PHD Gallery Explores St. Louis As 'Sin City'

By Christopher Reilly
In Culture

In June, when a blog stuck St. Louis with the dubious distinction of being the “Most Sinful City in America,” locals were amused and bewildered at the irony, but Philip Hitchcock of PHD Art Gallery saw it as an idea for an art exhibition. Featuring the work of three St. Louis artists, “Sin City” takes an inside look at the city named for a saint, but populated by sinners.

Leviathan by Josh Chapman

Leviathan by Josh Chapman

Josh Chapman, a tattoo artist at Iron Age Tattoo, frequently begins his tattoo designs as intricate 22 x 30 watercolor paintings of skulls, dragons, leviathans and tigers, the frequent imagery of tattoos. His paintings, however, contain an intricacy that could never be duplicated on skin. Chapman’s work reflects both traditional and Japanese styles, but also contains influences from Salvador Dali, John Singer Sargent, Audubon illustrations and traditional Thai patterns.

Pride by Mark Florida

Pride by Mark Florida

Mark Florida, in a new series of narrative photographs, illustrates the taboos of human behavior, including his personal favorites among the seven deadly sins. Florida’s photographs are intensely personal, featuring only himself and his partner/muse “Melissa.” In one photo (above) we see a woman at her vanity mirror while her reflection holds her hostage with a gun. Florida has been an artist and photographer in St. Louis for more than 25 years and is perhaps best known for his photographs of St. Louis landmarks and high-profile events.

Chimera by Ruth Reese

Chimera by Ruth Reese

Ruth Reese is a sculptor and ceramicist fascinated with pathos and the grafted identity. Best known for her wonderfully disturbing surreal porcelain sculptures—which are a confluence of multiple species—a single sculpture might include octopus tentacles, horse hooves, a bird’s beak and elk horns. Reese’s work endeavors to challenge nature in a way that openly acknowledges loss, desire, anger, joy, lust, veneration and rejection. Reese is an Artist in Residence, working in clay at Craft Alliance.

“Sin City” continues at PHD Art Gallery through Aug. 31, noon to 4pm, Thursday through Sunday and by appointment, 2300 Cherokee Street. For more information, visit the gallery’s website.

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