THE RIVER BETWEEN US
April 13–August 25,
Joe Baker, Longue Vue House & Gardens
2013 Kranzberg EXHIBITION SERIES
Curator of Exhibitions
Thomas Easterly / Courtney Egan / Matts Leiderstam / Donald Lipski / Ken Lum / Allan McCollum / Jenny Price / Alec Soth / Robert Stackhouse / Mel Watkin / Bernard Williams / Keith Williams
St. Louis and New Orleans have many issues of common concern and are physically linked by the mighty Mississippi River. The River Between Us showcases works that reflect how the lives of people in both communities have always been intertwined in United States history.
This exhibition is the second collaboration between Laumeier and Longue Vue House & Gardens in New Orleans. The River Between Us is the fourth in a series of projects Laumeier has organized under the theme of Archaeology of Place. Laumeier’s own 105 acres, Longue Vue’s eight acres and Estate Homes at both sites provide unique backdrops for works that focus on the history of land usage. The exhibition features commissions by artists inspired by the two locations, plus historical documents culled from local institutions.
While there are many cities that have grown along the Mississippi, St. Louis and New Orleans are linked through trade and social and cultural exchange, dating from the pre-historic Mississippian cultures to present day. This series of indoor and outdoor commissioned works responds to the past as it impacts the future.
Swedish artist Matts Leiderstam,whose work focuses on “seeing” our layered landscapes in new ways, is using John Banvard’s text as inspiration for his 1840's panorama painting of the Mississippi River. In his narrative of the painting, which has been destroyed, Banvard wrote about 38 sites along the river. Leiderstam is producing—for both sites—a scale model viewfinder based on the performance space Banvard would create for optimal viewing of his panorama.
While Leiderstam connects the two sites conceptually through the river, Canadian artist Ken Lum connects them through people. Dred Scott and Homer Plessy were both men of color (as then defined) whose challenge of laws in St. Louis and New Orleans allowing segregation—both before and after the Civil War—gives them an important place in the annals of American history. With The Space Between Scott and Plessy, 2013, Lum memorializes the two men in the arch-traditional form of a three-quarter bronze bust..
American Bernard Williams’ complex history drives his creation of new symbols for the people who have not been part of the American dream. Williams mined the historical landscape, embracing a complex physical and emotional geography by retelling American history for the past 15 years using sculptural forms. Williams has created a “stock car” sculpture, evoking a conversation referencing speed and consumption. Williams, who is the product of a mix of African-American and American Indian ancestry, takes on the sweep of American history. Part of an ongoing series, the artist becomes the designer and maker; the iconic symbol of the car becomes a container for complex historical, political, social and cultural content. The artist’s cutouts mimic NASCAR decals and sponsor logos, inserting his own historical consciousness into the mix.
American Mel Watkin draws on secondhand surfaces for materials with a certain amount of embedded history and automatic association. Cartography provides a predetermined structure, a map of history and culture, and a window into the mind of the original drafter. For The River Between Us, Watkin has created a “period room” with a drawing installation of river-like trees or tree-like rivers around the windows and doorways, using outdated river navigational charts following the course of the Mississippi from St. Louis to New Orleans. The installation is inspired by the remaining architecture of Laumeier’s 1917 Estate House, with additional formal and literal references to the perfectly preserved rooms of Longue Vue House & Gardens in New Orleans.
Loans that don't move
Organized by Laumeier's Curator of Exhibitions Dana Turkovic, Loans That Don't Move consists of artworks, objects and sites "borrowed" by Laumeier to supplement the theme and build on the narrative of a particular exhibition beyond the 105 acres of the Park.
Partner institutions serve as rich resources for a more thorough look at our local history and geography, functioning as appendix, bibliography and glossary to the thesis of an exhibition.
Sponsors + SupportERS
The River Between Us is supported by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Arts, The Trio Foundation of St. Louis, the Regional Arts Commission, Missouri Arts Council and the Arts and Education Council of St. Louis. Mel Watkin’s participation in the 2013 Kranzberg Exhibition Series is generously supported by Nancy and Ken Kranzberg.