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Review: Step into this 'Den of Secrets'

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 12, 2009 - "Den of Secrets," Fred Stonehouse's second solo show at Philip Slein Gallery, is a generous selection of recent paintings and works on paper that show off what the artist does so well: masterfully mixing references to Mexican religious retablo imagery, folk art, circus imagery and vernacular signage. The results are humorous and surreal, disturbing and joyous at once.

The exhibition includes large canvases, smaller icon-sized paintings, and dozens of works on found paper presented in mismatched vintage frames.

Stonehouse's signature style recalls the work of Barry Mcgee and the better illustration/graffiti art of the 1990s, while his sense of nostalgia and use of found paper (old drawings, receipts and the like) brings the work of Kit Keith to mind.

But Stonehouse is at once more daring and more discriminating than either of those two artists, without sacrificing the accessibility of his imagery. And the work looks just perfect in the airy but intimate setting of Slein's gallery.

Also on view are works by Jamie Adams and Great Rivers Biennial winner, Cameron Fuller.

Ivy Cooper is a professor of art at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

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