Dedicated to Art and Free to All

West Grand Stairs

Saturday, we went to the art museum. We drove to De Mun and then walked from there. Driving, cut out a mile, of counting hub cap spokes, each way. We walked through Kennedy Forest and saw lots of little birds. We got post-worthy photographs of an Eastern Bluebird, a pair of Downy Woodpeckers and a male Cardinal. We approached the Saint Louis Art Museum, the Slammer, from the southwest. Circling counterclockwise, we toured the construction site that is the new wing of the museum. We spoke with one of the construction workers, who when asked, said with a shaking head that the new wing would be done in May. Only later did I discover that he probably meant May of 2013.

There is still a multi-story crane and plenty of earth moving equipment about, but work must have progressed beyond the pile driver part of the project, because the eastern galleries of the museum are beginning to be repopulated with art. We skipped the main, ticketed exhibit, “An Orchestrated Vision: The Theater of Contemporary Photography”, because there was so much new to see for free. The title of this post is taken from the inscription on the lintel above the main, and at this time, only entrance to the museum. When Anne worked at the Corps, there was a manager named Art. She once bought an art museum t-shirt, with its motto on it, for his secretary. The secretary was not amused.

I was going to call this post, “Art for Art’s Sake”, which Anne thought would more truthfully be called “Art for Blog’s Sake”. The museum allows some non-flash photography, so it is an excellent source for blog fodder. Don’t expect to see any great works of art in this post though. The first photo is a house of mirrors treatment of the West Grand Stairs. The second one shows a painter copying a Gilbert Stuart portrait of George Washington, which Stuart made a living out of copying too. I asked him what he was doing, thinking that he might be some sort of museum demonstration. It turned out that he is a student, taking a painting class at the museum. He also had his own personal art guard, just to ensure that no untoward mustaches appeared.

The Painter

One exhibit that could not be photographed was a movie called “Single Wide”. This short film shows a young woman, a pickup truck and a trailer home. The following paragraph is from the museum’s description of the film.

Teresa Hubbard and Alexander Birchler’s film Single Wide, the upcoming New Media Series installation, presents a gripping, though deliberately enigmatic, six-minute story. Shot on a meticulously staged set, the film offers a glimpse into the tormented life of a young woman living in a trailer home. Hubbard and Birchler’s production purposefully offers its audience a highly constructed setting in which detail and ambiguity is skillfully juxtaposed. The film’s intensity and brief yet seamlessly looping story entice viewers to watch Single Wide endlessly – identifying more clues with each pass, but coming no nearer to resolution.

The movie does loop seamlessly, both in time and space. In time, the movie is played as a continuous loop. I ended up watching it several times, before fully realizing this. It also loops in space. The camera is continuously circling the woman, the truck and the single wide. This dual looping effect makes this short movie a compelling film, yet one that poses more questions than it answers.

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