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Best Gallery Show 

1984-2004: Twentieth Anniversary Celebration at Elliot Smith

Though it took place in the fall of 2004, this very fine group show serves well to mark one of the most significant art events of 2005: the closing of Elliot Smith Contemporary Art. ESCA was a Central West End institution, an anchor in the neighborhood and one of St. Louis' premier art venues. If we'd known back in balmy October of last year that ESCA's closing was imminent, perhaps even more of us would have ventured out to see this show, a brilliant collection of works by some of the many artists who owe something of their success to Mr. Smith. On view were paintings by Michael Byron, Cheonae Kim and Cheryl Wassenaar, sculpture by Kim Humphries, Jill Downen and Christina Shmigel, and a dozen or so other works that cunningly played on the number 20 in honor of the gallery's anniversary. The show was beautifully organized by Bruno David, then the gallery's relatively new director, who was making his own mark on the St. Louis scene when the place closed. St. Louis has lost Elliot Smith, but the memories of this luminous show remain.

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