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Review: 'Maturity' strengthens muse

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 4, 2010 - I'm prone to believing that artists are able to defy the process of aging.

To me, it seems that once they've achieved a level of technical achievement and confidence in expression, they become timeless in a way, impervious to the effects of the passing years, suspended blissfully in their artistic stride. This belief no doubt stems from the will to deny my own aging and pending mortality; but it also blinds me to the profound benefits of years of lived history and accumulated experience.

"Maturity and its Muse," at the Sheldon Art Galleries, makes up for the effects of that denial. Organized by Lynn Friedman Hamilton, it features the work of 40 St. Louis artists who are over 70.

More than once viewing this exhibition, I had to stop and pause, amazed at seeing artists I've admired for so many years included in the group. Leslie Laskey, Robert Pettus, Ken Worley, Mary Sprague, Peter Shank, Martin Schweig, Elaine Blatt, Marjorie Hoeltzel -- In my mind, they had all been in that suspended state of artistic perfection, circa age 45.

After seeing the exhibition, I realize their current strength is due in large part to the developments in the recent decades of their careers. Especially moving is the tribute to Patsy Degener, who passed away earlier this year.

"Maturity and Its Muse" has opened my eyes to the power of age and the gifts afforded by time.

Ivy Cooper, a professor at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, is the Beacon art critic. 

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

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