THE VISUAL ART QUARTERLY OF ST. LOUIS
Artist Name, Lace Curtain detail, (image courtesy of the artist)
EXECUTIVE EDITOR AND CO-FOUNDER SARAH HERMES GRIESBACH
GUEST CREATIVE EDITOR NANDINI KING
COPY EDITOR HILARY HITCHCOCK
THE GALLERY AT THE KRANZBERG
ILENE BERMAN: UNNATURAL STATE
BARRY LEIBMAN: ANTHOLOGY OF SUDDEN FICTION
MARGARET KELLER: BOTANICA ABSENTIA
KERI LAPPAS ROBERTSON
DIRECTOR OF LAYOUT AND DESIGN MAXINE WARD
PRINCIPAL PHOTOGRAPHER RICHARD REILLY
CONTENT CONTRIBUTORS JOHN BLAIR KATRYN DIERKSEN ROBERT DORR ROBERT DUFFY ROBERT MORRISSEY YVONNE OSEI KRISTEN PETERSON ALEXIS RIVIERRA RACHEL SACHS SARAH WEINMANN MARIANNE WILSON
BOARD PRESIDENT AND CO-FOUNDER AMY REIDEL
DEBORAH DOUGLAS: SOME THINGS I KNOW, SOME THINGS I ONLY BELIEVE
HOFFMAN LACHANCE CONTEMPORARY
CONTEMPORARY ART MUSEUM ST. LOUIS THE MITCHELL MUSEUM
METRA MITCHELL: INTERIOR NATURE
CAROLINE PHILIPPONE: AMERICAN DREAMS
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THE COLLECTORS AMONGST US
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IN PRAISE OF MY CURATOR
Front Cover and Back Cover: Richard Reilly, Cbabi Bayoc’s Studio (detail), (images courtesy of Richard Reilly)
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THE OLD NIGHT GUARD ANGAD SUPPORTING ARTISTS ACKNOWLEDGING ARTISTS AS LABORERS ROBERT A. POWELL: A VISIONARY PROVIDING VISIBILITY FOR AFRICAN AMERICAN ARTISTS IN ST. LOUIS THE MIGRATION OF ARTISTS ART SUPPORT PROFILES
Kristen Peterson, Namibia, (image courtesy of the artist)
The theme for this issue is Art Support. We received a remarkable array of testimonies celebrating individuals, organizations and even concepts that support our regional artists. Our Art Support section is certainly not an exhaustive look at the people and systems that propel St. Louis–area artists in their careers, but you’ll find great stories and information in abundance here. The wonderful Robert Dorr gives us a humorous tale from the experience of a museum guard at the Saint Louis Art Museum. Sarah Weinman’s interview with painter and teacher Victor Wang provides an argument for immigration as a tool to support artists for whom a new home is a prerequisite for their art practice. Kristin Peterson describes her joy remeeting her own photographs through the curatorial lens of Olivia Lahs Gonzales. These are just a few of the stories we couldn’t have expected when we put out our call to contributors in our winter issue.
Now to invite you into the next iteration of our long-term project to document and ponder the visual art offerings that enrich our region — All the Art Summer 20 will have an Art and Sound theme. Darian Wigfall presented the idea at a board meeting, and it’s already got our wheels turning. When does sound become art? What’s going on when we go hear “noise” in a gallery space? Blow this theme wide open, readers. We want to read about what you are ... hearing when you go to the art. All the Best from All the Art
Executive Editor and Co-Founder
Guest Creative Editor
SOME THINGS I KNOW, SOME THINGS I ONLY BELIEVE THE GALLERY AT THE KRANZBERG Some Things I Know, Some Things I Only Believe opens on March 20 at the Gallery at the Kranzberg. Deborah Douglas’s mixed media exhibition will include multiple works on paper and wood panels. A window display of imagery and text facing the street on Grand Avenue call walkers-by into the gallery. The title of the exhibit reflects the Kranzberg Arts Foundation’s theme for their 2020 season:
Knowledge. Douglas describes the thesis of the exhibit as “essentially, about the fine line between knowledge and belief, and about the precarious balance of hope and despair.” She uses this body of work “to engage with contradictory qualities and the paradoxical placements of objects, ideas and emotions.” This takes the form of artworks that incorporate a wide sampling of visual culture.
Douglas combines advertising labels, popular magazines, vintage books, fabric and wallpaper samples and other odd objects. Found and appropriated images come with preconceived meanings — a glossy image of a woman made-up to represent wealth does the work of selling luxury products. Pulled out of that context, every element of her presentation is put forward for analysis and the banal becomes a tool for critical social insight. By combining these loaded images, a new meaning is formed within the artwork’s composition. The act of combining materials became rooted in the art world’s vernacular in the second half of the 20th century. Makers of this sort bend both subject and materials to their will so that they can convey their thoughts. Like many artists, Douglas carries on this tradition. Douglas cites the influence of past and present artists relevant to her work such as Hannah Höch, Yayoi Kusama, Louise Bourgeois, John Waters and Mickalene Thomas. Her conceptual interests lie in the expansive issue of domesticity: typically including references to food, interpersonal relationships and to cultural and societal issues of gender and sexual equality and empowerment. Some Things I Know, Some Things I Only Believe exhibits March 20th through May 24th. -All the Art
www.kranzbergartsfoundation.org Deborah Douglas, Our Issue, (image courtesy of the artist) 01 ALLTHEARTSTL.COM SPRING 2020
INTERIOR NATURE Metra Mitchell’s collection of paintings exhibited under the title Interior Nature is an exploration of the figurative form as a vehicle for understanding the unconscious. She refers to her paintings as “psychologicallycharged” dramas. And they are certainly that. Each centers around a main character, whom she refers to as an archetype. Those figures are placed into sometimes vulnerable, sometimes powerful, always emotionally heightened states and located in slightly impossible scenes in which they are surrounded by objects worthy of the painting. Mitchell refers to her work as objectification, in the sense that she does not attempt to judge the subjects she is rendering as good or bad, but with an acknowledgment that these constructs do exist and impact the human psyche. She uses the interplay of form, color and light to allude to mental states or, as she describes them, archetypes. Each emotional state is displayed empathetically by the artist, and hopefully, observed with compassion by the viewers of her work. Her representations are like magic mirrors that display the physical forms of her subjects along with the emotional reactions to them. Every element is telling.
work with several models, her way of abandoning the literal form to create the psychological form. In Unsolved Mystery the predominate figure is a semi-nude woman wearing only a long shawl, loafers and a look of confident indifference. A tiger rests on the back of the elegant sofa she sits upon. The tiger reaches out to the woman but the woman is unresponsive to the tiger’s presence. The failed attempt of the tiger makes me think of Michelangelo’s fresco The Creation of Adam, in which God and Adam reach out to one another. The absurdity of it holds a surrealist sensibility. Pattern features a man sitting in a chair in shorts. His glance is sideways, so his eyes do not meet the direct stare of the viewer. The painting is a play of light and color that creates a dream-like atmosphere. Once again, the viewer is caught off guard by an impossible
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element, something totally unexpected. A pair of hands reaches up from the floor. Are they actual or symbolic hands? The hands are reaching for something, but it is unclear what and whatever the hands are attempting they will not achieve. Mitchell does not overtly answer the question of what is the “interior nature” of humanity that she investigates in her work. Seen as a statement about the human condition, we are left with the thought that there is something elusive regarding either our nature or ambition, something that we will never fully realize. Metra Mitchell’s Interior Nature exhibited at Good Weather Gallery throughout January. -John Blair www.goodweatherartgallery.com
She is a figurative painter, but she does not strive for total realism. While her work is attentive to concerns of proportion and dimension, verisimilitude toward her models is not the overriding concern of her work. Her painted characters become metaphors to engage the questions around what it means to be human. She will exaggerate the dimensions of her figures or create composites based on
Metra Mitchell, Unsolved Mystery (left), Pattern (right), (images courtesy of the artist) IN REVIEW
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ANTHOLOGY OF SUDDEN FICTION HOFFMAN LACHANCE CONTEMPORARY
Barry Leibman’s exhibition of paintings at the Hoffman LaChance Gallery this past autumn was titled An Anthology of Sudden Fiction. “Sudden fiction” is a writing genre composed of fiction that is far, far shorter than even the shortest short story. In its thrift it has (or intends to have) considerable punch. The two dozen pictures that composed Leibman’s autumn show are images that respond similarly to ideas and experiences such as those expressed in short fiction stories. Often they are retrospective, featuring figurative elements that have been part of Leibman’s vocabulary of images over the years. He has given titles to these sudden fiction
pictures, titles that respond from the literal, as in Dreaming in Blue, to the enigmatic, In Anticipation of a Table of Contents. What is evident in all of Liebman’s titles, as well as in the pictures onto which they are applied, is a haunting expression of poetry expressed in color, shape and form – recognizable at times as things we know, such as flowers or geometric forms that dance across the picture plane and in the depths of imagined space. I’m suspicious, even contemptuous, of writers who quote their own work to make a point, or to prove a point. However, I wrote an essay
about a 2013 exhibit of Liebman’s paintings at the Philip Slein Gallery for the St. Louis Beacon that was an appreciation of him and his work. Looking back at that article, I find my statements remain true, relevant and worth repeating: “What gives meaning, and what creates the opportunity for an aesthetic dialogue, is Leibman’s stripping away of detail and the replacement of ‘reality’ with painterly and emotional alternatives: visual silences, voids, enigmas, sketchy suggestions of known things. There is the implicit invitation to the viewer not so much to penetrate the picture plane as to transcend it, the better to gain from these paintings the refreshment of abstractionist fantasy, and the freedom and energy inherent in it.” Leibman is familiar to many in St. Louis who visited the great independent bookshop Left Bank Books from 1975 to 2009 he was co-owner. Before that noble venture, he was a member of both the National Teachers Corps and the Peace Corps. With an MA in education from the University of Missouri St. Louis (UMSL) and BA in history and American studies from the University of Kansas (where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa), notably absent is art school. But in his case, being an autodidact may have opened doors to him intellectually and artistically. There are clear references to the work of Hans Hoffman in Liebman’s Anthology. There are connections to others, Matisse and Klee, for example. But these references are indeed references. Leibman’s originality has developed over time and his paintings are revelations of study and reflection. Sigmund Freud said that dreams are the royal road to the unconscious. Similarly, abstract painting is the royal road to revelations about the unconscious of the serious, self-scrutinizing artist. Some are certainly enigmatic, just as is the material we grapple with every morning after a strenuous bout with dreams. Not all abstract painting is about the unconscious.
Barry Leibman, In Anticepation of a Table of Contents, (image courtesy of the artist) 03 ALLTHEARTSTL.COM SPRING 2020
IN REVIEW Barry Leibman, Dreaming in Blue, (image courtesy of the artist)
Some is formulaic, concerned with process. Then there is the regular appearance of abstract artworks full of sound and fury, signifying nothing at all. Leibmanâ€™s work is of the former quality â€“ thoughtful and emotionally inquisitive, a presentation of the work of a serious artist, free of bombast and gimmick. His Anthology is aimed, as all serious artistic endeavors should be, as evidence of a determined and informed search for truth. -Robert Duffy
www.hoffmanlachancefineart.com IN REVIEW
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CONTEMPORARY ART MUSEUM ST. LOUIS AND THE MITCHELL MUSEUM
On first encounter with multidisciplinary artist Margaret Keller’s Botanica absentia it is possible to narrowly miss the gravity of the content within the installation as it is easy to fall prey to the majesty and the simplicity of the installation. To step onto the holographic vinyl floor can leave one transfixed, pulled into a shimmering land set in a near distant future.
Keller’s mutated Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis), a silver tree branch with translucent dichroic plexiglass seed pods, hangs between somber black walls. Vivid light refractions bounce off the seed pods that hang from the branch, like slivers of hope. The holographic vinyl floor glimmers from the reflected rainbows of light. 72 dog tags,
displayed in a grid, are inscribed with the name of extinct tree species and the phrase memento mori, a record of loss that serves as a a sobering acknowledgment that these species no longer exist. The traditional device in art history to remind us that eventually everything dies holds a more dire dimension as we are reminded that the loss is unnecessary. Though visually fantastic, a very serious message lies within Botanica absentia.The exhibit is a warning and a memorial. Keller invites us to ponder the inevitability of the consequences we face globally for our negligence and consumption. That extinction looms over many animal species as a pending fate is news to few of us. However, there is less public awareness that plant species are also becoming extinct. Keller’s Botanica absentia serves as a portal to a dystopic future tied to our current lack of action. She frames her installation as a documentary site for mutated nature and a memorial for the extinct. While the statements made in Botanica absentia are bleak, Keller’s installation also begs the question of whether beauty can exist at the intersection of life and death. Keller positions her work at the crux of nature, contemporary culture and technology, and investigates the impact that each has on our lives. She draws us to the void and leaves us contemplating our role in the trajectory of climate change, ultimately asking, “Is it too late to change the course?” Botanica absentia was selected from a host of proposals by the Teen Museum Studies program at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis for exhibition in the Education Gallery during the Fall/ Winter 2019 programming. Botanica absentia can now be viewed at The Mitchell Museum at Cedarhurst Center for the Arts through April 26. -Alexis Rivierre
Margaret Keller, Botanica absentia, installation view (image courtesy of the artist) 05 ALLTHEARTSTL.COM SPRING 2020
UNNATURAL STATE GALLERY 210
Ilene Berman’s Gallery 210 exhibition, Unnatural State, is a collection of objects, video, sound and purposefully empty places installed and arranged to push viewers to consider and then act upon her message that our schools do harm to the children they are meant to help. Unnatural State is framed as an interrogation of several questions: “Does art have the capacity to adequately address the structural concerns of our day?” “Is it possible for an artist to engage the viewer in these concerns by creating spaces for them to think and feel?” “What are the social structures that prevent schools from being places to practice freedom?” “Who is hurt by and who benefits from this constructed absence of freedom?” Though Berman feels art to be a privileged position from which to address societal needs, she uses art as a vehicle for her message because “art is how I move in the world and oftentimes serves as an entryway for each of us into issues of social importance.” She believes that most social change happens in small sustainable shifts with moments of large scale revolutionary action leading more rarely to social change. With this premise, she hopes to “partner with exhibition visitors in an exploration of art’s capacity to make us feel and act in order to address the important issues of our time.” Unnatural State opened February 8 and runs through May 9. -All the Art
Ilene Berman, Desk, detail (image courtesy of the artist)
www.gallery210.umsl.edu IN REVIEW
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AMERICAN DREAMS By December 2018, Caroline Philippone had been sharing studio space for a few years in a warehouse with three other artists. Arriving there one day to find that concrete fallout from a nearby construction site had smashed a hole in the studio wall large enough to see through, Philippone was unnerved enough to immediately pack up her equipment and supplies and get out. She was preparing an exhibition at the time, and was suddenly at a loss for how to complete the development of her photographs. Enter the Regional Arts Commission (RAC), which holds a competitive grant program to support developing artists. Philippone submitted a grant proposal and was awarded enough of a grant to create a darkroom within her own apartment, enabling her to complete the project that had been in the planning stages in collaboration with the High Low Café in the Grand Center Arts District. This past fall, Philippone won an RAC appointment as a Community Arts Training Fellow. In addition to RAC support, Caroline has experienced the support of Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts in the form of a workshop where she learned a great deal about tax deductions artists can utilize for significant savings. American Dreams is a series of photographs of high schoolers living in a midwestern city (not St Louis) who had come from unstable places throughout the world. Along with making a photographic portrait of each young immigrant, Philippone asked each of them to answer two questions: What does American mean to you? [and] What do you hope for your future? The individual responses were etched into glass that was then laid over the corresponding photo portraits. The portraits were made in a series of visits to the school over a three-year period. It is interesting to note that younger and more recently arrived students tended to have general, short sighted goals such as “finish high school” or “to be a good student,” while older students, and those she had met again after a gap of time had envisioned more specific futures for themselves, for example “study dance and photography,” ”to be a soccer
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player or engineer,” or “to nurse.” One girl from Senegal however, answered the ”future” question the same way both shortly after her US arrival and three year later; her dream is to be a police officer. As she became acquainted with the students and their experiences through repeated visits to their school, Philippone found herself wanting to know more about how one born elsewhere becomes a US citizen. Educating herself about the process, she then wanted to help others appreciate the inherent heartbreak and perils as well as the significant financial costs of this ordeal. That became part of her creative process. Since beginning the project in 2016, some of her portrait subjects had dropped out of high school before finishing due to economic necessity. After having borne the expense of travel from their places of origin, maximum employment is often necessary soon after arrival in order to pay the citizenship application fee which is about $10,000 per person. Some families borrowed money from illegitimate sources to finance their relocation, potentially putting their lives in danger if unable to repay. And while the teenagers have remained here, some of their parents have been deported from the US. “I didn’t want it to be my story” Philippone said in an interview. Yet reflecting on her own family’s immigration history, she came to understand that these teens and their families were not doing anything different from a migration process that is part of the history of most US families. The framed photo portraits need to be looked at from various angles in order to fully see the teens’ words etched into the glass. This is by design, to make the viewer linger longer at each portrait than the 3-second average length of time people spend looking at a piece of art, in order to absorb the dynamic of each one. Philippone employed another glass technique to distinguish students who have been lost to follow up since she began the project - those who dropped out of the school before graduating, and in one girl’s case disappeared altogether. The glass framing these teens’ portraits was given a full laser etch, which gives
Caroline Philippone, Geraldine, (image courtesy of the artist)
the appearance of a steamed-up shower door obscuring the faces of these young people who have faded from view. It has been important to Philippone to maintain phone and in-person contact with the school. She did not want the project to be “just this thing that I did once.” It has not been - nor does she want it to become - a stagnant work. “It would be a big mistake not to follow up” she said. “This is a unique project for me, a really big departure” from the types of photo exhibits she has done in the past that were more traditional landscape photography. In her artist’s statement Philippone wrote of “a desire to share the dreams of young teenage immigrants entering the United States today.” She commented in person that “It’s very hard not to be emotionally attached” to her portrait subjects. As a viewer and interviewer, I found it impossible not to be emotionally engaged by this collection of photographic and word portraits. -Marianne Wilson
IN REVIEW Caroline Philippone, Lilia, (image courtesy of the artist)
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THE COLLECTORS AMONGST US By Robert Morrissey
Amongst the most important supporters of artists, living or deceased, are the private collectors. Artists depend on galleries and galleries depend on collectors. Museums and institutions also depend on collectors and their donations to build their own collections. Private collectors, in their infinite variation, build and sustain the structures that support our artists. A particularly interesting collection here in St. Louis started 20 years ago, when a local couple bought a new house. Lots of empty
walls. Neither had grown up with art or had any meaningful exposure to it. Without ever having considered collecting art, they walked into a gallery in Carmel, fell for two large paintings but couldn’t decide which to buy. So, the gallerist, clever chap, sent both to St. Louis on approval. One now hangs in the family’s front hall and the other, by Missouri artist, Joseph Orr (b.1949), hangs over the fireplace in their living room. It’s a bright woodland landscape with a pond in the foreground reflecting sun-dappled trees beyond.
A few years later they bought the first of four works by another Missouri landscape artist, Billyo O’Donnell (b.1956). Eventually, works by Bryan Haynes (b.1956) and Frederick Oakes Sylvester (1869-1914) also entered the growing collection of Missouri art. Over time, the collectors’ walls began to fill and an interesting and unexpected theme emerged: nearly half of the works are snowscapes. Snow, with its infinitely nuanced shades of white, is extremely difficult to paint and this might explain, at least in part, why we see relatively few snowscapes.
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The art collectors in my story will remain anonymous, but let’s know them through the paintings on their walls. This collection spans the 20th century and contains many superb examples of the genre. Sun Behind the Pines, painted in 1907 by Walter Launt Palmer (1854-1932), depicts a stream in a snowy upstate New York landscape with evergreen trees in late afternoon sun. The light in this painting is exquisite. The reflections on the running water and the areas of dappled sunlight on the snow subtly fill the painting with light and warmth. The diagonal of the stream leads the eye between the two trees in the middle ground and into the bright, sunlit field beyond.
Edward Redfield (1869-1965), an impressionist painter who lived and worked in Bucks County, PA, studied in France for a year and while there saw the works of Claude Monet and Camille Pissarro. Redfield painted countless snowscapes en plein air in the freezing elements. He mixed his paints with extra solvents to prevent them from freezing and completed a picture ‘in one go’, as he put it. The Road to the River (1917), beautifully displays the technique. Redfield builds the surface in true impressionist style with quick, loaded strokes. It’s easy to imagine the trees, the branches flickering in the light, painted by a shivering hand. Dale Nichols (1904-1995), a quintessentially midwestern artist, was born in Nebraska, studied in Chicago and taught at the University of Illinois. He succeeded Grant Wood as the art editor of the Encyclopedia Britannica, a position he held from 1942-1948. Working at the height of the American Scene movement that rejected the Abstract Expressionists, Nichols’ humble narrative paintings portray rural America as he remembered it.
Walter Launt, Sun Behind the Pines, (image courtesy of Robert Morrissey) 09 ALLTHEARTSTL.COM SPRING 2020
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The atmospheric Nichols’ Country Church (1947) depicts a rural church on a clear winter night, bathed in bright moonlight. Nichols renders the snow in shades of blue and white but reserves the warmest colors for the façade. The solitary trail of footprints leading to the church adds to the air of mystery, inviting us to wonder who is walking alone and why. But the golden white bell tower heralds a place of warmth and refuge, suggesting resolution and even redemption. Centered between the leafless trees in the foreground, it fits harmoniously in the landscape, the notion reinforced by the receding snow on the roofs and hilltops. A lot can be learned in the process of collecting art. These collectors did not consciously set out to collect snowscapes as a genre. Mr Anonymous Collector notes that his ancestors immigrated from Norway and muses that, “perhaps it’s my Norwegian DNA calling across the generations.”
Dale Nichols, Country Church (top); Edward Redfield, The Road to the River (bottom), (images courtesy of Robert Morrissey)
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THE OLD NIGHT GUARD By Robert Dorr
The Saint Louis Art Museum (SLAM) has a security team (of which I am one) consisting of 24 women and men, who are responsible for the safety and security of the staff and the patrons. We have authority similar to regular commissioned police officers. We are trained at the Police Academy and at SLAM by visiting training officers. Each of us is trained in CPR, first aid and can even properly apply an AED (defibrillator), though the vast majority of medical responses require an ice pack or a band-aid.
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SLAM security officers enjoy interacting with our staff and patrons. Many hold degrees in art-related fields revealing passions that drew us to the museum in the first place. We have chosen museum work because we, too, want to support your art viewing. Even if we have to face art ghosts to do it . . .
A cone of light crept along the polished marble floor, the old night watchman in its wake. The light emanated from the man's flashlight, his beacon of truth, as he liked to call it. Over the decades, the guard had followed the light each night as he wandered the darkened hallways of the art museum. He believed that what the light illuminated was just what it was. The beam captured truth in its basic form. Paintings were just that, paintings. The same could be said for the sculpture, although truth be known, the old man liked the sculpture more. Except, that is, for the big painting in gallery 206. That one made him think to himself. Gallery 206 was just around the corner. The cone of light turned, entering a dark room which held several major works of religious art. As he stood at the base of the large vertical painting, the guard panned his light from the Archangel Michael where he stood over Lucifer, down to the doomed souls and then all the way to the top, where resided the Holy Trinity. The guard felt... something. Something projected out from the canvas, touching him deeply. More deeply than he would admit to anyone. Even himself.
Corrado Giaquinto, St. Helena and the Emperor Constantine Presented to the Holy Trinity by the Virgin Mary, (image courtesy of the Saint Louis Art Museum)
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Helena was trying to present her handsome son to the Virgin Mary with the proper sense of decorum. But, her son was fidgeting. In a low breath, she growled, "Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus Augustus, be still!" "But mother, that strange light is back!" Constantine replied, pulling at his breastplate.
"Nonsense! I do not believe in strange lights. I believe in what we are here to do. And that is to bestow upon you the blessing of the Church." She let that sink in for a moment, and then added, "Now pay attention." Pope Benedict XIV was watching this exchange from his throne, shaking his head slowly from side to side. "Teenagers," he muttered. "My armor itches," whined the far too old for this Constantine. Helene snapped back, "If
you'd worn the correct pants that go with your tunic, you wouldn't look so foolish," her teeth grinding. Constantine cast a furtive glance over his shoulder. The light was still there! The guard lowered his light, turned to his right and exited the gallery. The painting had affected him again, like it did every night. So strange, these feelings that crept into his mind. It was as if... wait, what was that? A sound was coming from gallery 206. It sounded like... nails scratching armor.
This story relates to the painting listed below: Corrado Giaquinto, Italian, 1703 – 1766 St Helena and the Emperor Constantine Presented to the Holy Trinity by the Virgin Mary, 1741 – 1742 On View in Gallery 206 Saint Louis Art Museum
ANGAD SUPPORTING ARTISTS Art Saint Louis was enlisted to select regional artists from those who had applied for the opportunity to contribute artwork. The design of individual rooms included these artists’ artworks showcased through prints that cover the walls, framed artworks and even the printed linens found within individual suites. Between the many fixtures and surfaces, the rooms feature commissioned artwork, notably mural headboards designed by artists Albert Yowshien Kuo (yellow), Megan Rieke
(blue), Dail Chambers (green) and William LaChance (red). The hotel is a moody labyrinth. Each floor is dedicated to a color theme, an idea that originated with the Lawrence Group design firm. Guests can choose from the hotel’s four colors: “passion red, tranquility blue, happiness yellow, and rejuvenation green.” Four “Rooms within Rooms” paintings were commissioned of artists Metra Mitchell, Laura Schumpert,
Emily Stremming, Noveli, (image courtesy of Argad Arts Hotel) ART SUPPORT ISSUE
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The Angad Arts Hotel is housed in a magnificent historic building in Grand Center. The renovation of the 12-story Missouri Theatre into a hotel and the conversion of the office building’s 146 rooms into uniquely designed guest rooms provided a number of opportunities for regional artists. The idea to bring local artists’ work into the hotel’s design was hatched in accent pieces (wall trim, curtains, wardrobes), but took over the walls, ceiling, everything.
By Katryn Dierksen
Michael Anderson, and Marjorie Williamson. Each depicts an Angad room, taking guests into the looking glass, so to speak. A showstopper among the commissioned artworks is the Chameleon Lamp on the 12th floor, which serves as the hotel lobby. The roughly 20-foot-tall custom creation has a projection display on a lampshade-like screen that features over four hours of video artwork curated by artist Zlatko Ćosić and currently including artwork from Ćosić and kozyndan, Van McElwee, William Morris, Natalie Rainer, Anna Mix and Audrey Simes. The base of the Chameleon Lamp is a bench from which guests can view the interior screen in 360 degrees. Ćosić’s contribution is abstract, energetic and entrancing, featuring deer, cows and horses in motion. The effect is to give a playful and wild atmosphere to the lobby and lounge and the rooftop bar a flight of stairs up.
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Vanessa Rudloff, recently designated Arts Relations Manager at the Angad, holds a personal mission to elevate and celebrate regional artists while educating hotel guests about the regional and international artists whose artwork is on display. When participating in decision making, Rudloff asks, “Is it in our budget to commission an artist for this?” A quarterly exhibition takes place in the hotel gallery, on the first floor where you would expect the lobby to be. The hotel
publishes a call for submissions every six months for local and regional artists who live within 200 miles of St. Louis. The biannual installation of submitted artwork in rooms and public spaces is an ambitious new task for Rudloff, who curated 65 works by 40 artists in the summer of 2019, and 40 works by 29 artists for the Winter Biannual (on view from January to May). The Winter Biannual includes Marco Mulder’s series of large-scale tableaus, each a foot in depth. Mulder’s three dimensional compositions are constructed from abstract, jagged cuts of grey plywood layered with gaps left to let the internal light shine out, highlighting trace amounts of color (the Angad yellow, red, blue and green) at the edges. Laura Lloyd’s artwork in the Grand Tavern on the hotel’s first floor adds vibrancy to the hotel’s restaurant and ties it to the Angad’s prismatic and magical atmosphere. Lloyd combines traditional figure work with modern splashes of color. Small, striking woven photographs by artist Emily Stremming are also on view in the Grand Tavern, with its multiple curious dining rooms. Electrifying artwork by bigweirdo comes out of a collaboration between artists Amanda Bowles and Howard Krohn who pass their three-dimensional, colorful abstract artwork back and forth, negotiating space and color by
the other’s reaction. Bigweirdo uses pattern in contrast with abstract form, resulting in hypnotic undulation and balance. This work has a natural conversation with the abstract expressionist mural by artist Novei Beige installed across from the front desk. Beige’s large painting looks like Gustav Klimt gone totally abstract, with gold and black palette. Her artwork gives a nod in its scale and style to Jackson Pollock’s Mural for Peggy Guggenheim’s Manhattan Townhouse. The 2020 Winter Biannual, the second-to-date rotation of juried art at Angad Arts Hotel reaffirms their commitment to representing a diverse group of local and regional artists and reiterates their polychromatic and futuristic aesthetic. Angad has quickly become a mainstay of St. Louis artist opportunity. They participate in the First Friday Grand Center Artwalk with wine and hors d'oeuvres in The Gallery on the first floor and personnel provide curated tours of the property and the larger Grand Center Arts District. The hotel hosts a speakers series program called Coffee With Creatives that provides a platform for collaboration and the sharing of experiences to build a stronger artistic community in St. Louis.
ACKNOWLEDGING ARTISTS AS LABORERS By Rachel Sacks
Two years ago, I left St. Louis for my ancestral homeland of New York, but the project I miss most has kept my heart in the Lou(p), so to speak. Bread and Roses Missouri connects the arts and labor movements, bridging the contemporary and historical in its varied programming. The nonprofit provides youth with arts summer camps and the broader public of all ages with theater programs that serve as history lessons. This winter, Bread and Roses organized the Art is Labor exhibition at Webster University’s Arcade Gallery downtown. I was lucky to be able to view and participate in this exhibit that honored the mission of Bread and Roses and to reconnect with this organization that meaningfully engages St. Louis communities. I had an artwork in the exhibit, a portrait of a little-known labor organizer named Fannie 13 ALLTHEARTSTL.COM SPRING 2020
Elizabeth Catlett, Organizing the Unorganized, (photo credit: Philip Deitch, image courtesy of St. Louis Mercantile Library) ART SUPPORT ISSUE
2020 Sellins. I’d gloss over my own art if not for how it speaks to the powerful mission of the organization. Once upon a time, I played Sellins in a Bread and Roses theatrical production, portraying her untimely death on stage at the Missouri History Museum. This dual honoring of Sellins symbolizes the work of Bread and Roses: using art to lift up labor and dust off figures lost to history, often by design. They succeed in making history come alive, as organization director Joan Suarez attests “The theatre project is all about getting folks to hear, see, discuss, laugh.” Images of labor organizing as a mostly white, male movement dominate our collective imaginary. Perhaps more of us would feel connected to the labor movement if its true history as a diverse movement filled with women and people of color risking everything were better known. Suarez intends for Bread and Roses to correct the oversimplified, homogeneous conceptions of labor, “Schools no longer teach labor history in any way shape or form. It’s incredibly important to know that the Bread and Roses strike, which took place over 100 years ago (which led to a song, a poem and the name of our organization) was a strike made up of workers speaking as many as 90 different languages.” Today, in trying to highlight the diversity of labor, Bread and Roses uses visual art, poetry and theater to translate that vital message of
Sarah Paulson, Origins of a Redneck Girl (photo credit: Philip Deitch)
laborers’ importance and the value of organizing for workers’ rights. In addition to providing public education, Bread and Roses uses art as agitation, to provoke people into action: “It’s about economic and social justice, and acting as agents of change.”
(1914-1997) laid powerful historical grounding with scenes of labor struggle.
The organization was birthed as a project of Missouri Jobs with Justice before Suarez grew it into a separate entity. This spirit underlies all programs, as Suarez suggests: “The focus of our youth program is on 7-12 year olds. Because if you’re going to have them become community actors, you have to start young.”
Contemporary St. Louis artists continued the storytelling in overt and less obvious tributes to the struggle of workers past and present. Jen Everett and Sarah Paulsen’s artworks, though visually very dissimilar, both challenged widespread notions around work, race and class. Holly Roe’s depictions of the labor of black women caring for white babies at the expense of mothering their own children works, like a labor organizer, by agitating the viewer.
The Art is Labor exhibit curated by Dail Chambers encompassed depictions of labor in many forms, including domestic life. Prints by Elizabeth Catlett (1915-2012) and Thomas Hart Benton (1889-1975) and social realists Ben Shahn (1898-1969) and Ralph Fasanella
Issues of racial injustice cannot be extricated from discussions of labor, as many threads of workers’ struggles show. The oppression of workers involves exploiting their positions of vulnerability (race, ethnicity, gender, class, citizenship or along other normative lines).
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Holly Roe, Untitled, (photo credit: Philip Deitch, courtesy of Bread and Roses)
Works by a slew of contemporary local artists, including Basil Kincaid, Aziza Binti, De’Joneiro Jones, Treasure Shields Richmond, Shabez Jamal, and Chambers herself, assert the relevance of the Black experience for the labor struggles of today. Artworks by Luisa Otero Prada, Carlos Barberena, Benjamin Gomez and Aaron McMullin highlighted laborers of different backgrounds.
The exhibit broadly highlighted the relationship between art and social justice. The opening event saluted local social justice icons Percy Green and Jamala Rogers, and featured a theater performance, marking the fifth anniversary of this vital organization.
ROBERT A. POWELL: A VISIONARY PROVIDING VISIBILITY FOR AFRICAN AMERICAN ARTISTS IN ST. LOUIS By Yvonne Osei ART SUPP ORT ISSUE SPRING
Robert A. Powell came by the Center of Creative Arts to show support for Adornment, an exhibition I curated for the Millstone Gallery from September 20, 2019 to January 12, 2020. His continuous interest in my creative and professional trajectory made me emotional when we met at the gallery. Powell is the founder of Portfolio Gallery & Education Center, a non-profit arts organization that has been in existence since 1989. As a man who embodies different roles, including being an artist, curator, educator and activist, he saw a need here for an art organization serving black creatives with a mission to foster a greater awareness of African American artists.
He was the first art administrator to put my paintings on gallery walls when I was pursuing my undergraduate degree at Webster University in St. Louis. My first group exhibition outside of university affiliated exhibitions titled Skin Stories: Storytelling and the Black Body was shown at his Portfolio Gallery & Education Center. This was MAJOR for me! I remember knocking on the Portfolio Gallery & Education Center doors sometime in 2011. Mr. Powell greeted me and I quickly made my intentions known by saying “I’d like a show at your gallery sir.” He said, “Name five African American artists.” And I did. Then he added, “I will give you a show if you can mention the names of ten African American artists.” I got to eight and was frozen. I started negotiating adding two African artists in the mix because [we] are all family. That day, I was not assured an exhibition at Portfolio Gallery & Education Center. A week later, I returned with a notebook of in-depth research on over 30 African American 15 ALLTHEARTSTL.COM SPRING 2020
Robert Powell (left) and Yvonne Osei (right) standing before Basil Kincaid’s Spirit in Transformation at the Adornment exhibition, Millstone Gallery, November 2019 (photo credit: Douglas Flowe courtesy of Yvonne Osei)
artists. That was the moment Mr. Powell lit up and wanted to hear more about my creative practice. My research on more African American artists and their impact in the art world got me the exhibition a few months later.
avenues for cultivating African American cultural and intellectual exchange. Powell has created a network that strengthens the visibility and voice of many African American artists in the St. Louis community.
I reflect on this moment because it illustrates how one person’s dedication to African American art can influence the inclusion of black excellence in the way art is seen and understood. Although Portfolio Gallery & Education Center no longer has a physical space, it continues to further its mission through philanthropic work, providing grants, lectures, exhibition opportunities, as well as
Powell recently curated an exhibition titled All Colors at the St. Louis Artists' Guild. The exhibit, held through the end of last February featured over 50 artists. Hats off to this rare visionary for the impact he has had and continues to make on generations.
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IN PRAISE OF MY CURATOR By Kristen Peterson
The autumn-winter exhibit, Visual Delights: Photographs and Altered Books, at the Sheldon Art Galleries was my first solo curated show. The experience was transformative. Olivia Lahs-Gonzales chose 70 photos and 10 altered books from 47 years of my work. In so doing, she identified themes and relationships in my artwork that I was too close to notice. I consider myself a people photographer; however, she chose mostly still lifes, landscapes and interiors, many as if the people just left. The photos she chose with people included did not feature them as subjects so much as figures to fill in the composition.
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She saw relationships between tin roofed barrios, tribal dancers, abandoned buildings and unmade beds, united because they recorded the beauty and delight found in everyday existence. I realized, reviewing the selection of photographs she had culled from my collection, how much I love fabric or at least what light does to it. My photos of a lace curtain in a neighbor's window, a mosquito net in a safari tent in the Namib desert, a curtain on a massive door in a hunting lodge, bed linens in Spain and towels drying in a bakery in Portugal — all share something. Through Lahs-Gonzalaz’s keen vision I saw that a photo of the early morning mist over the Douro river in Porto, Portugal has a lacelike quality. My photos are personal souvenirs, like layered memories of my travels and adventures that encourage a closer look and a "being there" experience. Sharing them invites others to share in the unexpected and delightful aspects of what I encounter. Sharing them with the gentle guidance of a gifted curator brought me closer than ever to my subjects as they became new again to me.
Kristen Peterson, Lace Curtain (top), Porto, Portugal (Bottom), (image courtesy of the artist)
THE MIGRATION OF ARTISTS By Sarah Weinman
The influx of ideas and experiences that come with immigrants is made especially poignant when seen through the work of artists. Immigration can be exactly the support needed for artists who must leave their places of births for new homes to tell their visual art stories.
“Immigration almost always involves crossing an ocean,” noted Victor Wang, Professor of Fine Arts at Fontbonne University. “You can do something simple like take a plane to the US but everything is still suddenly different.”
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Born in 1957, Wang grew up in northeastern China near the Russian border. After he graduated from high school, the government sent him to a labor camp along with millions of other young people from all over the country.
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“During the Cultural Revolution, the government believed the more formal education you had, the more you needed to be ‘reeducated,’ ” he said. “On the farm where I was sent, we planted corn and sunflowers. The corn didn’t grow well and we were really hungry. We’d eat sunflower seeds from the field.” Wang worked on the farm for almost three years. He said, “We did all the work by hand. In the winter we’d collect human waste in the cities and make fertilizer. We had fireboxes under our beds because it was so cold. Water in basins froze in our rooms overnight when the fires went out.” He would’ve become a farmer if the Cultural Revolution hadn’t officially ended. After he left the farm, he earned a degree at Lu Xun Academy of Fine Arts in Shenyang.
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In 1987, he came to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, a sister school of Lu Xun, as a visiting scholar. Before he left China, Wang had married, and he and his wife had a daughter. He said, “I was supposed to go back to China in 1989 but then the events of Tiananmen Square happened.”
platform, a male figure crouches, holding a qinglong ji, a Song Dynasty spear-like weapon. Chinese warriors brandishing similar weapons pursue him. The warriors reference battles in ancient history. Sunflowers feature prominently in his work. As a child, he and his brother played in sunflower fields near his home. The variety that grew there had huge heads, so the boys would wear the flower heads as helmets. He explained, “The Cultural Revolution used sunflowers as political symbols because they follow the sun’s movements. Chinese citizens should follow Mao Zedong who represented the sun.” Wang’s experiences as an immigrant also strongly shape his art: “Immigration makes my work much more dynamic. I probably wouldn’t have created art like I’m making now, if I’d stayed in China.”
In Reaching the Past, a white female figure stands in the foreground in water up to her knees, her back to us. At the right, an Asian girl stands at the edge of the painting with a large sunflower on her shoulder. In the background at the top of the painting, an empty rowboat drifts away. The boat represents immigration and crossing an ocean. Wang’s daughter, at that time in fourth grade, served as the model for the girl. Square tiles with Chinese characters, floating on the water away from the viewer, mean fight, revolution, Party, Red, and status. “It isn’t easy to come to a new culture,” he said. “It takes time to adjust. But America is a free country. Everyone has the opportunity to become a success if they’re motivated to achieve their dreams.”
His wife had been able to come to the US in 1988 but the couple couldn’t bring their daughter because the government wouldn’t let whole families leave the country at the same time. She lived with extended family in China for four years until Wang and his wife could bring her to the US.
Despite the separation, Wang was able to focus on his career. Fontbonne University awarded him a scholarship to earn an MFA. In 1991 a faculty position in the Fine Arts Department there opened up. He applied for it and was hired. He still holds that position. Many of his paintings look inward and reflect his life on the farm: frustration, depression, dreams, and sentimentality. He focuses on universal themes, which is why he uses Western figures as the main subjects in his work. In most of his pieces, he applies thick layers of paint to the canvas. “I want physicality in my paintings,” he said. “I want viewers to engage with the surface qualities and then realize what I’m trying to say. I try to engage viewers on an emotional level.” His wife serves as his model; while he paints, he watches her emotional state and thinks about missing his daughter while she was in China. One painting, Losing the Battle, represents the struggle with past experiences. A white female figure faces the viewer in the foreground. In the background on an elevated 17 ALLTHEARTSTL.COM SPRING 2020
Victor Wang, Losing the Battle, (image courtesy of the artist) ART SUPPORT ISSUE
ART SUPPORT PROFILES This short list highlights organizations and institutions that support regional artists. It is compiled from responses to our Winter 19/20 issue. Do you participate in an effort to support visual artists? Contact our editors to get your story into a future issue of All the Art!
Paul Artspace An artist residency located at a unique retreat space that sits on almost six acres of land in St. Louis County. Our live/work residence has ample studio spaces and resources. We offer free residencies for artists of all mediums and curators. Each year, we send one artist to Stuttgart as part of our Sister Cities Stuttgart-St. Louis international residency exchange. www.paulartspace.org/programs email@example.com.
St. Louis Volunteer Lawyers and Accountants for the Arts (VLAA) St. Louis Volunteer Lawyers and Accountants for the Arts (VLAA) supports the creative community by providing free legal and accounting assistance and a wide variety of affordable educational programs. The organization serves artists of every discipline and career level, nonprofit cultural organizations and small arts-related businesses.
FarFetched An art imprint based in St. Louis that specializes in thought provoking and innovative art and music. We provide a do it yourself musician toolkit full of knowledge and resources in Music/Art Business, Promotion and Production to our artists and the public, as well as marketing and promotion help. We are beginning to offer podcasting, video creation and editing as well as a studio coming in 2020. wearefarfetched.net
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Victor Wang, Reaching the Past, (image courtesy of the artist)
Freedom Arts & Education Center
The Angad Arts Hotel
A youth empowerment organization providing arts education, academic support, and mentoring throughout the St. Louis region. Learn more at faecstl.org/academics and email firstname.lastname@example.org to apply to volunteer with us to empower our scholars to grow academically and artistically. Our Art & Academic Workshops program provides over 4,000 students a year with meaningful learning opportunities in the arts. Our partner organizations choose from our catalog of over 50 workshops which are then facilitated by our team of paid teaching artists.
Located in the Central West End neighborhood of St. Louis, Houska Gallery represents and exhibits emerging and mid-level artists from the St. Louis region. Established in 1998 as the studio gallery of Pop artist Charles Houska, it has since grown to exhibit a diverse range of contemporary art in all media. Approximately ten solo & group exhibitions are scheduled per year in our main and upstairs galleries. To further support the St. Louis art community, we gladly provide guidance, feedback, and conversation to artists and students trying to navigate their way in the local art scene.
The Angad Arts Hotel and restaurant feature artwork curated from a biannual call for art from local and regional artists. These rotate with receptions in May and November annually. We use the callforentry.org platform with calls up in March and September respectively. The Gallery in the entrance of the hotel rotates quarterly with highlighted local artists with receptions on First Friday artwalks of March, June, September and December. Our Coffee With Creatives speaker series, powered by Mascot Agency, provides a platform for collaboration and the sharing of experiences to build a stronger artistic community in St. Louis.
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Art Saint Louis
Projects + Gallery
Art Saint Louis creates and presents original exhibitions, educational programming and support services that foster and celebrate the creative activity of St. Louis regional visual artists. The organization connects and benefits artists and the viewers their work impacts by helping artists achieve professional success while deepening our communityâ€™s understanding and enjoyment of contemporary visual art. Art Saint Louis presents exhibitions year-round in its gallery and cafĂŠ in downtown St. Louis. Additionally the organization produces a variety of outreach programs in and around the city, and maintains the ArtLoupe mobile app, a national discovery and sales tool for visual art.
A commercial art space designed to feature contemporary exhibitions and artists that blur the boundaries of traditionally understood artistic disciplines and practices. In conjunction with Barrett Barrera Projects, a consulting company founded by Susan Barrett in 2014 and specializing in arts, culture and contemporary fashion, projects+gallery features regional, national and international artists working in a variety of mediums.
Flood Plain A non-profit contemporary art and performance space located in the Gravois Park neighborhood of St. Louis. We are dedicated to supporting experimentation through art, highlighting work by artists historically marginalized from dominant exhibition practice and connecting creative communities throughout the American Midwest and South. We focus on working with artists at pivotal junctures in their careers, who are in need of space to explore new materials, forms, concepts or histories through public exhibition. exhibition inquiries: email@example.com performance booking or event inquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org. floodplaingallery.org
www.projects-gallery.com email@example.com (314) 696-8678
The Kranzberg Arts Foundation Visual Art Program The Program showcases outstanding, relevant works from an expansive range of artists in the St. Louis region. In collaboration with area nonprofits, artists and educators, the Kranzberg Arts Foundation challenges established concepts of what art is and does, and engages with the community in new and meaningful ways. This spirit of innovation, experimentation and camaraderie make the Kranzberg Arts Foundation Visual Art Program one of the premier visual arts destinations in the Midwest. Experience the Foundation's galleries at The Kranzberg, High Low and The Dark Room. www.kranzbergartsfoundation.org.
HORSLEYARTS Located in the Central West End at 4374 Olive, presents three to four shows annually showcasing incredible, eclectic and boldminded artists working in the St. Louis region. HORSLEYARTS.COM (314) 243-3879.
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Dutchtown South Community Center (DSCC) A place based community development organization dedicated to advancing neighborhood vitality through community empowerment, housing and real estate development. We work primarily in four south city neighborhoods of Dutchtown, Gravois Park, Marine Villa and Mt. Pleasant. We often work with the creative community on a range of arts-based community development initiatives and projects from public art installations to an annual dance festival in Marquette Park. Please reach out and contact us about opportunities to collaborate. www.dutchtownsouth.org
Granite City Art and Design District (G-CADD) A consortium of creative project spaces and non-traditional gardens located in downtown Granite City, IL. As an artist-run space, we work to provide artists, musicians and other creatives an opportunity to execute and exhibit projects in an alternative environment, while simultaneously serving the local community and positively impacting the region at large. We host bi-monthly exhibitions, workshops, artist talks, film screenings, concerts and anything in between! www.gcadd.org
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