The Luminary Center for the Arts is a part gallery, part installation space, part artist studio, part concert venue and often more. But, through the end of March, The Luminary exhibits its eight, local, resident artists in a retrospective exhibition, Something Happened that shows a wide-range of new work created by the artists throughout the last year. Although the artists have shared a similar space in which to work, the art that they present in the show varies greatly, but leans thematically toward both nostalgia and innovation and artistically toward installation and non-traditional presentations of visual ideas.
Katherine McCullough’s installation, Pools, in the white, former chapel space of the building, encompasses its own installation and physical experience, upstairs from the rest of the works. McCullough’s Pools really engages with the original use of the space as a chapel by presenting its juxtaposition – movement, unexpectedness, even chaos. Thought of as meditative, reflective, and in tune with the spiritual, the chapel has been transformed by McCullough through paint on the wall, a large sheet of black vinyl draped over the altar, rocks on a pile off to the side, and general use of bright, jarring colors. The paint and installed objects both conceal and reveal the architecture of the space, and how the space has been reclaimed in a contemporary context by an artists interested in materiality and the interplay between 2D and 3D works.
Downstairs, viewers are first greeted by Alex Elmestad’s Institutional Memory, a large screen projecting the notes of a professional stenographer hired to record any conversation that she heard the night of the opening, regardless if it was from one or multiple conversations, related or not. The phrases that she recorded, sitting on a chair at a table and computer (still in the exhibition space to show their location) are a comical mixture of cliché’s, commentary on the art, and private snippets of conversation. But this is not just glorified spying: Elemestad is interested in the interaction of the public with a specifically designated institutional space. The added presence of the stenographer is an examination of performance and performativity on the part of the traditionally more passive ‘viewers.’ Do people self-edit conversation and movement? Take a read and see!
In the front of the space is Kristin Fleischmann’s Immigrant Stars (pictured first) of oversized, gold letter balloons spelling out the word, ‘WONDER’ are positioned over an equally fantastical, universe inspired iPhone video on a television placed on the floor, next to Daniel McGrath’s cleverly titled and critically engaging acrylic on linen works, Installation Seeks Museum, Collector Seeks Painting, and Anagrams. Dani Kantrowitz also works in film, showing her From 12, twelve different manipulated ‘sill life’ scenes along with an over-the-top, purposefully comic promotional poster.
In the back is Aaron Bos-Wahl, with the most complex installation, Ode to Spring, combining hung watercolors of portraits, landscapes, and architecture with references to the Dalai Lama and domestic, family photographs (well, photocopies of the photographs) that the artist and his mother took in the past. These are on the wall behind a nostalgic, sheet-covered, fort-like construction with text by Jack Kerouac. Jessi Cerutti’s handmade paper and mixed media installation consists of a series of burnt red-orange colors referencing change, memory, time, and ever-changing landscapes, both man and nature made. David Weinberg’s extensively worked out and detail multi-media sound installation, Life on Tape (pictured above), maps the sources of sounds, among other things. The sounds can be experienced by putting on headphones, can be viewed on a map as to where the sounds come from, and is created into an installation with the materials to record sound itself. You can even hear selections of the work if you tune in to 89.5FM within a 1 mile radius of the Luminary.
Ann-Maree Walker’s GENERATE is one of the most fascinating works in the show. Walker has given up her right to privacy in her studio at the Luminary, and has installed a television on the gallery so that viewers can watch her work, 24 hours a day (as you can also view it at http://bit.ly.GENERATE) . Walker has also included several film stills for viewers to browse through if she happens not to be on the screen at the time, showing the ritualistic way in which moves, acts, and dresses as part of this in-studio, always life performance.
Something did happen at the Luminary, something in the form of some artists, some stuff, and some ideas. Only through a physical experience can you see how exactly it all came together.
Something Happened: Residency Retrospective and Pools: Katherine McCullough continues at The Luminary Center for the Arts on 4900 Reber Place, Saint Louis, MO through 31 March, 2012. The Luminary is free and open to the public Wednesday – Saturday, 12-6pm.