Mike A. Bryan, A&E Editor
Gallery 210, located in the same building as the police station on north campus, has a semester-long art exhibition called “Paul Artspace: 5 years” that is an eclectic mix of art pieces, presented in multiple formats. “Paul Artspace” is an artist residency here in St. Louis that offers housing and support to international, national and local artists.
Artists in residence are provided with a living and working space, for a period of one to three months. The artists included in this show are just a small selection of the over 80 artists that have taken part in the residency program. The residence is on 6 acres in North St. Louis county, with a focus on contemporary art. In addition to artists, Paul Artspace also hosts poets and writers whose contributions can be found in the upcoming exhibition catalog; live readings are also held on the property.
The exhibition at UMSL is housed in two galleries at Gallery 210, with the main gallery curated by Mike Behle and Jessi Cerutti, and the smaller gallery curated by former Paul Artspace resident Emma Vidal. Vidal worked with HATSH, a young artists’ collective based in Paris, to create her exhibition, “Urban Bridges.” Between the two galleries, almost every type of art is on display—textiles, paintings, sculptures, photos, photo essays, multimedia and assemblage. The variety makes the exhibition exciting and compels the viewer to continue looking. The rooms are small and the whole exhibition can be viewed in under an hour.
One of the most outstanding pieces in the main gallery was a multimedia installation by Lauren Cardenas titled “Things You See in the Dark.” It was a combination of sheets of almost transparent paper printed with poems by Cardenas, accompanied by an instrumental, groovy, hip-hop track that plays on headphones connected to a record player. Each poem was a representation of things that relate to darkness, uniquely connecting the subject matter. The piece is participatory, so a pair of white gloves are on hand for viewers to don in order to pick up the various pages of poems. In addition, a small booklet by Daniel Enrique Perez of poetry inspired by Cardenas’ work is available for reading. The music serves as a nice background to the deep, dark, intense poetry of Cardenas and Perez.
In “Urban Bridges,” there is a video installation that is a bit confusing at first, but seems to either be a magic show or a visual illusion. It has a comedic aspect and leaves the viewer wanting more. Either way, the viewer finds a curious, playful feeling that makes one want to watch the video several times. Other pieces in this exhibition related to city life and included some incredible photographs by a St. Louis photographer. In both rooms, student monitors were on hand to offer insight and information about the exhibitions.
I cannot recommend this exhibition highly enough. Of all of the exhibitions at Gallery 210 in the past few years, this is possibly the best. Do yourself a favor and go check it out. I’m sure you’ll find something compelling, interesting and memorable.