost disappearing into the architecture of the room. Art critic Janet Koplos referred to Cape as "a virtuoso of quiet," and her poetic description is apt. Cape's installations are designed to match the proportions and surrounding architecture of whatever gallery he's exhibiting in, echoing (quietly, subtly) the details of the room's shape and design elements.

Forest Park, Cape's new installation in the Saint Louis Art Museum (in Gallery 337 from Friday, April 2, through June 13), is a false wall with a rectangular protuberance creating a shallow corner; a small bench is nestled in this alcove. Its quiet presence reflects not only the contemplative nature of its pastoral namesake but also hints at the internal peace necessary to create. Quiet places and beautiful settings with elegant proportions that grant a sense of solitude -- both Forest Parks provide the inspiration to think and marvel at the wondrous elements of life that are often overlooked. Cape's Forest Park reminds the viewer that it is the process of making something that is most important; exemplary craftsmanship is its own reward and, eventually, other people will notice your work.

Francis Cape opens this new exhibition of his work with a lecture explaining the creation of Forest Park at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 1, in the museum's auditorium. Admission to both the lecture and the exhibit are free. -- Paul Friswold

Say Queso

Maybe you love margaritas, guacamole and Chihuahua cheese, and you've even been to Cancún for spring break. Sorry, but that's not enough to make you an expert on Mexico. A visit to El Ojo Fino/The Exquisite Eye: 9 Mexican Women Photographers may teach you a thing or two, though. These artists span three generations, yet they all seem to understand that facial lines of experience are something to be treasured, not Botoxed. While the photographs uncover traditional Mexico and the harshness of modern life, as in Graciela Iturbide's Mujer Angel, the exquisite lighting delicately bathes the human spirit (and body) and reveals the sometimes-hidden beauty in all people. Experience Mexico Saturday, April 3 -- and anytime after that through June 19 -- at the Sheldon Gallery of Photography (3648 Washington Boulevard, 314-533-9900). -- Alison Sieloff

Minority Report

The world of modern comic books is heavily stratified: You either love them as an art form and tolerate nothing less than serious books about serious subjects, or you love them as pop-culture entertainment. But in the not-so- distant past, comics were also stratified along racial lines. In the popular monster and superhero titles of the '50s, minorities appeared only as racial caricatures or stereotypes, but there was a parallel universe where minorities were the superheroes. Titles like Negro Romance and Jackie Robinson provided entertainment and role models for the America not represented in the mainstream books. The Center for the Humanities library at Washington University (Forsyth and Skinker boulevards, 314-935-5576) is collecting these books for their permanent collection, and a library card will grant you access to this fascinating bit of our shared history. -- Paul Friswold

Ladies' Choice

MON 4/5

When you think of National Poetry Month (it happens to be April, you know), do you think of gray-bearded, beer-bellied, bespectacled Walt Whitman types reading from bar stools, their baritone voices thundering through the beret-clad crowd? Shame on you and your poetry prejudices! At 7:30 p.m. Duff's restaurant (392 North Euclid Avenue) will break down those poetry barriers and leave your ears begging for more. As part of the River Styx poetry series, the St. Louis women's poetry workshop Loosely Identified will premier its first book, Breathing Out, a compilation of poems from 21 workshop members. Admission is $5, or $4 for River Styx members, students and seniors; call 314-361-0522 or check www.dineatduffs.com for more information. -- Amy Helms

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