Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Cindy Tower

On friday night, I went to the opening for the Cindy Tower exhibit at the Sheldon Art Galleries here in St. Louis. Although the space is a little weird, it was a lot of fun. At one point, i was standing next to a handful of the most important arts patrons in St. Louis, listening to them talk about St. Louisy stuff. Cindy Tower's art work is really interesting. She paints abandoned factories and industrial plants using a very vivid and dynamic style and color pallet. There's a sort of impressionistic flare to her brushstrokes coupled with some sort of social commentary on the nature of abandoned, industrial places, almost as if Bernd and Hilla Becher met Camilo Jose Vergara and had a baby with Van Gogh. At least, that's kind of what her artwork reminds me of. But that's not really why I like it.I enjoy the social commentary, or at least, the implication that there is something to be said about these sorts of spaces, the neglected and willfully forgotten sites of long-since-outsourced industrial production. Her paintings made me wonder why it is that we are so furverently and furiously building new factories in far away places when so many of them sit here, overgrown and decomposing. It's disappointing and rather infuriating.

The fact that Tower can find (and create) beauty in and from these wrecked artifacts of industry will hopefully lead to a broader discussion about how we choose to value places like those depicted in her works. I say hopefully, because, like with any other kind of art, it would be quite easy to view these are merely aesthetic works, art that is meant to please the eye and dull the mind. I believe that art- especially art of this magnitude, with loaded imagery and subjectmatter- should be used to provoke and inspire.

Hopefully, it will.

Upcycle, please

Antonio Pacheco
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