St. Louis Post-Dispatch
May 5, 1994
JUXTAPOSITION: MODERN ART, TWO WAYS
By Robert W. Duffy
CONTEMPORARY WOMEN ARTISTS ST. LOUIS IX, SPONSORED
BY THE ST. LOUIS WOMEN'S CAUCUS FOR ART
Carousel Gallery at Faust Park, 15185 Olive Boulevard, through June
Most works selected for the St. Louis Women's Caucus
biannual exhibition "attempt to describe the tensions and contradictions
inherent in being an artist who happens to be a woman," says
juror Lisa Norton, assistant professor at the School of the Art
Institute of Chicago. In this selection, the rich subject matter
yields wisdom, wit and irony in varied and interesting forms.
In a clay vessel nearly two feet in diameter titled
"Protection," Annelies Heijnen paints images of women
within and without. One female face graces the outside along with
a snake, a lizard and a bird. Inside a full figure of a woman unfurls;
across from it is a face, a mirror image perhaps. The shape swells
and flows - irregular, enclosing, womb-like.
Katherine Aoki's two collographs are completely different
from Heijnen's lyrical piece and, in fact, should make you chuckle.
Titles add irony to the precise linear images. A takeoff of a 1960s
commercial about who has the whitest whites and the cleanest floors
is titled "My Cabinets Are Chock-full of Quality Cleaning Agents."
Dad gives a toothy, canine-looking grin as he holds up his spray
cleaner. Her other print presents "Dad Sponging Down a Major
Appliance," a big enough event in the life of the family to
record for posterity.
Pat Owoc appropriates a photo of a stalwart Kansas
pioneer family and transfers it to a quilted piece of fabric. The
whole is covered with chicken wire. It's a wonderful picture of
a mother, father and children, upright and rigid, proud and suffering.
She inscribes the piece with: "Nevertheless some 2/3 of the
Kansas settlers steadfastly refused to give up hope."
Jennifer Selesnick also presents an image of family, a painting
of a contemporary group with mother as pivotal character. Flattened,
simplified, yet clearly representational, two children cling to
their mother. The father stands separate, stark against the plain
Totally different in feeling and intent are the two
paintings by Patricia Badman. Both the dry, scumbled application
of oil paint and the startling subjects are expressionistic.
In "Guardian," a woman is held up by an
angel, her outstretched arms balanced visually by its wings. In
the background, devils leer. A man removes a cloak exhibitionistically
from a rather modest-looking, blue-skinned nude in "It's Time
To Leave Now."
There are many fascinating photographs. Cheryl Corbett
flops prints so that headless nudes read like wax monsters or lava
lamp bubbles. Carol House's two pictures present beautiful, crisp
images whose domestic tranquillity is fraught with political and
social undertones because they were taken in South Africa.
Despite all the many rich and varied interpretations
of the life of women in this show, two of my favorite pieces do
not approach the subject. Clearly the judge favored Jane Barrow's
"Black Lake" as well, for it is hung on a separate stanchion
at the entrance to the show.
This large, 5-by-4-foot charcoal lake scene is so
lovely it will take your breath away. At first, the top of the paper
seems almost completely velvety black, then a faint, faint gleam
of light kisses the surface of the lake, delineating it from the
sky. In the foreground, a few reeds dissolve in light, a mystical
touch in the darkness.
In one of a handful of abstract pieces in the show,
Nancy Exarhu creates a collage out of mostly triangular pieces of
paper she has printed with textures, squiggles and atmospheric effects.
She overlaps them in a complex arrangement that recalls a kite in
low relief sculpture.
These 48 works represent a strong showing for the
female artists of this area, but they are not meant to appeal to
women alone. Norton says, "With any women's exhibition there
exists the danger of perpetuating this inequality by sanctioning
separation and thus ghettoizing the work of women. I feel that this
exhibition is broad in its appeal to both genders."
Copyright 1994 St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Record Number: 9405040121