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Arts Search – Staff Pick

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New Media Series: Cyprien Gaillard

Tuesdays-Sundays. Continues through Sept. 30

Wild rose-ringed parakeets are found in Africa and India — and also in Düsseldorf, Germany. The German variety arrived as pets and then either were released or escaped into the city. The birds have made a home for themselves on one of the city's upscale streets, roosting happily in building façades. Artist Cyprien Gaillard followed the parakeets with a camera as they winged home at twilight. His short film KOE shows flocks of them as they fly past concrete and steel, thousands of miles away from their tropical ancestral lands. The silent film is a commentary on how humanity interferes with nature, and how animals are forced to adapt to a rapidly urbanizing world. KOE is shown on a loop in gallery 301 at the Saint Louis Art Museum (1 Fine Arts Drive; www.slam.org) as part of the New Media Series. It remains on display Tuesday through Sunday (April 20 to July 15), and admission is free. free admission

Chinese Buddhist Art, 10th-15th Centuries

Tuesdays-Sundays. Continues through Sept. 30

Very rarely does an art exhibition include the actual wall an artist worked on, but the Saint Louis Art Museum does so for Chinese Buddhist Art, 10th-15th Centuries. A six-foot-by-four-foot section of a temple wall that has a painting of the Bodhisattva Akalokiteśvara (Guanyin) on one side is the focal point of the exhibition, and an exceptionally rare object. The show also includes four hanging scrolls, and a never-before-displayed painted, wooden sculpture of a seated arhat, the Buddhist term for a person who has achieved enlightenment. Chinese Buddhist Art, 10th-15th Centuries is open Tuesday through Sunday (March 30 to August 30) in gallery 225 of the Saint Louis Art Museum (1 Fine Arts Drive; www.slam.org). Admission is free. free admission

To Survive on This Shore: Photographs and Interviews with Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Older Adults

Wednesdays-Saturdays, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Continues through Oct. 10
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While the transgender/gender-fluid community continues to become more welcome in American society with every passing year, for the most part, its younger members tend to be most visible within the mainstream. Youth is inappropriately valued in our culture, but you can be certain that a growing number of older trans and gender-non-conforming people are out there living their best lives. Photographer Jess T. Dugan and social worker Vanessa Fabbre spent more than five years traveling the nation to photograph and record the life stories of this hidden demographic, finding subjects in both big cities and small towns. The duo's work is compiled in a new book and exhibition, both titled To Survive on This Shore: Photographs and Interviews with Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Older Adults. On Thursday, September 13, the exhibit opens and the book is officially released at a dual reception from 5 to 8 p.m. at Projects + Gallery (4733 McPherson Avenue; www.projects-gallery.com). A dozen large-scale photos of participants are on display, along with ten 18-by-24-inch portraits; all of them include a written narrative about the subject's life. The show continues through October 10. free admission

Projects + Gallery (map)
4733 McPherson Ave
St. Louis - Central West End
phone 314-696-8678
To Survive on This Shore: Photographs and Interviews with Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Older Adults

Lola Álvarez Bravo: Picturing Mexico

Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. and Fridays, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Continues through Feb. 16, 2019

Lola Álvarez Bravo was a Mexican artist, educator and curator whose life spanned nearly the entire twentieth century. From the 1930s to the 1970s, Álvarez Bravo crisscrossed her way across the country with camera in hand, creating portraits of other working artists. Always shooting, she also made images of regular people and the architecture — both old and new — at a time when Mexico was rapidly growing and transforming. Lola Álvarez Bravo: Picturing Mexico, the new exhibition at the Pulitzer Arts Foundation (3716 Washington Boulevard; www.pulitzerarts.org), features more than 40 of her black-and-white photographs in all their glory. Picturing Mexico opens with a free reception from 6 to 9 p.m. on Friday, September 14. Also debuting the same night are more than 60 sculptures by Ruth Asawa, who often worked with wire. Both shows remain on display through February 16. The Pulitzer is open Wednesday through Saturday. free admission

Pulitzer Arts Foundation (map)
3716 Washington Blvd.
St. Louis - Grand Center
phone 314-754-1850
Lola Álvarez Bravo: Picturing Mexico

Sanford Biggers and Basquiat Before Basquiat: East 12th Street, 1979-1980

Wednesdays-Sundays. Continues through Dec. 30

The Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis opens some of the most ambitious and vital shows in its history this month, with a series of exhibitions by, and about, black artists and the black experience. Sanford Biggers works directly with the materials of his forebearers — quilts and African sculptures — only he reshapes and repurposes them as contemporary statements about black identity, history and trauma. Biggers gives found quilts new life with new handwork, encoding personal messages into their original pattern. The fact that the work of an anonymous black craftsman or woman now appears in galleries and museums around the world, even in Biggers' modified form, is both subversive and celebratory. With wooden sculptures, some of which are copies, he dips them in wax and then works them over with firearms. What begins as a statue of a human or human-shaped supernatural being becomes obscured, disfigured and unrecognizable through the violence wrought upon it.

In addition to Biggers' work, CAM presents a show of the private photos of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Basquiat emerged from the New York City hip-hop/punk/graffiti scenes in the 1970s as one-half of the graffiti duo SAMO, along with Al Diaz. The pair together tagged buildings with cryptic phrases denouncing the establishment, politics and religion, always signed "SAMO" (an acronym for "Same Old Shit"). When the duo broke up, Basquiat performed in the noise rock band Test Pattern (later named "Gray") with Vincent Gallo and Michael Holman. He lived on the streets, sold drugs and experimented with Xerox art, painting and drawing. Basquiat Before Basquiat: East 12th Street, 1979-1980 will showcase everything the artist made while living in a small East Village apartment with his friend Alexis Adler before he hit the big time. It's a treasure trove of paintings, sculptures and works on paper, as well as Adler's photographs of his friend.

Both exhibitions open with a free reception from 7 to 9 p.m. Friday, September 7, at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis (3750 Washington Boulevard; www.camstl.org). The shows continue through December 30.

free admission

Flora Borealis

Thursdays-Saturdays, 6 p.m. and Thursdays-Saturdays, 6 p.m. Continues through Oct. 20
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Summers in St. Louis are no picnic, what with the brutal heat and oppressive humidity. At night conditions improve a bit, and that's the time to get outside and experience the city. The Missouri Botanical Garden (4344 Shaw Boulevard; www.mobot.org) takes full advantage of the nocturnal respite with Flora Borealis, a nighttime-only special exhibition. Thanks to the artistic and technical brilliance of AVI Systems Inc., a section of the garden is temporarily transformed into a new experience with active lights, moving images and sounds that alter and enhance the familiar landscape. Tickets for Flora Borealis are $10 to $25 and are sold for specific time slots each night (Thursday through Tuesday through August 26). While you're waiting for your scheduled time you can take advantage of MoBOT’s new tented biergarten, which features live entertainment on select nights. $10-$25

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