Summer Regional runs the artistic gamut

By Sarah Weinman

If you’re looking for a big art experience this summer, look no further than the Summer Regional Exhibition at the St. Louis Artists’ Guild. This show features 128 artists and 157 works of art in all media (paintings, drawings, prints, photographs; sculptures in wood, ceramic, PVC…the list goes on).  Below are a few of my favorite pieces. 

Painted in an impressionistic style, Steven Schroeder’s psychedelic Tall Grass turns an ordinary field into an extraordinary visual experience.  In the foreground wave orange, yellow and red grasses.  Misty green hills rise behind them and bright yellow sun rays peek out beyond the hills.  The piece has a shifting, impermanent quality, yet Schroeder has captured more than a moment in time: he captures a moment in perception when the rising sun sets the grass on fire.

Nature appears to have served as the inspiration for Untitled by Barbara Martin Smith as well. The piece reminds me of a bright white, dense cluster of stars swirling in a blue-black sky.  Its media (transparent watercolor, opaque watercolor, and oil pastel) work together to evoke the sensation of traveling through deep space.

In Julia Lopez’s piece titled Traditional, nature takes on a darker role.  Lopez may have photographed the subject, an old house, in North St. Louis.  The house is red brick, three stories, with boarded-up windows.  Its rear wooden balconies and stairs fall apart in slow motion: the wood twists and splinters as it crumples.  The name of the piece particularly struck me: it may refer to the style of the house (a traditional North St. Louis style, and the fact that brick is a traditional local building material here).  But it may also refer to the sad state of affairs in North St. Louis in which the city neglects buildings like this and allows them to fall into disrepair, slowly reclaimed by nature as weeds grow and bricks crumble.

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In addition to commentary on the state of St. Louis neighborhoods, this exhibition also offers touches of whimsy.  Eldon Benz’s Fecund (Balanced Series) is literally a playful piece with which visitors are encouraged to interact.  This hand-cranked toylike work is made of polypropylene, PVC, and wood in bright colors such as green, blue, red, orange, and yellow.  Turn the crank and a vertical shaft rotates, causing suspended cherry-like beads to spin.  Atop these, “flames” in red, orange, and yellow spin as well. 

The Summer Regional Exhibition runs through August 10.  The St. Louis Artists’ Guild is located at 2 Oak Knoll Park in Clayton.  Gallery hours are Tuesday – Sunday 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., and closed Mondays and holidays.  For more information, call 314-727-6266 or visit www.stlouisartistsguild.org/.