Pentimento Gallery opening, in 3D…

Written by Johnny Pelhank

I was able to stumble upon this event through an ex-professor of mine. He tells me he’s doing a mural in the same style as his prints he has been making. I am currently writing a piece on him so I won’t go into too many details about him, however he was in this gallery opening. If you could even call it that. It took place in an old building that was once an all boys school that was once a boy scout group house, that was once a church, that is now a food bank. Or something like that. There is a room dedicated to the history of the building on the first floor. On this day most of the building is off limits as the artists have taken over the third floor, and the stair well, to each occupy their own rooms to show their work. I was able to come out on a previous day to do some exploring which was really amazing.

I have my seven year old son with me on this day as we venture to the 3rd floor. As we enter on the front side of the building on this early fall day in October. The leaves are falling, the wind is just enough to keep you cool as the sun throws its heat all over you and the sky has that high overcast that makes everything a little more bright. Jaxon and I sign our names on the entry sheet and stagger our way up the stair case catching the first installation, a tree that appears to be growing from the walls. A small incandescent light hangs and casts its yellow hue upon the tree. As we climb up the stairs with some other on lookers, we hear music cascading down upon us. As we reach the top a dance is being performed on the landing of the third floor. We creep past and find a viewing point. The dance goes on for a while and Jaxon and I watch as they turn the mood from curious to somber. As the dancers fade into their next act, Jaxon and I start to explore room to room.

Each room caries its own atmosphere and feeling and with each room you walk away feeling or interpreting something unique. From tools created out of mix and match materials to books and photos from another life, neon lights, flashlights, no lights, it is all here to explore. It seems almost everything in the show has been found here in this old building. I even notice some rooms are to remain shut that hold things they moved to create space for the artists. I wonder what could be uncovered in those rooms, buried treasure I’m sure. In one room plants hang and pillar up with hoses running to and fro. In another grotesque drawings of flesh and bone hang from their walls. One room relies on the walls alone, sculpting continental shapes out of the plaster that molds to the brick wall behind it. One room is filled with a miniature city scape made from wood dowels and miscellaneous things like tickets and boxes. The city resembles another but I can’t quite put my finger on it. Portland? I’m not certain, and neither is Jaxon.

“… yes, lot of the stuff in the space was found in the space! I know I based the idea I applied with off the city, and then found materials within the room accidentally, and I think a lot of other artists worked similarly, or their original intention was to create work based upon the space, like the performance piece by Mitch Eagles”
-Catherine Leberg

As we make our way room to room admiring the work of each artist, I am very excited to say that my 7 year old holds his attention a lot longer than I could imagine. He’s genuinely intrigued by the work. He asks questions, mostly of “how did they make that”, but curiosity is what guides him on this day. I would like to say I remember each artist and each statement but alas my memory is horrid. Each artist is well achieved and very professional. Each one individual, communicating in their own voice what the works means to them.

Presented in alphabetical order, with some exceptions, these are the artists, performers, and poets who participated in Pentimento, and descriptions of the appearance and concept behind their work. Most information here references and occasionally quotes the artists’ own words as printed in the catalog, which if you’re interested in, contact Sarah Bernhardt, who both participated in and organized the show.

Though I had work that was featured in this exhibit, I’m relying on the catalog and my own memory, for information on the artists, so any corrections, additions, or subtractions are entirely welcome, and perhaps necessary.

David Baker, War Trail
This room was completely dark, the windows and doorway blocked out by tents left over from boy scouts who had long since abandoned them. The viewer walked through with flashlights, forcing them to find six drawings in the dark, one at a time. Each was drawn using burnt sticks, and inspired by a book of poetry the artist read whilst collecting imagery. He wanted his room to invoke the childlike joy of discovery and at the same time reference the harder, more difficult feelings we often face in the dark.

Sarah Bernhardt, Scaffold and Gestures From Contemplations of Belonging
Part of a series from the artist, exploring the body and space, in various configurations and through both photographic images and constructed spaces. The liturgical documents and music interspersed in the space inspired Bernhardt to host this show here, to explore the evolving and changingrelationship between art and the church, especially in contemporary times.

Anna Brusselback, Evolutionary Decay
In this series of photo work, the artist found examples of the destruction left behind by mankind. Shown in black and white, Brusselback displays six scenes of abandoned waste, highlighting the negative influence carelessness can have on the natural world. Her work serves to point out these moments, so that they can never be forgotten, and so all that see her photos remember the environment around us.

Dail Chambers, Collective Dreams
In this room the artist displayed candles, references votives of saints, yet her’s represented the dreams of Cherokee community residents, and those dreams that came before us, The artist asked participants to share their dreams, I n hopes of creating a collective dream state, a community of dreaming.

JaNae Contag, Viewing Room for Implied Elegance,
Contag’s project, NÆ, is the persona of a musician, a character obsessed “with the otherness of small towns, the ruins of economic decay and the silence of exurban sub-divisions. In an EP, Implied Elegance, the artist use pop music as a lens through which to examine a variety of academic questions. Her room is set up as a viewing space for a continually looping music video. Glowing pink, and decorated in a way that implies opulence, the artist creates a space that both lures the viewer in and yet unsettles.

Evan Crankshaw Improvisations on Plates from Versalius’s Secod Book of De Humani Corporis Fabrica Libri Septem
Drawings from the artist combined with collaged elements from various editions of Gray’s Anatomy, reference both a continuation in the artist’s interest in drawing, specifically in this cast from the etchings of anatomist Andreas Vesalius. By combining elements from the scientifically accurate Gray’s Anatomy with the ancient imagery, the artist both highlights the oddities of the Vesalius originals, and creates bizarre new human forms, new life upon the page.

Marcis Curtis, Mycometropolis
Using found objects, and inspired by the space, the artist created a minute yet expansive imaginary city. He asked visitors to define the city in map form, lending their ideas to its inception. Each block was for sale, and could be bought up, meant to create a dialog about monopolies by property owners in St. Louis. It was created as a response to the artist’s own wonder at the space, but it’s the response of the viewer that continues to define it, name it, and gives it purpose; allows it to spring up, as mushrooms do.

Kathryn Douglas, Gravois Park, an Education
The artist used her space to set up a tiny museum like area, providing information and artifacts that flesh out the Gravois Park community. Douglas, in her artistic practice, seeks to highlight the parts of the city beyond the violence or statistics. She wants the viewer to be able to peer into the heart of St. Louis, and in this piece “brings together a broad history of the city juxtaposed with the intimate voices of its residents.” A view of a community beyond the numbers.

Angelina Fasano, Growth
The artist used a non-traditional material (plastic bags) and traditional crafting methods (crocheting) to reference natural forms springing up in a built space. These plastic fungal growths sprung from the walls and floors, much as plastic bags have become a natural part of our surroundings, tumbling down streets and crunched up in cabinets. Fasano wants the viewer to consider this new use of a common item, and also to draw attention to this utterly banal but incredibly harmful bag.

Carlynn Forst, Traces
This space contained hanging blue silk, and on each the figure of a woman, the artist, defined in white on blue. Using the process of cyanotype, where images are recorded by blocking light with opaque objects, these images are literal memories, moments of the artist’s presence. As wind moves through the silk, it calls to mind the membrane between the divine and mundane, the sky and the earth, and the beauty of the momentary.

Carrie Gillen, Untitled
Using the curtains that were already within the space, and temporary window blinds folded in ways that they cascade and contort, creating a beautiful flow and and an unexpected addition to the everyday. Through this melding of new and old, the artist hopes to keep open the possibility of growth and new life for the space, while still showcasing the beauty of its history.

Raleigh Gardiner, Object Collection, Masks in Boxes, and Masks on Poles
Gardiner describes her work as examining “the dynamic relationships between the Self and the Other, Reality and the Imaginary, Subject and Object, in order to explore the conditions of desire, curiosity and fantasy.” In this instance, she worked in both drawings of various forms, from blades to a vacant eyed deer, and masks made of leather and other materials. The artist was examining in her work how things become fetishzed, how importance, history , and meaning can be leant to these silent created forms. Her work was presented in the same room as Evan Crankshaw’s, and while very different visually, played off each other, creating a combined presence in the space.

Rebecca Haas, Reclaimed
Haas’s piece was one of the first you saw as you entered the space: a tree formed from construction foam and mimicking the cracks in the building that spread across a landing in the stairwell. The artist wanted it to show the beauty that is nature reclaiming a man-made space. Tinted with gold, it was a poetic representation of a natural occurrence, of a constant give and take between the constructions of humans and the surrounding world.

Khalil Irving, Unity
In the center of this space was a table on which sat vessels of various sizes, shapes and forms, but of a unified black glaze. Vessels exist as an empty object, and yet in their existence are full, solid in existing. Irving wants the viewer to consider this dichotomy as it might relate to ourselves, and as we might relate to the universe. He keeps the color of his vessels uniform, so that his question, the idea, and the nature of the vessel remains most important.

Catherine Leberg, Control: Secondary Nature
In this piece I was attempting to create an installation that reflected the world we build up around ourselves. Man’s interventions into the landscape create issues, that then require more interventions, creating a never-ending cycle of increasingly futile complications. My piece consisted of hanging containers found within the space, that isolate each plant, all of which have the ability to filter toxicity out of soil, both from each other and the ground. A piping system filters water throughout. Forcing a suspension of disbelief and the viewer to walk through a perplexing maze, mirroring the one we’ve created in our environment.

David Pawl, Passing Time
This piece was not inside a room, but rather a scope attached to the wall, through which the rubbish room, where everything the artists’ abandoned from their rooms. The viewer could not enter the space, they received the information of what was behind the door in tiny increments on a grainy screen. Pawl wanted this to resemble the view we get of the past. Limited, simplified, and incomplete.

Stan Strembicki, Body/Text
A series of collages, both digital prints and physical books, Strembicki’s work depicts and examines the body in a variety of formats. It addresses the ideas of aging, and through the use of medical files, the stripping of the body of identity, how it exists separate from the self. Strembicki thinks it’s important to question in particular how the body is viewed through the aging process, and this body of work, which has spanned many years of his practice, embodies that idea of time and change.

Carlie Trosclair, Excavate III
In this piece one corner of a room was scratched away, and a pattern, moving across the wall was excised, exposing the brick underneath. Meant to mimic the natural process of decay, Trosclair does not view this as dereliction, but rather a process similar to aging would be in an organic body. She creates patterns that explore patterns; a process of working that explores the process in which things fall apart.

Ken Wood, Clean in Thought Word and Deed, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, and Law #9 a Girl Scout is Thrifty
Directly inspired by is space, a Girl Scout meeting room, originally a dorm room for seminarians, the artist used the ideas of thrift and repurposing to create tools for painting from objects he found on site. From this he made a large mural, and set up a station for visitors to create their own work with.

Dan Younger, Cleveland High School: exploring an abandoned landmark
In this photo series, the artist returns to his former high school on the southside St Louis. Retaken by the elements, vandalized, in complete disrepair, the images, while beautiful, depict abandonment. Younger views his work as creating something beautiful from wreckage, both for himself and the viewer.

ERA Theater, Egg
Combining a mural with a performance, this piece explored the hardships of the Concordia Seminary students, who generations ago, had resided in these halls. The rules that dominated the lives of these young men loom large on the walls, over powering with their sheer number, while in the corner, the performer works diligently, focused, isolated, a ghost in a stark space.

Sarah Bernhardt and Dave Pawl, Behind Door #4
Located in the unused bathroom, this piece was a maze of doors, open, closed, concealing and revealing. Videos of silent individuals appear in corners and spaces. The artists’ meant to create a space for the viewer that reflected the dichotomy between public and private life for those who do service work. The viewer must navigate through the space, just as navigating the social space is full of complexities.

Sarah Bernhardt and Leverage Dance, Turning Turning
In a video set to “Simple Gifts” shadows of dancers, moving through both time and the space are layered over each other, creating a sense of history, of time passing, of the shadows that people leave behind them.

Leverage Dance Theater
Committed to collaborating with artist, and creating ground breaking work that creates social discourse, the dancers performed within the space. They responded to the history of the building, creating a dance that changed over time. Their response to the space created a beautiful and unexpected performance that disrupted the ordinary.

The Poets,
Poets Pacia Anderson, David Jackson, and Shine Goodie performed their work in a space painted, curated and altered by Jackson and Anderson. Adorned by murals, and with a stage from St. Louis poetry history, the poets created a space that showed the life of poetry within the city and within larger social movements.

If you had the chance to get out and appreciate this show, you are one of the lucky ones. Let us know if you were able to make it out and tell us how your experience was!