Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Luanne Rimel's work in “St. Louis Creates: Works by Local Artists”

by Sun Smith-Fôret

Luanne Rimel's work in “St. Louis Creates: Works by Local Artists
Saint Louis University Museum of Art
November 14—December 14, 2014

Curated with sharp eyes for diverse talents among us, Saint Louis University Museum of Art Gallery Director Petruda Lipan and Curator Roxanne Phillips, chose to include a body of recent work by Luanne Rimel, in their current exhibition, “St. Louis Creates: Works by Local Artists.” Rimel is a mixed media textile artist with a MFA from Laura Strand's Fibers Program at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. Luanne currently serves as Director of Education Programs at Craft Alliance Center of Art + Design in University City, Missouri.

Luanne's presence in "Repetition, Rhythm, Pattern," an exhibition curated by Jane Sauer at Duane Reed Gallery this past October, joined her oeuvre with leading artists from around the country who use rhythm, repetition and pattern as means and vehicles of expression for their aesthetic assertions. Sauer asked, "Are artists who study repetition seeking the comfort of conformity, predictability, or cohesiveness, or rather, participating in an exploration of innate design and transformative growth?" Luanne's pieces posed those questions visually and answered those questions obliquely and subjectively, bidding viewers to enter the works and draw our own conclusions.

Luanne Rimel. The Glance. 2012. Hand Quilted Inkjet Photo on Cloth, 10"x10".

Technically, this artist uses higher tech methods like photography and photographic ink jet transfer paired with lower tech manipulation of cloth layering, thereby altering our expectation of the usual photographic space and perspective. After photography and layering of cloth, her time intensive over-stitching alters the surface and thereby the image, further abstracting the camera-caught piece of visual information.

Luanne Rimel. Concealed Forms. 2014. Hand Quilted Inkjet Photo on Cloth, 22'x37".

Aesthetically, Luanne is manipulating apparent solids and shadows from subtly juxtaposed 3-d sculptural images of hard stone, soft hands, palimpsests of marble masquerading as cloth, and subsequently, through the hand stitching, remaking the photo printed image into real and tactile cloth. It would be clever and playful indeed if the resulting objects were not so transcendental in their references to time, both temporal and eternal.

These subtle, quiet and calm works in a pallet of cool blues and grays with warm and cool whites, stimulate reflection, meditation, waking dreams and memories. There is philosophical overtone to each piece in a collection that reaffirmed for me the power in the personally crafted object and the ability of great art to affect and change us in ways we might not expect.

Artist Luanne Rimel with two of her featured works in "St. Louis Creates: Works by Local Artists," Saint Louis University Museum of Art, St. Louis, MO (November 14-December 14, 2014). Photo by Suzy Farren.

In the case of Luanne's work, I resonate as a psychotherapist and as a textile object maker with her meticulous use of technical and hand craft means to generate, in wall-suspended 2-d art objects, metaphysical questions about temporality; what survives, what passes, what happens to time, in time, over time? Cultures have measured time differently in complex systems for millennia. In Luanne Rimel's classically beautiful textiles, questions are raised about how we contemplate as artists, as seekers, the coming to terms over significant periods of time with the seeming vagaries and certitudes of our fluid/static human condition.
St. Louis Creates: Works by Local Artists” is presented November 14-December 14, 2014 at Saint Louis University Museum of Art, 3663 Lindell Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63108. The exhibit features artworks by Stephen DaLay, James Holzer, Peter Manion, Mark Pappas, Sarah Paulsen, Luanne Rimel, Thomas Sleet, Brian D. Smith, and Ken Worley. Gallery is free and open to the public Wednesday through Sunday 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Closed on national holidays. 314/977-3399. 
Sun Smith-Fôret is a practicing psychotherapist in St. Louis and a regional textile artist. Her mixed media textiles, drawings and paintings on the subject of movies over time have been exhibited in numerous gallery & museum exhibitions throughout the St. Louis area, Midwest and U.S. Her work is represented by Duane Reed Gallery, St. Louis, MO. Sun currently has mixed media textile artworks featured in two St. Louis area exhibitions: “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot: Artists Respond,” Florissant Valley Gallery Admin, St. Louis Community College at Florissant Valley, Ferguson, MO, through December 20; and "Art St. Louis XXX, The Exhibition," on view at Art Saint Louis, St. Louis, MO, through December 23, 2014.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

“From the Inside Out: Felt, Paper, Textiles: Revelations in Natural Mark Making”

by Sun Smith-Fôret

Pictured: works by Rio Wrenn (left) and Patricia Vivod (right)

Great textiles abound in the area this month, despite the fact that the St. Louis' semi-annual Innovations in Textiles symposium was postponed until 2015. There is a group exhibition highlighting stitchery at the St. Louis Artist's Guild curated by artist Barbara Simon; there’s “Repetition, Rhythm, Pattern,” an exhibit curated by artist Jane Sauer and featuring five artists’ works, including St. Louis’ own Luanne Rimel and on view at Duane Reed Gallery; and there’s “From the Inside Out: Felt, Paper, Textiles: Revelations in Natural Mark Making,” an absolutely splendid installation of natural dyed and printed works on natural materials at the Art & Design West Gallery at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

For the presentation of “From the Inside Out: Felt, Paper, Textiles: Revelations in Natural Mark Making,” artist-curators Patricia Vivod and Elizabeth Adams-Marks invited internationally recognized textile artists working in earth, metal and plant dyes to come together here for an exhibition, workshop and lectures. Healing, health, and eco-consciousness are themes that reverberate through the installation in a show that is a visual and emotional stunner for all the subtlety and fluid grace of artworks on and of natural materials. The Faculty of the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Art Department graciously invited the participating Textile artists to use the SIUE Gallery, replacing their annual "Faculty Art Exhibition" when the original venue for “From the Inside Out” fell through at the very last minute. What generous people.

“From the Inside Out: Felt, Paper, Textiles: Revelations in Natural Mark Making” in the Art & Design West Gallery at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. Pictured (from left) are artworks by all five featured artists: Irit Dulman, Pat Vivod, Rio Wrenn, Fabienne Rey, and Elizabeth Adams-Marks.

The five artists whose works are featured in this exhibit are influenced by diverse natural events and the mediums/processes are the message.

Patricia Vivod. (detail) Eluviation. 2012. Shibori Rust Silk, 112"x45".

Patricia Vivod works from intimate knowledge of the land as farmers know the land, but counters nostalgia with a focus on the potential for disaster as fracking impacts land above and below the surface. Her free hanging silk banners, probably weighing less than 5 pounds when folded up all together, impose a monumental presence and are architecturally significant as they define the wall to which they are adjacent, offering the invitation for one to wonder at their origins in Vivod's thought and process.

Elizabeth Adams-Marks. Leats and Buddles-Tin Mines on Badmin Moor, Cornwall UK. 2014. Handmade Paper, Rust Printed, Eco-Printed, Tannins and Teas, 18"x24".

For Elizabeth Adams-Marks, the landscape of Cornwall, her husband's birthplace, supplies memories and imagery tied to marks made by man on that landscape, Neolithic stone circles, cliff paths, Celtic crosses, gorse lined moorland trails, Iron Age circle huts, china tips from the clay pits, modern mica plateaus—all images which she impresses into handmade paper.

Rio Wrenn. (detail) Core-Dreamscape. 2014. Silk, Natural Dye, Composted, Tea, Rust, Shibori Methods. 55"x55".

Rio Wrenn contemplates aspects of "Core" as that which ties us to the earth by extracting colors onto silk, creating patterns as nature shows us: tree rings, cell division, parasitic growths, leaves, stones. Her inspiration sips from auras, mandalas, language, human spirit. Rio reminds us that we manipulate nature as we manipulate our own lives and society, that humans from our very beginnings have always tried to shape the core.

Fabienne Rey. (detail) Mapping Healing Time I, January to December. 2013. 12 Eco Printed Silk Panels, 90"x37".

Fabienne Rey "maps," encodes personal meaning by eco-printing, transforming discarded textiles with hand stitching, wandering the emotional path of self-knowledge, self healing, transformation through her art practice.

Irit Dulman. Pillar of Salt. 2014. Eco-Printed Wool Jersey, Castor Plant Leaves, 2 Panels, each 60"x17".

Irit Dulman, an Israeli artist, explores the possibilities of the eucalyptus tree imported from Australia. Seasonal consciousness permeates her production and taking root is a symbol for this artist as she seeks to connect to the central European culture from which her parents originated. Dulman's shibori felted dress is a pivot point and anchor in the center of the exhibition, the surrounding pieces generating feelings of fluidity and connection, a cloth dance, wind-like whispers, I heard sound in these pieces, soft seeming, yet solid and reliable as messages about the artists' most essential and informing values, values which collate with my own, a sweet kinship.

Exhibition co-curator Patricia Vivod likes the metaphor of the feast. I encourage you to treasure the tastes and go see this show at SIUE's Art & Design West Gallery before it closes September 21.
From the Inside Out: Felt, Paper, Textiles: Revelations in Natural Mark Making” is presented August 18-September 21, 2014 at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Art and Design West Gallery, 75 South Circle Drive, Edwardsville, IL 62026. Gallery hours are 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday through Friday. For additional gallery hours, contact co-Curator Patricia Vivod by email: shiborirust@yahoo.com. Pay parking is available in Visitor Lot B ($1/hour).
Sun Smith-Fôret is a practicing psychotherapist in St. Louis and a regional textile artist. Her mixed media textiles, drawings and paintings on the subject of movies over time have been exhibited in numerous gallery & museum exhibitions throughout the St. Louis area, Midwest and U.S. Her work is represented by Duane Reed Gallery, St. Louis, MO.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Artist Interview with Sydnor Scholer

by Emily Botkin

On May 1st, I had the opportunity to interview Sydnor Scholer, a St. Louis-based artist and practicing architect. She currently has two works up in the “Silence and Noise” juried exhibition on view at Art Saint Louis through May 29. Her work was also selected by Jurors Gary Passanise and Marie Bannerot McInerney for an Award of Excellence in the exhibit.

Sydnor Scholer. Untitled. 2013. Watercolor, Graphite, Colored Pencil, Acrylic on Paper, 20”x16”. Award of Excellence in “Silence & Noise” at Art Saint Louis.

Emily Botkin: Is there any particular architect or architectural movement that influences your work?

Sydnor Scholer: “I don’t think directly—but I think just through visiting a lot of buildings and looking at the different shapes of buildings and lines in buildings I've developed a memory bank of maybe shapes and relationships that I like. And I do find them emerging in my work. But, I guess if I were to have to name a specific movement, it would be the Russian Constructivists. Their architecture is not my favorite, but I do like their drawings—like Daniel Libeskind and Zaha Hadid.”

Emily: Is there any particular piece of architecture in St. Louis that you are fond of (The Climatron, the Wainwright Building, etc.)?

Sydnor: “I think I like the Arch, it’s so important. I think one of the more interesting things about St. Louis is all the different architecture in the different neighborhoods and that it’s still one city. I do like the contrast in all the different neighborhoods. You have the big houses in the Central West End and the old mansions and in the big houses in Forest Park that are really beautiful and the smaller more eclectic houses in Cherokee. Then you have the Pulitzer [Foundation for the Arts] away from all of that, it’s this very focused space. There is a lot to pick at architecturally [in St. Louis], its pretty diverse.”

Emily: How do you begin a new piece of art? Do you start drawing spontaneously or strategically plan your artwork?

Sydnor: “I pretty much start just spontaneous - like the ones that are in the show [at Art Saint Louis]- first I just start, I would work several at a time and just put color on paper. And then I kind of develop a stack of paper with watercolor on them. Then, I’ll chose one and start putting lines on top of it. And it kind of works in that process. So I see the color and it’s kind of always this process of trying to make the color work on the page by using line (and in this particular series) masking regions. So that Initially if it’s just the color on the white paper, the marks don’t necessarily - it doesn't seem like an entire composition. How to make the composition work through line work and masking and through this symbolic writing.”

Sydnor Scholer. Untitled. 2013. Watercolor, Graphite, Colored Pencil, Acrylic on Paper, 20”x16”. Featured in “Silence & Noise” at Art Saint Louis.

Emily: Is there any particular medium you prefer over another?

Sydnor: “ think I like all mediums. I like collage and paint, but I think I am definitely most comfortable with drawing. That’s because of the architecture background, I guess I don’t [have a] fine art background. It’s all technical and technical drawing and graphic drawing and even when we did do sketching kind of classes it was sketching with the intention of it being architectural. So my whole education training is all in pencil. So in architecture, it is basically about making. Ultimately, for architects, what you do—well you might think “Oh well you make buildings,” really you make drawings so that other people can build buildings. So really, since I was eighteen, everyday of my life has been devoted in some way or another to making drawings.”

Emily: In your artist statement, you explain that your art is a response to the question of what if drawing is both the means and the end. Could you please explain this idea further?

Sydnor: “That kind of relates to what I was just saying. In architecture, we make drawings that are intended for another purpose. So what I kind of like to do in my drawings, and when you do make drawings in architecture—for the purpose of building—I mean you’re very restrained not only by what the client wants, it has to be a functional space, that you have these material limitations, cost limitations, so that in a way that these drawings are very free—that I am using the same technique and processes and tools that I do in architecture but its free from any of the real limitations of having to build an actual building. And this is what results. So when you have all of the tools but when you subtract reality and in the process early I guess when you get to real architecture this is what can result. So in that way I do kind of find it —in some ways I do consider my drawings architecture… not really art. Because In one way, well I don’t want to call myself an artist because I really don’t have any formal art training. But then at the same time its not really architecture. It’s not a building. So I think I’ve kind of always been somewhere in-between.”

Emily:  How do you handle mistakes in your artwork? Do you take them as happy-accidents or try to remove them from the composition?

Sydnor: “Well its hard to know what a mistake exactly is, its more that at some point I can just tell that things are not working. So in this current series of work, a lot of the time I would make a composition and then I would use masking so if there was a part that I really didn’t like or I thought was too busy or just needed to go away, I would kind of just mask over it. In some of the previous series, I really didn’t have that—I know it would be that once you do too much the piece is just done. It kind of has to go away. But then there definitely are, its kind of hard to say, mistakes or accidents, at a certain point in the early stage of the drawing there cant really be any mistakes because everything is influencing each other and I think the biggest mistake is overworking a drawing. So that the original intention is just blurred by too much.”

Sydnor Scholer. Untitled. 2013. Watercolor, Graphite, Colored Pencil, Acrylic on Paper, 16”x20”. Featured in “Art St. Louis XXIX, The Exhibition” juried by Buzz Spector (2013) and received an Award of Excellence for this work.

Emily:  Do you want the viewer to interpret or admire your work as you do or discover their own meaning or feeling to your art?

Sydnor: “I think I like people to find whatever they want in it. That’s why I don’t really title my pieces. For me, they are purely abstract compositional pieces. When I’m doing them I’m not trying to try any emotion or feeling. With these kind of initial color on page, how do I make it work into a complete composition. So for me I am thinking of color, shape, line, maybe texture. But if people do want to read into the color, that’s fine. I think what I want most is for people to find it, to take a journey through so that like every time they look at it they can see something new and they’ll look at it and find different moments. I think what I want them to notice is maybe all the space in the drawing.”

Sydnor Scholer. Untitled. 2013. Watercolor, Graphite, Colored Pencil, Acrylic on Paper, 16”x20”. Featured in “Art St. Louis XXIX, The Exhibition” juried by Buzz Spector (2013) and received an Award of Excellence for this work.
Emily:  How do you select your colors/hues within your art? Which you seemed to have covered that earlier…

Sydnor: “I think they’re just colors I try to use. I definitely have my preference for colors. I use a lot of blues and yellow, I mean I like yellow but Its just a personal thing. Maybe other people don’t like yellow. They’re just colors that I have, I try not to use too many colors cause I don’t want it to be about the color. Usually orange, just whatever, really whatever is closest to me at the time… I do choose before beforehand.”

Emily Botkin is currently serving as the Winter/Spring 2014 Intern at Art Saint Louis. She is a senior at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville working towards a BA in Art History with Minors in Studio Art and German.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

IPFH Spring 2014 Exhibitions

by Emily Botkin

The International Photography Hall of Fame and Museum currently has three exhibitions on view at their Museum in St. Louis' Grand Center neighborhood.

Herman Leonard. Palm Court Café, New Orleans. 1995. Gelatin Silver Print. Courtesy of The International Photography Hall of Fame and Museum.

"Decisive Moments: 20th Century Street Photography" is one of the three exhibitions on display at the IPHF. The exhibit began February 7 and runs through June 8*, 2014. "Decisive Moments" looks to the development of street photography over the years. One of the major questions asked in the exhibit is "what is the difference between street photography and photojournalism?" A quote from the exhibit’s information states, “While some of the visual characteristics of journalism might resemble street photography, journalism seeks to report on specific newsworthy events. Street photography is more about every day personal observation. The difference is in the focus and intent. Street photography’s story is ambiguous, reflecting the vagaries of chance happenings and the photographer’s quick observations.”

Ted Croner. Taxi. 1949. Gelatin Silver Print. Courtesy of The International Photography Hall of Fame and Museum.

Ted Croner’s Taxi (1949) shows a great example of street photgraphy. This gelatin Silver Print photograph caught my attention because of the blurred-effect Croner used within his photograph. This shows that the picture was captured in an instant, one quick snap and he caught the taxi in movement at just the right moment to show transition in a motionless picture. Not only does this picture represent street photography, but it also represents Modernism in photography. "The Modernist movement was inspired by the celebration of industry, progress, technology and urban life. Modernism reflected the conceptual and visual changes in art, design and architecture of the period after the first World War." Although this picture was created after the second World War, it shows architecture, industry and urbanization.

Alfred Eisenstadt. Headwaiter Renee Breguet Serving Drinks on the Grand. 1932. Gelatin Silver Print. Courtesy of The International Photography Hall of Fame and Museum.

Another photograph that shows signs of Modernism would be Alfred Eisenstadt’s Headwaiter Renee Breguet Serving Drinks on the Grand (1932). Although this photograph lacks the abstraction that Modernism typically requires (Such as Man Ray’s Electricite (1931), which is also on display in the exhibit); it holds true to asymmetry that is noted in Modern Art. “Modern Artists sought to break down the traditional definition of art as well as the barriers between art and design.” As stated in the Museum’s information on Modernism, this piece clearly breaks the barriers between art and design.

Anna Kuperberg. South Side, St. Louis Series. 1992-2002. Gelatin Silver Print. Courtesy of The International Photography Hall of Fame and Museum.

A second exhibition presented at the IPHF is Anna Kuperberg’s "South Side." This series of photographs that spanned over ten years of dedication to St. Louis, shows how children live and play in the South Side of St. Louis. Although Kuperberg is a San Francisco-based photographer, she studied photography at Washington University and used her opportunity to gain access to the children’s lifestyle. This “outsider’s perspective” shows not only one looking at a neighborhood in St. Louis, but an adult trying to understand children and how they entertain themselves. Anna Kuperberg’s "South Side" series is also on display February 7, 2014-June 8, 2014.

Jarred Gastreich. St. Louis. 2013. Courtesy of The International Photography Hall of Fame and Museum.

"St Louis Shoots: Contemporary Street Photographers from St. Louis," like the "South Side," shows images of St. Louis through the lens of photographers. This exhibit differs from Anna Kuperberg’s though because this exhibit shows photographers strictly from the St. Louis area, capturing contemporary images. St. Louis has a strong photographic heritage and today the “cultural landscape of the city supports a diverse array of photographic artists including a large network of Street Photographers (as quoted by the IPHF’s webpage).”

Also presented February 7-June 8, 2014, this exhibit shows some recognized St. Louis photographers such as Yvette Drury Dubinsky and the late Bob Reuter, yet also includes some newcomers to the photography scene. Jarred Gastreich’s photograph, St. Louis, which shows a little girl standing by a store window, was very interesting to me because it was so similar to Anna Kuperberg’s "South Side" works, yet it also differed: Gastreich’s photograph was rich in color while Kuperberg’s works were in black and white; Gastreich is a St. Louis photographer, while Kuperberg is, as stated above, an outsider looking in.

Comparing "South Side" to "Contemporary Street Photographers from St. Louis" was one of my favorite things to witness at the International Photography Hall of Fame and Museum (and the two exhibits are displayed very close by each other). All three exhibitions are certainly something to witness in person and I recommend a visit to IPHF to view these works for yourself.

*Due to the popularity of all three exhibitions, IPHF has extended the run to June 8.

Emily Botkin is currently serving as the Winter 2014 Intern at Art Saint Louis. She is a senior at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville working towards a BA in Art History with Minors in Studio Art and German.

International Photography Hall of Fame & Museum is located in Grand Center at 3415 Olive Street, St. Louis, MO 63103. 314/535-1999. Museum hours are Wednesday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m., Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Closed Monday and Tuesday. Open until 9 p.m. on First Fridays of the month. These exhibitions remain on view through June 8, 2014.

Admission to the IPHF is $5 for Adults; $3 for Students w/ID, $3 for Seniors. Acrive duty military personnel & families get $2 discount and free admission Memorial Day through Labor Day. Children under 18 and IPHF members are free. Admission is free on the first Friday of the month.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Recent exhibitions at Bruno David Gallery

by Emily Botkin

During month of February, the Bruno David Gallery hosted three wonderful and diverse exhibitions featuring the works of three different artists. Bunny Burson’s “In Plain Sight” was presented in the Front Room, while in the Main Gallery was Chris Kahler’s “Dialumens”. And In the back area of the gallery, also known as the New Media Room, was Lisa K. Blatt’s “Spinning on Enola Gay Runway Until I Make Myself Sick.”

Bunny Burson. In Plain Sight. 2014. Ink on Aluminum and Brass (77 elements). 14 1/2"x 10"x9". (Edition of 3). Photograph courtesy of Bruno David Gallery.
When I first went to observe Bunny Burson’s “In Plain Sight,” the first work that stood out was the sculpture In Plain Sight. This piece consists of ink on aluminum and brass, and appears to be one hundred or more replicated envelopes. The exhibit itself is supposed to illustrate Burson’s discovery of more than 100 letters from her Grandparents written to her mother. These letters depict her Grandparents lives in Europe during World War II. “Burson explores the idea that you can miss what you never knew,” as stated on the Gallery website. The 2-d works that took over the walls were not “sealed envelopes” like In Plain Sight, but instead each of the wall pieces consisted of thick and overlapping calligraphy. Letters Last was a series of three different pieces, each of them mixed media on Japanese paper and mylar. Letters Last showed illegible yet beautifully written cursive, and I believe these were written in German. I study and speak the language, so a few words stuck-out and seemed familiar to me, but as much as I tried, I could not comprehend what these words read in these letters—they were illegible. Untitled 50 was another wall piece that consisted of ink on vellum. Although Untitled 50 was different in shape and size, it too consisted of illegible yet beautifully written words. A part of me would like to assume that these letters that Burson discovered are meant to be kept private, but she pulls us in by trying to make us comprehend the words or wish we could open the letters piled on top of each other with her sculpture, In Plain Sight. The works included in this exhibit were all completed in 2013. Bunny Burson currently lives and works in St. Louis. She received her MFA from Washington University.

Bunny Burson. In Plain Sight. 2014. Ink on Aluminum and Brass (77 elements). 14 1/2"x 10"x9". (Edition of 3). Photograph courtesy of Bruno David Gallery.

 The Main Gallery hosted the works of Chris Kahler in “Dialumens.” This exhibit consisted of eighteen works, all of which were acrylic on panel. Although these works were similar in medium, no two were the same in appearance. These pieces, which lined the walls of the Main Gallery, explored vastly different choices of color and texture. Kahler created purely-abstracted works of art that conflict with the (sometimes barely visible) white background of each artwork. I, myself, am highly curious about Kahler’s process when making the Dialumens series. As stated earlier, no two pieces were the same; and I can’t imagine how he could create such visible texture with acrylic paint. One example of texture used throughout the exhibit included a thin bubbling effect that I noticed on a few of the works. My personal two favorites of this exhibit were Dialumens 9A and Dialumens 12A, both of which showed a grid-like structure behind the focal points of their composition. However, they were not the only two with grids painted into the background. These works were appealing to me because they were both abstracted yet structured—organic and inorganic line-work—and still somehow worked together. Each of Chris Kahler’s works were appealing atheistically because of the colors and how they worked with each other successfully for each composition.  Chris Kahler is Professor of Painting & Drawing at Eastern Illinois University. He received his MFA from Northwestern University.

Chirs Kahler. Dialumens 9A.2014. Acrylic on Panel, 30"x30". Photograph courtesy of Bruno David Gallery.

The New Media featured the work of Lisa K. Blatt titled “Spinning on Enola Gay Runway Until I Make Myself Sick.” This looped-video showed Blatt’s perspective of spinning in a constant circle while observing the land surrounding the Enola Gay Runway. For anyone that might not know, the Enola Gay was a bomber aircraft from World War II that dropped “Little Boy” on the Japanese town of Hiroshima. Even though Blatt is constantly moving throughout most of the video—the desert, the hangar, and barracks, are all visible throughout. It was difficult for me to watch this video because of motion-sickness, yet I still found the concept of this video very interesting.


Emily Botkin is currently serving as the Winter 2014 Intern at Art Saint Louis. She is a senior at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville working towards a BA in Art History with Minors in Studio Art and German.

The Bruno David Gallery is located in Grand Center at 3721 Washington Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63108. 314/531-3030. The Gallery is free and open to the public Wednesday through Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Although the exhibitions featured in this review closed March 1, a new series of exhibits open on Friday, March 7 with a free reception from 5-9 p.m. during Grand Center’s First Friday event. The new exhibits opening on March 7 include “Telescopic,” Shane Simmons, paintings; Front Room: “Formations,” Shawn Burkard, drawings; and New Media Room: “Rivington,” Heather Bennett. These exhibitions remain on view through March 29.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

"Ebony Creations" at Edwardsville Arts Center

-->by Emily Botkin

Dean Mitchell. Forgive Us Lord. Watercolor on Paper, 18”x24”.

Ebony Creations” is an exciting and new exhibit on display at the Edwardsville Art Center, located next to Edwardsville High School in Edwardsville, Illinois. The exhibit opened January 10 and remains on view through February 28.

Adrianne Patel . Outerlimits III. Watercolor, Mixed Media on Paper, 32”x36”.

This multi-media exhibit displays the works of 30 artists represented by the Portfolio Gallery, a Gallery and Education Center in St. Louis that seeks to raise awareness on African American artists and their heritage. Although not every artist is from the St. Louis area, each one of them is tied to St. Louis in one way or another. Some of the artists were born and raised in the St. Louis area and remained there their whole life, or some have recently settled in St. Louis. Yet, even though each artist may not be a St. Louis native, each and every one of the artists participating in the “Ebony Creations” exhibition relates through their African heritage or ancestry and how it has inspired their art.

Manuelita Brown. Verity 1. 10”.

Ebony Creations” holds a wide selection of artworks in all different types of mediums–digital photographs, gouache, oils, acrylics, watercolors, art quilts, color etchings, ceramics, monoprints, and more. Each piece of art is different from the next and every artwork takes the idea of “What is the African-American heritage?” and turns it into something completely original from other works of art in the exhibit. Some artists expressed their ideas of African American heritage differently from one-another, yet they all thrived on the inspiration of their ancestry and cultural roots. 

Rick Fragger. It's Offering Time. Gouche on Paper, 24”x32”.

Music was a key theme relayed in many of the artworks. Many of the artists referred to the age of jazz music, or music’s healing powers (and how it helped provide a rhythmic soul). Others looked to historical characters of influence such as the Tuskegee Airmen or Rosa Parks.

Kenneth Calvert. Blues Festival. Oil on Canvas, 26”x36”.

This exhibit is well worth the visit, especially if one wants to know more about the African-American Heritage and the themes to help influence the art on display. From an artists’ perspective, “Ebony Creations” is an enriching and exciting chance to view the vast amounts of culturally-influenced art that will surely inspire someone to dig into their own heritage as inspiration.

Emily Botkin is currently serving a Winter 2014 Internship at Art Saint Louis. She is a student at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville working towards a BA in Art History with Minors in Studio Art and German. She plans to graduate this year.

Ebony Creations” was curated by Robert A. Powell, Founder, Executive Director of Portfolio Gallery & Educational Center. The exhibit remains on view through February 28, 2014 at Edwardsville Arts Center, 6165 Center Grove Road (on the Campus of Edwardsville High School), Edwardsville, IL 62025. 618/655-0337. Gallery is free & open to the public Wednesday, Thursday & Friday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and Saturday 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

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.

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

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Painting with a Purpose: The Art of Michelle Streiff

by Stacey Larson

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Michelle Streiff, a St. Louis area artist whose artworks are featured in Art Saint Louis’ Pop-Up STL exhibition series along Washington Avenue in downtown St. Louis. Her bold paintings all feature dogs—not stale portraits of dogs or cliché puppies wearing bows. Instead, she paints the story and spirit of the animals that have been rescued by Stray Rescue of St. Louis. Michelle has been volunteering at the shelter for 13 years, and the time spent with these animals has changed her reason to create art as well as what she desires to present in her pieces.

Michelle Streiff. Dante. 2012. Oil on Canvas, 40”x30”.

A resident of Wildwood, Missouri, a far-West suburb of St. Louis County, Michelle makes a 45 minute commute to the Stray Rescue shelter located in downtown St. Louis 2 to 3 days a week. One of her shifts begins at 7 a.m., meaning that she wakes up at 5:45 a.m. She walks the dogs and also has a position at the shelter reviewing new volunteer applications. Plenty of people volunteer at the shelter, but what the shelter really needs are homes for the strays. Some of the dogs have lived in the shelter for years, and some will live out the rest of their lives there, never to be adopted. So, after years of spending hours with the same dogs and coming to learn their stories, it is inevitable that the dogs would find a way into Michelle’s art.

Michelle Streiff. Bus Stop-Unchained. 2013. Oil on Canvas, 24”x36”.

In college, Streiff took oil painting for one semester, but it wasn’t until Stray Rescue was interested in a dog-themed mural for their new location that she picked up the paint brush again. And after that, she was pretty much hooked. She now takes painting courses at the St. Louis Community College Wildwood, and has repeated the courses over 10 times. Michelle is involved in the Fine Arts Club at the College, helping enable and promote fellow emerging artists by organizing their artworks to be shown in various locations in the area, from Starbucks to Wildwood City Hall. The class doesn’t become dull; the course creates a community for painters to utilize and flourish within, and the feedback from her classmates helps her style and skills evolve. The technique she utilizes to apply paint is constantly changing, from glazing her oil paints to applying them with a palette knife, and most recently using hand-drawn typography, incorporating text into the urban setting she creates around the canine focal point. She doesn't stray from using dogs as her subject matter because over time, the story of what she wants to show and tell about the dogs evolves, and each painting finds a greater way of relaying that message.

Michelle Streiff. Timberlake. 2012. Oil on Canvas, 40”x30”. This paintings was purchased through the Art Saint Louis Pop-Up STL exhibition series.

Michelle graduated from Southeast Missouri State with a degree in Graphic Design, and for many years worked in that field, and was once the Illustrator at News Channel 4 for their news stories. Today, Michelle spends her time painting the dogs working in oil paints. She uses the photographs that she takes of the dogs on their walks as visual reference and uses the hours of time spent with the dogs each week as a mental reference. When she paints her subjects, she strives to capture the spirit and energy that is unique to each pup. The end result is a compelling painting that tells the story of a dog who may have had a rough past, but is prepared for it’s bright future ahead.

Michelle Streiff. Oran. 2013. Oil & Paper on Canvas, 24”x36”.

Streiff’s paintings have a purpose, and I believe this sets her apart as an artist. She uses her talent and passion for painting to create lasting images that are able to promote the Stray Rescue shelter and raise awareness about the dire need for permanent, loving homes for the countless strays. Having her pieces displayed this Fall and Winter in Art Saint Louis’ Pop-Up STL art displays on Washington Avenue has proven to be an excellent breaking-out experience for her art. She has sold multiple pieces and taken commissions for her unique portraits. Michelle is gaining exposure in the community and benefiting the shelter, and ultimately helping the animals become adopted. She has found a niche between her two worlds, forming an admirable symbiotic relationship.

Michelle Streiff. Mr. Witherspoon. 2012. Oil on Canvas, 36”x24”. This painting was purchased through Art Saint Louis' Pop-Up STL exhibition series.

Streiff tells me that with two Jack Russell terriers, and two more dogs adopted into her family from Stray Rescue, her home is currently at maximum animal capacity and she is not able to adopt any more pups. But knowing that her paintings have the ability to change the course of a stray’s life in another way, is a very close second.

Michelle Streiff. Heparin. 2013. Oil on Canvas, 40”x30”.

You can view Michelle Streiff’s paintings through the end of January in three sites along Washington Avenue between Tucker and 15th Streets (situated on the South side of Washington) in Art Saint Louis’ Pop-Up STL exhibit program. The paintings are on display in the business windows and can be viewed from the sidewalk day or night.
In addition to having her work featured in Art Saint Louis' Pop-Up STL exhibition series, Michelle's work has been featured in two exhibits in the Art Saint Louis Gallery: "Food, Glorious Food" (2012), a juried exhibit, and "Varsity Art XVII" (2013), an invitational exhibition where Michelle was one of two students with works representing St. Louis Community College Wildwood. ______________________________
Stacey Larson has been serving as a Fall 2013 Intern at Art Saint Louis. A graduate of Maryville University (May 2013), she holds a BFA in Studio Art with an emphasis in metals and ceramics. Her jewelry is sold online at her etsy site: www.etsy.com/shop/CastOutToSea