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Jon Cournoyer's large-scale collages have taken on a darker cast in the past two years. The work in his new show, Empire of Dust, still prominently features Edwardian-era figures and storybook animals, but the narrative beds of borrowed images these characters rest upon have changed. Cheerful moons and fairytale landscapes have given way to early-American advertisements, maps of war zones and the recurring image of a plump child relentlessly gorging himself. Cournoyer speaks of the work in a collage of images as well. "This show is about America and my idea of it. From standing on the beach at Big Sur realizing I was at the end of the continent and what it must have felt like to early settlers, to going to taverns with my grandpa as a kid and looking at the stuff on the walls to now... I find myself somewhat frightened, as if we have sold it all." Despite the air of menace and loss that pervades the work, there is still a sense of optimism. In a dark corner of A Side Order of Everything, a little card printed with the slogan "Wish upon" floats between a globe and a sturdy rocket headed for the stars. Children make mistakes and fear foolish things while remaining oblivious to real danger, but they dream more fervently than adults; sometimes, they fulfill those dreams when they grow up. Empire of Dust opens with a free public reception from 6 to 10 p.m. at Hoffman LaChance Contemporary (2713 Sutton Boulevard, Maplewood; 314-960-5322 or The show remains up through Saturday, November 14; gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and noon to 5 p.m. Saturday.
Wednesdays-Saturdays. Starts: Oct. 16. Continues through Nov. 14, 2009

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