ArtFul Living

St. Louis Area Fine Arts, Crafts & Performing Arts

Michelle “Mike” Ochonicky, Arts Editor

Someone Has To Shine A Light.
Art Reaches Out To Bring Attention To Delicate Subjects

Craft Alliance Center of Art + Design and Maryville University join forces this month to present an exhibition that makes a statement with works by 100 artists who have crafted sculptures using decommissioned firearms collected during community buy-back programs. I.M.A.G.I.N.E. Peace Now, curated by Boris Bally, runs April 5-May 13. Two portions of the total collection are presented at Maryville University’s Morton J. May Foundation Gallery and another at Craft Alliance Center of Art +Design at 6640 Delmar, opening receptions 6-8 p.m. on April 5 at Maryville and 6:30-8:30 p.m. on April 6 at Craft Alliance.

Said curator Boris Bally, the exhibition “is a call to arms, hearts and hands. Included work responds to, and initiates conversations regarding, the gun violence so prevalent in American culture today.” Bally is a Swiss-trained, active studio metalsmith. In 1996, he became affiliated with Pittsburgh’s Antiviolence Coalition Gun Buy-Back Program and began dismantling weapons for use in political art. The Smithsonian Institution purchased work from his Artists of a Different Caliber exhibition for their permanent collection. John Baltrushunas, associate professor and director of the Morton J. May Foundation Gallery added, “A gallery is a place where art is expected. Guns are not the usual media. These objects made from deactivated guns change their relationships in this new setting. The shock of a visual can stimulate thought, reflection and reassessment. Dialogue is the responsibility of a University.”

MADCO recently commissioned Chicago choreographer Christian Denice to restage Spectrum, a piece inspired by his mother’s work for people with Autism. The company premieres the work as part of ALIVE INSIDE at the Touhill Performing Arts Center April 6-7. Ticket info can be found at www.touhill.org or by phone at 314-516-4949.

“Spectrum offers insight into the world of Autism,” Denice said. “At the root of this work is connection and a sense of belonging which we all want. The message I wanted to convey is ‘How do we form connections when faced with obstacles? How can we make sense of a world that does not understand us? How can we find our way, our purpose, our joys amidst all the challenges we may face?’ Witnessing my mom with her students showed me a connection in its rawest and purest form. It showed me the necessity of connection, of love. It was something that I did not understand, but I could see and feel.”

MADCO, passionate about providing opportunities for people with disabilities, knew the fit was perfect when introduced to Denice, who said, “Dance is a nonverbal means of communication…gestures, movements, and sound convey our messages and emotions.”

A sensory friendly performance of Alive Inside is offered April 7, 2 p.m. for audiences with disabilities.

At Bruno David Gallery, a first and a fifth exhibition by two different artists command attention, April 1-June 1. James Austin Murray presents an exhibition of new abstract black paintings titled “Distant Stars.” Murray’s black paintings, created with ivory black oil paint, are little like searching in a dark room with a flashlight. The paintings look like a landscape but present a place that is both disconcerting and seductive.

As a NYC firefighter during the 9/11 attack in New York City, Murray paints because it is how he justifies his life following that atrocious day. His current work is both about the paint and the light that it reflects. Said Murray, “Sometimes the dark is where you find the best surprises.” James Austin Murray currently lives in New York City and Kingston, NY. For 11 years, he was a firefighter.

In her fifth solo exhibition with the gallery, Bunny Bronson presents “Rise.” Unique cast paper pieces, made with cotton pulp from a matrix of shattered glass, sculpture and, video work, Burson addresses the consequences of elections. Her video and snow globes, And Still I Rise 2017, contain the confetti, which never fell from the Javits Center ceiling on election night, November 8, 2016. They motivate viewers to act, to vote, to resist. The cast cotton artworks (It Will Happen, Momentum, and Rise) reference the glass ceiling, and the need to continue to empower young people to pursue their goals, speaking politically and poetically to engage the viewer. Born in Memphis, TN, the artist has gained national and international recognition for her work. Details at www.brunodavidgallery.com.