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THOMAS SLEET TRACES


THOMAS SLEET: TRACES December 7, 2007 - January 12, 2008 Bruno David Gallery 3721 Washington Boulevard Saint Louis, 63108 Missouri, U.S.A. info@brunodavidgallery.com www.brunodavidgallery.com Director: Bruno L. David This catalogue was published in conjunction with the exhibition Thomas Sleet: Traces Editor: Bruno L. David Catalog Designer: Yoko Kiyoi Designer Assistant: Sage A. David and Claudia R. David Printed in USA All works courtesy of Bruno David Gallery and Thomas Sleet Artwork photos by Bruno David Gallery staff Cover Image: THOMAS SLEET Copyright Š 2008 Bruno David Gallery and Howard Jones All Right Reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written permission of Bruno David Gallery, Inc.


Contents

Essay by Chris Kahler Afterword by Bruno L. David Checklist of the Exhibition Biography

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THOMAS SLEET: Systematic Deconstructions

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Essay by Chris Kahler


Upon entering Thomas Sleet’s building to see his new work I was greeted by an impromptu presentation of the paintings for his current show at Bruno David Gallery. He mentioned this was most of the show and smiled when I asked if this area was his studio. It was a common space on the first floor he was using as a staging site for his upcoming show. He invited me downstairs to his fabrication area like a magician offering to show me his secrets. Down a rickety old wooden staircase into a dark and cluttered basement, I was transported into a new space unique to Thomas’s work. I soon realized that his works for the show were the product of an involved process having more layers of meaning than I would ever have guessed. He had two large works in progress, but what fascinated me was the writings all over the walls, notes that read like poetry. Struck by a wave of word association, syllogism, allusion and metaphor; I was introduced to the deconstructive theory that is at the heart of Sleet’s work. He told me about a trip he took out west several years ago. On a hike through the woods, he came upon a large system of beaver dams and was taken by the systematic fabrications created by these animals. He showed me a painting that was a series of zones in a loosely organized grid. It was an abstract representation of the pools the beavers had created to trap salmon. It was really about structures and systems made in the absence of man. We then discussed his use of the oval shape in his work after I noticed the orange barrier fencing that he used as stencils to create an organizational system on the surface. He recalled living in downtown St Louis where there was constant construction and urban renewal going on around his home. The fencing would be in the mud and snow and it would impress textures and patterns, and oval forms of mud and snow would squeeze through the spaces. It was a realization that this was the essence of daily life and the unspoken history upon which the city was built. The ovals are not portraits of people or things, but present a record of the forgotten, the unnoticed, and the abandoned. Thomas creates minimal works that rely heavily on texture. When I asked him about the materials he uses in cement, he had me examine a large bucket filled with his own mixture. There was the strong smell of wood and solvents. Mixing wood chips and sawdust in cement, he creates an organic medium that takes on a life of its own. As the man-made forms deteriorate, they also grow into a new state of crude uncontrolled beauty, which suggests a duality in the artist’s narrative.

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The works in this exhibition become a trace, representing an entropic history of the process leaving us to contemplate what is not in the work. The ovals are imperfect and decomposing. They are built and destroyed, celebrated and defaced. Jacques Derrida stated that deconstruction is an “antistructuralist gesture” because “Structures were to be undone, decomposed, desedimented.” Thomas Sleet’s paintings bring to mind decaying walls, moss, mold and primitive architectural structures. Sleet believes in the processes of nature and he has found a way to create work that is both honest and powerful.

- Chris Kahler

Chris Kahler is an artist. He recently had an exhibition at the Bruno David Gallery. He is currently an Associate Professor at Eastern Illinois University. This essay is a series of introductions to the gallery’sexhibitions written by fellow gallery artists and friends

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Afterword by Bruno L. David

Bruno David Gallery is pleased to present the exhibit Thomas Sleet: Traces, featuring large wall relief sculptures composed of cement, natural and synthetic fiber, recycled materials, acrylic, and earth pigments. Mr. Sleet utilizes tortured distressed surfaces to create a unique merging of shape and texture, positive and negative, color and space, uniting as a remarkably unique composition. His work is enigmatic as it weaves themes of organic structure, migration, infinite multiples, and primitive culture with systems of individual marks. His work orbits the unpredictable effects of natural phenomena on synthetic objects and hybrid material. In his current work, Sleet engages a new vernacular of style by combining the purification of form with the merging of organic structure and geometry. Through the application of cement materials to varying substrates in repetitious patterns, no two marks are identical, a dynamic tension is achieved in that there is the geometry of repetition and the contrast of organic simultaneously coexisting. Even deeper is the inspiration to transform time and space via spontaneous textural constructions that invoke the experience of unlimited containment, i.e. universal vessel or exponential release. Thomas Sleet attended Columbus College of Art and Design and Washington University in St. Louis – Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts, where he received his BFA. He lives and works in St. Louis, Missouri.

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Checklist of the exhibition and Images

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BAKA TRACE, 2006-07

Cement, acrylic and sawdust on acrylic Mat mounted on panel, 45 x 79 inches

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BAKA TRACE, 2006-07 (detail)

Cement, acrylic and sawdust on acrylic Mat mounted on panel, 45 x 79 inches

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QUNI, 2006-07

Cement, acrylic and sawdust on acrylic Mat mounted on panel, 57 x 42 inches

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QUNI, 2006-07 (detail)

Cement, acrylic and sawdust on acrylic Mat mounted on panel, 57 x 42 inches

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TRACE ID, 2006-07

Cement, acrylic and sawdust on acrylic Mat mounted on panel, 57 x 78 inches

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TRACE ID, 2006-07 (detail)

Cement, acrylic and sawdust on acrylic Mat mounted on panel, 57 x 78 inches

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TERRA, 2007

Cement, acrylic and sawdust on acrylic Mat mounted on panel, 83 x 61 inches

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TERRA, 2007 (detail)

Cement, acrylic and sawdust on acrylic Mat mounted on panel, 83 x 61 inches

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BONE RIVER, 2007

Cement, acrylic and sawdust on acrylic Mat mounted on panel, 58 x 55 inches

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BONE RIVER, 2007 (detail)

Cement, acrylic and sawdust on acrylic Mat mounted on panel, 58 x 55 inches

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TWA, 2007

Cement, acrylic and sawdust on acrylic Mat mounted on panel, 73 x 109 inches

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TWA, 2007 (detail)

Cement, acrylic and sawdust on acrylic Mat mounted on panel, 73 x 109 inches

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ELEMENT, 2007

Cement, acrylic and sawdust on acrylic Mat mounted on panel, 42 x 42 inches

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ELEMENT, 2007 (detail)

Cement, acrylic and sawdust on acrylic Mat mounted on panel, 42 x 42 inches

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TRACES, (installation view, 2007)

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TRACES, (installation view, 2007)

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TRACES, (installation view, 2007)

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TRACES, (installation view, 2007)

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TRACES, (installation view, 2007)

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THOMAS SLEET Lives and work in St. Louis, Missouri EDUCATION 1988 1974

B.F.A., Ceramics and Sculpture. Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri B.A., Columbus College of Art and Design, Columbus, OH

SELECTED SOLO EXHIBITIONS 2007 2003 2002 2001 2000 1997 1994

Bruno David Gallery, “Thomas Sleet: Traces”, St. Louis, Missouri D-Zine Gallery, “Thomas Sleet”, University City, MO Thomas Sleet: Art, Architecture, Energy”, St. Louis, MO Mitchell Museum at Cedar Hurst, “Thomas Sleet”, Mt. Vernon Ill Harwell Museum of Art, “Thomas Sleet”, Poplar Bluff, MO D-Zine Gallery, “Thomas Sleet”, University City, MO PostUrbanAfricView, Vaughn Gallery and Cultural Center, Urban League, “Thomas Sleet”, St. Louis, MO Portfolio Gallery, “Spirit of the Root”, St. Louis, MO

SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS 2007 2005 2004 2004 2003 2001 2000 1999 1998 1997

On Paper, Bruno David Gallery, St. Louis, MO Inaugural Exhibition, Bruno David Gallery, St. Louis, MO 20th Anniversary Show, Elliot Smith Contemporary Art Everything you Wanted to Know About Art, Elliot Smith Contemporary Art, St. Louis, MO Group Exhibition, Gallery Urbis Orbis, St. Louis, MO Group Show, Emerson Electric, World Headquarters, St. Louis, MO Arousal Show, Loft District, St. Louis MO Inform Show, Lemp Brewery, St. Louis, MO Group Show, Margaret Harwell Museum of Art, Poplar Bluff, MO Visions ‘98, Portfolio Gallery, St. Louis, MO Voices Exhibit, The College School, Webster Groves, MO A.A.D.I.S. Spectrum ‘97, St. Louis Community College, Group Exhibition, Forest Park, St. Louis, MO

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1997 1996 1995 1994 1992 1991 1989 1988 1981 1980 1979 1978 1975 1974

Visions ‘97, Portfolio Gallery, St. Louis, MO Black and Jewish Artists Sharing Images, Maryville University, St. Louis, MO Visions ‘96, Portfolio Gallery, St. Louis, MO Landscapes - Lifting the Veil, Portfolio Gallery, St. Louis, MO Group Exhibition, Ralston Purina World Headquarters, St. Louis, MO Solo exhibit, Maryville University, St. Louis, MO Black Creativity ‘95, Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago, IL Visions ‘95, Portfolio Gallery, St. Louis, MO Group Exhibition, Ralston Purina World Headquarters, St. Louis, MO Visions ‘94, Portfolio Gallery, St. Louis, MO Visions ‘92, Portfolio Gallery, St. Louis, MO Untitled, Art St. Louis Gallery, St. Louis, MO Arrowmont School of Art, Gatlinburg, TN Lithos Gallery, St. Louis, MO Advertising Club of St. Louis Advertising Federation of St. Louis Steinberg Gallery, Washington University, St. Louis, MO Timothy Burns Gallery, St. Louis, MO Steinberg Gallery, Washington University, St. Louis, MO Columbus Museum of Arts, Columbus, OH Terry Moore Gallery, St. Louis, MO Terry Moore Gallery, St. Louis, MO Steinberg Gallery, Washington University, St. Louis, MO Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus OH Mark Twain Bank, St. Louis, MO

AWARDS AND RECOGNITION 1998 1997 1996 1988 1981 1980 1979

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HENRY O. TANNER AWARD, Portfolio Gallery 1st Place, VISIONS ‘97, Portfolio Gallery 1st Place, VISIONS ‘96, Portfolio Gallery 3rd Place, ADVERTISING CLUB OF ST. LOUIS ADDY’S FLAIR AWARD, Advertising Federation of St. Louis 3rd Place, Beaux Arts Competition, Columbus Gallery of Art, Columbus, OH Washington University Honors Award for Academic Scholarship and Achievement, St. Louis, MO


RESIDENCIES AND WORKSHOPS 2003 ST. LOUIS ART FAIR, Clayton MO Directing participants through a found sculpture workshop teaching them to utilize fond and fabricated steel objects to assemble small metal sculptures. 2003 ST. LOUIS ART FAIR, Clayton MO Directing participants through a found sculpture workshop teaching them to utilize fond and fabricated steel objects to assemble small metal sculptures. 2002 MITCHELL MUSEUM AT CEDAR HURST, Mt. Vernon Ill Conducted a one week seminar on developing and constructing three dimensional drawings in cement on wood panels. 2001 THE COLLEGE SCHOOL, Webster Groves, MO. Artist in Residence. Conducted a one week seminar on developing and constructing three dimensional drawings in cement on wood panels. 1998 THE COLLEGE SCHOOL, Webster Groves, MO. Artist in Residence. Conducted a one week seminar on developing and constructing three dimensional drawings in cement on wood panels. 1996-1997 HOGAN STREET REGIONAL YOUTH CENTER, ST. LOUIS, MO Conducted screenprinting and product design class. Instructed youth in the design and manufacture of a variety of products including bird houses, t-shirts, plaques, and photo murals. Items produced were sold at Hogan Street Youth Center and local craft festivals. 1997 GUARDIAN ANGEL SETTLEMENT, ST. LOUIS, MO Conducted eight week class in screenprinting and assemblage. 1995-1996 PORTFOLIO GALLERY AND EDUCATIONAL CENTER, ST. LOUIS, MO Conducted a series of 4 three-week classes in Beginning and Intermediate Screenprinting for students from St. Louis Community College. 1993 CENTRAL, VISUAL AND PERFORMING ARTS HIGH SCHOOL, ST. LOUIS, MO Conducted six-week class in calendar production. Students instructed in a step-by-step process of graphic production beginning with thumbnail design, layout, typesetting, and paste-up. The concluding activity involved a field experience at the printer for the final proofing. 1987-1988 CRAFT ALLIANCE GALLER AN DEDUCATIONAL CENTER, ST.LOUIS, MO Conducted a series of six-week screenprinting classes. Beginning through Advanced techniques. 1995 INDY LIVE, CIRCLE CENTER, INDIANAPOLIS, IN Designed, fabricated, and installed two 12 FT diameter Plexiglas and aluminum signs for the Indy Live Nightclub. Signs are suspended from a barrel vaulted atrium, 40 FT above the floor. 1994 VP FAIR, ST. LOUIS Designed and produced a variety of display and directional signage for the entire fair grounds, including sponsor banners, parking signs, events banners, and corporate logo banners. 1992 MONSANTO CHEMICAL/VP FAIR, ST. LOUIS Designed and fabricated large scale 3-D dinosaurs for the Monsanto Family Fun Village. Included two 15 FT tyrannosaurus and two 20 FT brontosaurus figures.

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SELECTED COLLECTIONS Anhueser Busch, Inc. CORTEX, St. Louis, MO S R Hoeft Direct Mail Adler Visual Systems St. Louis Science Center Bi-State Development Agency St. Simon of Cyrene Catholic Church Busch Creative Services University of Missouri, St. Louis, MO Claybour & Associates Urban League, St. Louis, MO Dance St. Louis Washington University, St. Louis, MO DMB+B Wiseman Communications Eisenkramer & Associates YWCA Greater St. Louis Fleishman Hillard Grand/Tower Grove Redevelopment Corporation Hellmuth, Obata, & Kassabaum Herbert Hoover Boys and Girls Club, St. Louis, MO Lambert International Airport of St. Louis Mallinckrodt Chemical Maring, Kanefield, & Weissman, Inc. Mark Twain Banks Phoenix Creative Saint Louis University

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Thomas Sleet: Traces  

52 page fully illustrated color catalogue of Thomas Sleet's exhibition at Bruno David Gallery. Essay by Chris Kahler. (Softcover, January 20...

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