Contemporary Art Museum | St. Louis Public Radio

Contemporary Art Museum

Floris M. Oosterveld | Flickr | cropped

Selfie sticks. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, they’re here; and they seem to be getting more popular.

This week, the Smithsonian Institution — the world’s largest collection of museums, which includes the Air and Space Museum, Natural History Museum and Portrait Gallery — banned the use of selfie sticks.

Chief Curator Jeffrey Uslip explains the personal narrative of artist Jesse Howard
Willis Ryder Arnold/St. Louis Public Radio

At a time when religion and free speech often seem at odds, the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis is hosting a show that unites these principles. According to Chief Curator Jeffrey Uslip artist Jesse Clyde Howard’s work is one gigantic expression of religion as an act of free speech.

“This work is honest, it is absolutely precise, it is unmediated, there’s no pulling punches,” said Uslip. “This is who Jesse was. He was a staunch believer in free speech and the first amendment.”

Two looks of Raja
Provided by the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts

As our city rocked from the upheavals of 2014, a series of quieter changes was taking place in the St. Louis art world.

Several arts organizations debuted, others expanded and a few folded. Some relocated and others featured uncharacteristic fare to appeal to wider audiences. Here’s a look at eight of this year’s evolutions in the local arts scene.

Circa 1959, Ice Hockey, 2008, 34.5x18x2 inches, oil, enamel on steel
Provided by Tim Liddy

Fontbonne professor Tim Liddy is one of 102 artists displayed in a national exhibition at the Crystal Bridges museum in Bentonville, Ark. But Liddy was never going to be an artist. Looking forward to a career on the ice, he was planning to play games, not paint them.

The Pulitzer Arts Foundation gave a tour of ongoing renovations Nov. 19.
Carly Ann Hilo | Pulitzer Arts Foundation

Although the Pulitzer Arts Foundation has been closed since August, a swarm of activity has been taking place inside the Grand Center institution.

Construction crews are renovating the Pulitzer’s basement area to create two new galleries. When they’re done in May 2015, the Foundation will have one-third more exhibition space, totaling 104,000 square feet. The work is being done in cooperation with a representative of the original architect, Tadao Ando.

Chin, 1994, 'Home y Sew9'
Provided by Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis

Updated with Mel Chin discussing one of his works now at CAM.

Two exhibits debuting Friday night at St. Louis’ Contemporary Art Museum resonate with recent events in Ferguson.

The Mel Chin and Mark Flood openings were planned long before last month’s shooting death of Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer. But they inadvertently debut at an opportune time, according to CAM's executive director Lisa Melandri.

Work by Edo Rosenblith
Provided by Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis

First – remember First Friday. The tradition of art galleries being open in the evening on that date is well established in Grand Center and spreading. For instance, Space at 4168 Manchester, will be opening "Visions of a city: A solo exhibit" by Timothy Wagner from 6-9 p.m.

Meow! Want To Watch Cat Videos? Head To The Museum

Jul 18, 2014
Provided by CAM

Cat videos have become the glue that holds the Internet together. Will the Internet Cat Video Festival have the same stickiness for museums?

The Contemporary Art Museum of St. Louis is hosting the two-day festival July 18-19, featuring cat-themed activities and, of course, videos. Both days are sold out.

A recent show at the Contemporary Art Museum
Contemporary Art Museum

The Contemporary Art Museum in Grand Center has joined the ranks of St. Louis’ free cultural institutions, at least through next summer.

CAM has charged no admission fee since early May, thanks to a donation by the local Gateway Foundation, a nonprofit organization supporting art and urban design. Now Gateway has increased its funding to cover the five-dollar cost through August 2015.

Provided by CAM

Felines are fickle subjects when it comes to video (and almost everything else).

The reclusive stars that rule my home scoff at commands to do something cute for the camera. Plus, their 23-hour-a-day sleep schedule leaves only a small window for any possible action shots of bathing, eating or chasing the elusive red dot. What would Frank Capra do?

TMS class of 2012 in Contemporary Art Museum receiving room.
Provided by CAMSTL

If someone were to tally the number of St. Louis area students participating in career training at arts institutions and compare that to the numbers in other local industries, the arts might possibly win. The Contemporary Art Museum, alone, draws hundreds of students into its pre-professional programming each year. And not only are the exciting, pre-professional youth programs at CAM and the St. Louis Art Museum free to participants, some pay a stipend.

photo by David Johnson / Organized by the Pulitzer Foundaton for the Arts & the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts

Updated Monday, May 12 to include the fourth exhibition at CAM.

Three St. Louis institutions are opening major contemporary art exhibitions tonight: the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts, the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis and the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum at Washington University.

In the hope that St. Louisans will make it an “art night out,” a free shuttle service between the Kemper and Grand Center is being provided from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

David Johnson | PXSTL

 Think of it as your very own performance and gathering space. A former vacant lot, across the street from the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts in St. Louis’ Grand Center, is booked for more than a dozen events through October. But in between, bring your guitar and your friends for a sing-a-long under its floating canopies. Or relocate your book club there for the summer.

“We want people to just respond to the space in ways we haven’t even imaged yet — and neither have they,” Pulitzer executive Kristina Van Dyke told St. Louis Public Radio.

Our preview of the exhibits opening Friday at CAM includes video of artist Joyce Pensato doing what she loves most: playing with paint, and a look at the work of  Nicole Eisenman.

The title “I Killed Kenny” smacks of death in its reference to the recurring demise of the "South Park" icon. But the exhibit's more about Brooklyn artist Joyce Pensato bringing new life to animated characters ranging from Homer Simpson to Mickey Mouse.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: After an autumn day drive to spot the brilliant colors of leaves along the Great River Road, head back to St. Louis to see an amped up nature projected into the night sky against the large exterior wall of the Contemporary Art Museum.

CAM rendering
Courtesy Allied Works Architecture

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: When architect Brad Cloepfil designed the now 10-year-old Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis on Washington Ave., he had both the advantages and disadvantages of that location. It would always be in contrast to Tadao Ando’s Pulitzer building next door. One of the things CAM had going for it was a welcoming image. The panel of windows overlooking Spring Street and the glass entrance allow drivers-by to see the action inside. The open walkway at the building’s entry allows for mulling around the building before and after art openings, music events and parties at the museum.

In celebration of the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis building constructed ten years ago, CAM is presenting an exhibit focusing on the design of the building itself: "Place Is the Space." The exhibit is a collaboration of the building's architect, Brad Cloepfil, and the museum's chief curator, Dominic Molon.

"It's a great space for artists," said Molon of the building. "Ten years on it still remains an incredibly flexible building."

Dominic Molon
Provided by CAM

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: St. Louis’ Contemporary Art Museum's "mission is not to preserve, but to provoke," according to the website of its architect. Ten years after the museum began challenging assumptions about art with its building and exhibits, CAM will celebrate Brad Cloepfil’s design, beginning this Friday with site-specific installations paying tribute to its surface, scale, transparency and boundaries.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: I have not lived in St. Louis for seven years. Since leaving for college on the east coast, living abroad, trying out various cities like hats, and settling – for now – back east, I struggle with the feeling that I am failing my city by constantly leaving it. Though it remains home, the prospect of living there again grows further distant. That prospect has everything to do with contemporary art.

Josh Faught
Beacon archives | 2013

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: How about a big pile of rubber nachos, a really, really chewy chocolate chip cookie or a bouncy onion ring?

Fake fast foods are served up throughout Josh Faught’s upcoming exhibit, opening July 10 at the Contemporary Art Museum. But snacks are just a starting point in “Snacks, Supports, and Something to Rally Around.” 

St. Louis Garden of Delights. Kerry James Marshall.
Laurent Torno | Contemporary Art Museum | 2013

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The front room at the Contemporary Art Museum (CAM) is designed for experimental projects, the artist’s new, new thing. Curator Dominic Molon encourages the kind of transformation of a confined space that we have seen in the last several CAM front room exhibitions. Artist Kerry James Marshall has turned the front room into a portal leading to his Chicago neighborhood.

Throughout his career, artist Kerry James Marshall has turned his environment into his muse, turning to the cultural and social landscape of America.

A native of Birmingham, at the age of seven, he moved from the South to the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles.  He grew up there during the Civil Rights Movement.

Marshall now resides in Chicago and is known for creating series of works based on outdoor landscapes and the interactions of black people within them.

Lari Pittman, Seance, 2011. Acrylic, Cel-Vinyl, and aerosol lacquer on gessoed canvas over panel, 88 x 102 inches. Courtesy the artist; Gladstone Gallery, New York; and Regen Projects, Los Angeles
Provided by CAM

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: A Decorated Chronology is the accurate but meager title given to Lari Pittman’s exhibition at the Contemporary Art Museum. It is a survey of Pittman’s work, yes, but it is also a survey of a half century of visual culture and to call it “decorated’ seems a massive understatement. Pittman’s paintings are the very essence of decoration.

Jeremy Deller

When British conceptual artist Jeremy Deller chose to stage his first private exhibition back in 1993, he decided to go with a small, intimate setting he knew well: his bedroom.

“It wasn’t so full of people, but I didn’t want it to be full of people,” he says of Open Bedroom, which was by invitation only. “I was terrified that someone would put a cigarette end out on a table or a carpet or something.”

Timothy Greenfield-Sanders

Thelma Golden is the Director and Chief Curator of The Studio Museum in Harlem.

Through art, Golden says, people can have a dialogue about race and culture.

This year, Golden is part of the Contemporary Art Museum’s Susan Sherman Annual Distinguished Speaker Series.

Host Don Marsh and St. Louis Public Radio fellowship producer Erin Williams talk with Thelma Golden about her career and work.

Related Event

(Courtesy Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis)

The official word is out today from the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis - director Paul Ha is headed out of town.

Ha has been offered the position of director at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's (MIT) List Center for the Visual Arts and is expected to begin his new position Dec. 1.

According to CAM, Ha raised an aggregate of over $40 million during his tenure and created the institution's first endowment, in the amount of $5 million.

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