St. Louis Riverfront Times
Thursday, September 21, 2006
Robert Duffy encapsulates the St. Louis art scene
By ROBERT DUFFY
Article Published Sep 20, 2006
Larry Krone: Artist/Entertainer and Janaina Tschäpe: Melantropics At his opening at the Contemporary, Larry Krone’s sister Janet Kennedy was suspended six feet off the ground, singing her heart out about her life, Larry’s life, family life and her best friend Eleanor. Her sweet soprano sounded so nice she sang it twice. Kennedy was positioned above the crowd in a Larry-made swing seat that’s a variation on those chromy crazed-plastic dinette-set chairs so popular in the 1950s — everybody could see her, and she could survey not only the audience but also her brother’s new exhibition. Which is, gentle reader, a knockout. Quirky, irreverent, Dada-all-over-again, bizarre, hyperimaginative: all that plus a triple-gainer into the murky pool of memory. Like the circus, it’s a lot of fun. And like the circus, once you make the effort to get beyond the surface, you’re transported into the magician’s reality. In Krone’s world, the most basic materials (including strands of hair and toenail clippings) communicate the most fundamental and complicated components of consciousness and parcel out secrets from the shadowy world of dreams. Stuff from his University City boyhood, from sink traps, from the remnants bin in a fabric store, Krone transforms into little fetish dolls and embroidered objects of ironic sentimentality. Nothing in his repertoire looks like it’s worth more than a nickel. Nothing is discarded as irrelevant before being examined for its communicative potential. Such glosses of kitschiness mess with ideas about taste, about perception and about art. Krone’s unpretentious charm is disarming, the authenticity of his art, mesmerizing. There’s less to love in the work of Janaina Tschäpe, also on view here. Tschäpe’s color-saturated photographs bear mock botanical Latin names, and that’s sort of amusing. The images themselves are just plain funny, however. Populated by women dolled up in costumes that resemble the Fruit of the Loom TV-commercial gang sent south to loll about the jungle, the photos register as second- or third-generation Cindy Sherman. Through December 31 at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, 3750 Washington Boulevard; 314-535-4660 (www.contemporarystl.org). Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tue.-Sat. (open till 8 p.m. Thu.), 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sun.
Larry Krone: New Work In addition to his work at the Contemporary (see above), Larry Krone’s art is on display at the Philip Slein Gallery downtown. It’s a smaller dose of the same medicine, a sure cure for what ails you. At Slein as at the museum, Larry sings his song to you, the one he borrowed from Whitney Houston: “I will always love you,” he croons cursively, and you love him right back. Through October 7 at Philip Slein Gallery, 1319 Washington Avenue; 314-621-4634 (www.philipsleingallery.com). Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tue.-Sat.