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Review: Weaver is memorable at the St. Louis Art Museum

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 6, 2010 - Gallery 321 of the St. Louis Art Museum is featuring a gem: “Document” by Chicago-based artist Ian Weaver. 

The show consists of 10 paintings, all renderings of the bureaucratic ephemera that track our lives: birth certificates, social security cards, marriage and divorce decrees, and death certificates.

In the precise manner of 19th century American trompe l’oeil painters, Weaver reproduces every word, every official seal, even the inevitable creases and tears one finds on documents that are decades old.

Reading them closely, we discover that the official papers reproduced here are far from anonymous; they’re culled from the artist’s family history, and tell tales of love, loss, birth and death among the Weavers, though anyone viewing them will recognize a bit of themselves in their generic bureaucratese.

Old family documents naturally possess a peculiar poetry, but Weaver’s approach — his loving, careful brushstrokes, his sensitive eye for detai l— transform them into works of sublime sadness.

This is the artist’s first solo museum show, and it’s a memorable, affecting effort.

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

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