Ivy Cooper | St. Louis Public Radio

Ivy Cooper

Ivy Cooper

Ivy Cooper is the Beacon visual arts reviewer and a professor of art at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: November 12, 2008 - Tim Liddy's "Stratagem" at the William Shearburn Gallery is the kind of thing only a painter of Liddy's caliber should ever take on.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 19, 2012 - The retrospective of British artist John Stezaker’s work at the Kemper Art Museum is nothing short of marvelous. Since the 1970s, Stezaker has collaged, cut up or otherwise intervened in found photographs — old postcards, Hollywood film stills, old travel brochures and the like. His small scale works subvert the original intentions of the images.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 19, 2012 - Christodoulos Panayiotou’s “One Thousand and One Days,” it seems, comes to the Contemporary at precisely the right time. Just as we’re in the midst of the race for the Republican nomination for the next presidential election, it’s interesting to reflect on the general subjects of power and representation — how one authority figure represents the will of a constituency, for instance, or how a public face of authority is constructed and circulated.

For “The Indeterminate Length,” San Diego-based artist Mike Calway-Fagen has occupied Good Citizen Gallery with a marvelous monument to the mundane.

He collected cast-off furniture, carpet, and other domestic items from St. Louis alleys and junk shops, trucked them to the gallery and constructed a labyrinthine structure that is overpowering in scale but modest in means.

For “The Indeterminate Length,” San Diego-based artist Mike Calway-Fagen has occupied Good Citizen Gallery with a marvelous monument to the mundane.

He collected cast-off furniture, carpet, and other domestic items from St. Louis alleys and junk shops, trucked them to the gallery and constructed a labyrinthine structure that is overpowering in scale but modest in means.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 21, 2012 - Jake Cruzen’s “Nikki and Jan” at Los Caminos is a conceptual exhibit, consisting of two props in different locations.

The first of the props is the show announcement, featured on Los Caminos’ website and in some printed flyers: a photograph of two pretty girls, relaxing in a park, along with a narrative account of the photographer’s chance encounter with them.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 29, 2012 - The works by New York based Tommy Hartung and Uri Aran on view at White Flag Projects give an idea of the artists' unusual working relationship.

They're not exactly collaborators, producing things together that bear both names. It's probably more accurate to say that the sensibilities, interests and outlook of one artist bleed gently into that of the other as they make their individual works.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 18, 2012 - Local artist Sandra Marchewa has created "Pills, Thrills, and Bellyaches," a gem of a work at Isolation Room and perfect for the gallery's intimate dimensions, which allow you to get up close and study its brilliant, joyful detail.

On a translucent sheet of Plexi, Marchewa has created thousands of tiny circles, each harboring a surprising little icon.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 17, 2012 - "Out of the Box: Artists Play Chess" is a terrific inaugural art exhibit for the World Chess Hall of Fame, which opened last year across the street from the Chess Club and Scholastic Center in the Central West End.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 11, 2011 - Pinholio at Good Citizen Gallery showcases the huge variety of approaches to pinhole photography available to artists today.

It's actually three shows in one: local artists Mark A. Fisher and Alison Ouellette-Kirby curated a group show from pinhole photographs submitted by national and local artists, and they also brought in works by nationally known pinhole artists Nancy Spencer and Eric Renner, along with original pinhole cameras and photographs by Alabama-based Pinky/MM Bass.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 4, 2012 - The current exhibits at Bruno David Gallery provide enjoyable viewing for the Winter season.

In the Front Room, Shawn Burkard presents "Ye Ol Saint Nick," a large photograph of a ghastly Santa, garbage bag in hand, pouring milk gleefully onto a crumpled skeleton. The demented take on the icon of Christmas giving and joy makes sense given the current economic crisis, in which all the wrong people are rewarded while the majority of us (I believe it's around 99 percent) are burdened with the fallout.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 24, 2011 - Have you ever repeated a word over and over and over and over again, until its meaning is drained and it fails to signify? Then you wait a while, and see how the word recovers?

Now consider this: Charlotte Posenenske and Lee Lozano were successful artists in the 1960s, working in Conceptual-Minimalist modes, showing paintings and sculptures and engaging in artistic "actions." And then they quit.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 21, 2011 - Charles Schwall's "Source Confluence" at Bruno David Gallery is a series of quiet, biomorphic abstractions focusing on themes of water and organic growth. Floating in matte fields of muted colors are Arp-like curving forms nesting within one another, suggesting seed pods or impregnated uteri.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 24, 2011 - "Commonwealth" by Derek Larson is a series of videos projected onto foam core screens, cut to align with the videos.

The screens populate the gallery like so many theatrical props; the projections are weird combinations of psychedelic swirls, stripes and images of classical sculpture. The whole affair reads like a Ken Russell sculpture garden, or a trip to Rome on acid.

Kelley Johnson's show, "Recent Paintings," at Bruno David Gallery, offers a dizzying looking into spaces, both deep and shallow, punctuated by gnarled abstract structures that teeter on the brink of collapse. Johnson's forceful, confident handling of the paint demands your full attention, and rewards you with a serious case of vertigo.

The 10 canvases in this show come in two sizes, medium and large; but within those dimensional confines Johnson produces an astonishing array of formal effects.

The three works in Exposure 13 at UMSL's Gallery 210 are decidedly minimal in style and scale, though not in content. This is a good thing, give that they are exhibited in Gallery B, the smaller of the spaces at 210.

For "Screwed Again," a reprise of sorts of 2008's "Screwed In" at the Gallery of the Regional Arts Commission, nine local artists spent days painting a mural that occupies three walls of the enormous main gallery.

Preparing for its major fall season opener, the Rivane Neuenschwander survey, the Kemper Art Museum is playing out the summer with “Gesture, Scrape, Combine, Calculate: Postwar Abstraction from the Permanent Collection.” 

But this show is anything but a placeholder in the exhibition schedule. It’s a solid survey of mid-century modern painting and sculpture that reveals some surprises and reminds us of the excellent quality of the Kemper’s collection.

For "Form in Translation: Sculptors Making Prints and Drawings," assistant curator Eric Lutz of the St. Louis Art Museum (along with research assistant Ann-Maree Walker) has again brought together works that show the strengths of the museum's permanent collection while giving insight into a vital mode of artmaking that deserves more exposure.

Recently, Bruce Burton left his post as graphic designer for the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis to join a St. Louis design firm. As a parting gesture of sorts, he's curated an exhibition of outstanding contemporary graphic design for the museum's Front Room.

"RBMBKESHKM" showcases work by Roy Brooks, Mikey Burton, Kelly English, Sibylle Hagmann and Kindra Murphy, designers based more or less in the middle of the country, the "flyover zone" where people on the coasts often assume nothing is happening.

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