By Sarah Hayes, A&E Editor
After forty-five years of being the premier art gallery on the University of Missouri—St. Louis campus and spending the last decade being the hot spot for premiering lots of new artists’ works, the walls and spaces of Gallery 210 are once again a staging place for artists of all kinds with “Exposure: 10 Years.” This exhibit is Gallery 210’s semesterly showcase of local art, from mixed media on canvas to found items set in frames or tacked to the exhibition walls. It is also an exhibit of the gallery’s long history of eclectic art and eccentric artists and how it has changed since the gallery was first housed in Lucas Hall back in the ‘70s.
Such a display of talent is always seemingly impossible to capture because of the scope of it, all of the various works packed into one gallery, but it is the kind of task arts journalists relish with some curious anticipation. So this article will not try to encompass every piece in “Exposure”—that would be an impossible task with 33 different artists in total—but rather endeavor to highlight some of the most curious and interesting pieces currently on display at Gallery 210.
The first thing gallery visitors will hear when they arrive in the “Exposure” gallery is not an artistic one by nature; it is the grinding whir of a belt sander gliding through plaster. That is from the three videos playing on the far wall, a series of short films by B.J. Vogt. “Intervention” came from Vogt’s residency at the Paul Artspace in Florissant and the experience of creating pedestals to display works of art. His videos show the opposite effect—the destruction of the displays—through three methods: a belt sander, grinding away at the plaster finish; latching the pedestals to chains and dragging them through the woods; wrestling with the pedestal as if in a postmodern WWE match. This bizarre but eye-catching destruction of art on film is a fine primer to everything around it, and hopefully smashes any expectations visitors have that this “Exposure” will be any less outlandish than its predecessors.
A personal favorite is the “Palimpsest Series” by Edo Rosenblith, a series of canvases with mixed media that takes up an entire wall. Each portrait is a set of layered images, some coherent, others clashing, in a process Rosenblith describes as “cannibal[izing] … into new bodies of work.” What is created from these layers are images altogether new and strange, from warbled clocks to cheerful fruit laid on top of a psychologist’s office session.
Another favorite found its inspiration from an unlikely source: a religious tract slipped under the door of Sarah Colby one morning, 30 years ago. What came out of it was “Angel Disc,” a creation of wood, fabric, paint, and out on the gallery floor, arranged like an informational plaque in a museum.
What is on the plaques, however, are bold statements about angels, stylized like unquestionable truths in large letters and glittery paint (did you know angels were vegetarians?). Coming across it is like stumbling across the back story of a Chick tract character and being unable to look away.
As Colby is fascinated by “found text,” so is artist Kit Keith in “found imagery,” as seen in “Untitled (Kroger’s Brand Flour Bleached),” literally an ink artwork on an old, flattened flour bag. By itself, there is nothing wholly unusual about Keith’s art of a man in a hat with a flag, looking up at nothing in particular, but laid on top of the flour bag, it gains a character it would not have on a blank, white canvas. canvas.
There is so much at “Exposure: 10 Years” to talk about: the “Transparency” wood word art by Cameron Fuller that is and is not transparent; Sarah Paulsen’s series of 60 x 60 canvas panels portraying family life, “Family Rituals, Traditions and Cultures”; Travis Lawrence and his set of relief prints turning ancient illuminations into allegorical artworks. And then there is Deborah Katon’s “Flux Wall” of items made and found, which she calls her “autobiographical narrative” and comes with its own hand guide on what each item is.
No matter when you visit, or with whom, or even what level of artistic knowledge you think you might have, the “Exposure” series continues to be a shining gem for Gallery 210 and the arts on UMSL’s campus. We can only hope it continues bringing strange, new works to the college for another decade.
“Exposure: 10 Years” runs until December 3. For studio hours and contact information, visit Gallery 210 online at www.umsl.edu/~gallery.