Abandonment Art Events

Following Time and Trauma Across the City: Two Exhibitions Opening This Weekend

by Michael R. Allen

The City Inside/Out
Opening Friday, June 7 from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m.
Sheldon Art Galleries

St. Louis’ built environment has been a yielding subject to many photographers over the years, from Emil Boehl to Charles Cushman to Toby Weiss. Each view transports us to a different city with the same name — or so the frozen images tease us to believe. The week closes with the opening of a large polyphonic urban photographic exhibit at the Sheldon Art Galleries, in which we find not only different cities but different frames.

meyerowitzAmid our current fascination with remaking the Arch grounds, and consideration of our ongoing vacancy crisis, Joel Meyerowitz’s St. Louis and the Arch (1979-1982) series should be of heightened interest. Meyerowitz depicts the relationship between a modern monument and a city in transition. Roland Barthes’ punctum — defined in Camera Lucida as that photographic element that “pierces the viewer” — may well be off-frame, wherever the people missing from so many of the images may be (South County? Clayton?). The Meyerowitz images are over thirty years old now, and recent urban regeneration might cast them in a new light.

raimistOther photographers with work in The City Inside/Out include Andrew Raimist, Ken Konchel, David Johnson, Demond Meek, Alise O’Brien and Richard Sprengeler. Raimist drills down in Meyerowitz’s world to the surface of the Arch itself, capturing the vandal-created surface texture that belies its unitary skyline presence. Meek’s images of abandoned buildings, largely in isolation as if sprung from the unconscious upon the landscape, provide a reminder of the more troublesome impact of time on architectural beauty.

Shifting Terrains: Works By Carlie Trosclair
Opening Saturday, June 8 from 7:00 – 11:00 p.m.
Drew Henry salon&gallery, 2309 Cherokee Street

Saturday, on kinetic Cherokee Street, the south side’s fastest-changing artery, there is another noteworthy opening. Carlie Trosclair will exhibit recent works in a show entitled Shifting Terrains at the Drew Henry salon&gallery. Some may recall being captured by Trosclair’s soft sculpture installations at various venues (although perhaps not in a river stream in Vermont). These fervent spatial occupations evince an originality desperately lacking in local hard-architecture practice and a searing psychological intensity that can simultaneously intimidate and mesmerize.


In Shifting Terrains, Trosclair offers an array of impressionistic entry points into constructed space. Her alterations to photographs of decayed interiors are a welcome break from the traditional gaze upon architectural ruin. By casting aside photorealism, these works evoke their subjects’ dreamlike — perhaps sometimes nightmarish — experiential nature more vividly than straight-on documents.

Architect Eric Mendelsohn wrote in Amerika that the American city was “unbridled, mad, frenetic, lusting for life.” While Mendelsohn was capturing traits of the twentieth century’s rapid urban pulse, Trosclair’s works suggest that even in decay our cities possess an energetic secret life. Perhaps even that life is more terrifying now that it comes from urban free-fall instead of controlled growth. Yet there may be a quiet order in urban trauma we don’t always detect — and Trosclair seems intent on finding that order.

Art Midtown Parking

Art Is in the Eye of the Monthly Parking Pass Holder

by Michael R. Allen

On land once part of a thoroughfare renamed for our native superstar Josephine Baker now rises a menagerie of sculptures. In 2007, the city closed this block and deeded the land to St. Louis University, which planted grass. The university had just demolished a historic livery stable building at the northwest corner of the intersection for yet another giant Grand Center surface parking lot used sporadically for special events. The demolition and the resulting gaping asphalt heat island dealt a blow to nascent renewal on Locust Street, but the area has recovered somewhat. The little strip of closed street has even begun to become something other than an unpleasant lawn.

The maiden sits in the sun achieving a rather bronze tone.

The lawn now sports this sultry nude, whose most private parts are tastefully concealed by earth and sand — yet the shapely parts that identify her as woman are evident to freshman and Fox patron alike. The careless reviewers who call this statue a mere figural representation of a naked young woman in a wading pool are incorrect. The intent of the artist no doubt is complex, and I surely am stumbling in my interpretation. Still, the lady clearly represents fair beauty Grand Center, with one foot playfully set upward suggesting the whimsy of the performing arts. The sand, however, represents the ominous force of parking lots. Our damsel is smiling yet actually is in distress.

The livery stable before its demolition in 2007.

The paradox inscribed in a single statue is powerful, and far more useful to our citizens than any block of street or any nod to a long-gone banana-skirt-wearing dancer.  Right?

Art Events

Exhibition on Max Lazarus at the Sheldon

Max Lazarus: Trier / St. Louis / Denver — A Jewish Artist’s Fate
February 18 – May 7, 2011
Opening Friday, February 18 from 5:00 – 8:00 p.m.
The Sheldon Art Galleries

Organized by the Stadtmuseum Simeonstift, Trier, Germany, this exhibition traces the life and artistic development of the German-Jewish artist Max Lazarus (1892-1961) through over 50 paintings, lithographs and synagogue designs. An extraordinary colorist, Lazarus produced expressive works that included landscapes, portraits, and some politically charged subjects. Lazarus fled Germany in 1938, after being forced to work secretly in Germany during the rise of the Nazi party. He lived first in St. Louis, where he had a family, then moved to Denver, Colorado, where he contracted tuberculosis.

His early career is represented in the exhibition with a self-portrait, several Trier landscapes, and a number of prints. Scenes from his time in St. Louis, like views of the Old Courthouse, Grand Avenue and the United Hebrew Synagogue (now the Missouri History Museum Library and Research Center), as well as paintings that reflect the changing Denver cityscape in the 1940s and 50s, are also included. Lazarus’s story stands as an example of innumerable “disrupted biographies” that occurred during the rise of the Nazis to power. Lazarus’s life and career were disrupted twice: first by the Nazis and then by his health. He died in Denver, Colorado in 1961. A selection of Lazarus’s synagogue mural designs will be on view during this time in a separate exhibition in the Bernoudy Gallery of Architecture.

The exhibition is underwritten by the David S. Millstone Arts Foundation with additional support from Nancy and Kenneth Kranzberg, The Millstone Foundation, Gary and Sherry Wolff, Esley Hamilton and Angela M. Gonzales.


Call For Submissions: Sustainability and the Built Environment of the St. Louis Region

From the Architecture Section of the St. Louis Artists’ Guild:

Sustainability and the Built Environment of the St. Louis Region is an examination of where we stand, as a culture of consumption, and where we may be headed in the future. Focus on sustainability efforts and opportunities of the St. Louis regional built environment. Seek examples of work illustrating the biggest consumers and the best conservationists. The artist’s or designer‘s statement should explain the societal impact of the submission’s subject matter.

Artists, designers, architects, creators and design firms are invited to submit work in various media (including photography, three dimensional design, slides, video/film/digital, drawings, etc.) and are encouraged to consider many aspects of the theme.

Selected/appropriate works may have the benefit of research assistance for compiling statistical data demonstrating the impact on the planet and society, provided by the Electrical and Computer Science Department of Saint Louis University’s Park College.

This exhibition is juried by Chris Jordan.

Opening: Friday, November 11, 2011 – 6:00pm – 8:00pm
Admission: Free and Open to the Public
Juror: Chris Jordan

More information and the prospectus is online here.


Seeing St. Louis in the Work of Joe Jones

by Michael R. Allen

Joe Jones' mural "Riverfront" was displayed in the 905 Liquor Store at 8th and Market streets. Photograph from the Preservation Research Office Collection.

Today the St. Louis Beacon kindly published my commentary, “Seeing St. Louis in the work of Joe Jones”. Give it a read, and then get to the St. Louis Art Museum’s exhibit “Joe Jones: Painter of the American Scene” before it ends on January 2.

Art Events

Exhibits Starting Tonight at the Sheldon

The Sheldon Art Galleries will unveil several fantastic exhibits tonight from 5:00 p.m. through 7:00 p.m. Two of these exhibits will be of great interest to readers of this blog.

Designing the City: An American Vision
October 1, 2010 – January 15, 2011

Drawn from the Bank of America collection, this exhibition offers a unique opportunity to see some of the great architectural works built across America and the cities for which they are an integral part. Photographers included are Berenice Abbott: Harold Allen; Bill Hedrich, Ken Hedrich and Hube Henry of the Hedrich-Blessing Studio; Richard Nickel; and John Szarkowski. It is through photographs that most of us have come to know major works of architecture. Our experience of great architecture is often not at the building’s actual site, but rather through a two-dimensional photographic rendering of it. In fact, for many buildings, photographs are all that remain. The term, “architectural photography” is widely used and generally understood to describe pictures through which the photographer documents and depicts a building in factual terms. However the artists featured in this exhibition have taken architectural photography beyond its informative purpose and have shown us the importance of architecture in the definition of the urban American landscape.

Group f.64 & the Modernist Vision: Photographs by Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, Imogen Cunningham, Willard Van Dyke, and Brett Weston
October 1, 2010 – January 15, 2011

Seminal works by renowned photographers Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, Imogen Cunningham, Willard Van Dyke, and Brett Weston, including several spectacular large-scale prints by Ansel Adams — among them Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico, 1941 — as well as Edward Weston’s iconic Pepper, 1930, and examples of Imogen Cunningham’s beautiful and sculptural flower closeups are shown in this exhibition alongside rarely seen works by the artists, all drawn from the Bank of America collection.

Founded in 1934 by Willard Van Dyke and Ansel Adams, the informal Group f.64 were devoted to exhibiting and promoting a new direction in photography. The group was established as a response to Pictorialism, a popular movement on the West Coast, which favored painterly, hand-manipulated, soft-focus prints, often made on textured papers. Feeling that photography’s greatest strength was its ability to create images with precise sharpness, Group f.64 adhered to a philosophy that photography is only valid when it is “straight,” or unaltered. The term f.64 refers to the smallest aperture setting on a large format camera, which allows for the greatest depth of field and sharpest image.


St. Louis Brick Film Nearing Completion

Bill Streeter is moving to the finish line for Brick By Chance and Fortune, his documentary on St. Louis brick. The completion date is scheduled to be October 15 for a premiere at the St. Louis International Film Festival in November.

This month’s issue of St. Louis Magazine included an article on the project by Stefene Russell (who as an Old North resident and Old North St.Louis Restoration Group board member is no stranger to the life and death of local brick); read “Bric(k)olage” to get the story on Bill’s wonderful project. Then watch the trailer here.


S.P.O.R.E. Projects Call for Collaborators

S.P.O.R.E. Projects, sponsor of the mobile gallery pictured above, is the brainchild of the amazing and talented Emily Hemeyer. Emily is one of those people who makes things happen anywhere she goes, and the mobile gallery — a repurposed white minivan — potentially has extended her reach across the entire nation.  The thought of Emily reaching the entire nation is intriguing.  There are so many connections to make in St. Louis, between St. Louis and other places, and between people in other places –  and it seems that Emily is going to make as many of these happen as possible.   –Michael R. Allen

Send proposal to Emily at

Include in your proposal:
1. 3-5 jpegs of past work or website link
2. Concept outline. Including writing, drawings, video, and/or images.
3. List materials. These should be found, constructed or recycled.
4. Q- How the project will engage the community?

LOCATION: SPORE is presently located in St Louis, Missouri.

GALLERY MONTHS: Aug, Sept, Oct, Nov, Feb, March, April, May (off months- Dec, Jan, June, and July).

ARTIST RESIDENCY: We offer a communal 1-week residency w/ an “opening”, community share and/or performance for out-of-town artists and musicians. This includes studio access, housing, general materials, and use of a bike. Sliding scale donation of $50-$100 covers food, studio and housing costs.

MOBILE COLLABORATION: SPORE relishes collaborations in other communities. Exchanges can range from a weekend to short residencies.

NEEDS: Always accepting gifts of gas, maintenance, money, materials, and art for the archive. Currently looking for a projector and amplifier.

Art Downtown Events JNEM Riverfront

"Faces of the Riverfront" Exhibit Opens This Sunday

The Jefferson National Expansion Memorial will host a special exhibit from St. Louis artist Sheila Harris at the Old Courthouse from Feb. 14 through Aug. 22, 2010. Created especially for the memorial, the exhibit consists of nearly 40 watercolor paintings of buildings that once stood on the Arch grounds. Harris’ “portraits” of buildings depict structures from several generations of the city’s architectural history illustrating how the landscape of the riverfront evolved over time.

The exhibit will launch with an artist’s reception on Sunday, February 14, at 2:00 p.m.

Art Events

Theodore Link Exhibit Runs Through January 8th

Rare are those photographs of architecture that truly inform the viewer about a building’s details. Most architectural photography — even excellent architectural photography — memorializes a beautiful building in whole or part without revealing anything particularly magical. Since architecture is a three-dimensional art, its representation can literally be very flat. Not so with Gary R. Tetley’s images of the architecture of Theordore C. Link, currently on display at Landmarks Association of St. Louis‘ Carolyn Hewes Toft Gallery.

The dynamic image shown here in miniature captures a view of the Mississippi State Capitol. Others in the exhibit present views of the Second Presbyterian Church, Union Station, the Barr Branch Library and Link buildings from other parts of the nation. All are clearly labeled to reconcile the photography with the buildings one must really see in person to know well. Tetley’s photographs are vivid in their color, popping with the energy he finds in the design of one of St. Louis’ most interesting architects.

The exhibit runs through January 8 at the Gallery, 911 Washington Avenue #170 in the Lammert Building. Alas, gallery hours are only 9:00 a.m. through 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, requiring time off from work for a proper viewing. (I’d recommend spending a good length of time at the exhibit.) See it soon.