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Review: Jim Schmidt's keen curatorial eye returns

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, July 5, 2011 - It was tough to see Schmidt Contemporary Art close down earlier this year, but it's good to know that the indispensible Jim Schmidt is continuing to shape the St. Louis art scene. Now at Philip Slein Gallery, Schmidt has put together an abstraction show that reminds us of his keen curatorial eye and smart insights.

On view are a range of works by artists Schmidt featured in his own gallery, including ethereal gridded paintings by Erik Spehn and "Pop Rhythm Painting Green and Red," an explosive-looking work by Ford Beckman.

There are beautiful passages throughout the gallery, such as the wall of spacey, biomorphic forms (works by Alexander Ross, Michael Byron, Carroll Dunham and Sue Williams) that give way to the more structured geometries of Mel Kendrick, Louis Cameron and Cheonae Kim.

Sue Eisler's untitled wire sculpture features an interplay of arcs, and Jill Downen's sculptural "Tendon Block" takes on new meaning in the context of the paintings that surround it.

But this is primarily a show of paintings, and a study of abstract possibilities they afford, from hard-edge formal studies, to the translucent saturations of sumi ink and watercolor in Eva Lundsager's work, to the corporeal piles of oil paint in Dennis Hollingsworth's "The Mad House (Wet on Wet #42)" (1997).

Surprises in the show include Adam Fuss' patterned field made from the imprints of mushroom spores on paper, and Marco Breuer's work on chromogenic paper, scraped to reveal brilliant flashes of hot yellow and gold.

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

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