THE VISUAL ART QUARTERLY OF ST. LOUIS
Ai Weiwei, Forever Bicycles, detail, (images courtesy of the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum)
CONTENTS 01 EXECUTIVE EDITOR AND CO-FOUNDER SARAH HERMES GRIESBACH
CREATIVE EDITOR SUKANYA MANI
COPY EDITOR HILARY HITCHCOCK
DIRECTOR OF LAYOUT AND DESIGN MAXINE WARD
PRINCIPAL PHOTOGRAPHER RICHARD REILLY
CONTENT CONTRIBUTORS JOHN BLAIR ANASTASIA CHOSTNER KATRYN DIERKSEN KATHY ANN DUFFIN MILO DUKE CARLA DUNCAN AMELIA GOLDSBY CELESTE GRAYER
SARAH HERMES GRIESBACH KYLIN HAIRSTON MEE JEY OLIVIA LAHS-GONZALES RHONDA SCHRUM RICHARD VAGEN AMANDA VERBECK JOAN WELCH
Covers: Frank Wimberley, Siempre, (image courtesy of the Saint Louis Art Museum)
AI WEIWEI: BARE LIFE MILDRED LANE KEMPER ART MUSEUM
03 A DEAL WITH THE DEVIL ... TERRAFORMING PARADISE KRANZBERG ART CENTER
05 TOM FRIEDMAN PROJECTS
+ GALLERY AND BONSACK GALLERY
07 SOFT SCRUB THE LUMINARY
08 THE SHAPE OF ABSTRACTION: SELECTIONS FROM THE OLLIE COLLECTION SAINT LOUIS ART MUSEUM
SUSAN PHILIPZ: SEVEN TEARS ZARINA: ATLAS OF HER WORLD PULITZER ARTS FOUNDATION
THE FILIPINO-AMERICAN ARTIST DIRECTORY
ART EXPOSURE IN EDWARDSVILLE
SOULARD ART GALLERY: A NURTURING PLACE FOR ARTISTS
WHY I WONâ€™T BE AN ARTIST ... BUT MY MOM IS
MULTI-TASKER ARTIST MOTHER
HAVING IT ALL: NAVIGATING ARTISTIC PRACTICE AND MOTHERHOOD
MY LOVE OF ART, YOUTH AND THE COMMUNITY
ART PROJECT IS MUCH MORE
The general rule around here is one byline per contributor. But when Kylin Hairston realized Ai Weiwei was coming to the Mildred Lane Kemper Museum at Washington University, he had already fallen in love with and written a review of the Ollie Collection at the Saint Louis Art Museum. So what? Rules are meant to be broken, right? We gave him both stories. And he was giddy leaving the press preview at the newly reopened Kemper, “It was AMAZING! AND, I got a selfie with Ai Weiwei! He was so great!” he rhapsodized into his phone. That happened because All the Art exists. The excitement of attending press events never gets old for our seasoned art writers, and it’s a true thrill for the newbies. Along with exhilarating art-writing experiences, we have the great joy of providing artists documentation of their exhibits, their studio practices and anything they can wring out of our issue themes. As we head into our fifth year of All the Art, we are feeling pretty good about this publication — what we’ve done thus far and what we’ve got lined up for the future. The theme of this issue is Art and Parenting. We asked our contributors to stretch the meaning of the theme as far as they could, and they have. We have parents of art organizations, art organizations performing as parents, art places for parents, trials of arting while parenting and shout-outs to artists’ parents and to parents who are artists.
We hope you’ll be just as creative with the theme for Spring 2020: Organizations That Support Our Artists. This theme is part of our half-decade (or lustrum, in Latin) anniversary effort to look inward and assess how we are doing and what we can do to improve. Like, how can we get you to go to our website and become a member? (Just threw that in, but think about it…) Do you know of a program that deserves to be touted? Tout them here, in our pages. all the best from All the Art
Executive Editor and Co-Founder
BARE LIFE The Kemper Art Museum at Washington University is seeing a rush of eager visitors after undergoing a major remodel and expansion. The Kemper begins its new era with a major exhibition, Ai Weiwei: Bare Life. Along with a great array of mosaic, video, sculpture
and photography that Ai (in Chinese, the surname comes first) created over the past two decades, this jaw-dropping exhibition includes site-specific artworks designed and constructed for his St. Louis audience.
MILDRED LANE KEMPER ART MUSEUM The artworks that make up Bare Life fall into themes that coincide with Ai’s human rights advocacy. In his words and in his work, he urges others to take notice of global conditions and make an effort to become involved in the larger world. Questions asked of him by museum visitors reveal the larger-than-life stature that comes with his celebrity and the respect he has earned through a career made by standing up to authority. Ai is a contemporary master of the practice of appropriating readymades. Readymade art components are objects that serve a greater purpose for art than they did in their first life. They are objects that hold significant meaning separate and apart from their originally intended use. In much of Ai’s art, a common thing becomes powerful when it is pulled into a sculptural installation. Many of us were introduced to Ai Wewei through images of his famous 2009 project, Remembering, an art installation built from 9,000 backpacks (readymades) that represented more than 80,000 Chinese schoolchildren and teachers who died when their school collapsed in an earthquake. A child’s backpack has never held so much meaning. Remembering gained Ai notoriety because of the heartbreaking effect of the installation and it subsequently made him a target of Chinese governmental figures who did not appreciate the global attention paid to his investigation of corruption in the construction of the schools that collapsed. Ai’s use of readymade objects either in a group or as independent objects has intrigued me since I learned of him. While speaking to Kemper guests he recalled his introduction to
Exhibition Selfie of review author Kylin Hairston with Ai Weiwei and Carmon Colangelo of Washington University Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts (top), Ai Weiwei, Ai Weiwei: Bare Life, installation view (bottom left); Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn installation view (bottom right), (images courtesy of the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum) 01 ALLTHEARTSTL.COM WINTER 2019/20
IN REVIEW Ai Weiwei, Ai Weiwei: Bare Life, installation views, (images courtesy of the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum)
the use of readymade components when he came to live, study and work in New York in 1981. He says that the artwork of Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns and Marcel Duchamp greatly influenced him. He particularly admired the humor and attitude in Duchamp that inspired his tongue-in-cheek use of readymade objects to poke fun at society. His introduction in New York schools, museums and galleries to Dada and Pop Art set the tone for his work in later years. While Aiâ€™s artworks employ humor, his art-made statements about victims of mass production, struggles of refugees and general misuse of human lives for selfish gains of power holders are serious stuff. When the group is displayed together, as now at the Kemper, visitors will find a pictorial commentary on human history. To understand the commentary, they must dig in and learn the language that Ai speaks through his art. The exhibit is organized into sections like two major parts of a textbook or semesters in a
year-long course. The Bare Life section reveals horrors of war past and present and governmental authority used against the people held by their power. The Rapture section forms a thick conversation around culture and, in particular, the rupture in China's history that came with the Cultural Revolution. The triptych Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn is in this section of the exhibit. Ai has formed mosaics from countless gray white and black LEGO tiles to create life-size portraits of himself in the act of destroying a priceless historic object. His Grapes makes use of 34 wooden stools from the Qing dynasty. The stools are joined together to become a seamless spiral, like a giant organism, an apt metaphor for the modern Chinese state that absorbs individuals and history until the past function of each is almost invisible. Ai does not exempt any authority from his critique. Both sections of the exhibit make accusations in which a receptive viewer IN REVIEW
should find their own complicity. We are all participants in the consumption of mass production that occurs at the expense of the workers whose cultural history is erased in commercial rapid growth cycles. Ai seems to seek balance and harmony. He obtains both in his art but sees both sorely missing in almost all areas of our global society. Perhaps perfect balance and harmony can be obtained in art but are unattainable in society. Closes January 5
-Kylin Hairston www.kemperartmuseum.wustl.org WINTER 2019/20 ALLTHEARTSTL.COM 02
A DEAL WITH THE DEVIL… TERRAFORMING PARADISE KRANZBERG ART CENTER
A quiet gallery comes to life as viewers enter, triggering a motion detector that sets off a chain reaction. Flat, pools of synthetic fabric inflate into bulbous cubes. One is green and one is yellow. The yellow cube appears to be wearing khaki pants… Cement figurines huddle in a line along the gallery’s windows, seeking shelter from the cube monsters. Eric Nauman’s conceptual installation uses tropes in popular video games such as Super Mario Brothers as an accessible entry-point to the exhibition’s concept. His screen-printed wallpaper recreates a classic role-playing game (RPG) experience. You know: the one where the sky is cyan and the coins are yellow and suspended in the air, and you, Mario, jump around, dodge enemies and collect coins? It’s hard not to hear the Mario theme song playing in your head. Nauman’s many fabrication techniques –including silicone mold-making, cement-casting, machine-sewing and screen-printing– pair well with his application of computer programming and robotics to fine art. The reactionary quality of the exhibition begs passersby on the sidewalk to enter Nauman’s world and invites them to stay. The sculptures are so like characters we know, but abstracted to the point of generality. SpongeBob SquarePants is easy to recognize in the big yellow cube, if you know him. Mr. Krabs is then not hard to imagine in the bloated, gold, glittering dollar-sign that spins, mounted onto a blood red ampersand (&) on a stack of yellow gold bricks, all rotating on a platform supported on the backs of four stationary cementfolk. Terraforming is a trope in science fiction in reference to transforming a fictional alien planet into a habitable environment for humans. Nauman’s exhibition succeeds as a conceptual installation at a time when new media and installation artwork has become the thing to do. The installation is centered around what the viewer can recognize immediately as a piece of traditional screen-printed canvas wall art, hung at traditional gallery height among the screen-printed wallpaper that transforms the space into a virtual world. 03 ALLTHEARTSTL.COM WINTER 2019/20
Eric Nauman, Golden Calf, (photo credit: Katryn Dierksen)
These canvases function in contrast to the wallpaper. The canvas begs, “Collect me!” while the floor-to-ceiling paper background asks, “Am I recyclable?” Everything in the exhibition is staged to challenge our concept of permanence. When IN REVIEW
the viewer leaves the gallery –confused or satisfied– the synthetic fabric cubes will deflate and the glittering gold icon will stop spinning with nobody to stimulate the computerized motion detectors. It’s impossible not to laugh at the idea that the cast cement people have anything to fear from the
IN REVIEW Eric Nauman, A Deal with the Devil installation view, (photo credit: Katryn Dierksen)
inflatable SpongeBob or his envy green friend, fabric and fragile computers as they are, and completely indefensible to 30 pounds of cement to that end. Nauman’s installation suggests that people are afraid of inflated, cartoonish nightmares that consist of weaker substance than humankind. The screen-printed paper backdrop features not only floating coins and rings and clouds, but also headless creatures, hybrid between a cow’s udder and a bumble bee, many of which buzz around in the repeating expanse of sky. If traditional game tropes apply to Nauman’s terrain as they do in other ways, this creature could be assumed to do your character harm with its sting as you pursue the coin treasure floating in the sky, but could they also give you milk during 10% of gameplay? They are udders. Looking down at the cement figurines that support the spinning, glittering dollar tower, one can only wonder why they bow down for the bloody dollar icon--and what is it that seems so unsafe to them in this fantasy? Nauman suggests that we give the cube-monsters and dollar-icon their power over the cement people masses. Our very presence in the gallery chamber activates them: energizes them. Without us, you could say, these ideas hold no power.
In a way, this metaphor translates as well to a criticism of internet age global capitalism as readily as it can apply to a critical view of the art world. The art is propped up by people, the art is activated by people, the art is feared by people (well, by cement people). Not to mention, the art’s value is superficial: dripping in attention-grabbing glitter and electronics. As a criticism of capitalism, Nauman’s installation fairs best for the contrast the artist creates by using an assortment of media. At once, a viewer can find several items that they can qualify as “fine art” or “other” in a way that motivates the viewer to organize the exhibition into a hierarchy of objects. The coins printed on paper seem impermanent, multiplicitous, and cheap. The rotating dollar sign seems useless for any purpose other than the ridiculous and iconographic purpose it serves to an art venue, the screen-printed canvases seem to “save” a memory of the exhibition itself, and the cement casts with a single flower hand-painted on each one’s back seem authentic and priceless. In all, the sculptures and prints transform into capitalizable objects only if you decide to play the game.
Eric Nauman, A Deal with the Devil detail, (photo credit: Katryn Dierksen)
-Katryn Dierksen www.thekranzberg.org www.ericnaumanart.com IN REVIEW
WINTER 2019/20 ALLTHEARTSTL.COM 04
TOM FRIEDMAN PROJECTS
A knowing smirk, a quiet chuckle, a shared smile. These are all common responses to seeing the playful work of artist Tom Friedman. Born and raised in St. Louis, Friedman recently returned to the city for two events highlighting his work. The first was the opening of his exhibition, Eternal Return, at projects+gallery in the Central West End. The second was an alumni weekend artist talk at the Bonsack Gallery at his high school alma mater, John Burroughs School. Friedman’s sense of humor is evident from the moment you walk into projects+gallery. The artworks in Eternal Return run the gamut in terms of size, materials, and process. The tiny Smallfigurewithbinoculars, roughly one inch tall, sits across from a life-size table holding a mixed media chess set. The aptly named Yarn Dog, made of yarn and wheat paste, overlooks
a painted styrofoam muscle man on top of a cardboard box. Editioned works on paper, such as the multicolored neon screenprint Untitled (Dollar Bill Back), coexist with abstract figurative sculptures and ink jet photo pieces. At first glance, all of these juxtapositions can feel somewhat scattered. But with each piece, there is a clear intention. Friedman’s craftsmanship is always present, and he often works in opposites to fully explore an idea. projects+gallery notes that “Friedman subverts our perception of the mundane and the meaningful…manipulating commonplace objects to disrupt the superficial solace of what feels like home. Friedman structured Care Package using the packaging of everyday products that, on first glance, appear like anything you would see on the grocery store shelf. However, intent viewing reveals meticulous manipulations to the recognizable branding. The subtle changes to the wrapping turn the creature comfort of these consumables into grotesqueries, becoming a wry reminder of the ease with which we package and perceive our lives.” Heading from the gallery to his old school, Friedman attended the Burroughs alumni weekend festivities and gave a glimpse into his process as an artist with a thoughtful presentation. John Burroughs School houses an extensive art collection, including several pieces by Friedman. His newest piece in the
Tom Friedman, John Burroughs (top); John Burroughs detail (bottom left) (image courtesy of the artist and the Bonsack Gallery); Tom Friedman, Care Package (bottom right), (image courtesy of the artist and project + gallery) 05 ALLTHEARTSTL.COM WINTER 2019/20
+ GALLERY AND BONSACK GALLERY
collection is a life-size sculpture of John Burroughs (a 19th-century naturalist and philosopher), standing outdoors quietly overlooking the football field and track. During his talk, Friedman explained his process of using aluminum foil and oven roasting pans to create various sculptures. He shapes and forms his figures out of aluminum, placing the material around skeletal armatures of wood or foam. The pieces are then cast in stainless steel to create the final work. The John Burroughs sculpture was created in just this manner. Taking a closer look reveals the EZ-Foil stamps and various textures of the aluminum roasting pans. When asked why he uses aluminum, Friedman’s response was “I have it around.” Minimalism is at the heart of Friedman’s work. He takes everyday materials and objects and uses them to create art that helps us see our world in new ways. In his lecture, Freidman spoke of his interest in minimalism as an act of taking away, a process that keeps you grounded in your “immediate experience.” In this way, his work acts as something accessible for those unfamiliar or uncomfortable with abstract, modern, or conceptual art. Many artists work with the everyday, but few do so with such precision and playfulness. -Amanda Verbeck
Soft Scrub, an exhibition at the Luminary curated by Katherine Simóne Reynolds, featured work by nine artists examining their ideas on the black household. Spanning a variety of media —photography, sculpture, video and architectural elements— the artworks offer glimpses into life inside the artists’ black households. Texas Isaiah contributed Name is My Name. Alone, a portrait made using digital photography. In it, the subject sits on the floor — nude, positioned between a doorway and a window, with a plant looming overhead as a personal canopy. The subject’s head is bent down, face obscured by raised knees and outstretched arms. Isolated, yet framed by life, light and a doorway.
no.2, Quay Quinn Wolf displays vintage mink fur stoles zipped in protective plastic bags. The bags house something important, valued and cherished. They preserve what’s inside to keep it safe while also sealing the treasured items away —not to be enjoyed, but to be owned. Then I Strained to Hear You Over the Noise Out There by Devin N. Morris is an architectural readymade sculpture space that Morris installed within the Luminary. Using found doors and windows and household furniture and objects, Morris assembled a room. The old doors are static, not functioning; they form walls, not passageways.
THE LUMINARY Home is a loaded concept. There are small items with large stories lurking in corners. The same was true in this enigmatic documentation of what lives on in memory for the artists shaping Soft Scrub. Due only to space constraints, work by artists Cameron Granger, keyon gaskin, Mitchell Squire, Todd Anthony Johnson and Vaughn Davis Jr. are not mentioned specifically in this article. -Richard Vagen
A household contains physical objects that tell stories. It is also the locus of events that are fraught with emotions. The emotional history of a home can be told in the objects found there. Collin Elliott’s series of photographs in gold frames in various sizes offered small glimpses of a funeral. His Toes Down reveals a pair of black shoes, polished and shiny, set on a white fabric. His Pew presents a detail of a suit jacket sleeve crossing the picture plane, the subtle curves of the folding fabric turning the image abstract. Together, shows hands clasped, a Cadillac in shadows and a hearse adorned with flowers. These photographic pieces of a whole come together to provide ways of looking into an emotional event, into a family’s life. The depth of feeling displayed by Elliott’s finely tuned arrangements rings out as true and striking as such emotional display is not always associated with masculinity. One of the many functions of a house is to preserve and protect what is valued by those living within. In Dreaming of Luxury no.1 and
Texas Isaiah, Name is My Name Alone (top); Devin N. Morris, Then I Strained to Hear You Over the Noise Out There, installation view (bottom), (photo credit: Brea Youngblood, courtesy of the Luminary and the artist) IN REVIEW
WINTER 2019/20 ALLTHEARTSTL.COM 06
THE SHAPE OF ABSTRACTION: SELECTIONS FROM THE OLLIE COLLECTION
SAINT LOUIS ART MUSEUM Almost a calendar year after the stellar 2018 Kehinde Wiley: Saint Louis exhibition, black art has again captured the spotlight at the Saint Louis Art Museum (SLAM). Visitors have until March 22 to view The Shape of Abstraction: Selections from the Ollie Collection, a breathtaking exhibit that presents a stellar group of abstract expressionist work by black artists.
This collection provides us with an opportunity to see grand examples of abstract expressionist work by black artists. The collection explores abstract expressionism through many mediums including woodcuts, screen printing, lithography, collage, and quilting. The timeline of the art ranges from important work of Norman Lewis in the 1940s to a 2014 artwork by Chakaia Booker.
The Shape of Abstraction presents 40 of the 81 artworks that the museum has acquired from the Ollies. Exhibition curators, Gretchen Wagner and Alexis Assam, have highlighted artworks made using experimental materials and processes.
The artworks in the exhibit date from the start of the abstract expressionist movement through its development. It was post-World War II movement that broke from centuries of tradition. The artists in this new movement focused on expressing emotions through free compositions and color selection. Using
various mediums, they created and showed artworks that broke molds and made manifest concepts of freedom and liberation. Many of the artists within this group are contemporaries and artistic equals to much better-known artists. Their placement together within the context of this collection champions their individual positions within the history of abstraction. There is not room here to provide more than a short statement on a few of the artists within this esteemed group, but each is worthy of study which is facilitated by SLAM in the exhibit galleries and the museum library archives. Benny Andrews’ Black Bird is an example of his mixed use of figurative and abstract forms to tell evocative stories. An ominous bird appears to just barely make flight from an eruption of color. But this lithograph comes from Andrews’ Utopia series, in which the artist imagines a (reportedly) idyllic world without humans. Ominous is in the eye of the beholder. Three of Ed Clark’s groundbreaking paintings are included in the exhibit. Clark’s sweeping
Frank Wimberley, Journey Signs (left); Robert Blackburn, Faux Pas (right), (images courtesy of the Saint Louis Art Museum) 07 ALLTHEARTSTL.COM WINTER 2019/20
IN REVIEW Mary Lovelace O’Neal, City Lights, (image courtesy of the Saint Louis Art Museum)
horizontal swaths of color influenced the way generations of artists approach the canvas. He is said to be amongst the first American artists to work on canvases in varied, non-rectangular shapes as he pushed the limits of what painting was supposed to look like.
famous print studio, a rare and important incubator for African American artists. Several of the artists celebrated in this exhibit produced work in the Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop.
Robert Blackburn used centuries-old printmaking practices and cutting-edge aesthetic forms. His 1960 lithograph, Faux Pas, presents two columns of conflicting colors and shapes that fit into the visual family of Robert Motherwell and Robert Rauschenberg during the same period.
Frank Wimberley’s thickly textured Journey Signs is a fine exemplar of his free association paintings —packed with emotion, passion and the spontaneity of jazz. Stanley Whitney's Out into the Open, a colorful painting with blocky arrangement, shows why he has become an icon of contemporary abstraction in his seventies.
Mary Lovelace O’Neal’s produced her colorscape City Lights (Prophet with No Tongue) in the Philadelphia cooperative Brandywine Workshop. O’Neal went to Brandywine after working in Blackburn’s
It is a pleasure to see excellent artwork by black artists preserved by black collectors. Monique and Ronald Ollie made personal connections with many of the artists whose paintings, drawings and prints they purchased to build IN REVIEW
this collection. Their tastes emerge as an element of the exhibit. In a video introducing the collection on the museum website, Ronald Ollie assures visitors that in looking at these artworks they will come to love abstraction. I encourage readers to give his proposal a try. Closing March 22, 2020, Galleries 234 and 235 -Kylin Hairston
www.slam.org WINTER 2019/20 ALLTHEARTSTL.COM 08
INERTIA Howard Barry’s exhibition Inertia at Gallery 210 at the University of Missouri-St. Louis made a bold and uncompromising assessment that we have failed to live up to the vision of an egalitarian and just American society with regard to the inclusion of African American people. With the exhibition title Barry identifies this failure as a function of our tendency to do little or nothing so that things remain unchanged. Rooted in the historic tradition of the U.S. black liberation movement, Barry’s work is a social-political-spiritual examination of the imbalance of power between the larger U.S. society and the disenfranchisement of its black community. Barry’s work may be taken as a visual representation of the claim made by the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King that, metaphorically speaking, the United States issued a “bad check” with regard to its inability to extend the promise of a free society to the African American community. As King asserted in his famous Dream speech of 1963, “the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence [...] were [...] a promissory
GALLERY 210, UMSL
note [that all people] would be guaranteed the ‘unalienable rights’ of ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.’ It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promise, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked ‘insufficient funds.’ Like King, Barry refuses to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. Barry’s art activism is not a resignation of hope; it is an invitation to embrace it. Without extolling a false sense of promise or a solution, he offers the invitation of a larger communal journey into the W.E.B. Du Bois perspective of “double consciousness” but reconsidered to place the conflict not in the psyches of black people but into the psyche of American society. As such, the remedy for the conflict — the ease for the proverbial migraine — is located in the vagaries of expression of black culture itself. That is to say, with some measure of irony, that for Barry, the pursuit of freedom is what it means to be black in the United States.
Further, he suggests that attempts at restraining — if not outright eroding — black culture is a repudiation of the American dream itself. Barry’s masterful painting Expect US! appears, on a first viewing, to be a collection of images of activists from the Black Lives Matter movement. The composition, which includes activist and former Missouri State Representative Bruce Franks, is painted on a repurposed map of Missouri. Using coffee, ink, and charcoal, Barry transforms the map from a typography of the Missouri landscape to a pictorial anatomy of “black bodies.” These bodies represent the past and present legacy of Missouri, as it has wrestled with the question of what to do with black people since its admission as a slave state into the United States in 1821. The title of the work could be read as an acknowledgement that there will always be black people in Missouri, and by extension, the United States, and what that place will be must be predicated on equal standing with all its citizens. “Expect us!” has been used by Franks and others as a rallying cry and hashtag around protestation against racist policing and policy. Barry’s artwork defies attempts at superficial assessment. His paintings are layered and complex. It is easy to be so taken by their graphic impact as to miss the subtlety of the commentary offered within them. Wanted, painted in sepia tones with coffee, ink, graphite, charcoal, and alcohol on a 78” x 44” canvas, holds a rich and powerful message. The primary imagery of the composition is of the late el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz (Malcolm X) and the late Dr. King. Surrounding el-Shabazz and King are present-day activists from the black power movement and the Black Lives Matter movement, connecting those contemporary racial justice movements as offspring of the two pivotal figures. Yet this work intentionally creates a cognitive dissonance for the viewer. El-Shabazz is rendered as an open-armed, almost passive figure standing with head bowed and eyes closed while wearing a white pastoral robe.
Howard Barry, Expect Us, (image courtesy of Gallery 210 and the artist) 09 ALLTHEARTSTL.COM WINTER 2019/20
IN REVIEW Howard Barry, Wanted, (image courtesy of Gallery 210 and the artist)
King stands with eyes open and arms crossed in a defiant stance, wearing black pastoral robes. According to Barry, these two are presented in popular culture as polar opposites with el-Shabazz as the fiery militant and King as the passive assimilationist. Barry’s artwork is an attempt to erase that oversimplified dichotomy. He states, “We always have this idea of a mad, militant Malcolm and a meek Martin. I wanted to flip those on their head. Martin is the one with the scowl on his face, and his arms crossed like, ‘I’ve had enough of this, man,’ and Malcolm is the one with the praying stance, as was his custom, as a Muslim.” As Barry depicts them, by the end of their respective lives, both el-Shabazz and King had adopted similar perspectives including the re-imagining of their respective movements as a part of a larger international human rights movement.
Baldwin. Presumably, he continues to find more depth and meaning in the images he re-visits The culture of resistance, a term written on several of Barry’s artworks, is a communal driven aesthetic most realized in the joys and celebration of what it means to be black. Perhaps, blackness, as envisioned in Barry’s work is not so much strictly about race, as it is an attitude, a perspective, maybe an ideology. Within the history told by Barry in his Inertia paintings, to be black is to be perennially in search of freedom. Closing December 9 -John Blair
The two late leaders and the other figures in the artwork were perceived as criminals by many, resulting in their harassment, imprisonment and/or death. Barry’s artwork is informative, challenging and uncomfortable at times. His use of the title Wanted invites readers to examine their thoughts and feelings about his subject matter. For some, the various protestors were viewed with affection. For others, they may have been viewed with suspicion and with a desire for them to cease their political activities. Either way, the artist is making a compelling statement that viewers may either accept or reject. As much as Barry’s work is a critique of white supremacy, it is a celebration of black culture. One may consider the various subjects of the show to be a tribute to those often referenced within black communities, as “ancestors and elders.” A key characteristic of Barry’s work is that he often composes several images of one person from Harriet Tubman to James
www.gallery210.umsl.edu/howard-barry- inertia IN REVIEW
Howard Barry, The More Things Change, (image courtesy of Gallery 210 and the artist)
WINTER 2019/20 ALLTHEARTSTL.COM 10
SEVEN TEARS ZARINA: ATLAS OF HER WORLD SUSAN PHILIPSZ:
PULITZER ARTS FOUNDATION
Susan Philipsz: Seven Tears and Zarina: Atlas of Her World opened this past fall and close on February 2 at the Pulitzer Arts Foundation in Grand Center. Both Susan Philipsz and Zarina (a mononymous/one-name artist) immerse audiences in unique ways of seeing, hearing and interpreting the experience of living in society with others. Both are acutely aware of the geographies they inhabit and of political and cultural crosswinds between peoples in those places that they document in their very personal means of expression. Philipsz’s sound art bounces over and around listeners who can find hints about what they hear in the visual components of each artwork. The visual component to her Seven Tears installation is only the array of seven record players placed on seven podiums dotting the grand gallery space on the upper museum floor. The absence of something else to look at is like an order to think about what you hear. What you hear are seven tones produced by rubbing the rims of wineglasses. The tone is set by the level of water in each glass. Philipsz recorded the tones on translucent vinyl record. She suggests that the records go around like her finger touching the rim of the glass. Of course, the seven tones on the seven turntables is significant. This is art, after all. Philipsz was inspired by 17th-century composer John Dowland, whose composition of the same name offers seven variations on a single falling tear. The seven tears of Dowland also represent reasons for crying —such as rage, sorrow, joy, with laughter or resignation, with drama requiring false/forced tears or from the intensity of feeling that comes of being with a lover. Philipsz points out that Dowland was a
product of the Elizabethan era, when it was fashionable to be melancholy. The clear vinyl records (from which the wine glass/tear drop sounds come) looks, perhaps, like water. Like water, they hold rainbows when the light reflects on them from the window. Water, like the number seven, has symbolic portent in Philipsz’s artwork. Philipsz is the first artist to create work specifically for the Pulitzer’s outdoor water court. She has placed five speakers around the perimeter of the reflective pool. Each speaker plays her voice. The sounds call across the water harmonizing, imperfectly, playfully — like little girls singing to themselves when left alone. She hits sweet and sour notes without trying to nail them. Philipsz describes it as “sound waves that rise and fall on a concrete shore.” In a backroom gallery space lie three individual organ pipes that each contain recorded music made by the artist’s breath. Breath that she then memorializes visually, too, in photographs of the fog she produced by breathing on the glass. The sound in that room is not as dark as the topic that inspired it: the lives snuffed out within Nazi concentration camps. Downstairs, in the below ground level of the Pulitzer, Philipsz makes use of composer John Dowland again. This time, she’s a little more explicit about the allusion. Latin text crosses salt residue compositions on canvases. The phrase lachrimae antiquae novae means old tears renewed and lachrimae gementes translates to sighing tears. She offers visual proof of what Dowland celebrates with lute and violin — that human tears are molecularly different, chemically determined by the reason for crying.
Susan Philipz, White Flood film stills, (image courtesy of Pulitzer Arts Foundation and the artist) 11 ALLTHEARTSTL.COM WINTER 2019/20
A 1940 film shot in Glacier Bay, Alaska, is projected in a room lined by speakers that play anxious, alarming sound made by string instruments. There is a clear connection between the themes of absence and loss that Philipsz has established throughout the exhibition up to this point and the permanent melting of our polar ice. Visual and auditory patterns and texture repeat to form a through-line of Philipsz’s artworks— the ice shown in her film projection, her salt residue compositions and, again, in the fog photographs. She stops the clock on very small moments and holds them under the microscope of her art practice. Fleeting events (ice melting, a falling tear, breath expelled), now memorialized, become important. Born in India, Zarina spent her young adult years living in various global cities, moving to the United States in 1975, when she was in her late 30s. A lifetime of travel gave her sensitivity to relationships between people and the places where they live. Her artworks tell enigmatic partial stories of migration, flight, warm welcomes and difficult returns. Though educated to be an architect, Zarina was drawn toward traditional and experimental printmaking. Her mastery of print techniques studied throughout her years of travel comes across in the wide versatility of her more than five decades-long career. In the Pulitzer Entrance Gallery, three bird’s-eye views of the Indian capital city, Delhi, give away the method of their making with the chunky graphic format of woodcut prints. Accompanying these is a series of five etchings titled Santa Cruz. Four of these are divided in half by a “horizon” line. The fifth contains a quote by poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz written in Urdu
that is translated to: “But the heart cannot let go of its loneliness” — a grim comment on Zarina’s time living and working in California. Her propensity to experiment with materials is evident in the nearly 30 prints, sculptures and collages exhibited. She has used Indian paper as a substrate for some of her prints. For one series of artworks she pricked white embossed commercial paper with needles to form patterned images. The compositions are light and subtle and violent. Her compositions consistently show an economy of line and form. They are mainly monochromatic and fit easily under a minimalist label. The fraught nature of notions of home for those whose lives have been transitory emerges in Zarina’s two and three dimensional works. A portfolio of 36 prints titled Home is a Foreign Place makes 36 declarations about home in Urdu and English. A series of paper pulp sculptures reference courtyards, arches, and stepwells — the architecture of her childhood home. Like her views of Delhi from above, these meditations on beloved spaces are spare and distant. They become geometric meditations, beautifully balanced and clean symbols of places, all of the humanness distilled out. Curator Tamara Schenkenberg has brilliantly installed reference artworks by Rembrandt van Rijn, Albrecht Dürer, Utagawa Hiroshige and others in the galleries where Zarina’s artworks are exhibited. Some show how her experimentation is in keeping with long traditions of printmaking. Others tie her paper portals to the transcendental with inspirational objects that establish a rich historic context for her contemporary cultural record. -Sarah Hermes Griesbach
www.pulitzerarts.org Zarina, Delhi (top), Home is a Foreign Place (bottom) (photo credit: Robert Reilly) IN REVIEW
WINTER 2019/20 ALLTHEARTSTL.COM 12
THE FILIPINO-AMERICAN ARTIST DIRECTORY By Amelia Goldsby
Most St. Louisans are at least vaguely familiar with the 1904 World’s Fair and its long-lasting mark on the city. Such structures as Washington University’s Brookings Hall and the Saint Louis Art Museum were originally constructed for the fair, and continue to be landmarks today. Less familiar, however, is that the roughly 40 acre area bordered by Clayton Road, Skinker Boulevard and Big Bend Boulevard housed the fair’s Philippine Village. The billage housed about 1,200 Filipinos who were “imported” to the United States to act as a living exhibit for the fair.
ART & P ARENTING ISSUE WINTER
The Filipino-American Artist Directory, created by St. Louis artist Janna Añonuevo Langholz and headquartered in the city, directly grapples with this fetishistic, colonial past. The directory’s goal is to create an ever-increasing list of working FilipinoAmerican artists across the United States, subverting colonialist history as the exhibited become the exhibitors. Añonuevo Langholz considers the directory, now coming into its fifth year, her “baby.” Under her care, the directory has grown from 20 artists to more than 150 and the team has expanded to
include Gloria Shows (director of comics & narrative arts). The directory combines an anti-colonial conceptual grounding with a strong sense of utility, in such a way that they become indiscernible from each other. A vibrant artists’ network, the directory provides all-important exposure for members via Instagram, Facebook, their website and a yearly publication.
benefit in practical, concrete ways. It goes beyond “socially-conscious” art to become socially-active.. Añonuevo Langholz hopes to help the directory grow to 1,200 members, the same number of Filipinos who were brought to the United States for the 1904 World’s Fair. You can find the Filipino American Artist Directory at filamartistdirectory.com and on Instagram and Facebook (@filamartistdirectory).
It presents an organically-grown, digital venue in which artists can connect with one another, setting the stage for them to go to one another’s shows and provide feedback (which is especially significant for regions, like the Midwest, that don’t have large FilipinoAmerican populations). The amplification of Filipino-American perspectives in a system fostered by artists — outside of institutional parameters which perhaps have their own oppressive histories — helps us remember, reconsider and dismantle our lingering colonial past.
2019 / 2020
Constant care is required to keep developing the project. The directory is maintained by everyday administrative tasks: posting to Instagram and Facebook, processing new member applications, running the annual fundraiser, and so on. In aiding the project’s ideological goals, these tasks become a sort of practice in their own right. Evocative of Arte Útil, a notion conceived by Cuban artist Tania Bruguera, the directory is an artistic intervention from which members can
Janna Añonuevo Langholz (top), (image courtesy of Pulitzer Arts Foundation); Filipino-American Artist Directory (bottom left); Map of Artists Listed in the Directory as of 2019 (bottom right), (bottom images courtesy of Janna Añonuevo Langholz) 13 ALLTHEARTSTL.COM WINTER 2019/20
ART & PARENTING ISSUE
ART EXPOSURE IN EDWARDSVILLE By Kathy Ann Duffin
2019 / 2020
Alternative venues for art exhibitions continue to pop up throughout the metro area. Showing art in a coffeehouse, bar or retail space can be a great deal for exhibiting artist, as the arrangement allows for plenty of exposure well past the show’s opening date. These lively venues can turn a meal out into a gallery visit. Opportunities for families to take in locally sourced fine art abound in a bustling two-block stretch of Main Street in downtown Edwardsville, Illinois. A pair of coffee shops on Main Street near the courthouse are a great place to start a walking tour. The art on the walls changes regularly at Sacred Grounds Cafe, courtesy of art collective The Gogh-Getters. This winter’s exhibit opens December 6 and features paintings by Steve Hartmann along with Daniel Anderson’s ceramic sushi plates.
ART & P ARENTING ISSUE WINTER
Across the street is 222 Artisan Bakery and Cafe, where a long span of a wall is delightfully dotted by an assortment of works by local artists. A recent visit found large acrylic abstracts, photography and delicate watercolors. A few doors to the south is Bigelo’s Bistro, a relaxed Italian-American eatery. Bigelo’s is cheerful and upbeat — sure to please families out for a stroll. Every colorful wall is devoted to equally colorful artwork made in the St. Louis metro area. Just a block to the north Recess Brewing’s 1100-square-foot taproom switches artists seasonally, often selling the majority of the work displayed during each round. Wood burning art by Lauren O’Conner was featured all Fall with a new exhibit opening in December. Downtown Edwardsville is thriving, with many shops, parks and events for active parents and children. Incorporating art in a family outing is easier than ever thanks to these and other locales that present art in accessible settings.
www.bigelosbistro.com www.recessbrewing.com www.222artisanbakery.com www.facebook.com/sacredgroundscafeedwardsville Sacred Grounds Cafe (top and middle); Bigelo’s Bistro (bottom), (photo credit: Kathy Ann Duffin) ART & PARENTING ISSUE
WINTER 2019/20 ALLTHEARTSTL.COM 14
SOULARD ART GALLERY: A NURTURING PLACE FOR ARTISTS By Milo Duke
ART & P ARENTING ISSUE WINTER
I ran into Jane Wees Martin, co-director of Soulard Art Gallery, at a concert at Judson House. She shared a story that I think epitomizes this gallery. A reputable local artist had entered a period of decline because of dementia and needed to close her studio and relocate to a care facility. The artist's daughter approached Rich Brooks, the gallery's other co-director, with an offer of her mother's art supplies and many finished canvases for other artists to re-purpose. Brooks accepted and redistributed the offered art materials, but instead of reusing the canvases, he organized a benefit exhibition of the work at the nearby Youth Education and Health (YEHS) Gallery in Soulard that resulted in many sales, raising funds that contributed to the artist's relocation.
2019 / 2020
This response is typical for Soulard Art Gallery, which is a nurturing place for artists of all levels of achievement — from novices to established artists to veterans in need of aid. A helping hand, an open heart and wall space to exhibit art are characteristic of the place. The gallery is home to 14 resident artists, who pay the rent and each maintain a room to exhibit their own work. There is a main gallery space that is given over every month to a well-publicized, juried, themed art show open to all artists. There is no fee for the online entry; there is a $30 fee to hang up to three accepted pieces. The resident artists are able to enter the juried shows, but the same rules apply to them as to everyone else. Soulard Art Gallery encourages artists of all levels to enter, and they do, from raw beginners — to whom the gallery will offer help in preparing art for exhibition, to artists with established reputations. What an incredible resource for artists, who are always looking for places to show their work! When my wife and I relocated to St. Louis from Seattle two years ago, the Soulard Gallery was the first place we landed and for several months in 2017 and 2018 we were two of the 14 resident artists. It was a great way to get our bearings, learn about the St. Louis art scene and have some work up for people to see. I wanted to learn what the gallery's members thought about these monthly shows, so I went to one of their meetings and asked them. I found a group excited by and dedicated to their mission of offering open shows in their 15 ALLTHEARTSTL.COM WINTER 2019/20
Milo Duke, Cityscapes, (image courtesy of the artist)
space. They have some great things to say about the gallery and the experience; following are some of our favorites. Jane Wees Martin likes the enthusiasm of new artists, and the teaching aspect of how to organize an exhibition. She has also noticed a broad spectrum of artists, including some who are quite well known, taking advantage of the open shows. “I learned art through a nurturing organization,” says Judy Dyson, “and I love being here to pay it back. It's just an amazing thing!” Karen Miller has seen people come forward with their work who would not have otherwise because exhibiting at the gallery is a “simple, non-frightening process.” Jessica Orso, whose work was featured in the Summer 2018 issue of All The Art, sees the Soulard Art Gallery as an “artist's gallery, here to help anyone get started.” She thinks there should be more places like it, where artists can talk to other artists. Chelsie Wilson finds the gallery “very approachable” because of its fun atmosphere and the members' diverse viewpoints. Jim Carlson sees “what art is from other people's perspective. I learn from every show ART & PARENTING ISSUE
and am inspired to look in new directions.” Kathy Gomric thinks that it's good for the gallery to have new art and artists come in every month, drawing in a different crowd with the excitement of new creativity. Pat Toenjes enjoys curating the shows (despite the frustrations) and finds the variety and quality exciting. So there it is, a true St. Louis resource — Soulard Art Gallery, still offering open exhibitions for all artists in the area after a decade.
WHY I WON’T BE AN ARTIST ... BUT MY MOM IS By Anastasia Chostner
Growing up, I have watched in awe as my mom turned paint into people. My mom is an amazing mother and artist, and I strive to be like her. Sadly, I realized my art is more like stick people, and I would rather write. To be honest, I won’t be an artist because I don’t want to mess up my clothes with streaks of color, or stay up until 1am painting. (I have YouTube for that.)
Anastasia Chostner: How is painting like parenting?
My mom, Angela Chostner, has been busy getting ready for a two-woman show, which features paintings of angels and flowers. She is
Angela Chostner: Painting is like parenting in how it demands you stay tethered to the present moment, and how it challenges assumptions, and how ultimately, it makes you dig deep to find what is needed. Luisa Otero Prada: They are both beautiful journeys, where we should enjoy and value every stage we are going through. Most of the time, we need to be patient, to observe, to
accept and the most important, we need to keep going! Anastasia C: How have your paintings helped you be a better mom? Angela C: As wonderful as parenting can be, it can also be depleting. It demands we give so much of ourselves, constantly being in a position of meeting the needs of others, and often putting our own needs last. It’s like a vegetable garden where ripe tomatoes wither on the vine, weeds run rampant, and there is no time to replant for the next season. Painting is my place to plant seeds. It provides me with a sanctuary that helps me stay in touch with my own dreams and ideas, a creative outlet that is healing and rejuvenating, therefore helping me be present and available to the needs of my children. Anything that is fulfilling, creative, and makes a parent feel alive is a good thing, for both parent and child. Anastasia C: Luisa, how does painting affect you mentally? LOP: I think it affects me in a positive way; the fact that I am expressing myself is a very good practice independent of the result of the work of art itself. I am a little perfectionist and I learned through my painting not to stress when things are not perfect or my "studio" is not fully organized, which is most of the time. Anastasia C: Luisa, what do you love about painting? LOP: What I love most about painting is that at times I am immersed in it and nothing else exists. It is a space of time that can only be measured by the peace I feel. It is beautiful. Anastasia C: Luisa, what type of flowers are your favorite to paint and why? LOP: I love all flowers, but my favorites to paint are the ones I recognize from my hometown. It had a tropical climate where nature is very lush. Cannas and orchids are my favorites. There are so many kinds, I could never paint them all. Also many wild flowers — I never knew their names, but when I saw them, they made me smile. Anastasia C: Angela, if you have a message to spread through your paintings, what is it? Angela C: There is beauty and purpose in everyone, even if we do not yet recognize it in ourselves. I describe my work as “art that speaks to the sacred essence in us all.”
Anastasia Chostner in front of Angela Chostner’s Justice, (image courtesy of the artist) ART & PARENTING ISSUE
WINTER 2019/20 ALLTHEARTSTL.COM 16
2019 / 2020
the angel part, and her friend Luisa Otero Prada is the flower part. Here are some things I wondered about:
ART & P ARENTING ISSUE WINTER
Anastasia Chostner (age 12) interviews Angela L. Chostner and Luisa Otero Prada on their exhibit Kindred Spirits.
Anastasia C: How does the exhibition title, Kindred Spirits, relate to your work?
ART & P ARENTING ISSUE WINTER
Angela C: Kindred Spirits is about connection. There is a synergy that happens between Luisa’s paintings and mine that speaks to color, emotion and spirit. When we are able to see ourselves in each other, the work has begun. It is easier to dismiss than to connect, but it is in connection that nature is recognized as integral to humanity. It is through nurture (both of ourselves and others) that relationship is created and growth is possible. It is through wonder that understanding is gained and the possibility of wholeness emerges. This wholeness is not born of our own desires and striving, but in recognizing who we are to one another, how we care for each other, speak to each other. This creates a universal language where words are not needed, and we are all “kindred spirits.” LOP: Art is a visual experience but it comes from the heart and beyond. A work of art, I
think is, so much more than colors and strokes. There is intention and spirit. It has been great to be in this exhibition with Angela, we both identify with the spiritual experience that we can have through art. Kindred Spirits: Angela L. Chostner and Luisa Otero Prada Celebrate Nature, Nurture, Wonder and Wholeness, at Longview Farm Park Art Gallery in Town & Country, closes Jan. 8, 2020
www.town-and-country.org/511/Longview-Farm-House -Art-Gallery www.AngelaLChostnerArt.com www.OteroPradallc.com
Luisa Otero Prada, Humble Beauty, (image courtesy of the artist)
MULTI-TASKER ARTIST MOTHER By Mee Jey
I have less time for myself and my art, I have less money to spare for my art materials, I have less energy left for my professional commitments, but that does not make me any less an artist. It is about being an artist–mother. I am raising an aware, active and curious infant.
2019 / 2020
My relocation to St. Louis was a big move for me personally and professionally. I was pregnant with my first child; I was a student again after years of academic break. I was also
a teaching assistant and a community artist. Studying, teaching and community art left me with little time to think about anything else, including aches and pains in my body. Walking around with a growing belly and creating interactive art pieces with and for autistic adults did not seem like a daunting task for me. Sleeping with aching heels and back was difficult, though. Working all day was not any different from other months, but my materials became more child friendly. Regular paints and sprays, fume-causing resins and heavy lifts were being replaced with soft fibers, clay, colored pens and foam clays. I would like to clarify that the pace of life didn’t slow down, it changed. Since my pregnancy, my artistic career has gone through a dramatic shift. I started engaging with a new set of ideas, developed a new technique of representation and created a completely new visual format with abstract figuration. All of it was shaped by my attempts to connect with a life growing inside me that I could not see. This experience without a form pushed my preference of forms from figural to abstraction.
Artist Mee Jey with her son working in her studio (image courtesy of the artist) 17 ALLTHEARTSTL.COM WINTER 2019/20
Being an immigrant-first-time mother meant that having fewer resources to spare for my art nudged me toward using discards as art materials. Not having enough money for
ART & PARENTING ISSUE
purchasing costly art materials or traveling expenses became an opportunity for me to look around myself. It helped me develop a new eye for materials and forms. I began collecting materials from dumpsters, trash-cans and people who were willing to give-away their unwanted fabric for my use. With a triple load of work, family time and studio time began to overlap to the extent that I breast-fed my child while coiling my fabric strips into ropes. My studio was not just the baby friendly — the piles of fabric began to be used as a baby bed, and softer forms became baby toys. The increased workload caused more energy loss that was paired with breastfeeding. I began spending even more time in my studio trying to save the travel time and energy from home to studio. My studio eventually became our new open home. Colleagues gave my baby a walk around the studio when they needed a break or when my baby needed some entertainment. The studios became an oasis where informal bonds were developing, and my journey as a new mother in a new land was being facilitated without a formal social system. While my time, resources and energy were being divided among my several important
In retrospect, I am very thankful for suffering from mummy brain during pregnancy and postpartum. It helped me tremendously in keeping my work going. I had a long spell of forgetfulness that was embarrassing and baffling, temporarily. I must admit I missed some very important meetings with very important people, but there was no loss on either side to regret. Over time I realized these physiological and cognitive impairments only help me focus on life-saving issues that I believe include only creating art and nursing the infant.
Artist Mee Jey with her son working in her studio (image courtesy of the artist)
With every passing day I am getting better with time-management. I dare say I am also getting better at multitasking. While playing with my child brings me immense pleasure, I also solve some of my puzzles at this time. When the child is asleep —I say this proudly— my creative output reaches its maximum/best. It has not been an easy walk to this point
where I have figured out a functional equilibrium between the parent and artist aspects of myself, but it definitely is an enriching experience.
HAVING IT ALL: NAVIGATING ARTISTIC PRACTICE AND MOTHERHOOD By Olivia Lahs-Gonzales
This fall, the Sheldon Art Galleries hosted a comprehensive traveling retrospective of the work of Champaign-Urbana based artist Bea Nettles that I had the pleasure and honor to co-curate with Jamie Allen, of the George Eastman Museum in Rochester, New York. Since the 1960s, Nettles has used mixed-media photography processes to push the boundaries of the medium, exploring its narrative potential through images that involved hand-coated emulsions, multiple negatives and sometimes sewing and textiles. Inspired by my life as the daughter of a single artist/mother and by my own circumstances as a single parent, I chose to focus my essay in the exhibition catalogue on her significant works made during the period
when she was becoming — and was — a mother to two children. Nettles, a professor of photography at Rochester Institute of Technology, wasn’t a single parent, but still her life involved sacrifice and juggling a career and the vagaries of parenting. Her photo-based works have centered on self-investigation, family history, the condition and state of being of motherhood, health and aging. Although the rise of feminism has made it more acceptable for women in some professions to have meaningful relationships with both their children and their careers, the realities of life as an artist — particularly in the gallery market — are fraught. Women who ART & PARENTING ISSUE
Eric Popp, Nesting, (image courtesy of the artist)
WINTER 2019/20 ALLTHEARTSTL.COM 18
ART & P ARENTING ISSUE WINTER
Postpartum also brought in a phase of dropping everything. Other than the baby, I was dropping everything. Combined with the curious acts of growing infant, accidents became more frequent. With no option of punishing myself over my clumsy-clutch and baby’s playfulness that caused many unplanned incidents in my studio, I incorporated all the accidents in my work, which brought an unforeseen freshness. I became more flexible about visual and representational formatting. It has been a remarkable feat for me till now.
2019 / 2020
roles, my patience and endurance kept growing every day. This helped me focus better. I was in no haste to reach any conclusion and this inevitably shaped the way I processed ideas and material. This has been a major evolution on my personal and professional chart.
make art about what it is to be a woman or a mother are often left out of the history or, when recognized, are frequently egregated to specialized, thematic publications and “women’s art” museums.
ART & P ARENTING ISSUE WINTER
The market’s power matrices are still dominated by white males, who favor large-scale paintings and monumental sculptures (often made by men), whose subjects are abstract, emotionally detached and certainly not about women’s concerns. These subjects are often considered unsalable, too sentimental or emotional. During her career, Nettles sometimes faced such critiques. Both in her early days as a student in the 1960s and later as revealed in several extant reviews, her work was sometimes faulted for being too personal. Almost 40 years after Nettles did, Amy Reidel — St. Louis-based artist, educator, co-founder of All the Art and mother — experienced this attitude from some of her professors. “Throughout my art training I was gently and sometimes overtly persuaded to tone-down the emotional and expressive nature of my work. Many of my professors felt that it was not accessible to a “greater audience,” she recalls. “It has been 11 years since I attained my MFA. I see now that what 90% of my professors and mentors meant by “more accessible to a larger audience,” was that perhaps my work wasn’t accessible to them: older, white men.” It shocked but didn’t completely surprise me that this attitude still prevailed.
the artist’s studio was not always a “safe” place to bring a child. Nettles’ work shifted focus after the birth of her daughter Rachel. She worked in the darkroom while Rachel napped, or was with a sitter. In the series Flamingo in the Dark, made autobiographical, multi-negative images that dealt with changes to her body during pregnancy, the birth of her first child, motherhood, its joys and anxieties and those of her children. Inspired by the cultural fodder of motherhood, she also used imagery from some of the more disturbing children’s tales, such as Humpty Dumpty and Hansel and Gretel, to speak to her experiences and anxieties about parenting. As Rachel grew older and Nettles’ second child was born, shefelt she needed to stay close to home and shifted her darkroom-intensive process to one in which she constructed images at home on a tabletop and rendered them in a single negative. She would
2019 / 2020
In general, artmaking has never been seen as a truly socially acceptable profession or a safe practice, particularly not for people with children. Coupled with issues of perception are the very real problems of potentially dangerous materials, which have meant that
Amy Reidel, Mommy Sphinx (left); Jammy Nightmares (right), (images courtesy of the artist) 19 ALLTHEARTSTL.COM WINTER 2019/20
ART & PARENTING ISSUE
continue and extend themes visited in Flamingo in the Dark in her next series, Close to Home and Rachel’s Holidays, where she collaborated with her daughter, who was by then 6 years old. In these, Nettles created narrative scenes with toys, Rachel’s artworks and family heirlooms. Rachel would sometimes help arrange the objects and Nettles would take the photograph. Many working artists in the St. Louis area have integrated motherhood and artistic practice, among them Dail Chambers, Erica Popp and Cayce Zavaglia. Like Nettles, Dail Chambers, who runs Yeyo Arts Collective, has involved her child in her artmaking process. She is inspired by strong and successful women in African-American history and creates mixed-media works that are inquiries into the self, family and history. Self-portraiture has been a vital part of her practice and it is in these that she has collaborated with her older daughter, empowering her to take an active role in her mother’s own self-representation.
Erica Popp, who teaches art and runs a contemporary art gallery in South City, explored the state of being of motherhood after the birth of her child by making photograms using the metaphor of “nesting” as their theme. Popp recalls, “The nesting I was very interested in in part because I hadn't had the opportunity to do the kind of nesting that women usually do when they're pregnant because Eddie was born so unexpectedly early at 28 weeks. This was me thinking about the idea of nest and the feeling of missing out on the last trimester of my pregnancy.” Cayce Zavaglia’s artistic practice too changed dramatically after she became pregnant. Needing to create a non-toxic studio environment, Zavaglia turned from painting to embroidery, creating a series of hyperreal portraits of her family in thread on linen. Jobs, too, in the field of arts and arts administration are not often conducive to having a family. In teaching and in the curatorial field, they can be all–consuming, rare and specialized; often requiring one to move across the country to advance a career, or cobble together adjunct classes if tenure-track is not available. “Making do” with adjunct teaching rarely leaves time to make art in the studio. After the birth of her child, Bea Nettles cut back the classes she taught and in subsequent years, put her child in daycare, but spent much of her time traveling back and forth to the daycare center so she could spend time with her daughter.
2019 / 2020
Amy Reidel also revealed to me the difficulties of managing an art practice while commuting to 3 different area colleges and universities to teach, and navigating the guilt and emotion of placing a child in daycare. Her works also shifted dramatically after giving birth, and she made the psychological state of being a mother the subject of paintings and drawings. The raw emotions of her experiences of motherhood are seen in works like Jammy Nightmare and Mommy Sphinx, both made in 2019, which reveal feelings about the difficulties of motherhood, the loss of selfhood and perhaps the guilt of not being there enough. These don’t paint the rosy picture that the patriarchal system wishes to uphold. These testimonials articulate what we, as women, perhaps already know—that artists who are mothers or caregivers make sacrifices and experience career trajectories that are handicapped by their situation. We often have to make choices that involve putting family first, and if we make work that reveals the experiences of womanhood, chances are that it won’t be accepted by the mainstream market, further attenuating career advancement.
Dail Chambers, Artist Portrait (top); Bea Nettles, Hands and Shells from Rachel’s Holiday (bottom), (images courtesy of the artists)
integrated into the “canon,” not as a footnote or a segregated subject, but as an integral part of humanity’s creative voice. Bea Nettles: A Harvest of Memory is on view through December 30 at the Sheldon Art Galleries. Amy Reidel: Sweet Jammy Nightmares closes December 5 at the William and Florence Schmidt Art Center.
Out of necessity, artists who are mothers often drive their work in another direction after they become parents. In doing so, however, they can find rich new visual vocabularies that enable them to further develop their vision while simultaneously articulating universal concerns shared by mothers everywhere. Art can illuminate aspects of life and articulate what it means to be human. Women’s art about family and motherhood should be ART & PARENTING ISSUE
WINTER 2019/20 ALLTHEARTSTL.COM 20
ART & P ARENTING ISSUE WINTER
Bea Nettles, Humpty Dumpty (from Close to Home), (image courtesy of the artist)
MY LOVE OF ART, YOUTH AND THE COMMUNITY By Celeste Grayer
I am a social worker and an artist. I am a social worker by degree and by heart. In that capacity, I have the honor of being involved in the worst and best of peopleâ€™s lives on a daily basis. I am also an artist. The emotions of joy, love and pain help me create beauty to share. To be both a social worker and an artist is exciting for me, because I am able to help children and families to create stunning works of art.
ART & P ARENTING ISSUE WINTER
My passion for art and for my community reinforce my belief that art can help us transcend struggle in all areas of life. The youth are the foundation of our community. I truly believe if you take the time necessary to
teach the youth, the community with thrive for decades to come. I use art as an opportunity to teach and create alongside the youth and without any boundaries. Art is physical, mental and emotional. Art is an avenue of inclusion, learning and expression. I slow my brush strokes to provide an example of patience to children I teach. One brush stroke can give a child a chance to be free and open to conversation without judgement. Each artwork that I have created with children contains lessons, conversations, love, acceptance, happiness and forgiveness. Every
art project completed is a memory and an opportunity to reach back into my childhood and give the love and lessons that I received. I am fortunate to have parents who believe in me, who continuously pushed me through childhood and still do now that I am an adult. My parents told me daily that they loved me and that I would do great things in my life. The most important lesson and challenge I received from my parents to date is to be better than they: to be a better person, to work harder and smarter and to achieve the ultimate success and bliss. This challenge I received from my parents is something I have passed to every student, child and youth I have encountered. I want all the youth I touch to strive to be better than I so we can create a community that is stronger and full of self-worth, compassion and integrity. I want my brush strokes to be limitless â€” full of color, life and love. I want them, in turn, to be remembered by their strength, warmth, endurance and passion as they teach future generations.
2019 / 2020
Youth of Joshua House Ministries Christian Church, Afro Split (left); Bertha Knox Gilkey Pamoja Preparatory Academy at Cole School, Royalty (right), (images courtesy of Celeste Granger) 21 ALLTHEARTSTL.COM WINTER 2019/20
ART & PARENTING ISSUE
ART PROJECT IS MUCH MORE
Students in The GAP life group at Wentzville Christian Church find themselves in a social gap between programs for “neuro-typical” young adults and programs for those with much more profound disabilities. These young people don’t feel comfortable with either group. My job, along with my husband Bill, is to lead them in Bible study, in learning better social skills and in stretching their sensory processing abilities. With our strict rule of “what happens in GAP stays in GAP,” Bill and I fill a mentor ship role for many of our participants by allowing them to express themselves about concerns they might not be comfortable — or capable of — sharing with their own parents.
In addition to group talk therapy, we also go on outings, learn new skills and sometimes create art as a way to enhance their lives and build friendships among the group.
Themes ranged from Pokémon and Frozen to fishing and photography. I constructed the quilt from the finished blocks and edged it with satin blanket binding.
When the children’s minister, Kim Dorpenyo, created a sensory room to help children with autism worship in a comfortable environment, our “GAPsters” were eager to help. After all, who knows better than they do what it feels like to be on the edge of a sensory meltdown because of noise, lights, movement, smells and the close proximity of a room full of other people. We decided to create a weighted quilt for the sensory room.
The GAP participants were so excited to help ease the anxiety of younger children suffering from the same issues they have experienced — and often still do. It was a way to pay it forward and was really empowering for many who have only been on the receiving end of help with their disabilities.
The quilt consists of 16 unique squares and a backing cloth sewn into pockets rather than filled with batting. The pockets are filled with tiny plastic beads that add soothing weight and cause the blanket to conform to the body like a big comfy bean bag. The GAP students created their quilt blocks by choosing a theme representing something they love. Shapes were cut from fabric backed with fusible web and ironed onto a square fabric base. Then each student embellished their block with hand embroidery and fabric markers.
We are as proud of them as if they were our own offspring (one of them actually is ours). We loved seeing them use their artistic abilities to help others. It is fantastic to watch them move out of that social gap and thrive in friendships, improved social skills and expanded sensory abilities toward being happy, independent adults. The GAP also stands for God’s Amazing Plan. “Parenting” this terrific group of young people is amazing indeed.
The GAP Weighted Quilt, (photo credit: Josiah Long) ART & PARENTING ISSUE
WINTER 2019/20 ALLTHEARTSTL.COM 22
ART & P ARENTING ISSUE WINTER
Navigating life as a high-functioning young adult on the autism spectrum, or with sensory processing disorder, or with learning disabilities can be as challenging as trying to read directions written in a foreign language. You’re perfectly intelligent but the social cues just don’t make sense. I have the privilege of guiding 15 to 20 such young people each week in a group called The GAP.
2019 / 2020
By Rhonda Schrum
ART LEGACY By Joan Welch
ART & P ARENTING ISSUE WINTER
When I was a child, my mother encouraged and inspired me to see myself as an artist. She was my art mentor. I would watch her draw on brown paper bags, cardboard boxes or anything that she thought would be suitable for her drawing, I thought it was amazing. Today, as an adult, my family acknowledges me in my new journey as an artist. I feel that my art is a sense of communicating to others, especially to the ones who are close to me. Because of the people in my life who encourage me, I have exhibited my art and sold many paintings and drawings to family and friends. Making art help me express my emotions and boosts my happiness. It is for that reason that I continue to push myself, to give my all and not give up.
Joan Welch, Untitled (both left anf right), (images courtesy of the artist)
CHILDREN WELCOME! By Carla Duncan
2019 / 2020
I am a step parent, a retired 4th-grade teacher, an artist and a gallery director. Art plays an important role in my life. As a visual person, it defines who I am and how I see the world.
As gallery director of the Gretchen Brigham Gallery, a gallery for the community that happens to be in a church that holds a long arts history and hosts a 25-year-old opera company, I’m starting to use all of my skills to connect art with others: from neighborhood children to Soldan, the closest high school across the street, and to the children of Union Avenue Church. Our art gallery is a place for learning and appreciating and a place to experience making art. On October 1, 2019, the gallery opened its first truly religiously-themed exhibit, Who is God? Light of the World. The Who is God exhibit series originated in Washington state. After it had grown to be an international show, the founder asked St. Louis artist Mary Martin to start a Midwest extension of the show. Terrence Dempsey, S. J., the founder of the Museum of Contemporary Religion Art (MOCRA), agreed to act as juror for the exhibit, ultimately choosing 36 artworks from the 50 that were submitted. The Arts Group of Union Avenue (AGUA), Mary Martin and I have organized numerous programs to engage children with the exhibit.
Harvey, (image courtesy of Carla Duncan) 23 ALLTHEARTSTL.COM WINTER 2019/20
The Gretchen Brigham Gallery displays many genres of art and subjects, usually non-religious. When children know what to expect as they enter a show, they look for and react to the art differently. Keeping parents of children informed via an email that there will be a large, three dimensional floor art piece with an ice pick lobotomy theme helps everyone have a more positive experience with the art. There was no yelling across the gallery by the group of 10-year-old boys, “Come over here, there is a strange pan with blood sitting on top of a funny desk.” Children even calmed a startled parent who did not know that the children had been informed of the themes ahead of time, that it was okay and she should check it out.
ART & PARENTING ISSUE
SPECIAL THANKS TO
FOR YOUR CONTINUED SUPPORT FROM ALL OF US AT ALL THE ART
Receive your copy of All the Art in your mailbox! Support the Visual Art Quarterly of St. Louis Membership starts at $55 www.alltheartstl.com