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How We See: Materiality and Color

Through June 29, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Humans can perceive a wide palette of colors, but we don't see as many hues as nature contains. The limitations of human vision are stretched in the Laumeier Sculpture Park's new exhibition How We See: Materiality and Color. Six artists who combine modern art practices with a keen observation of the natural world explore the possibilities of color manipulation and perception. Claire Ashley's specially commissioned, large-scale inflatable Ruddy Udder Dance is painted in neon colors. Volunteers will get inside it and perform a series of choreographed routines that allow you to see how its various shades change with movement and daylight. Ann Lindberg's graphite-and-colored-pencil piece as though air could turn to honey features a closely packed array of thin lines of pure pigment that become subtly darker toward the bottom. From a distance those tints blend and fade, and the piece appears to have a more uniform golden hue. How We See opens with a free reception at 11 a.m. Saturday, March 2, at Laumeier's Aronson Fine Arts Center (12580 Rott Road, Sunset Hill; www.laumeier.org). The exhibit continues through June 29, and admission is free. free admission

Currents 116: Oliver Laric

Fridays, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. and Tuesdays-Thursdays, Saturdays, Sundays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Continues through May 27

Austrian-born artist Oliver Laric creates work that explores image creation and repetition, which he displays on both the museum and gallery circuit and the online realm. For his new exhibition, Currents 116: Oliver Laric, he presents his video animation Betweenness, which features repurposed mushrooms, people, anime characters and some snippets of the CT scan of the Saint Louis Art Museum's mummy, Amen-Nestawy-Nakht, all morphing into animals. The cycle of looped video blurs all of these borrowed images together, which reveals their shared shapes and forms. Laric also sculpted his own version of Reclining Pan (long on display in the museum's gallery 236) using 3D scans of the original. He used the digital files to "print" sections of the sculpture in various materials on a 3D printer, which he then assembled. Currents 116: Oliver Laric is on display in galleries 249 and 250 from February 22 to May 27 at the Saint Louis Art Museum (1 Fine Arts Drive; www.slam.org). The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday, and admission is free. free admission

Rachel Whiteread

Fridays, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. and Tuesdays-Thursdays, Saturdays, Sundays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Continues through June 9

Rachel Whiteread emerged on the London art scene in the "cool Britannia" era of the late '80s and early '90s. The country was doing well financially and culturally, and people were ready to buy contemporary art made by contemporary British artists. Whiteread established herself as a leading light with her casts of everyday objects, which solidified the negative space in, under and/or around them in materials such as wax, plaster, concrete and resin. House, Whiteread's massive, freestanding concrete cast of the interior of an entire three-story Victorian house, earned her the prestigious Turner Prize in 1993, making her the first woman to win. Rachel Whiteread, the new exhibition at the Saint Louis Art Museum, is a retrospective of the artist's career that showcases 96 objects. They range from the small Untitled (Pink Torso), a voluptuous form of the inside of a hot water bottle cast in pink dental plaster, to the expansive Untitled (Twenty-Five Spaces), translucent resin casts of the underside of various chairs and stools arrayed on a game-board-like grid. The exhibit is on display Tuesday through Sunday (March 17 to June 9) at the Saint Louis Arts Museum (1 Fine Arts Drive; www.slam.org), and tickets are $6 to $12 (but free on Friday). $6-$12

Counterpublic

Fridays, Saturdays, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. and Wednesdays, Thursdays, 12-5 p.m. Continues through July 13

St. Louis is a city of neighborhoods. Everyone in St. Louis has said that at some point; if there is a truth universally acknowledged in this town, it's that our many neighborhoods are our strength and civic identity. And yet, how many people in your neighborhood eat the same food, share the same values and dream the same dreams?

For James McAnally, who with his wife Brea is the cofounder of the Luminary, the neighborhood theory may be true, but it's not a unifying principal.

"William Gass wrote that 'the Midwest is a dissonance of parts and people,'" says McAnally, referencing the late St. Louis-based writer.

That idea is the inspiration for the Luminary's ambitious new project, Counterpublic. The three-month long artistic exploration of the many dissonances that inhabit a shared geographic area incorporates public art, installations, discussions and performances. The McAnallys and curator Katherine Simóne Reynolds chose their own home turf for this experiment: Cherokee Street, with all the many cultures and people who inhabit it.

"It's a complicated project and something that hasn't been done yet," McAnally says with just a hint of understatement. "This idea of the 'counterpublic,' it speaks to the idea [that] there are people who don't feel included in this community. A counterpublic is analogous to subculture. It comes out of queer culture and feminist writing. The framing that's most helpful for Counterpublic is that it's a public art festival, or a platform that is meant to activate the neighborhood."

McAnally is quick to note that Cherokee isn't simply one neighborhood. The street crosses through four different ones on official city maps — Tower Grove East, Benton Park West, Marine Villa and Gravois Park — as well as two different aldermanic wards.

"Cherokee is the Latinx community, it's majority African American, it's eclectic and diverse," explains McAnally. "What do all of these groups have to say to each other? How can we keep the neighborhood together? Counterpublic is meant to activate the neighborhood — all of it, every group."

To do so successfully, the McAnallys began by talking to representatives of each division and explaining the plan and seeking partnerships.

"It was important to us early on to involve the business community, the Latinx community, all of these groups," McAnally says. "We have twenty permanent exhibitions throughout the project, from both local and national artists who come from the cultures found in Cherokee. We invited several Indigenous artists — we call it 'Cherokee' casually, but what does that really mean?"

Counterpublic encompasses many parts, people and ideas, all coming together to facilitate a free exchange of ideas. The plan is for Counterpublic to be a triennial festival that moves to a new neighborhood with each new iteration, but it's not at all an attempt to pigeonhole or homogenize any community. The dissonance is vital, and in the case of the inaugural production, deeply personal for the McAnallys.

"Counterpublic is a chance to ask ourselves, 'How do these many different voices come together, and how do we maintain an equitable development?'" James asks, not all rhetorically. "'How do we account for difference, and dissent? And how do we continue to live alongside each other while disagreeing?'"

Counterpublic opens Saturday, April 13, with tours, talks and performances from 1 to 6 p.m. at the Luminary (2701 Cherokee Street; www.theluminaryarts.org). An opening-night party takes place from 8 to 11 p.m., with complimentary food from neighborhood restaurants, artist-designed galletas by Rodolfo Marron III and Diana's Bakery and live video and DJ performances. New installations, processions, performances and public programs will continue through July 13. The full schedule is available at www.counterpublic.us. free admission

The Luminary (map)
2701 Cherokee St
St. Louis - South City
phone 314-773-1533
Counterpublic

Fashioning the Black Body

Wednesdays-Saturdays, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Continues through May 4

For black Americans, dressing well was not merely a matter of fashion — it was necessary for survival. In the era of sundown towns and the Green Book, when black families took the highways of America they dressed to the nines to show white America that they were people of substance, respectable and decent and not going to start any trouble. As they did with many of the rules enforced upon them, these early Americans took what little was allowed to them and made it their own source of pride. Hats were cocked at rakish angles, colors were vibrant and cuts were cleaner and sharper than what white America wore. In time, black styles were appropriated by the mainstream. Again and again the cycle has repeated itself, moving from black subcultures to the malls and schoolyards of middle America. The art show Fashioning the Black Body explores the ways in which fashion defines and projects the black identity in a variety of media. Mickalene Thomas' silkscreen I've Been Good to Me shows a black woman adorned and surrounded by color and pattern in her home. Mario Moore's oil painting One Day in the Land of Milk and Honey depicts a black figure laying flat on the ground, beneath it a subway platform upon which mills a group of faceless people in identical hoodies. Fashioning the Black Body opens with a free reception from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, March 15, at Projects+Gallery (4733 McPherson Avenue; www.projects-gallery.com). The show continues through May 4. free admission

Projects + Gallery (map)
4733 McPherson Ave
St. Louis - Central West End
phone 314-696-8678
Fashioning the Black Body

Striking Power: Iconoclasm in Ancient Egypt

Fridays, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. and Thursdays, Saturdays, Sundays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Continues through Aug. 11

In his sonnet "Ozymandias," Percy Bysshe Shelley describes the legs of an epic statue in the desert wastelands, its ruined face lying "half sunk" in the sand. The inscription on the pedestal reads, "My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings; Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!" The poem is a meditation on time wearing away the memory of even the mightiest, and a reminder that death means forgetfulness. In truth, it may have been Ozymandias' successor who destroyed the statue upon assuming the title of pharaoh. Statues and memorial inscriptions held ritual power for the Egyptians, and it behooved the new ruler to sweep away all remnant of his or her predecessor. In the Pulitzer Arts Foundation's (3716 Washington Boulevard; www.pulitzerarts.org) new exhibition, Striking Power: Iconoclasm in Ancient Egypt, the legacies of the pharaohs Hatshepsut and Akhenaten are examined through almost 40 historical objects that are both defaced and whole. Memory and visual culture are intertwined, and the destruction of the latter can easily erase the former. Striking Power opens with a free reception from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, March 22. The work remains on display through August 11. free admission

Pulitzer Arts Foundation (map)
3716 Washington Blvd.
St. Louis - Grand Center
phone 314-754-1850
Striking Power: Iconoclasm in Ancient Egypt
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