Artists transcend basic shapes in Soulard show

“Under the Covers” by Pat Toenjes

By Sarah Weinman

To participate in the exhibition “Circles/Squares…” at Soulard Art Market, artists must to go back to basics. That is, the basics of the circle and the square. The all-media show features a big variety of subjects and a “unique integration of the circle and square” by each artist.

Pat Toenjes focused on squares within squares in her piece “Under the Covers”, a clay monoprint approximately 3’ x 5’. You may first notice just how much this piece resembles a quilt. Its 24 colorful squares are bordered by thin black rectangles which are intersected by white squares. Each of the 24 squares is made up of clay monoprints of smaller squares and rectangles. To create each print, Toenjes uses a slab of dried clay onto which she applies a layer of slip colored with pigment. She paints an abstract design with the colored slip, then prints the image on paper. 

There’s a subtler approach to the circle and square in Milo Duke’s oil on canvas piece “Venice 1519”, approximately 18” x 24”. Duke created a stylized map of the Venetian islands surrounded by blue wavy water. He placed a round compass symbol in the lower left corner. Three single-mast ships sail around the islands. Blue canals curve through the city like a maze. The inset at the top right zooms in on churches in the lower right section of Venice. The churches are depicted as white rectangular buildings capped with domes. Some are upside-down, others sideways, depending on their orientation to the canals on which they sit.

“Serendipity,” the title of Eileen E. Kern’s piece, takes on an additional meaning in light of the show’s theme, when you learn the backstory. It’s made up of clay elements and approximately 14” x 14” x 8”. Kern meant for this piece to be a tea set. It consists of a teapot, two cups, and a plate with an open-mouthed three-dimensional fish. The base and dishes are glazed a beautiful blue-green and covered with small embossed circles. The fish is decorated with a green glaze. Everything rests on a square clay base. The base melted in the kiln and drooped on two opposite sides, but none of the dishes fell off: a serendipitous occurrence. The dishes are curved and the base was supposed to be flat, but now the base is curved as well – an unintentional additional curve made from a square.

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“Circles/Squares…” is on view at Soulard Art Market through Sept. 22. The gallery is located at 2028 S. 12th Street in Soulard. Gallery hours are Thursday, 6 to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.. For more information, call 314-258-4299 or visit