As part of its mission to expose St. Louis to current, fresh art, the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis partnered with the Gateway Foundation to create the Great Rivers Biennial. This program rewards three local artists with a $15,000 grant to fund more work and an exhibition at the Contemporary, providing a boon to both the artist and the artist's community (that would be us).
This year's edition of the GRB features work by Moses, Matthew Strauss and Jason Wallace Triefenbach, and the work is indeed very fresh. Strauss' POEM #60/Notes on Organization, a large-scale, two-dimensional work on canvas, references both garden statuary and the Piet without appealing to kitsch in the process. Each of the pieces in his "Dead Language" series have a strong narrative bent, as befits Strauss' linguistic studies.
Moses also works on a large scale, but in three dimensions. His "Audiophile" series revolves around the idea of volume, in both the sense of sound and in quantity with almost terrifying results, depending on your feelings toward the Jeep Beat. His American Dream: We Like the Cars That Go BOOM! is an actual Chevy Blazer studded with 300 speakers and armed with a working bass sound system.
Triefenbach (who, in the interest of full disclosure, has occasionally written for the RFT) offers Hero, Compromised, a 45-minute-long film that incorporates all of Triefenbach's artistic output: his writing, his interest in music (he sings for the Electric), his painting and what he calls "the vocabulary of objects."
The 2006 Great Rivers Biennial opens today with a free 7-to-9-p.m. cash-bar reception at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis (3750 Washington Boulevard; 314-535-4660 or www.contemporarystl.org). The show remains up through Sunday, March 26, with various special programs scheduled with the artists in that time. Visit the Web site for details.
Jan. 20-March 26