Art

A art piece by Kelley Walker depicting a civil rights-era protest is splattered with melted dark, white, and milk chocolate.
Kelley Walker, Black Star Press | Paula Cooper Gallery

The Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis will not remove Kelley Walker’s controversial artwork from its walls. 

Some St. Louis residents called for a boycott of the museum and three of the museum’s black employees called for the show to close — and for chief curator Jeffrey Uslip to resign — on the grounds that Walker’s exhibit demeaned black people. CAM director Lisa Melandri said Monday that removing the work would be censorship.

An art piece by Kelley Walker uses a floor-to-ceiling cover of a female rapper from men's magazine. It is smeared in tooth paste.
Jenny Simeone | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Sept. 23 with statement from Kelley Walker — The Contemporary Art Museum’s display of a controversial exhibit by artist Kelley Walker — and how the administration handled public objection — has shadowed the museum in tension. The exhibit uses the images of black people in ways some St. Louisans consider disrespectful and offensive.

Three members of the museum’s administrative staff who are black have called for the museum to remove Walker’s “Direct Drive” exhibition. In the letter to the museum's senior directors published Thursday on Facebook, De Andrea Nichols, Lyndon Barrois Jr. and Victoria Donaldson also said chief curator Jeffrey Uslip should resign and issue a formal apology.

A art piece by Kelley Walker depicting a civil rights-era protest is splattered with melted dark, white, and milk chocolate.
Kelley Walker, Black Star Press | Paula Cooper Gallery

Walk into the Contemporary Art Museum today and you will be greeted with brick paintings, light boxes, laptop sculptures, and a 4-by-4 chocolate disco ball. It’s Kelley Walker’s first U.S. solo museum show, Direct Drive.  

Walk deeper into the main galleries and you’ll see works from the Georgia-born artist’s past shows, most notably Black Star Press, and Schema. They include a floor-to-ceiling print of the model and rapper Trina scantily clad on the cover of KING magazine coated in digital scans of smeared toothpaste. Another uses a 1963 image of Birmingham police and dogs attacking a civil rights protester. The print is splattered with different shades of chocolate. Both works have garnered Walker, who is white, a reputation for commenting on race in America — and fierce criticism of his use of the black body.

Bjorn Ranheim of The 442s warms up while awaiting a collaborator.
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

When 15-year-old Caroline Luethy saw a lime-green piano in Forest Park, she was immediately taken by the chance to play in a lush setting.

Luethy, of Groton, Conn., approached the piano with a mix of anxiety and excitement. She sat down and started to improvise with chords, evoking a somber moment, like that of a movie soundtrack.

Zack and Brie Smithey in front of the shipping-container home they're building in St. Charles. His sweat equity has helped keep the cost down to $125,000 including the land.
Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated with St. Charles City Council vote July 6, 2016, 12:51pm - An unusual house made of railroad-shipping containers is going up on Elm Street in St. Charles. But if city officials have their way, the nearly-finished place could be the last of its kind in the city’s traditional neighborhoods.

St. Charles residents Zack and Brie Smithey began working on their two-story home in May. Their house is being made from eight red containers, doubled stacked and four across. It sits on a sloping lot between a split-level and a ranch.

St. Louis Public Radio's new arts and culture editor also edits our science and medical reporters.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Do you ever wonder why St. Louis Public Radio covers a particular concert but not an art show opening on the same night? Or a certain play but not a simultaneous music festival?

Editors are instrumental in these kinds of decisions. And we’ve got a new editor for our arts and culture team, who’s come to town with some new ideas. David Cazares (pronounced CAH-sar-ehs ) comes to us from Minnesota Public Radio, where he served as a web editor and music writer with an emphasis on jazz.

Jacob Schmidt, lead artist on the project, uses a lift to reach parts of the wall he's decorating with imagery of fish and wildlife. He pauses for a moment from working on a heron image.
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

While some street art is popping up in auctions alongside the likes of Banksy and Mr. Brainwash, some is showing up on the walls of the St. Louis riverfront. And it's city-sanctioned. The St. Louis Streets Department and local artists have joined together to produce a new mural along St. Louis' riverfront.

Chess Painting No. 2 (Duchamp vs. Crepeaux, Nice, 1925), 2009
Provided by the World Chess Hall of Fame

There is a conversation that exists between living artists and their predecessors. Marcel Duchamp, arguably the most influential artist of the 20th century and whose impact is still remarkably present today, began many of these conversations during his prolific career as both an artist and a chess player.

The Isamu Noguchi ceiling, which had been hidden for years under a drop ceiling at the U-Haul building on Kingshighway, has finally emerged for all to see. Click through the slideshow to see more views of it.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

A late autumn's promise has bloomed in the spring: a once-hidden architectural gem in St. Louis is open to the public at last.

U-Haul International Inc. has made good on its commitment to uncover and repair a sculptured ceiling created for the main lobby of its mid-20th century facility on South Kingshighway by the late American artist and designer Isamu Noguchi.

"Woodhenge" by Indian contemporary artist Gigi Scaria relates to the reconstruction of the ancient woodhenge site at Cahokia in the Metro East. Scaria's work will be featured for Obscura Day at Laumeier Sculpture Park.
Atlas Obscura |Laumeier Sculpture Park, Gigi Scaria

Two St. Louis area sites are among hundreds of locations around the globe being featured in an exotic festival of places of interest this Saturday.

Howard Barry poses for a portrait at his home studio.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis painter Howard Barry is among the many creative people making work around the events of Ferguson.

But Barry’s story has an unusual twist. It starts with his own tragedy, 24 years ago.

Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

A few years ago, the New Yorker bravely posed the question “Can crowdfunding replace artists’ day jobs?” While that answer still remains to be seen, crowdfunding is becoming a viable source for artists wishing to pursue passion projects.

One of the rugs in the Carpet and the Connoiseur exhibit at the St. Louis Art Museum. This is a western Anatolian knotteed woll carpet with 'Lotto' patter from the 16th century.
Courtesy, St. Louis Art Museum

In the art exhibitions business, when you find yourself faced with the conflicting character attributes of a millionaire who built his fortune on patent medicines of questionable quality yet who carried with him works of art of extraordinary aesthetic and historical value, you can be reasonably certain of having a hit on your hands.

kylesteed | Flickr, Creative Commons | http://bit.ly/1K9dLqp

When it comes to the graffiti art scene, St. Louis has quite a bit going on.

“I’ve traveled the world and St. Louis, by far, is similar to the Super Bowl,” said Brian Van Hoosier, a graffiti artist and committee member with Paint Louis, an event that covers two miles of flood wall in downtown St. Louis with sanctioned art from national and international graffiti artists each year.

In 1983, the Saint Louis Art Museum was bequeathed the largest private collection of the work of German artist Max Beckmann in the world. Part of that collection now lives in the museum’s Grigg Gallery, but few people may know what the meaning of the artist’s work is.

Courtesy Contemporary Art Museum

A plastic bottle inflates and deflates, as if breathing. A thick piece of wood snaps in half after it is struck by an arm-like piston. A bone is crunched between metallic jaws.

These are the sounds and sights of artwork presented as part of Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis’ spring exhibitions, all of which ask viewers to reconsider human form.

Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

The Fargesn Media Project is a collaboration between Jewish and black activists who are looking to catalog the voices of those who participated in protests in Ferguson and throughout the St. Louis region, starting in August 2014. It was inspired by Rabbi Michael Rothbaum's Rosh Hashanah sermon, Ferguson/Fargesn.

Chris Kallmyer Bells
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 11:34 a.m., Dec. 9 with release of recording from live event - Los Angeles composer Chris Kallmyer released a recording of music produced by bells made from St. Louis area clay today.The recording was made during a live performance before 250 people at the Pulitzer Arts Foundation.

Ritter-Soronen wheat-paste outside Latino Americano Market.
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

Various St. Louis artists are voicing support for bringing Syrian refugees to the city. Chelsea Ritter-Soronen  said she believes positive experiences with refugees should shape the city’s approach to welcoming Syrian immigrants.

“I do believe in the #BringThemHere movement in St. Louis specifically, because of our brilliant example of our recent acceptance of Bosnian immigrants,” she said in an email.

Lisa Melandri, CAM Director, supports VLAA's initiative 'Every Artist Insured'
VLAA Twitter

Navigating health insurance can be a headache for almost anyone who cobbles together multiple part-time jobs or works freelance. According to Sue Greenberg, the executive director of Volunteer Lawyers and Accountants for the Arts, artists are particularly prone to these pains.

Image courtesy of Kyrle Boldt III

Modern art, architecture and decorative arts created in the middle of the 20th century were swamped by the reactionary ruckus of the late 20th century post-modernist movement. 

Given the quality and originality of so much of the mid-century’s aesthetic industry, its relegation to obscurity was a big mistake and a now recognized lapse of taste. However, all wasn’t lost. A new exhibition opening this weekend at the St. Louis Art Museum joins other scholarship and exhibitions dedicated to setting the record straight.

One of Beverly Sporleder's line drawings in the University City Public Library exhibtion.
Nancy Fowler

With school starting, many local kids are looking back on long summer days of watching movies or playing video games. But the Sporleder children spent their summer getting ready for a family art show at the University City Public Library.

Eight family members including three of Beverly Sporleder’s grandchildren are in the exhibition, open through Aug. 30.

Clockwise from top left, Damon Davis, Freida Wheaton, Michael Castro, Brian Owens, Lee Patton Chiles, De Nichols
St. Louis Public Radio file photos

For the past year, a tragic and powerful muse has fed the energy and work of St. Louis-area artists.

The shooting death of Michael Brown and the unpeeling of issues that followed have inspired a bounty of work with a social-justice mission. As we near the Aug. 9 anniversary of Brown’s death, we talked with a number of arts professionals about their work in the wake of the turmoil:

Damon Davis hands up
www.heartacheandpaint.com

The 11-plus miles of actual roadways that separate Ferguson and Ladue might as well be the distance between St. Louis and Shanghai — or at least it feels that way sometimes.

The variations and nuances that register in our psyches and imaginations — the old bugaboos of fears, conflicts, realities, prejudices, heritage, history, economics — all of this and so many more obstacles litter a twisting, turning virtual pathway between the two communities.

William Morris
Durrie Bouscaren

When William Morris was growing up in St. Louis in the 1970s, his mother was close behind with her Super 8 camera.

Unidentified artist, Helmet mask, wood. length of 30 and one-half inches. The Arti Institute of Chicago, African and Amerindian Purchase Fund, 1963:842
Provided by St. Louis Art Museum

“Senufo Unbound: Dynamics of Art and Identity in West Africa,” an exhibit of extraordinary interest that opened recently at the St. Louis Art Museum, is the rare bird that flies between two branches with grace and a keen sense of intelligent direction.

William Morris, Brett Williams and Meghan Grubb
Nancy Fowler

Three local artists received $1,500 each on Tuesday night to help fund projects that include home movies and ideas about the spaces where we live.

In an event at The Sheldon Art Galleries, the local Critical Mass for the Visual Arts organization named the recipients of its 2015 Creative Stimulus Awards. The money helps pay for the cost of ongoing work as well as funding new projects.

The 2015 winners are:

St. Lou Fringe Festival Left, Em Piro; Middle, Alicen Moser; Right, Joe Hanrahan
Alex Heuer

Four years ago, St. Lou Fringe set out on a “passion project” to create an event that provided a networking platform for emerging artists to gain exposure. The project became known as the “St. Lou Fringe Festival,” which includes 10 days of performances from a diverse variety of art forms, including slam poetry, magic, fashion design and street performance. The overall goal of the organization is to promote St. Louis as a “hotspot for cultural and economic vitality” through arts culture.

Aunt Mamie Lang, Sister of Uncle Jim Lang to the Otey’s Nellie & Brothers ,” ca.  1890, Photographer Unknown (Star Gallery, Kansas Ci ty), ca. 1890, albumen print  cabinet card 6 ½ x 4 ¼ inches, in period frame. Collection of Robert E. Green.
The Sheldon

Pictures don’t lie, the saying goes.  But according to collector Robert Green of St. Louis’ near north side, many historic photos and other renderings of African Americans fail to tell the truth, or at least the whole story.

Fury by Josh Svoboda
St. Louis Artists' Guild

St. Louis’ oldest art institution — The Artists’ Guild — is new again.

On Tuesday, The Guild will reopen in its vast new space, at 12 North Jackson Ave. on the eastern edge of downtown Clayton.

The nearly 130-year-old organization has spent the past several months moving from the nearby Oak Knoll Park location. It was there for 20 years.

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