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Review: 'Screwed Again' at RAC

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 25, 2010 - For "Screwed Again," a reprise of sorts of 2008's "Screwed In" at the Gallery of the Regional Arts Commission, nine local artists spent days painting a mural that occupies three walls of the enormous main gallery.

Christopher Burch, Daniel Burnett, Stan Chisholm, Daniel Jefferson, Kris Mosby, Chris Sabatino, Jason Spencer, Justin Tolentino and Bryan Walsh worked with RAC's front window walls open, inviting visitors and passersby to watch and interact with the artists as they generated images in a collaborative, freestyle production.

While the making of the mural was an artwork in its own right, the finished product is a spectacular piece that stands on its own aesthetic merits.

In a palette restricted to white, black and gray, the mural offers a series of vignettes, rather dark in nature, that are seamlessly connected but don't tell a straightforward story.

The path through the mural careens past cemeteries, bones, ghosts, humans, monsters, symbols and abstractions. Its visual energy propels the eye across the scene, yet it's well worthwhile to slow down and closely examine the rich details.

While an overall unity prevails, it's possible to pick out the artists' individual styles (and in the adjoining gallery, a separate work by each artist is on view, providing a kind of stylistic key to the mural's imagery).

It's a dazzling, completely successful collaboration -- a work that brings together multiple ideas and approaches and is greater than the sum of its parts.

Ivy Cooper, a professor at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, is the Beacon art critic.