Anyone lucky enough to glimpse St. Louis painter Erik Spehn's spring show at Schmidt Contemporary Art was treated to an eyeful of one of our town's strongest talents working at his meticulous best. For his first solo show in seven years, Spehn flooded Jim Schmidt's Grand Center gallery with painstakingly precise canvases. Composed of contrasting thin vertical lines offset by horizontal stripes, the pictures were rendered with only the subtlest chromatic variation. Many had an op-art feel they glinted, shimmered, seemingly floated off the canvas, prompting the viewer to search for a visual order. But Spehn is grappling with something more profound than visual gimmickery. His pictures, many immense at almost six feet square, are studies in meditative precision. They are not so much academically inclined paintings about the act of painting; they are painting itself.