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Reflection: Free Paarking Exhibit Looks Just Beyond A Person's Reach

Sarah Hermes Griesbach

DeoDeiparine is the founder, director, curator and whatever else is needed at the Free Paarking Gallery in South St. Louis. The 21-year-old Washington University architecture student exemplifies the multitasking art-worlder archetype. Such entrepreneurial art leadership may be the best and only way to enter and stay in such an underfunded field. His gallery is now hosting its fifth exhibition since opening in August 2012.

Michael Powell’s (sic) opened just as Deiparine began preparing for finals and closes on May 17. On May 24, a new exhibit will have work from Chicago artists Noah Barker, Mitchell Thar, Andrew Kelly and Timothy James Kelly. That timing and quick turnaround were clearly not enough excitement for the enterprising Deiparine. Just as the scheduling, organizing and promotion work inherent in gallery work became mildly familiar, he began hosting short-run exhibitions in the unfinished basement of the building he rents to run Free Paarking. This space is, of course, called Underground Paarking.

Powell’s exhibition (sic) explores the distance between the space where one stands and one’s desire. Each of us spends a lifetime seeking impossible, chimerical goals that, Powell contends, rest just beyond reach, forever separated from us in the same way that tomorrow is unreachable. Powell uses principles of science to connect to the quixotic nature of time. 

Powell develops and applies this theme over and over in straightforward and abstracted ways. The most straightforward application of his vision of the human condition is an untitled piece in which a yellow rubber duck sits on a tall glass. The glass is full of water, but the duck is too wide to fit in the narrow mouth of the glass. It is an instantly recognizable representation of life’s cruel wit – an artist’s one-liner.

At the center of the gallery space, Powell has installed a rock and noise machine titled The State of Things (Ha). The noise machine is a vacuum set on a timer to periodically blow air out, expanding the plastic bag surrounding a rock. As the reverse setting on the vacuum causes air to expand the bag, the noise is deafening. The gallery’s wonderful tin ceiling may augment that roar. Characteristic of Powell and Deiparine‘s shrewd intentions, this rock show pushes viewers to leave the loud room while it simultaneously attracts the curious in.

When my 10-year-old son, Immanuel, asked Deiparine if the rock was a special rock, we discovered that it is a rock from the confluence of the Mississippi and the Missouri rivers. This sparked a later conversation between Immanuel and me about how often we see the mark of the rivers’ confluence in local artwork and how absent this place of meaning for artists is otherwise.

The title piece of the exhibition, (sic), allows viewers to peer into a long camera lens at a small projection of a bright earth endlessly turning. The darkened room is the universe with only the gallery visitors acting as celestial bodies. They hover over the home planet they know intimately but now find unapproachable and distant. The performance of looking is like seeing oneself in a hall of mirrors.

Deiparine says he appreciates Powell’s presentation of universal questions through an amalgam of scientific theory and artistic device. Deiparine shows his own artistic vision in organizing and promoting this captivating soup of cosmic dreaming and reality testing.

Michael Powell at Free Paarking through May 17

Next Free Paarking Opening Event – May 24

Where: 2901 Sidney St. 63104

Gallery hours: Saturdays 1-4 p.m. and by appointment

Contact: freeparking.com and deo.deiparine@gmail.com