Chandler Branch's Blog

About last weekend...

Opening reception for Art Saint Louis January 2012 exhibitions. Photo: Wm Daniel FileOpening reception for Art Saint Louis January 2012 exhibitions. Photo: Wm Daniel FileSince arriving on the scene with Art Saint Louis last September, I’ve discovered and come to savor the sense of community generated by opening receptions like the one we hosted last Saturday. When the gallery is decked with the work of over 40 talented artists, most of whom are native to our region, it’s no surprise that an enthused crowd gathers for the occasion. Many of these attendees are the artists themselves, and are accompanied by colleagues, friends and family who admire their Wm Daniel Filephoto: Wm Daniel File

In follow up to last weekend’s opening reception for our two newest shows, Memory and Sukkah City Annex, I have the pleasure of sharing some beautiful photos in this post, shot by my friend and ASL member artist William Daniel File (Thank you Dan!), who also happens to be one of the artists featured in the Memory exhibition.

Without a doubt, one of the perks of my job is getting to meet the artists who inspire the work of this organization. Brief though they were, the conversations I had with several artists on Saturday were a treat, including my exchange with artist Kyle Coffin. Kyle’s pieces, Knowing Donald 2 and Knowing Donald 3 (pictured below), the first of which was selected for an Award of Excellence by juror Patty Heyda, are large paintings of his late grandfather, recreated from black and white photos. The fact that the subject, Donald, is someone that I, the viewer, will in fact never know doesn’t take away from the sense of presence and absence these paintings dually communicate. To learn, as I did on Saturday, that the artist’s father died while Kyle was in the middle of working on one of these two paintings makes the piece all the more poignantly appropriate for this particular show.

Kyle Coffin, Knowing Donald 2, Oil on Canvas, 53 X 6 inches

Kyle CoffinKnowing Donald 3, Oil on Canvas, 58 X 77 inches

As is the case with Kyle Coffin’s work, cast even a passing glance at much of the art in these two new shows and you can sense they’re full of meaning. And if you let it, some of this artwork will hit you at a deep emotional level, as it did for one gallery visitor who was brought to tears by Manda Remmen’s Family Tree, one of the two works on video in the Memory exhibition. But there are many angles to the phenomenon of memory, and not all of them melancholy. This exhibit addresses memory in a variety of ways.

For the success of Saturday’s event, my thanks go out to Robin Hirsch, our amazing Associate Director and Gallery Director, as well as to the artists whose work we’ll continue enjoying here at the gallery through the end of the exhibition on February 23. Thanks also to those who volunteered in connection with the reception. ASL is indebted to you all. 

photo: Wm Daniel Filephoto: Wm Daniel File