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Review: The myriad forms of 'Paper'

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 18, 2012 - Paper, a group exhibit of 14 local artists, explores various mediums created on paper. Paintings, etchings, drawings, and collages fill the gallery at the Regional Arts Commission presenting a diverse set of themes and artistic sensibilities.

The exhibit is curated by Ahzad Bogosian, who is also exhibited in the show. Various perspectives make it into the space, from the circus, airport body scans, and regional landscapes. This openness celebrates paper’s diversity, making it clear that the exhibit is about the canvas, not necessarily the pieces’ harmony.

Highlights include Mary Sprague’s 2010 How much does a Rhinoceros Charge?, created in charcoal and pastel. It is a striking side profile of a rhinoceros that harks back to early natural history drawings, deep red hues giving depth to the drawing.

Beside it is Kit Keith’s 49 Cents, a painting of a woman’s face that exudes the theatricality of the circus, inspired by the artist’s younger days with Ringling Brothers. Brightly colored glitter and stickered stars make it onto the recycled paper, popping from the surface in a clever surprise.

Eva Lundsager’s Untitled #1-4, are exquisite monoprints, delicately conveying desert and mountain landscapes. Pinkish salmon and tangerine hues are juxtaposed with deep charcoal grays, the paper itself highlighted beneath the washes.

The standout of the show is Olive B. Luewing’s Untitleds from her Ancestors of Summer series. Tracing the lifecycle of the cicada on joss paper, the material itself acts as narrative, creating a stunning testimony to paper’s historicity.

Paper highlights some wonderful local talent and certainly celebrates paper as canvas. As a space to move within, however, the exhibit needs breath. Perhaps one or two pieces from each artist would have been more successful. Still, Paper is worth a peek.

Rachel Heidenry holds a B.A. in art history and human rights from Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y. A former Beacon intern, she recently completed a Fulbright research grant studying mural painting in El Salvador and is currently a fellow at the Slought Foundation in Philadelphia.

We asked her to return to St. Louis and give us her take on some of the art exhibits that have opened recently. Heidenry is also the daughter of feature editor Donna Korando.