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In the Galleries - Variations CLOSES June 29 at Philip Slein Gallery

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New York-based painters Stephen Ellis, Valerie Jaudon and Arnold Helbling display three self-hewn approaches to the abstract in this group exhibit of mid- to large-scale works. Ellis layers brightly hued veneers in alternatingly loose and tightly controlled stripes, their points of overlap creating a grid of deeper then lighter hues. Jaudon's work vacillates between chromatic minimalism and patterned maximalism; an interlacing white shape resembling Moorish textile designs is nearly carved out of a raw linen surface, its minute outlines holding within them thick, brushy strokes. Helbling takes yet another tactic, breaking up flat planes of acid hues with reticulated black-and-white lines. The final result resembles crude stained glass ridged in rebar. Process is tantamount to the vision of each artist — especially the kind that pits the wild, opulent and expressive against the taut, muted and reticent. Perhaps balance isn't always key, but an inquisitive teetering toward it. Also showing: a small group exhibition of red and yellow-themed paintings — including two especially luminous pieces by John Zinsser and Erik Spehn. Through June 29 at Philip Slein Gallery, 4735 McPherson Avenue; 314-361-2617 or www.philipsleingallery.com. Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tue.-Sat. and by appointment.

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