Thursday, August 8, 2019

Lake St. Louis Farmer’s Market and Art Fair

by Natalie Avondet

Lake St. Louis Farmer's Market and Art Fair. Yes, a Farmer's Market with artist booths. Saturdays April through November in St. Charles County. Photo by Natalie Avondet.

It’s Saturday. It’s early. 8:30 a.m. I’m standing in line at Sudamerica Bakery's booth waiting to order. It’s a beautiful morning. Lake St. Louis Farmer’s Market and Art Fair. It’s already packed. I grab my empanada and chicha morada, and wander through the Fair. Exploring.

Veggies. Lots of veggies. It is a farmer’s market after all. Hand-made aprons. Soaps. Even dog treats. I wish I had a dog. I wish I knew a dog.

A booth of photography. I must see. One photo in particular catches my eye—Early Morning Ride.  The vivid colors of the hot air balloon harness my attention. Not an easy feat. I have a hard time looking away. (See the photo below and you’ll understand.)

Kent Smith. Early Morning Ride. Photograph, 20"x16”.
With permission from Kent Smith, KC Photography. Photo by Natalie Avondet.
I break my gaze to chat with the artist. Kent Smith. He, like all the vendors here, is local. Friendly guy. Considers his art a hobby, as he is retired. I say my adieus. Move on.

Kent Smith, KC Photography booth at Lake St. Louis Farmer's Market & Art Fair. Photo by Natalie Avondet.

Grass fed beef. I smell coffee. As I’m still savoring my chicha mirada, I pass on the coffee. That was quite possibly one of the best empandas I’ve ever had. I see a sign that reads, “Organic.”  I make a quick right. Tomatoes. I must have some tomatoes. Maple syrup. Jam. Cherry Vanilla to be exact. All Hart Beet Farm produced. Hart Beet Farm, outside of Eolia, Mo, doesn’t just grow organic, sustainable food but they also collect wild fruits, mushrooms and maple syrups. Obviously, they also make their own interesting, unique flavored jams, as well.

For now, I must move on. Goose Poop. I can’t resist. It’s Grandpa Spencer’s Original Gourmet Mustard. It’s a salsa. It’s a mustard. Kind of. Definitely delicious. I buy two. And you can, too. They are also available at Ellbee’s General Store in Wentzville. Check it out.

From a few “doors” down, the smell of wood-fired pizza fills the air. Too bad I had an empanada. Nope. That’s a lie. I really liked that empanada.

So, let’s see. I’ve successfully purchased 5 tomatoes, a bottle of syrup, a jar of jam, and two containers of Goose Poop. What else?  Ooooh. Cutting boards. I’m not in need of any at this time. However, these are gorgeous, and they make great gifts. Iris Woodworks. I grab a card. Iris Woodworks make their cutting boards from exotic woods. The combinations of wood grains and stains are truly beautiful. Find them on Facebook…Iris Woodworks.

Oh, no. I’m out of chicha morada. I meander back to Sudamerica. A South American, mostly Peruvian, bakery. They’re here every week. I’m tempted to get another empanada but I have lunch scheduled with friends at BC Kitchen. For now, the chicha morada will suffice.

With my chicha morada in hand, I wander back through the fair. I hear “Celebrate” coming from my right and a little gospel music coming from my left. It’s still early. Still Saturday. It’s going to be a beautiful day.
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Lake St. Louis Farmer’s Market and Art Fair is located in St. Charles County, MO and takes place Saturdays 8 a.m.-12 p.m. The April through November, at the Meadows, 20 Meadows Circle Drive (The Market is located in the shopping center is the South parking lots facing Technology Drive & Highway 40). Local artists who live within a 100-mile radius of Lake St. Louis and are interested in becoming a vendor, apply here.
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Natalie Avondet is a St. Louis-based artist. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Journalism/Advertising with a Minor in Psychology from University of Missouri's School of Journalism. Natalie's early career was in commercial advertising in the Midwest and Los Angeles. Art is a lifelong passion and she began seriously painting and exhibiting in galleries while in Los Angeles. Determined to pursue her artistic career, she returned to the Midwest and since then has exhibited in Kansas City, Los Angeles and Saint Louis. Her work is represented locally by Grafica Fine Art Gallery. You can reach out to Natalie through her blog.


Monday, July 22, 2019

"Striking Power: Iconoclasm in Ancient Egypt"

by Natalie Avondet

Rarely do I pass on Egyptian exhibits. I have no plans of missing it today. I’m not at home; so, I journey to the Pulitzer Arts Foundation along a different path than usual. Heading South or what I think is South on what I think is Spring St., I glance to my left. I catch a glimpse of a shell of a church. Interested, I round the block. The Pulitzer can wait.

I park. Step out of the car, cross the road and examine this one-time church up close. No roof. No windows. No doors. All that remains are the block walls, now covered in ivy, and a sign that reads, “National Memorial Church of God in Christ.” I wonder what happened here. Did it crumble in decay? Did it burn down? Was it burned down? The walls have been braced with steel beams. Someone or someones care deeply about these ruins.


National Memorial Church of God in Christ in Midtown St. Louis, MO. Photograph by Natalie Avondet.

Peering in, I see it has been tagged with graffiti. Someone else’s effort to claim it as their own. Leave their legacy.

Master, why did you tolerate his insults? You should have challenged him to a fight?

I must google this church when I get back home, because now, I must do what I set out to do.

Get to the Pulitzer. I walk around the corner and across the street. Enter. Claim my brochure and head down the hall to view "Striking Power: Iconoclasm in Ancient Egypt.

I see four artifacts. No descriptions on any of them. I realize I might want to read my brochure. I find a seat. I’ll paraphrase.

“The exhibit features forty statues and reliefs… from the 25th century BCE to the first century CE…The ancient Egyptian religion taught that statues and reliefs in human form could be activated through rituals to host the spirit of a deity or a deceased person… a means for spiritual forces to act in this world. This quality… established [the objects] as targets by those who viewed their power as a threat.”

Power? They held power? Interesting. I’m having a flashback to a Gomer Pyle episode. Seriously, now? Why am I thinking about Gomer Pyle. Really? Yes. Really. I’m bringing up Gomer Pyle: USMC Episode #15 in a big way. Let me explain. In this episode, Gomer has difficulty leading his platoon until he is given his grandpa’s lucky charm. Unbeknownst to Gomer, during the middle of his drill, the charm falls to the ground. He, however, continues to lead his platoon flawlessly. In the end, Gomer learns the charm only held power because he believed it did. The true power was in his own mind.

Back to the brochure… Power. Hmmm. The things that make you go hmmm. As I said, interesting. “This exhibition examines specific moments when clashes between competing leaders, religions, and ideologies resulted in iconoclasm-the intentional damage to, and the destruction of sacred and political images.”

Statue #1 Hatshepsut
A former female Egyptian ruler. Her forehead is damaged. It once held an image of a snake that was intended to protect this monarch from her enemies. She has been decapitated and her nose has been destroyed. The ancient Egyptians believed that burning incense under the nose of these statues awakened the spirit inside. Destroying the nose of the statue would prevent the spirit from breathing, and thus, awakening.

This statue was apparently destroyed by Hatshepsut’s successor. In order to keep her spirit from returning and regaining power, her successor attacked the symbol of protection and then, suffocated the statue. He was Egyptian and therefore, he, too, would have believed in the mystical powers of these statues.

Statue #12  Isis
A statue of the Egyptian goddess, Isis. Per the brochure, “Christians who sought to abolish all polytheistic religions destroyed many ritual objects.” Correct. Christians didn’t, nor do they now, believe in multiple gods. Quoting the brochure again… the statue’s head and feet have been removed…” signs of an attempt by Christians to render the statue powerless.”

“Christians widely attacked ancient Egyptian statues and reliefs, motivated by a deep fear of the old gods.”  Hmmm. Interesting. I’m reminded of Isaiah 45:18-21. The things that make you go hmmm. I don’t know what these early Christians were thinking.

However, if I were in a battle with another, my first goal would be to destroy the other's source of power. If their power was an arsenal of weapons, a cobra on the forehead or rabbit’s foot, that’s what I’d go after. I’d cut the head off the snake. I might fear heavy artillery but never a talisman. The charm holds no power to the non-believer. Then I, too, would leave it as a reminder to the believer that their power is gone. But that’s just me. Maybe I’m a girl who grew up watching too much Gomer Pyle and reading too much Sun Tzu. Now, that’s something that’s really going to make you go hmmm.

If someone brings you a gift and you don’t take it, to whom does it belong?  The one who offered it, of course.

Statue #37  Fragmented Triad of Memkaura, Hathor and Nome god

“The statue was found in an area of Memkaura’s temple accessible during the Islamic Period when it may have been reduced to a rectangular shape by Muslim Egyptians.”

After Muslims conquered Egypt in the 7th Century, long after the Christian invasion, the remains of the statues and reliefs were then treated as raw materials. They were repurposed as building blocks. The reuse of these statues is not considered iconoclasm because the intention had nothing to do with destroying their power. As stated, the statues and thereby their power, real or in the minds of the Egyptians, had already been destroyed. There was no need to re-destroy it.

I end my tour, and at the conclusion of my brochure, I come to a section entitled, What are the origins of ancient Egyptian culture?  Wanting to know more, I continue to read. Egyptians were a thriving African people who created a distinct civilization. I’d say. They amassed a huge wealth, built those massive pyramids, and survived over four thousand years. “Within the relatively inclusive ancient society, being Egyptian meant practicing the culture’s religion, speaking its language, and submitting to the king.” So, if you adopted their culture, you were considered Egyptian. “Yet, at the same time, people from civilizations that existed outside geographical bounds of Egypt… were considered foreigners.” Hmmm. That makes it sound like everyone lived happily side by side. Did they? How did they gain their wealth? And just how did they build those pyramids? Things that make you go hmmm.

As I drive away, I circle back by the National Memorial Church of God in Christ. Its remains are simply beautiful. Perhaps even more beautiful. Especially the way the light shines through the circular glassless window. I recall it’s tagging. The beat goes on, my friends. The beat goes on.

It’s the same with envy and insults: if you refuse to accept them, they belong to the one who offered them.

The things that make you go hmmm.
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Striking Power: Iconoclasm in Ancient Egypt” is on view through August 10, 2019 at Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts, 3716 Washington Blvd., St. Louis, MO. 314/754-1850. Gallery hours are: Th, Sat. & Sun. 10 a.m. -5 p.m., F 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Free & open to the public.
 
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Natalie Avondet is a St. Louis-based artist. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Journalism/Advertising with a Minor in Psychology from University of Missouri's School of Journalism. Natalie's early career was in commercial advertising in the Midwest and Los Angeles. Art is a lifelong passion and she began seriously painting and exhibiting in galleries while in Los Angeles. Determined to pursue her artistic career, she returned to the Midwest and since then has exhibited in Kansas City, Los Angeles and Saint Louis. Her work is represented locally by Grafica Fine Art Gallery. You can reach out to Natalie through her blog.


Monday, July 15, 2019

"ArtReach: Vashon High School Vashon through a Lens"

by Natalie Avondet

Per usual, before I exit my car, I adjust the rearview mirror, ask myself…” Which face shall I wear today?” Lipstick.  Today, I wear lipstick. Pink Rosette. I apply; exit the car; and head to the Museum. The front door is heavy. I pick through the complimentary brochures and climb the stairs.

I am alone; though, I can hear a tour guide educate his followers on the floor below.

ArtReach: Vashon through a Lens, installation view. Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, May 17-August 18, 2019. Photo: Dusty Kessler.

It’s a handful of photographs by Vashon High Schoolers.  All in a row along one wall. Beautiful souls caught by the lens of a camera.

The photography on view, this photography, is a partnership between CAM (Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis) and Vashon High School and led by St. Louis-based teaching artist Tiffany Sutton. According to the CAM pamphlet, the exhibit is a collection of the selfie composed of “deliberate creative choices.” The exhibit is an exploration into the “multitude of personalities” each student, each photographer, each and every person has. In that we can relate.  However, for me to know or compare my experiences to these souls would futile. I don’t know.

Yet, here I stand in front of a photo of a girl. She wears a pinkish head wrap and a military uniform. “Do you see the child inside? Do you see my wild side?” I love the contrast between what I assume is her everyday attire or the attire of her heritage and the uniform of America. Two in one. I want to know more. More about her and more about Vashon High School. I’ll have to research that. I read the card. Her name is Kayla Green. I want to know more about who made the creative choice in this portrait/selfie. Was it the subject’s, Kayla’s, or the photographer’s, Nicholas Allen’s?

I move on. It’s another image of Kayla. Military gear sans head wrap. The next…Kayla in street clothes only. She had a read head scarf. Bright almost neon orange nails. Very long. “A woman who hides her fears, holds in her tears?” Both of these photos were take by Allen as well. I want to know more of the Kayla I see. All three of the Kaylas I see.

Jamijna Westbrook. Donyae, 2019. Digital Photograph. Courtesy the artist.

The next photo I see is one of Allen. Nick in Blue. It, however, was taken by Kayla. The subject has become the photographer. Nick has cleverly been divided between light and shadow, hinting at contrasting personalities. “Can you see my dreams? Can you hear my screams?” Was the creative play on light and dark his decision or hers? Who chose blue? I want to know.

Backing up, I examine all the photos. All are intriguing. Creative. Thought provoking. I am no longer alone. A crowd has formed. My thoughts are now being influenced by what others say; therefore, it’s time to leave.

I reach for the door. It is still heavy. I exit. Now outside, I turn back. “I feel as if I am on the outside, lookin in. Look at me…who do you see?” I check my reflection in the window. My lipstick is gone. “Who do you see?”

“I have many faces.” Funny [to me] that the author is unknown, although the poem can be found at www.poetryoflife.com
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ArtReach: Vashon High School Vashon through a Lens” is on view through August 18, 2019 at Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, 3750 Washington Blvd., St. Louis, MO. 314/535-4660. Gallery hours are W, Sat. & Sun, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Th-F 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Free & open to the public.
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Natalie Avondet is a St. Louis-based artist. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Journalism/Advertising with a Minor in Psychology from University of Missouri's School of Journalism. Natalie's early career was in commercial advertising in the Midwest and Los Angeles. Art is a lifelong passion and she began seriously painting and exhibiting in galleries while in Los Angeles. Determined to pursue her artistic career, she returned to the Midwest and since then has exhibited in Kansas City, Los Angeles and Saint Louis. Her work is represented locally by Grafica Fine Art Gallery. You can reach out to Natalie through her blog.


Tuesday, June 18, 2019

"Poetics of the Everyday: Amateur Photography 1890-1970"

by Natalie Avondet

Untitled (rear view mirror). c.1960; American; gelatin silver print; sheet: 2 7/8 × 4 1/8 inches; Saint Louis Art Museum, Gift of John R. and Teenuh M. Foster 296:2018

As I pull into the parking lot of the Saint Louis Art Museum, Sturgill Simpson leaks through the speakers. “The dead will still be walking around this whole world alone. Well after life is over the afterlife goes on...” I put it in park. Turn off the radio. I mean my phone. Hum the next refrain to myself as I walk to the entrance of the Museum. I like it here. This time, I’m here for the “Amateur Photography” exhibit.

I keep walking. I keep humming.

Arriving at the double glass doors, I meet the exhibit. I enter, and immediately, I’m hit with the wall of description… "Poetics of the Everyday:  Amateur Photography: 1890-1970”: “This exhibition draws attention to an extraordinary period beginning in the late 19th century, when portable cameras became available to throngs of enthusiastic amateur photographers…these photographs are rich in detail and complex in composition, entangling us in their small worlds. As unique physical prints, they reflect a different relationship to picture making than we have in our digital era. This exhibition helps tell a larger story about the history of photography…”

A quick scan of the exhibit. It fills two rooms. Seems to be divided into sections of like photos. Slowly, well, not so slowly, I meander from section to section; reading each accompanying blurb.

I find myself lingering longer than intended in front of not one, not two, but three works. Oddly, I can’t get Sturgill’s song out of my head. I tap my foot. Shake my hips. Slightly. It’s a slow song. I’m in public.

Untitled (out-of-focus hand). 1950s; American; gelatin silver print; sheet: 3 9/16 × 3 1/2 inches; Saint Louis Art Museum, Gift of John R. and Teenuh M. Foster 371:2018

One, a framed collage of black and white photos from long, long ago. Mixed media on paper. Photos salvaged, perhaps, and brittle from resting years in the bottom drawer of an old, old hutch. Their destruction loomed with their resurrection.  I can smell the photos. Feel their weight. All have hand-written notes. Names. Dates. Places. All held meaning to someone somewhere but not to me. I don’t know these people, nor do I know their photographer who was most likely a family member, a guest at the party. Long gone.

Untitled (people in wheat). 1904; American; gelatin silver print; sheet: 5 7/16 × 3 3/8 inches; Saint Louis Art Museum, Gift of John R. and Teenuh M. Foster 322:2018

Two, a very eerie photo of a man standing in a field. Ghost-like. I laugh at the memory of how the development process was once just as delicate as these photos. How if something went wrong somewhere that spooky image emerged. The shutter glitched. The light was too bright. Something, anything that caused over exposure, a burn mark, or that faint image in the background. That thing that sparked the imagination of the unexplained.

My foot still taps. “They’re just ghosts inside a dream of a life that we don’t own.”

Untitled (ice scene). 1936; American; gelatin silver print; sheet: 4 × 5 1/8 inches; Saint Louis Art Museum, Gift of John R. and Teenuh M. Foster 311:2018

I wonder, “Did the photographer know the gem he held?  Did she know someday, somewhere, someone would stand marveling at its beauty? No doubt, the photo has faded over the years, but the fog complimented by the glitch in development sends a chill down my spine. Did someone just blow in my ear? Am I under an AC vent? I step to the left.

Untitled (sailboat). 1889; American; gelatin silver print; sheet: 4 1/16 × 3 1/8 inches; Saint Louis Art Museum, Gift of John R. and Teenuh M. Foster 316:2018

Three, a series of a man diving into a pool. Is it many different shots of one dive? Did the cameras of yesteryear really react that quickly or is it different shots of many different dives? Who is this man? Who was the photographer? The composition is truly lovely.

Alas, I come to the end. A glass case filled with vintage cameras. The cameras that once captured all these everyday moments. Funny. There’s a 1930s box camera. A Beau Brownie No. 2 from 1931. I have a very similar model that was my grandfather’s. It sits on the shelf in my living room. Every living room I’ve had for the last 30 years. Pretty sure it pre-dates this model but not 100% sure. I should check that out.

My thoughts then turn to my camera of today, or should I say phone of today. Something that was once a luxury is now an everyday item. Pictures we used to hold are now on a screen, untouchable. My, how things change. Yet, touchable or untouchable, weathered or pixelated, amateur or professional, the desire to hold onto a moment, leave a legacy, or create runs soul deep.

The dead don’t die anymore than you or I. They’re just ghosts inside a dream of a life that we don’t own. Well after life is over, the afterlife goes on.”  - Sturgill Simpson, The Dead Don’t Die
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Poetics of the Everyday: Amateur Photography 1890-1970” is curated by Eric Lutz, Associate Curator of Prints, Drawings and Photographs at Saint Louis Art Museum. This exhibit features 150 amateur photographs from St. Louis collectors John and Teenuh Foster and is on view in Galleries 234 & 235 at the Saint Louis Art Museum through August 25, 2019. Saint Louis Art Museum is located at One Fine Arts Drive in Forest Park, St. Louis, MO 63110. The Museum is free & open to the public Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. & Friday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Closed Mondays. 314/721-0072.
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Natalie Avondet is a St. Louis-based artist. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Journalism/Advertising with a Minor in Psychology from University of Missouri's School of Journalism. Natalie's early career was in commercial advertising in the Midwest and Los Angeles. Art is a lifelong passion and she began seriously painting and exhibiting in galleries while in Los Angeles. Determined to pursue her artistic career, she returned to the Midwest and since then has exhibited in Kansas City, Los Angeles and Saint Louis. Her work is represented locally by Grafica Fine Art Gallery. You can reach out to Natalie through her blog.


Monday, May 13, 2019

“Through Her Eyes,” an all-woman exhibit

by Natalie Avondet

Grafica Fine Art Gallery and Framing. The corner of Big Bend and Laclede Station. St. Louis. Webster Groves to be specific. Any other gallery, I would be driving around and around trying to find it but not Grafica. I know it well.

Judy Stroup. Fall Blush. Oil on Canvas Board, 10"x8".

A quaint little house on the South side of Big Bend. It’s rainy. A tad cold. I wind my way through each room taking note of the hardwood floors (I believe they’re oak and original to the building.); the fireplace; its mantel. I spot Larry. Larry Bozzay. Owner. All around good guy. We chat.

The mantle catches my eye yet again. A perfect place to display a gorgeous oil on canvas. A landscape filled with a mustard sky and olive foliage. I sense a peace. A glance to my left and I’m hit with Judy Stroup’s work. A small piece. A stunning flower that jumps out at me. Yet again, I sense a peace.

A quick scan of the room. It’s artwork of all sizes. Bordered by a variety of frames. Mostly landscapes. All beautiful. All peaceful. All women artists. It’s an all-woman show. “Through Her Eyes.” Twelve St. Louis area women who paint together outside and in.

Mary Drastal
Jane Flanders
Sandy Haynes
Gwendolyn Moore
Debbie Rathert
Susan Rogers
Lee Streett
Judy Stroup
Deb Trafton
Jan Träger
Margaret von Kaenel
Norma West

Most are former art teachers. Retired from teaching, but not from making art and sharing their passion. All creating beautiful paintings of all sizes and colors that blend magically. Similar subject matter as in one gender, yet each creating a beauty all its own.

“The true beauty in a women is reflected in her soul. It is the caring that she lovingly gives, the passion that she shows.” - Audrey Hepburn

Judy Stroup. Iris Time. Oil on Canvas Board, 8"x6".

Through Her Eyes” a show with works by twelve different women. Each framed piece is like looking through the eyes of the artist. Each piece reflects the beauty of the artist’s soul. Eyes are, after all, the window to the soul.

Again, I go back to the work on the mantle, it’s by Sandy Haynes. Her mission…”to paint the world around [her] with paint and canvas. [She] attempts to find beauty in the commonplace by demonstrating the power of light on a subject.”  The mustard sky. The light glowing behind the the trees brings tranquility. I feel its warmth.

Mary Drastal. Just Around the Corner. Oil on Canvas Board, 11"x14".

The clock chimes. Suddenly I realize I’m late for an appointment. As I leave, I notice the sidewalk is brick. Has it always been?  The sun is out. I swear it’s twenty degrees warmer.
Was I in there that long?
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Through Her Eyes” remains on view through May 24, 2019. Grafica Fine Art Gallery is located at 7884 Big Bend Boulevard in Webster Groves, MO. Gallery hours are Tuesday-Friday 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. and Saturday 11 a.m.-3 p.m. 314/961-4020.
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Natalie Avondet is a St. Louis-based artist. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Journalism/Advertising with a Minor in Psychology from University of Missouri's School of Journalism. Natalie's early career was in commercial advertising in the Midwest and Los Angeles. Art is a lifelong passion and she began seriously painting and exhibiting in galleries while in Los Angeles. Determined to pursue her artistic career, she returned to the Midwest and since then has exhibited in Kansas City, Los Angeles and Saint Louis. Her work is represented locally by Grafica Fine Art Gallery. You can reach out to Natalie through her blog.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Focus on Local - volunteer writers sought for the Art Saint Louis/Art Dialogue blog

In response to the lack of published art reviews in our fair city, Art Saint Louis launched this blog, Art Saint Louis/Art Dialogue, back in October of 2007—so, nearly 12 years.

With a focus on local, for over five years now, our goal has been to provide St. Louis regional artists and galleries the means to fair consideration and peer review of their works and exhibitions. This blog features exhibition reviews, interviews, studio visits, images, and more. We work to present a wide range of opinions and reflections on what is being created and exhibited by artists in the St. Louis metro community.

Art Saint Louis welcomes experienced as well as firt-time art writers/reviewers residing in the St. Louis metro area and representing all walks of artistic life, including artists, BFA and MFA art, art-history and even journalism students, curators, critics, professors, and others to contribute to this blog. This is a volunteer (non-paying) position.

We’re seeking interesting viewpoints and thought-provoking reviews that will be of interest to artists and non-artists. Proper English language usage, grammar and the ability to put one’s thoughts down in a professional manner are important considerations. You don't have to be a 'professional' writer to write like a professional.

Submission Guidelines:
- There are no deadlines.
- Submissions are considered at all times.
- No guarantees that an item will be published.
- Since this is a blog, submissions should be kept to a reasonable length— so do your best to self-edit.
- Art Saint Louis Artistic Director Robin Hirsch is the editor of this blog and edits all items, as well as posts and publishes all items. She will "lightly" edit items, as-needed, with possible corrections to spelling, grammar, punctuation, and facts. Some items may need more serious editing, so we reserve the right to edit as-needed.
- Please provide contact information for yourself, the gallery or artists about whom you are writing, hyperlinks, when possible.
- Please provide photographs that are approved for our use (get full reproduction permission from artist or presenter) along with full photo credits, including artist, artwork title, year, media, size of artwork, and any other information required for photo credit.
- Submissions should be presented in the most professional manner possible.
- We will not consider or publish the following: unprofessional, incoherent/unclear writings; items using profanity; shameless self-promotion; anything resembling an outright mean-spirited rant.
- Even when posted on Art Saint Louis/Art Dialogue, the story remains property of the author. Upon posting, Art Saint Louis retains the right to reproduce the story for publicity and other Art Saint Louis organizational purposes.
- All items will be posted in a timely manner.
- New postings will be publicized to the community at-large via e-mail, Facebook, Art Saint Louis membership communications, and a local community listserve.
- We aren’t able to pay writers, however each writer’s byline will be posted with the review/story and can include a hyperlink to a personal/art website and any other bio or contact info you wish to be included.

We can gladly provide you with a list of current exhibitions on view in the metro area as well as the appropriate contact person at the venue. If you review an exhibition, please ask the gallery/museum director for digital images to include with the story and be sure to get permission to reproduce said images. Also be sure to get proper photo credits, including: artist; title of artwork; date of work; media; dimensions; photo courtesy of; photo credit; etc.

Thank you for reading the Art Saint Louis/Art Dialogue blog and for contributing to the artistic dialogue & conversation in St. Louis.

If you'd like to review an exhibit, interview an artist or write about local art, please contact: Robin Hirsch, Art Saint Louis Associate Director and Art Dialogue Blog Editor at robin@artstlouis.org

Rachel Whiteread Exhibition at SLAM

by Natalie Avondet

Not realizing the cut-off time for entering the "Rachel Whiteread" exhibit at the Saint Louis Art Museum was a full hour earlier than the close of the Museum, my pace is hurried if not an all out run.  The sound of my heels and their echo are almost indecipherable. A taptaptaptaptap. More like a typewriter than an echo.

With only a few minutes to spare, I reach the entrance. Hand over my ticket. Flash a smile. Check to make sure I didn’t break heel…not an unusual occurrence for me. I am in. A glance here. A glance there. I take note of what looks like a door, several “boxes” arranged in a grid on the floor, and a few hot water bottles on a shelf.

Not knowing much about the exhibiting artist, Rachel Whiteread, I decide to read the pamphlet.  She’s British. Good to know. She was the first woman to win the Turner Prize for sculpture in 1993.  Interesting. Known for her solid casts of negative spaces, she is one of the world’s leading contemporary sculptors. Very interesting.

Installation view of the exhibition "Rachel Whiteread" on view at the Saint Louis Art Museum from March 17 to June 9, 2019.  © Rachel Whiteread

I check out the hot water bottles. The “boxes.” The door. I hear the echos of the other patrons’ whispers. Should I whisper, too? Examining the displays a little closer, I realize the hot water bottles are casts of the interior of each vessel. Each “box” is a mold of the underside of a chair. The door is simply an impression of its exterior. Now, the negative space is clear.

Whiteread is casting the blank space inside the hot water bottle, around the chair, on the exterior of the door to create her work. Essentially, she is recreating the mold that was or could have been used to create the object. She is taking the subject back to its origin and preserving the memory of its form and every memory it holds from its creation to its time of casting.

In Whiteread’s own words, “In a way.  It’s almost like taking photographs or making prints of the space. If those parts of the building don’t exit later, I’ll still have, as you say, the archive of the place.’’ A blueprint, if you will. As stated, her work transcends the blueprint. She has also “found a way to make memories solid.” For it is in that space, the memory takes place.

Though each cast of each door can be used to re-create a door, each cast holds the memory of a knock; its opening to a first date or a soldier returning home from war. Each cast of each hot water bottle holds the memory of a home remedy. A mother’s touch. Comfort.

Her works range in size, material and color. From a tiny toilet paper roll to a full sale Victorian house which earned her the aforementioned Turner Prize; from resin to concrete; from translucent to pink… she explores similarities and differences.

Though the door casts are similar, each has its own knicks and scrapes from years of knocks, or as Whiteread has more eloquently stated, “the residue of years and years of use.” And though we may not have ever knocked on that particular door, we all share a memory of knocking on some door, somewhere, some time; and therein, lies the experience, similar yet different.

It’s 5:00 p.m. The exhibit is closing. I’m hungry anyway. As I leave, I return to the door through which I entered. I am walking more slowly now. There is no hurry. The echo of my stride is a much more familiar echo. Tap….tappptappptappp. Tap…tappptappptappp. Tap…tappptappptappp. Similar yet different than an hour before. Just one of the memories the space between these walls hold. Hmmm. I wonder if my barefeet would produce an echo?

If you had a chance to see the exhibit, what was your take away?  Comments welcome.
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"Rachel Whiteread" is on display at Saint Louis Art Museum March 17 through June 9, 2019. Museum hours are Tuesday-Sunday 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Friday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Last ticket entry of day is one hour prior to Museum closing. Saint Louis Art Museum is located at One Fine Arts Drive in Forest Park, St. Louis, MO 63110. 314/721-0072. Admission to the Museum is free every day. Admission to main exhibitions is free on Friday and free to SLAM members, otherwise tickets are required. Tickets for this exhibit are: $6 (children 5 & under), $8 (seniors & students), $12 (adults).

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Natalie Avondet is a St. Louis-based artist. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Journalism/Advertising with a Minor in Psychology from University of Missouri's School of Journalism. Natalie's early career was in commercial advertising in the Midwest and Los Angeles. Art is a lifelong passion and she began seriously painting and exhibiting in galleries while in Los Angeles. Determined to pursue her artistic career, she returned to the Midwest and since then has exhibited in Kansas City, Los Angeles and Saint Louis. Her work is represented locally by Grafica Fine Art Gallery. You can reach out to her and comment on this post through her blog.