For Your Viewing Pleasure

 In Culture, Feature

Forget must-see TV; this season, the St. Louis art scene has the most creative programming. Get thee to the galleries!


My New Year’s resolution is to become a Renaissance woman. Remember reading about those types? The dynamic ladies and gents of the 17th century who could play classical piano, effortlessly sketch a portrait and speak fluently in foreign languages about the intricacies of literature and fine art—all in their downtime? I want to be like that.
Realistically, I won’t be discussing Picasso’s Blue Period in Mandarin Chinese with a French harpsichord composer anytime soon (I wish), but this year, I do plan to fully appreciate the lively art scene we are so lucky to enjoy as St. Louisans. Here are the four exhibitions I’m excited to check out this month; and fingers crossed that this time next year, I’ll be a card-carrying art snob.

The Show: Christina Shmigel: “This City, Daily Rising”
The Place: Bruno David Gallery

In her first U.S. solo exhibition since 2005, artist Christina Shmigel brings three interrelated installations to the Bruno David Gallery (January 21-February 26). Shmigel is noted for playing with scale and size in her installations, and in this exhibition, “This City, Daily Rising” she represents themes from Shanghai, the vibrant city where she works and lives. I, too, have fallen in love with a far-away city, and I’m curious to see how Shmigel interprets her understanding of the city she adores while at the same exploring how we as humans become familiar with the world through associations and projections and how the inanimate objects that surround us can overflow with meaning.

The Show: Richard Aldrich
The Place: Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis

The Contemporary brings in two intriguing artists for the museum’s first Opening Nights of the year on January 21 (through May 1). American painter Richard Aldrich will showcase 20 of his large-scale works that I’m excited to see up close. Aldrich is quite the Renaissance man himself when it comes to style; some of his works are spare and abstract, others are collage-like paintings, some incorporate text. His work explores painting’s recent history without merely retelling it; instead, Aldrich appears to tell a deeply personal story on each canvas. What’s more, Aldrich will also present a selection of 19th and 20th century paintings from Saint Louis Art Museum’s permanent collection.

The Show: Manon de Boer
The Place: Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis

Also showing at CAMSL’s Opening Night is Manon de Boer, a creator of stunning cinematic portraits. With her camera, she captures friends, dancers, writers, musicians and other creatives in awe-inspiring explorations of memory and the passage of time. De Boer’s CAMSL exhibition will be the Dutch artist’s first major solo show in the United States. I’ve read up on her piece, “Presto, Perfect Sound” in which she filmed composer and violinist, George Van Dam, performing a notoriously difficult violin sonata. To create a “perfect” performance, de Boer edited together the audio track from five different recordings and then edited the film to match the soundtrack. It’s a brilliant study of
taking the traditional dominance of image over sound in cinema and turning it on its head.

The Show: Time Wounds All Heels
The Place: White Flag Projects

I’ve never been disappointed in any exhibit I’ve experienced at White Flag. This alternative art gallery always features progressive exhibits from well-known and up-and-coming local, national and international artists. Opening on January 15 is “Time Wounds All Heels,” a group show featuring 12 artists of diverse mediums, from printmaking to photography to painting (through February 26). Always a fan of a witty pun, I’m particularly interested in seeing what artist Jaime Pitarch brings to the exhibit. He often implements visual punning to change the way we see everyday objects. The Barcelona-born Pitarch is another Renaissance man who works in sculpture, drawing, performance art and video.


1210_483.jpgA piece from Christina Shmigel’s •À_This City, Daily Rising•À_ on view at Bruno David Gallery.

1211_483.jpgA piece from “Time Wounds All Heels” on view at White Flag Projects.

1214_483.jpgManon de Boer on view at Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis.

1215_483.jpgA piece from “Time Wounds All Heels” on view at White Flag Projects.


Photo credit: Photos courtesy of the galleries and museum.

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