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In the Galleries &ndash Cbabi Bayoc: Birds and Words CLOSES April 7 at Aisle 1 Gallery


Uncannily anticipating this sudden, presumptuous spring, St. Louis-based painter Bayoc presents an exhibit of, yes, bold and bright birds and words. Taking a seemingly simple motif — a stylized sparrow with wide, gazing eyes — and rendering it in innumerable permutations, Bayoc elevates the image to buoyantly iconic status. Birds entwined in leafy branches, gazing from behind layers of brushy color fields, holding forth in mute song in collegial groups — living joyful, honorable lives while we lesser animals grumble and trudge along. An owl puts in an appearance; so do cardinals (amid baseballs, naturally), in a long, narrow work painted on a repurposed closet door. Symbolic messengers, our feathered earthmates remind us of our nobler potential, embodying virtues such as "trust," "love," friendship and familial support. Bayoc, who along with his wife Reine runs the Shaw neighborhood's bakery/café SweetArt, has undertaken another serial project, 365 Days with Dad, for which he's making a father-themed painting every day for the whole of 2012. Like WPA murals, his paintings promote an uplifting sense of civility during a moment when our own capacity is at its most depressed. Through April 7 at Aisle 1 Gallery, 2627 Cherokee Street; 314-330-8869 or Hours: noon-4 p.m. Sat. and by appointment.

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