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Review: Artist incubation working at St. Louis Artists' Guild

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 13, 2012 - The Oak Knoll Park parking lot filled to the last spot on the opening night of the current Louis Artists’ Guild exhibit.

The event featured Tate Foley and Will Arnold’s dual From Sea to Shining Sea; Denise Schilling’s photographic coming-of-age exploration, On the Cusp; and Eugene Ruble’s crowded curio works, Absolute Abstracts.

Also taking place was an award ceremony for Humenagerie 2012; Containers of Uncertain Ancestry. Entry into this juried exhibit was open to all high school or community college students. The theme of the work is taken from the art historical theme: the Human Menagerie. Teacher/artist Bill Perry curates the show.

The award winning works, as announced by ceramic sculptor Susan Bostwick, are three of many surprising and delightful entries on display (follow contest blog link to view images of winning and other entries). Alicea Jennings, a freshman at St. Louis Community College Florissant Valley, was a student at Hazelwood Central High School when she created her larger-than-life acrylic on stoneware sculptures. Jennings’ playful Freshly Squeezed shiva green paint tube and stoneware head eating an anatomical heart, Purification, are masterfully lighthearted.

I encourage parents to double a trip to the Oak Knoll Park playground and to the galleries to see Mary Swaine’s (of STLCC, Meramac) wondrous wooden drawers framing tiny porcelain babies and baby heads to awesome eerie effect (Dream Sequence). Another onlooker cried out, “Ewwww … I love it!” as the same visceral repulsion-love for Swaine’s mixed media constructions struck me.

Adjacent to the student work is a gallery space largely dedicated to Tom Dykas’ stoneware used as sculpted canvas. His paint surface is, in most work, what would be the underside of a platter or plate. The disorientation caused by this unorthodox use of ceramic continues in the chimerical surface designs. Dykas’ Diver series look to me like sci-fi flying saucers above haunted landscapes, though my son saw birds, fish and seascape as better suggested in the titles.

The Artists’ Guild has proven to be a place where young, ambitious artists come to be inspired and to inspire.

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