Comments and reviews of visual art in Saint Louis
Thursday, September 29, 2005
We have just had a "Changing of the Guards". New president, new director and a new board, of which I am now proudly part of. We had our meeting last Wednesday night. New blood, fresh enthusiasm.
There are many varied types of activities at the Saint Louis Artists Guild. There are weekly paint and sketch groups. Numerous different classes, workshops, and free demonstrations. With the guidance of Bill Vann, the illustrators are active and producing some amazing work. As a member of the photography section, I am busy making prints to enter the next photography show. We also have a print room with a nice size press.
With over 700 members, the Guild is a great place to trade ideas and share information.
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
Urban Bluegrass Festival and Bohemian Artist FairSuch a beautiful day it was. Cool breeze, sunny sky full of fluffy clouds. A day to lay around in the park by Soulard Market and listen to bluegrass music. A couple of Schlaflys to round things out. Was pleased to see some fellow folk-school students there to catching the music.
As this was the first for this fair, it was smaller with maybe not quite a dozen artists.
Though I have never had a chance to work with ceramics, I am interested in it. It seems to be a very versatile medium. So I took the opportunity to speak to ceramic artist, Sandy Miller. Wow, she shared so much information. Her work is gorgeous so I have no doubt she knows what she is talking about. We talked about cones and slips and all manner of things for which I have no clue. She suggested I take the course at Meramec Community College with Jim Ibur. I think she may be right. I just met James a few weeks ago at the Southwest Ceramics show and he almost talked me into taking the course then. I wish I knew enough about ceramics to describe Sandy's work in greater detail. Fortunately, Sandy is very forth coming with a description on her web site: http://www.millerceramics.com Her studio is at Phoenix Potteries.
Backing to Sandy's tent, was Noreen DeCastro, working in acrylic. This young painter is exploring monochromatic work with grays and also in black broken by bursts of color.
Across the way, Crystal Welch sat at a spinning wheel creating yarn from lama wool.
Art Outside Schlafly Bottle WorksGreat place to catch local artists. Since I "collect" web sites for this directory, I was familiar with many of their works. It was nice to put a face to them.
This image is from the work of Debra Broz. Though some elements of the style seem familiar, the work has a very original feeling to it. There are many aspects of this which appeal to me. It is quiet, subtle and curious. Uniquely textured in a way such that time seems to have aged it. A little text to stir contemplation. Color which is relaxed enough to put one to sleep. In viewing, Debras artwork evokes a feeling of calm which is hard to come by these days.
There is also an interesting intellectual facet to her art. In this, I am referring to the work she has done with/to books. She sews them. Using needle, thread and machine, she has transforms them from something to read to something to consider as an object. Once again, curious, which is cool because it evokes thought. She also has another project stamping phrases on the pencils and calling it "art for the masses". Not as pretty but still interesting.
There was another photographer there I would like to mention, Wendy Werner. Travel photography providing images with good depth of scope and great latitude. Also a unique eye for color combination. One of the things I like most about her is she uses the same medium format camera as me, Mamiya 7 II. I wonder why her's work so much better than mine.
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
Saint Louis Art Fair does it again!Another great year for the fair. It's nice to visit the booth of a favored artist each year to see how their work has evolved. Photographer, Jill Bedford, is using a brighter, looser arrangement of her flower compositions which give more warmth and richness to the work. Folk art favorite, M.F. Robinson is adding even more detail and range of color for greater depth in her painting. Unfortunately, surreal painter, Michael Madzo, was not at the show. I really missed seeing his work. We also have someone new to watch, Snail Scott, a promising sculptor from the Washington University mentoring program.
Our fair is a great opportunity to see work from all across the country. However the Saint Louis Art Fair is operated by Saint Louis volunteers and financed by donations from the people of Saint Louis so it is good to see more Saint Louis artists there. Local favorite, Alicia LaChance, did the cover for the program guide. This was my first chance to see the work of Julie Malone. Up until now, I had only seen it from her web site which, understandably, could not do it justice. It was far stronger than expected.
Unfortunately, there were the usual number of "repeat offenders". Those that drag the same tired work to the fair, year after year. Leaves one to wonder if even the original concept was not "borrowed". I admit the work is well crafted. Everyone there is a excellent craftsman, but so is a bricklayer. I suppose I should be thankful. At least it is not bad art. There is nothing worse than bad art.
Monday, September 12, 2005
The Unknowns at Fort GondoThe name of this show, The Unknowns, was appriate as the work was the raw result of unbridled youth. I say good for them. You must start somewhere, sometime and here and now is best. Mike Cook made interesting use of sand on acrylic. His work shows promise. The highlight of my evening was provided by another artist showing, Mario Viele. However, it was not so much his art but his music that I enjoyed. He is in a fantastic group called "The Sex Robots" which played after the show at Radio Cherokee.
This was my first visit to Fort Gondo. I really enjoyed it. It was kind of creepy and maybe that's why. It is in an older building with tall ceilings and plenty of light to review the artwork. It has a narrow courtyard on the side with benches and a small wooden box on which to sit. After briefly viewing the art, we stepped into the coolness of the courtyard. Leaning against the wall, Colleen became startled by a mouse which then scurred away. Fine, we scared off a mouse. I thought no more about it but Colleen was now on guard. She noticed the little creature was racing back and forth near the fence at the end of the courtyard, instead of hiding as any normal mouse would. I tryed to ignore it. Little did I know, it was working on a plan of attack. It came charging at me like a raging bull elephant. Of course I screamed and jumped a little. It backed off again but was not to be disuaded from passing through. I felt a little foolish for not being prepared for battle. Knowing it had the advantage of speed and unwilling to suffer even the smallest of mouse wounds, I stepped aside and let it pass. The little lady shot by us and into the wooden box which was sitting there. I assume that was her nest and we were in her way. When willing to risk everything, reguardless of the odds, persistance can win out.
Sunday, September 04, 2005
The recently opened Shaw's Gallery creates a cornerstone for the cultural and architectural rebirth of the Shaw neighborhood. Located just a few blocks east of "The Garden", it sits on a corner street which allows large windows to two sides of the room. Although there are still details to finish, this newly renovated gallery offers high ceilings, great lighting and wonderfully crisp, clean new wall space for local and national artists.
One enters the gallery through a small courtyard garden, complete with fountain. Entering the courtyard, we were greeted by a young man who introduced himself as Nathan Clark, owner. Having never been there before, it was nice to be welcomed by the gallery proprietor. Nathan happens to also be an artist.
The show was a collection of silk screen rock posters. All were nicely done, work came from 11 different artists, L.A. Chicago, K.C and a local favorite, Firecracker Press. Having just completed a class in silk screening at Forest Park Community College, I took a special interest in seeing how the pros do it. Personal favorite: http://www.boringdesigns.com
Also included were various sculptures by Steve Davis. One titled "Egg Tooth", (65" x 24") made of Wood, Steel, Rope and Red Velvet, which I could try to describe but you would get a much better idea by going to the Shaw's Gallery web site. Also represented is sculpture, Abraham Mohler, doing a large contemporary wood carving based on the face of a bearded man.
Bill McKenny and Sterling Holmen http://www.billmckenny.com Being a new form of music, it is a bit difficult to describe but, , , it starts with Bill laying a track on the Bass Fiddle which is recorded using a foot control switch. This track is then looped and embellished with the assistance of Sterling. Let's just say, you have to hear this for yourself.
The crowd was younger that usual. Many fresh faces, naive to what the world really has in store for them. I also visited with fellow photographer and Carbondale alumni, Richard Sprengler. Richard currently has a nice show, "Abenteuer" at the Baseline Gallery.