Tuesday, November 2, 2010

From the street to the gallery

by Louis Nahlik

"Westward Expansion"
Philip Slein Gallery, St. Louis, MO
September 16-October 30, 2010

New Pop I” and “Ink Vehicles!
St. Louis Artists' Guild, St. Louis, MO
September 5-October 29, 2010

Shepard Fairey. Rise Above Fist. 2007. Screen Print and Collage on Paper, 42"x29". Image courtesy of Philip Slein Gallery.

The segue of street and graffiti art from the street to the gallery has become more and more the norm. Banksy, the world’s biggest street artist, had a solo show at the Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery last year, and Jean-Michel Basquiat has had a small resurgence recently in a film and a retrospective at The Musee d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (his lifelong dream). One of the most popular contemporary street artists, Shepard Fairey, has been all over the news since his iconic “Hope” poster aided President Obama’s campaign in 2008. So it is fitting that one of Fairey’s pieces, Rise Above Fist (2007), opened the show “Westward Expansion,” on view at the Philip Slein Gallery. The show, curated by Justin Giarla, is an extraordinary example of the blurring between street and gallery art.

Dan Zettwoch. Assorted Doodles. Screenprint, Ink, Marker, and Pencil on Paper and Cardboard. Photograph by Louis Nahlik.

Two separate but related shows at the St. Louis Artists’ Guild, “New Pop I” by Stan Chisholm, and “Ink Vehicles!” by Dan Zettwoch, are similarly street-influenced, though still gallery-oriented, perhaps moreso than "Westward Expansion." “New Pop I” consists of four characters on paper that Chisholm has suspended from the walls as well as a collection of his “one liners,” described by the Artists' Guild as “a museum of orphaned advice from an omniscient voice whispering this generations truisms that have yet to solidify as true.” The one liners include: NeverInHistoryHasACauseBeenFaithfulToOnlyOneEffect, DoEverythingMore, PrideAndGrossGroceries, OldSoulsDieYoungerThanYou, and my favorite, AdultsReplaceImaginationWithReference. They are simple reflections of life in the Twitter-generation, slyly humorous yet reflective and poignant. Like street art, the one-liners are very of-the-moment. They are immediate, lasting only until a new artist spray-paints over them.

Stan Chisolm. (left) The Twins. 2010; (right) Pride. 2010. Photograph by Louis Nahlik.

Chisholm’s four characters in the show are more lasting than the one liners, but still largely street influenced. They are big, each about 5 feet tall, are made with ink and marker on paper, and attached with Styrofoam to the cream-colored gallery walls, on which Chisholm has drawn simple horizon lines to ground the pieces. The Twins (2010) is a depiction of a male and female connected twin with one head and two faces, looking opposite directions. The male wears boxing gloves and the female has a beak-like mouth. The head itself is a block-form, reminiscent of cartoons, manga, or Star Wars. The woman holds a wire which is attaches to the flags of the next piece, Pride (2010). Pride is a fallen soldier, a character lying prostrate on the ground with graves in the background and flags like Nepalese prayer flags blowing in the gallery’s breeze above him. This character’s head is more like a Star Wars Storm Trooper’s than anything, and ties the work into sci-fi or fantasy art. The best character of the four is Cape (2010). It is a falling hero: a character with shoelaces untied, eyes closed, limp, and upside-down, falling towards the earth, his cape trailing behind him in defeat. All of the pieces deal with failure of some sort, some type of failing that Chisholm is able to capture and amplify on the walls of the gallery.

Dan Zettwoch. Lou Thesz, James Eads, Mike Shannon, Redd Foxx. 2010. Three-Color Screenprints on Chipboard, 18”x24”. Photograph by Louis Nahlik.

The other show on the first floor of the gallery, “Ink Vehicles!,” by Dan Zettwoch, is a collection of numerous printed works done by Zettwoch (who, along with Kevin Huizenga writes and illustrates “Amazing Facts & Beyond with Leon Beyond” in The Riverfront Times). The prints are gorgeous, colored and printed perfectly. Many are St. Louis-related, including his St. Louis Folk Icons series: Lou Thesz, James Eads, Mike Shannon, and Redd Foxx, all 3-color screenprints on chipboard, 18”x24,” 2010. All four prints are filled with the image of the titular man in the middle filled with facts and quotes and smaller illustrations around, blanketing the entire piece with imagery, causing you to look at them longer than you normally would. There are also two beautiful St. Louis food-related prints, The Slinger, another 3-color screenprint, 20”x30,” depicting a dripping sandwich, and St. Louis Style, a 12”x32” 3-color screenprint depicting a brain sandwich, St. Paul sandwich, StL style pizza, toasted ravioli, gooey butter cake, Vess soda, and frozen custard. Zettwoch has also filled the walls with various other prints, concert posters, t-shirts, assorted doodles, and other errata. They exhibit his extraordinary technical prowess and creativity. All are obviously done by the same hand but are varied enough in style to maintain interest. The process and sketch wall is especially interesting, seeing his eraser marks and the sketches on various pieces of paper and scraps of cardboard. Zettwoch is less street-influenced than Chisholm, but the prints in and of themselves are very representative of stencil graffiti. Zettwoch’s work is also very current and contemporary, bringing you in with its color and keeping you in with its detail, much like graffiti.

Greg Gossel. Lindsay 2, Lindsay 1, Mischa 2, Mischa 1. Acrylic, Silkscreen, Collage, Graphite, and Spray Paint on Stretched Canvas, 48"x48". Image courtesy of Philip Slein Gallery.

Casey Gray’s two pieces at Philip Slein, Her Fume and Miss Conception 2, as well as Above’s Sex at Noon, are most similar to Zettwoch’s pieces, especially in terms of the color and flatness of the pieces. Blek le Rat’s work is the most obvious graffiti work, two of which, Checkpoint Charlie and Man Who Walks Through Walls, are pictures of his actual street work. Fairey’s fist piece, mentioned above, is probably the best example of the convention between street and gallery art. A fist done in Fairey’s trademark style rises to the sky atop a red and white patterned background. On the wrist is a watch with “Obey” on the band and a sliver of Andre the Giant on the face. Fairey encourages us to fight the man, but remember to get back to work on time; street art meet gallery art. Other pieces in the show are extraordinarily Pop art influenced, namely Greg Gossel’s Liechtenstein-esque piece, Record, and Lindsay 2, Lindsay 1, Mischa 1, and Mischa 2, four pieces similar to Warhol’s Jackie and Marilyn prints. Gossel’s pieces are painted and printed on collages made up of tabloids and other printed materials in which the exploits of Lindsay Lohan and Mischa Barton are gossiped. They are great pieces, alone and as a foursome, and show how Pop art is eternally contemporary. They draw you in from the back wall of the main gallery and, when seen up close, are even more rewarding because of the texture and words from the collages, rewarding continual view like Zettwoch’s work. The other pieces in “Westward Expansion” are impressive and help meld the street/gallery relationship.

Stan Chisolm. Cape. 2010. Photograph by Louis Nahlik.

The three shows together blur the line between street and gallery art, and exhibit phenomenal examples of why that is happening more and more in contemporary art. Street is off-the-cuff and of the moment, something that gallery art can forget to be. Showing the work in galleries has an interesting effect on the pieces and the artists themselves, giving them a sense of legitimacy, whereas their work on the street is largely illegal and disruptive (maintaining their street identity by presenting the work under their aliases is another facet of street art that you can’t help but notice). Bringing the street to the gallery is a great way to keep art interesting and current and will only increase in occurrence.

The exhibits highlighted in this posting recently closed. However, new exhibits open on November 12, 2010 at both Philip Slein Gallery and St. Louis Artists' Guild. Philip Slein Gallery is located at 1319 Washington Avenue, St. Louis, MO. 314/621-4634. Gallery hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. St. Louis Artists' Guild is located at Two Oak Knoll Park, St. Louis, MO. Gallery hours: Tuesday-Sunday, 12-4 p.m.

Louis Nahlik is a Fall 2010 Intern at Art Saint Louis. A St. Louis native, Louis is a 2010 graduate of UM-St. Louis, where he earned a Bachelor of Liberal Studies in Art History & Studio Art.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

“Elad Lassry: Sum of Limited Views” and “Richard Artschwager: Hair”

by Louis Nahlik

Elad Lassry: Sum of Limited Views” and “Richard Artschwager: Hair
Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, St. Louis, MO
September 10, 2010-January 2, 2011

The two concurrent shows on view at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, “Elad Lassry: Sum of Limited Views” and “Richard Artschwager: Hair,” revolve around a similar theme of the representation of figures and objects. The three galleries and performance space inside the Museum are split fairly evenly among the two artists. The first and third exhibition spaces are dedicated to Lassry, the first filled with his still images and the third filled with his moving images. The second, larger exhibition space is solely Artschwager. The performance space has one piece by each artist, a physical connection making apparent the thematic connection.

Gallery view: “Elad Lassry: Sum of Limited Views.” Photograph by Louis Nahlik.

Elad Lassry was born in Tel Aviv in 1977 and currently works in Los Angeles. His still images, what he calls his “pictures” (as opposed to photographs) are instantly beautiful and settling. Numerous portraits and still lifes are beautifully shot and framed in frames painted with the predominant color of the image it holds. Lassry’s pictures are made up of publicity photos, found objects, and created objects. All are very particular to the piece at hand, and work with one another oddly yet appropriately. Entering the gallery from the right of the lobby, the first encounter is numerous brightly colored rectangles, about 10 per wall, all at the same level, surrounding the room. Most measure 11”x14,” and, due to their small stature, require the viewer to come in closer to experience and really see each piece.

Gallery view: “Elad Lassry: Sum of Limited Views.” Photograph by Louis Nahlik.

Lassry’s use of models and his change of them into objects themselves is excellent. Man 071 (2007) is a portrait of a handsome man with shoulder length brown hair. The numbering of the man makes him more an object than a person, the effect of which further instills Man 071 into the show as a whole. Another piece, titled Cat Toy 2, reinforces that fact. The man also exhibits another of Lassry’s features not utilized enough in this show: multiple exposures on a single frame. This effect is especially unsettling. Initially, Man 071 looks like any other of Lassry’s portrait pieces, but Man 071 has four eyes. Lassry uses the double exposure effect on the model’s eyes only, requiring the viewer to take a second look to confirm what may have been suspected, giving the piece an unsettling feeling. A few other pieces in the show utilize the same effect: 3 Variations on a Bob, Silver Grey (2006), Felicia (2008), and Guinevere (2009), the last two of which have an equally dizzying background pattern, enhancing the effect. These pieces are perfectly nestled amongst unassuming still lives of ceramic monkeys, meat, artichokes, onions, eggs in a carton, tomatillos, and a number of other things that Lassry has found or assembled. The pieces really only work as a set, though, and, taken alone, lose the effect that is so great when a part of a group. The pictures themselves are beautiful and equally nice to look at as diptychs or triptychs, but for one to question what it means to create a picture, a group is necessary.

Gallery view: “Elad Lassry: Sum of Limited Views.” Photograph by Louis Nahlik.

Lassry’s films are as haunting, even more so, as the multiple exposure pieces. They are slow motion 16 millimeter and super 16 millimeter films featuring various forms and the representation of the forms. The first, Zebra and Woman (2007), is just that. A camera slowly pans from the back of a zebra to its head, creating some unsettling, vibrating stripes that fill the frame when the camera is seemingly stuck between haunch and head. The black and white stripes fill the wider super 16mm frame, and the breathing of the animal causes the stripes to ripple back and forth extraordinarily slowly, almost to the point of it being an illusion. As if you staring at the stripes causes their vibrations. There is a moment of black screen before the same technique is used on a woman’s head. Believably, the time of the blackness on the screen could merely be the time it’s taken the camera to pan from the zebra to the woman locked together in a stare. A blonde, unassuming woman is filmed in profile from her face rightwards to the back of her head. The debilitatingly slow speed is equally unsettling when used on the woman, especially if she has been staring at the zebra this entire time. The woman especially reflects Lassry’s pictures in the front gallery, cropped and shot perfectly according to the piece with which it works.

The second film’s inspiration is a trompe l’oeil image that Lassry found of a one story, four-walled building from a 1971 science textbook. Untitled (2008) features a simple, blue and yellow square house painted on a white floor. An assortment of models pose and interact with the piece to make it as 3-d looking as possible, to some avail. A few of the actors are character actors from commercials or other media outlets, causing the viewer to look twice due to an unmistakable, but un-namable, recognition. One actor that especially struck me looked liked a handsome combination of Rob Lowe and Tom Cruise. This double-take effect the bit characters extract from the viewer resembles Man 071 in that it requires the viewer to look longer at a piece, a very affective effect.

The third film, Untitled (Agon) (2007), consists of two dancers interacting. It also plays in slow motion, giving the dancers added emotion and a heavier storyline. It is derived from a dance from the 1950s, and pays homage to the fact, but there is a feeling in this piece that is not evident in the others in that there ought to be more or less to it. The dance is beautiful and serene, but the background draws too much from the dancers, who don’t show enough to overcome the busy background to stand alone. But, like Lassry’s pictures, the piece works in the room with the other two films to give a more general ambience and effect that could not have otherwise been attained.

The noise of the projectors is something else entirely worthy of mention. Although the films themselves are all silent, the noise of the projectors is heard throughout the entire museum, enticing visitors to the back gallery in order to find the source.

Gallery view: “Richard Artschwager: Hair.” Photograph by Louis Nahlik.

The Richard Artschwager installation in the second gallery could have any piece stand alone beautifully. It is a wonderfully arranged show featuring predominantly hair-based pieces, the earliest dated 1969 and the most recent completed just a month or two before the show opened.

Artschwager has a storied history: he was born in Washington D.C. in 1923 and began making furniture in the 1950s. He has been grouped with a number of his contemporaries and movements, but always seems to outlast or outchange them and stay relevant to this day. His work as a furniture maker (his most known art pieces are made mainly of wood and Formica), led him to this exploration of hair. Old sofas and chairs used to be filled with rubberized horsehair to make them more comfortable. Artschwager literally flipped this idea inside-out and began creating pieces that showcased the aesthetics of the hair itself. There are a few recognizable objects in the show: a table, a table and seats, a chair, and exclamation points. But that’s it. Most of the other pieces resemble humans in some capacity, but are largely abstracted and turned more into forms than figures. These people are also faceless and, like Lassry’s, nameless, reduced to objects. Artschwager’s colors painted on them seems arbitrary to the persona of the piece as well; they are painted according to aesthetics, or chance on some pieces.

Gallery view: “Richard Artschwager: Hair.” Photograph by Louis Nahlik.

Most of Artschwager's pieces begin as scribbles or newspaper clippings blown up to the size they appear, the result of which blurs all of the pieces (he calls this “imperfect precision). He is making the familiar shape of a person into something unfamiliar and unsettling. The objects are distorted and blurred. Even the nameable objects are skewed: the chair, High Backed Chair (1988, rubberized hair on painted wood, 64 3/4“x37”x40”), is a chair with rubberized hair extruding from between the vertical wooden slabs, making its usage, let alone its comfort, questionable. The table, Drawing of a Table (1984-85, rubberized hair and wood, 36”x46”x15”), has the same effect of the chair. Its usability is questionable, which is especially irreverent to Artschwager due to his history as a furniture maker. He is making that which is usually accessible: a piece of furniture, into something inaccessible: a piece of art.

Gallery view: “Richard Artschwager: Hair.” Photograph by Louis Nahlik.

Artschwager’s wall-mounted pieces are terrific, and, like Lassry’s images, have a much better effect in a group. One of Artschwager’s iconic blp pieces is hung vertically by a doorway, and another is suspended about 20 feet up in the corner of the wall 60 feet to the left of the first blp. In between, and on the perpendicular wall, are a collection of hair pieces seeming to reach the Bristle Corner (1995, acrylic bristles and wood, 24”x 8”x8”). They all splay one way or another, or lay vertically, but all are a part of this greater quest to reach the blp. Artschwager deals with perception and deception within the pieces, the representation of form. The pieces are “a sincere celebration of making and looking at objects and pictures” (Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis), and really only have the full effect when seen in person. The desire to touch these pieces is another aspect of the feeling of inaccessibility, a quality which the museum has attempted to overcome by providing samples of the rubberized horsehair that visitors are welcome to touch. Books and an iPad upstairs are also waiting for the interaction that is unattainable in the galleries.

Ultimately, the two shows work together perfectly. What had started as an Artschwager idea turned into something bigger and more beautiful, “imperfectly precise.” The crisp clear images combat the abstracted form, the shaky film images appear almost scribble like in some frames, and form is evident throughout. It is an older and newer generation of artists with interacting and appropriate shows, playing with the idea of representation, of image and object. The blurring of the representation of form and the method of showing that form is a common thread throughout modern art history, and these two artists carry on that discussion to the present.

Elad Lassry: Sum of Limited Views” and “Richard Artschwager: Hair” remain on view through January 2, 2011. Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis is located at 3750 Washington Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63108. 314/535-4660. Gallery hours are Wednesday-Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Closed Monday & Tuesday. Admission: Free to all Wednesdays & Saturdays; All other days: $5/adults;$3/seniors; free/CAMSTL members.

Louis Nahlik is a Fall 2010 Intern at Art Saint Louis. A St. Louis native, Louis is a 2010 graduate of UM-St. Louis, where he earned a Bachelor of Liberal Studies in Art History & Studio Art.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Ruth Ann Reese: A Story to Tell

by Patty Sheppard

Riddles of Becoming
St. Louis Community College Meramec, Kirkwood, MO
August 23-October 31, 2010

I think that in each of us there is a story that we want to tell. Each of us tells it in our own unique way. A mother may tell her story to her child in her own words, little by little, as the years unfold. An artist may relate their story in a different way than a musician or a historian. Rhythmic patterns narrate the repetitive acts of the artist that made them and hand made items preserve the marks of the maker’s hands and tools. Images float across the surface of a painting in many colors, shapes and forms. These patterns and images are like a story waiting to be told.

Ruth Reese. La Chusa. 9"x7"x8”. Photo by Ruth Reese.

Ruth Ann Reese has been telling stories since she was a little girl; initially through drawings, her first works of art. She became a student of words, myths, and literature, then chose to speak within the discipline of sculpture and her chosen medium: clay. Clay is so seductive and soft to work with; it can retain a visible softness, frozen in the firing. Ruth’s figures pause, frozen in their pose, halted in their thoughts. They seem to whisper to the viewer the secrets hidden behind their stony exteriors. Patterns and florals appear and disappear on the surfaces, spilling out into the exterior from inside. The stories are set up for you to finish in your own way. Figures and vessels drip with pearlescent surfaces, shiny dotted and floral patterns, outlined checks. Like a vignette within a play; or a scene (complete with costumes, set design and actors) about to be reenacted, Reese’s work challenges my mind and indulges my eyes.

Clown and the Chimera II. Earthenware, 23"x10"x6”. Photo by Ruth Reese.

In The Clown and the Chimera, an architectural piece based on a box-like form, a larger figure with a soft, delicate hand reaches around a crumbling structure, beckoning you to look inside where a small goat-woman (chimera) with a crown looks from within, through an open window. Just as in a dream, these figures can evoke both comfort and trepidation. Chimeras, which come from Greek mythology, sometimes represent a foolish or impossible fantasy. I found myself weaving my own ending to the story that Ruth has set up in her sculpture. There are two pieces like this, one with red and orange flowers decorating the medieval structure and a large “clown” figure emerging from its exterior. A giraffe looks around the yellow, red and blue checked structure, while a bird and rattle accompany the clown in the other. The richly patterned surfaces draw me further into the story and remind me of cloisonné jewelry and patterned fabrics at the same time.

Ruth Reese. Clown and the Chimera I. Earthenware, 23"x9.5"x6”. Photo by Ruth Reese.

A large figure with the tail of a lobster rests in a seated position, with outstretched hand. This sculpture, adorned with clinging sea life, is the largest in the exhibit, about the size of a young child. Spirals and snakelike formations adhere to her body as if she were either underwater or had just emerged from the deep. Faded, bleached out colors give her the appearance of an ancient goddess while her soft facial expression creates a deceivingly youthful and human appearance.

Ruth Reese. Sphinx. Earthenware, 20"x11"x4”. Photo by Ruth Reese.

Three flat vases, La Chusa: Silent Call, Sphinx, and a mermaid vase entitled Antargatis, are less sculptural, more decorative than the others with shiny narratives floating on their surfaces. They tell combinations of stories about goddesses and a Sphinx, the first mermaid (Antargatis) and their symbols. The intricate incising and drawing tells their story like a detailed tapestry or embroidery, rich in color and imagery. La Chusa appears in the display again, as the small, completely white sculpture of an owl woman who, in Hispanic folklore, takes away people’s souls when death is near. Her wings are exquisitely rendered in detailed relief.

Ruth Reese. Antargatis. Earthenware, 19"x9"x3”. photo by Ruth Reese.

I asked Ruth if she had a favorite piece: “My favorite piece is the one that I am currently working on in that moment, because of the potential that it holds. An unfinished piece that I am pursuing has a promise within it, a secret to be revealed. The secret could be form, a texture, a symbol, a lesson. . . it’s the adventure of making that keeps me curious, keeps me devoted.”

Ruth Reese. La Chusa: Silent Call. Earthenware, 19"x6"x2.5”. Photo by Ruth Reese.

Ruth’s work is currently on display at St. Louis Community College Meramec in the Humanities East Building. This exhibit is presented in the display case just outside the College’s excellent ceramics department, which is chaired by ceramics virtuoso Jim Ibur, who hand-picked Ruth to teach with him in 2007, and where she continues to teach and inspire students with her work. Ruth was also Jim Ibur’s choice in 2009 for a national ceramics exhibit entitled “Potters as Sculptors/Sculptors as Potters.” which he organized and curated for that year's NCECA Conference in Phoenix, Arizona. For that exhibit, Ruth’s ceramic pieces were exhibited alongside some of the clay artists who have inspired her such as Ron Meyers and Debra Fritts.

Ruth Reese. Nyx, Earthenware, 24"x18"x23”. Photo by Ruth Reese.

Ruth's work has been juried into many local and national shows, such as “Red Heat: Contemporary Works in Clay,” at the Alexandre Hogue Gallery at the University of Tulsa, Tulsa, Oklahoma (September 30-November 4, 2010), in which her dark crouching figure Nyx is currently on exhibit. Her work is also currently featured at Baltimore Clayworks in the show, “Body and Soul” (October 2-November 13, 2010). Her work was recently featured in the faculty & alumni exhibit, “Pleasant Memories” at Maryville University St. Louis, where she currently teaches clay classes as well. Ruth’s artworks have been published in two books: 500 Plates and Chargers (Lark Books, 2008) and the upcoming 500 Raku (Lark Books, 2011).

Ruth Ann Reese’s work will also be on view in the upcoming exhibits: “Liquid Measure” Main Street Art Gallery, Edwardsville, IL (November 5-27, 2010); “STLCC Meramec Faculty Exhibit” St. Louis Community College Meramec, Kirkwood, MO (November 19-December 9, 2010); and “Art Saint Louis presents Ruth Reese," Fleishman-Hillard, St. Louis, MO (December 17, 2010-February 18, 2011).

Become absorbed in the stories and surfaces and visit Ruth Reese's exhibit "Riddles of Becoming," currently on view at St. Louis Community College Meramec.

Riddles of Becoming” remains on view through October 31, 2010 at St. Louis Community College at Meramec, Humanities East Building (in the glass cases just outside the ceramics room), 11333 Big Bend Boulevard, Kirkwood, MO 63122. 314/984-7632. The building is open 9 a.m.-9 p.m., and Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Patty Sheppard is a clay artist who currently teaches design classes at STLCC Meramec.

Friday, September 17, 2010

"New and Used"

by Louis Nahlik

New and Used
William Shearburn Gallery, St. Louis, MO
September 10-October 16, 2010

Painter Kit Keith’s pieces are instantly nostalgic, recalling vintage 1950s and '60s ads, paintings, imagery, and style. Her collages are made largely of period materials and recall artists of that era: Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, Ray Johnson, and, most directly, Larry Rivers. Keith is set apart, though, by both the era in which she works and her femininity, both in life and in her work.

All of the pieces in “New and Used,” Kit Keith's new show at the William Shearburn Gallery in the Central West End, are portraits of women, ranging in size from 11”x14” to 36”x54”. The portraits are almost all black and white, with some containing blue mid-tones, and are all set dead-center atop or amidst collages assembled on vintage advertisements, magazines, and, in the main pieces of this show, maps. The collages are enhanced by Keith’s painting on them. The relationship between the paintings and collages are what makes the pieces work, and ties them all together with a common thread.

Kit Keith. Sarasota, Florida. 2010. Acrylic and Mixed Media on Paper, 20"x39".
Photo courtesy of William Shearburn Gallery.

The one piece that stands more apart than the rest is Sarasota, Florida. Keith spent her youth in Sarasota, the home of Ringling Brothers Circus. The circus influence is evident in the vivid sign on which she painted: an old circus announcement with a clown and beautiful combination of red, blue, and yellow background. This piece is also different in that it features two portraits.

Kit Keith. Verna Belle. 2009. Acrylic and Collage on Vintage Map, 46"x 35".
Photo courtesy of William Shearburn Gallery.

The strongest pieces in the show are her larger works on maps, specifically Verna Bella and Girls Got It Bad. Verna Bella features a large picture of the virgin Mary with a smaller black and white picture of a woman with a naked child on her lap. Below the image of Mary is a small portrait painted in by Keith, as well as the phrase “I miss my mother” made of cutout magazine letters. The relation between the mother of Jesus Christ as well as the mother in the picture and, ultimately, to Keith’s own mother, gives the piece some weight and some history (thousands of years) of motherhood and child-rearing.

Kit Keith. Girls Got it Bad. 2010. Acrylic and Collage on Vintage Map, 46"x35".
Photo courtesy of William Shearburn Gallery.

Girls Got it Bad
showcases Keith’s humor more so than any of the others in the show. There is a large painted portrait in the middle of the piece, with a circle painted around it in yellow. That is edged with petals of magazine cutouts, giving the portrait some sort of floral quality. Above that is a magazine ad of a woman within a lifesaver buoy. The text on the buoy reads: “Libby’s wife saver meals,” which probably refers to some sort of Hamburger Helper or something of that sort that helps make the wife’s job of making dinner that much easier. “This meal is a life-saver” the woman appears to be saying. Keith highlights this by putting more magazine petal cutouts around the buoy, turning the ad into a smaller flower, a little gem of 1960s advertising.

The gallery displays a great collection of recent Keith works, and is especially appropriate to the pieces because of the gallery’s floor. The age of the floor and textures in the cracks and just normal wear and tear relate to the patterns on the maps and to the general vintage feel of Keith’s pieces. It’s barely noticeable, but provides that much more of an effect of the show as a whole.

New and Used” remains on view through October 16, 2010. William Shearburn Gallery is located at 4735 McPherson Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63108. 314/367-8020. The Gallery is open Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Louis Nahlik is a Fall 2010 Intern at Art Saint Louis. A St. Louis native, Louis is a 2010 graduate of UM-St. Louis, where he earned a Bachelor of Liberal Studies in Art History & Studio Art.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Communication in translation

by Christy Wahl

Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts, St. Louis, MO
July 9, 2010-January 22, 2011

Ann Hamilton’s stylus is less an installation than a visual and aural experience. Hamilton has animated the Pulitzer space and created an inversion of the senses. The various stations within the space act as tools or producers of communication.

The touch pad, where one is asked to “sign-in,” triggers the pianos in the Cube and the Lower Gallery to sound in response. In the Main Gallery, a microphone and a rolling table sit on a steel table and when one speaks into the microphone the “talking pianos” answer the call with a flurry of notes; the movement of the piano keys makes the voice palpable. Within the environment there is the sound of materiality.

stylus - a project by Ann Hamilton, 2010. The Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts.

Visitors are encouraged to try on the paper hands that sit paired in the cubbies in the Main Gallery. Even the hands have their own sound emission. Hamilton is asking us to see things differently and to pay attention, but she is also inviting us to have fun.

stylus - a project by Ann Hamilton, 2010. The Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts.

Unlike most installations, this one is interactive (jumping beans excluded) and has built into it a wonderful element of play. Visitors can don paper hands, play a piano, pick out records, and peruse books. The rolling table in the Main Gallery evokes memories of the old Labyrinth game and the image projected on the wall when one first enters the space is either clapping or boxing your ears. The input of the viewer is paramount to the installation; however one may choose how to interpret the experience.

stylus remains on view through January 22, 2011. Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts is located at 3716 Washington Blvd. St. Louis, MO. 314/754-1850. Admission is free. Gallery hours: W 12-5 p.m., Th 6-9 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m.-5 p.m.


Christy Wahl holds degrees in art history and liberal arts. She enjoys making, writing about, and looking at art. As a Wisconsin native, she also enjoys beer and cheese.

Monday, August 16, 2010

"Scenes from Europe—Summer 2010"

by Michelle Kimberlin, Art Saint Louis Summer 2010 Intern

"Scenes from Europe—Summer 2010"
Grafica Fine Art Gallery, Webster Groves, MO
July 30-August 27, 2010

Every year, students from Nerinx Hall High School in Webster Groves, Missouri venture abroad with a few faculty in order to experience the language, culture, and last but not least, the fine art of Europe. For the past few summers, these students have been accompanied by Tom Hunt, an art & humanities teacher at Nerinx Hall.

Each time he returns to St. Louis, Mr. Hunt brings back several of his own landscape paintings, capturing some of the most beautiful areas and architecture Europe has to offer. These paintings currently reside in the Grafica Fine Art Gallery in Webster Groves.

Tom Hunt. Florence Red Morning. Oil on Panel.

The subject matter of Mr. Hunt’s recent landscape paintings includes popular scenes such as the Eiffel Tower in Paris, The Arch of Constantine in Rome, as well as scenes along the Seine River. Each work consists of oil paint on a wooden panel. These materials allow the artist to manipulate how the light plays on the surfaces and gives a unique texture to each painting.

Tom Hunt. Coliseum, Rome. Oil on Panel.

The manner in which Hunt paints resembles the techniques used by impressionistic painter Claude Monet. He tends to use noticeable brushstrokes and certainly uses these strokes to create light and reflections on the water. Florence Red Morning, for example, contains strokes that create a clear vision of the Cathedral Duomo, but it is flooded by a wave of red warmth, indicating sunrise.

The show contains 16 of Hunt’s paintings, some of which have been duplicated into prints that are for sale to the public. Most of his paintings are for sale as well, unless otherwise specified. Accompanying Tom Hunt’s work are the paintings of some of the students who were part of his summer painting course. These paintings on the far wall of the gallery and showcase the talent of Nerinx Hall high school students. It was interesting to observe similarities between their work and the work of their mentor, Tom Hunt.

Tom Hunt. Arch of Constantine. Oil on Panel.

It was a treat to see the talents of Mr. Hunt and his students highlighted in this exhibit. Thank you to Lary & Lynn Bozzay of Grafica Fine Art Gallery for their hospitality in regards to this exhibition review.

"Scenes from Europe—Summer 2010" remains on view through August 27. A free closing reception and opportunity to meet artist Tom Hunt will be held on August 27, 2010, from 6-9 p.m. Grafica Fine Art Gallery is located at 7884 Big Bend Blvd., Webster Groves, MO. 314/961-4020. Gallery hours: M-F 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. & Sat. 12-4 p.m.

Michelle Kimberlin is currently wrapping up her Summer 2010 internship with Art Saint Louis. Michelle is about to embark on her senior year at Truman State University in Kirksville, MO where she is an Art History major with a minor in Italian Studies.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A brief interview with St. Louis artist Nancy Newman Rice

by Helene Wildi, Art Saint Louis Summer 2010 Intern

Nancy Newman Rice. From the "Reflections from Home Series," Fading Light. 2010. Oil on canvas, 20"x20".

Helene Wildi:- The last time I saw you was at your Summer 2009 Show at Duane Reed Gallery – where you had the paintings from the Dark Reflections and Chairs series. How is your recent work now?

Nancy Newman Rice:- The colors are lighter and slightly more varied, but still muted. The image is more abstract – the story is about light and reflection. The images come directly from one particular window in my house-the angle of the light and the resulting shadows and reflections that change with the season and the hours.

HW:- You had been using pointillism for "vibrancy of the colors." Why is there a change in technique?

NR:- My life has settled down and I have more time to think and to work. A slightly more blended approach produces the effect that I want.

HW:- Your source of inspiration was "art history, family and dreams." Has that changed?

NR:- Oh yeah! It still has to do with dreams and memories which are sometimes inseparable. As a kid, you spend – at least I did – lots of time on your own and I got really intrigued with light – light patterns, light reflections. I did a painting in 1974, and exhibited it in my first faculty show at Maryville University: a reflection of light on our apartment wall. I guess I have made somewhat of a circle in terms of my subject matter.

HW:- During your winter 2008 sabbatical from Maryville University, you published a book of personal writings – did that influence the direction in your paintings?

NR:- No. Initially I was going to write about my own work using my experience writing art criticism, monographs, and catalog essays. I just could not do it objectively. So, I wrote about the origin of my paintings.

HW:- You are recognized for your work in oil. Do you ever use other media such as acrylic? Prints?

NR:- Not recently although, as an undergraduate, I double-majored in painting and printmaking and started the intaglio program at Maryville University. I used to paint in acrylic when the kids were young... I did not want to poison them with the oil paint or solvents (she laughs!). I am still trying to find a printmaking method that works with my imagery...

HW:- New upcoming show?

NR:- There are talks... I also do have some portrait commissions to complete.

Nancy Newman Rice is a founding member of Art Saint Louis. She is represented by Duane Reed Gallery, St. Louis, MO and her works are included in public and private collections in the U.S. as well as abroad.

Helene Wildi is currently wrapping up her Summer 2010 internship with Art Saint Louis. She is a senior in Studio Art studying drawing, painting & metalsmithing at Maryville University in St. Louis. Helene will earn her B.F.A. in December 2010.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

"Articles of Dress"

by Jennifer Weigel

"Articles of Dress"
Craft Alliance, University City, MO
March 12-May 9, 2010

Susan Freda. Amber Dew. Photograph courtesy of Craft Alliance.

In "Articles of Dress,"currently on view at Craft Alliance, Susan Freda, Brenda Jones and John Petrey comment on the beauty, elegance, fragility, and strength of the human form while exploring fashion and what is worn as a means of covering, concealment, embellishment and identity formation. Like many current fiber artists, they utilize traditional fiber techniques, such as crocheting, lace making, stitching, and embellishment, while incorporating non-traditional materials, such as steel wire, waxed paper and bottle caps. Such works can thus reference past traditions while offering a take off point for reassessment and reconsideration, and this is further reiterated in these artworks’ lack of functionality as wearables, with them instead acting as purely conceptual and decorative forms that allude to non-existent wearers.

Susan Freda. Falling Leaves. Photograph courtesy of Craft Alliance.

Susan Freda’s elaborately crocheted and woven dress forms, including Amber Dew and Falling Leaves, bespeak past use while referencing natural forms: shed skins, crystalline formations and deteriorating fallen leaves. These forms, stretched as though their past inhabitants wriggled and writhed themselves free, appear as remnants that beg the question of who their wearers were and what became of them. Resembling wispy remains or encasings, like outgrown snake skins that were cast off, their laciness bespeaks a sense of fragility that again hearkens to the natural world. Also included in the show are several pairs of resin shoes by Susan Freda, including a pair of clear shoes comprised of resin and glass that allude to Cinderella’s glass slippers. These delicate heels further explore that which has been cast off while evoking a sense of preciousness, fragility and uniqueness.
Brenda Jones. Marriage Dress. Photograph courtesy of Craft Alliance.

Brenda Jones utilizes printmaking, beading and embellishment on waxed papers to create works that conceptually accept, question and redefine traditional roles and cultural values. Directly addressing wedding values of purity and submission, Marriage Dress is composed primarily of used coffee filters and incorporates symbolic imagery and text, with short phrases and choice words stitched on individual coffee filters such as “Choice”, “Chore”, “Complete”, “Crave”, “Fake”, “Mutual” and “Obey.” The Right Tool for the Job: Rolling Pins incorporates a repeated image of the rolling pin as a motif on an apron form. These rolling pins are further embellished with stitching and bead work, imbuing them with a heightened sense of value and importance.

John Petrey. Gwyneth. Photograph courtesy of Craft Alliance.

John Petrey’s works act as a sort of elegant armor while utilizing everyday materials such as bottle caps, shoe tags, copper, aluminum, asphalt roof shingles, plastic cutlery and playing cards. Seemingly fashioned after existing garments and with titles suggestive of celebrity likenesses, these rigid vessels reference the human form while seemingly taking on a vibrant life of their own in celebration of both the everyday and the iconic. Carmen acts as an idealized party dress comprised of aluminum and plastic cutlery, perhaps acting also as a casual reminder of the potential remaining detritus from such an event: plastic forks, knives and spoons, empty soda cans… Gwyneth is reminiscent both of a high fashion evening gown and of armor, comprised of silver bottle caps that elegantly shimmer like gems, beads or sequins while seemingly shielding the perceived wearer.

John Petrey. Carmen. Photograph courtesy of Craft Alliance.

"Articles of Dress" offers visions of clothing that are simultaneously intimate and political, personal and idealized. The non-functional wearables are attention-grabbing and demand notice, as has been evidenced by the many reviews of the show that have already been written, including Three artists' look at clothing as art, by Debra Bass, Fashion Editor for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and a mention in March is National Women’s History Month by Linda Wiggen Kraft for The Healthy Planet’s ARTful Living Section. Nicki Dwyer blogged about the show as did Belle Style D. Signs.

"Articles of Dress" is a show that truly cannot be missed, especially if you are at all interested in fashion, fabrication, fiber art, or clothing and the influence of the human form therein.

"Articles of Dress" remains on view through May 9, 2010 at Craft Alliance, 6640 Delmar Boulevard, University City, MO. 314/725-1177. Gallery hours: T-Th 10 a.m.-5 p.m., F-Sat. 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

St. Louis-based multi-media artist Jennifer Weigel is a member of Art Saint Louis and serves on our Exhibitions Committee. Her works are featured in“Life Blood,” an exhibition that she organized. The show will be presented for one night, Friday, April 9, 2010 (free reception 7-10 p.m.), at Fort Gondo Compound for the Arts, 3151 Cherokee Street, St. Louis, MO 63118. 314/772-3628. The exhibition will be presented again this summer at St. Louis Community College Florissant Valley (dates tba). Jennifer's works are currently on view in two other exhibits, “En Plein Air,” a solo exhibition of paintings at The Art Space at Provisions Market (11615 Olive Boulevard, Creve Coeur, MO. 314/989-0020), and in St. Charles County Arts Council’s “Women Artists: Diverse Views,” on view through April 24 at Lillian Yahn Gallery (7443 Village Center Dr., Winghaven, O' Fallon, MO).

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

"Mimetic Labors"

by Jennifer Weigel

"Mimetic Labors"

Good Citizen Gallery, St. Louis, MO
January 15-February 13, 2010

Kinetic artworks can often provide a forum in which to ponder technology, movement, human impact & invention, and the ephemeral, and Karin Hodgin Jones’ works are no exception. In "Mimetic Labors," her series of Tug sculptures utilize motors, pulleys and strings to gently pull and stretch both taut and loose fabrics in a rhythmic manner that is positively mesmerizing.

Karin Hodgin Jones. Tug (breath). 2010. Motors, Fabric, Wood, String, 6'x2'x2'’.
Photograph courtesy Good Citizen Gallery.

Karin Hodgin Jones. Detail: Tug (breath). 2010. Motors, Fabric, Wood, String, 6'x2'x2'’.
Photograph courtesy Good Citizen Gallery.

The regularity of these repeated movements alludes to both man-made and natural patterns. These processes then become seemingly congruent, and several of these works seem alive despite (or maybe in part because of) the exposure of the working mechanisms, that are visually as much a part of the works as the effects generated by them. Tug (breath) in particular exemplifies this, evoking a sense of both living (in the rhythmic, poetic pattern of movement as seen in the suspended taut fabric) to nonliving or artificial life (in the less concise movements and spillages of the loose fabric on the floor below).

Karin Hodgin Jones. Tug (vertical). 2009. Motors, Pulleys, Fabric, Wood, String, 6'x22'x2’.
Photograph courtesy Good Citizen Gallery.

Most impressive is Tug (vertical), a wall-scale artwork in which multiple machines gently pull at taut fabric from behind. Their mechanisms can be seen only as vague shadows and movements from behind the fabric and their effects are remarkably subtle. This piece in particular demands one’s attention with its immense size but requires more minute study in order to fully appreciate its delicacy and sensuality.

Karin Hodgin Jones. detail: Tug (vertical). 2009. Motors, Pulleys, Fabric, Wood, String, 6'x22'x2’.
Photograph courtesy Good Citizen Gallery.

As with all kinetic artworks, still images and written descriptions can barely begin to touch on what it is like to observe these works firsthand. "Mimetic Labors" is a show well-worth experiencing and demands to be absorbed over time, offering a captivating glimpse into a world that seems to linger at the edge of man’s influence and the natural order.

"Mimetic Labors" remains on view through February 13, 2010 at the Good Citizen Gallery, 2247 Gravois Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63104. 314/348-4587. Gallery hours: F-Sat. 12-5 p.m. and by appointment.

St. Louis-based multi-media artist Jennifer Weigel is a member of Art Saint Louis and serves on our Program Committee. Her works are currently featured in “Sense of Self,” Columbia Art League, Columbia, MO (January 14-31, 2010), and “Unparalleled Fiber,” Soulard Art Market & Contemporary Gallery, St. Louis, MO (January 15-31, 2010).