Friday, April 23, 2010

St. Louis Weekend

Nicolas Point, Altar in a Tipi, c. 1841-47, watercolor on paper, Saint Louis University Art Museum. All pictures courtesy the author.

Kevin and I spent last Saturday visiting places new to us.

First stop were the galleries at St. Louis University Museum of Art and the show Crossing the Divide: Jesuits on the American Frontier. The quirky, Romanesque (I mean the period of art history) diary drawings by Jesuit Nicolas Point captured moments of great humor and great horror as the indigenous peoples of North America were slowly being surrounded by settlers. Point showed a great deal of bathos towards his tutors / charges of the various Native Nations.

The image above, of an altar in a tipi, shows the Jesuit's efforts to integrate Catholicism into local conditions. I think the simplicity of the tipi's triangle is nicely menaced by the smoke plume to the right (not mentioned in Point's notes).

Interior of Cathedral Basilica St. Louis.

Carrying along our religious theme we stopped at the Cathedral Basilica St. Louis, a lovely early 20th century church that is super-loaded with Byzantine-style mosaics. Kevin pointed how how the wall labels explained how the master mosaic mason--he--would do the work.

The pictures were all of female artisans though, a funny twist to the authoritarian text. Still, I loved the light that played between the walls of the space.

Painting by Dhruvi Acharya, Webster University.

Next on to Webster University to see Bring Me a Lion, a show of contemporary Indian art. In the typically small university art space was a densely-packed exhibition of great ambition but sadly without enough air to breathe--I vote for more space for the gallery! Still, what a great opportunity for the students, good for the faculty that fights for this educational program.

I particularly liked the works by Dhruvi Acharya, her comic-book bubbles puckering and blistering the mottled, skin-like surface of her paintings with terse observations and pleading requests.

Kevin at Riddles before the fights broke out.

After seeing the movie Greenberg at the Tivoli--save yourself grief and money, skip that mess--we walked across the street to Riddle's for dinner. The entire street was alive mostly with teenagers, who broke into a few fights while we were out. Like kids around the globe, they need more things to do at night to let their energy out!

A great day in St. Louis, which continues to unfold with surprising pockets of culture that speak to the histories that have formed this place.

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