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The Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts and Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis have joined together to create the Contemporary-Pulitzer blog which, for the first time, combines the perspectives of two separate institutions with differing missions within the same blog.

Offering alternating posts each day from the Pulitzer and Contemporary, the blog provides a candid look at the behind-the-scenes workings of both arts organizations.

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Latest Posts from the Contemporary

Open Studios STL

Open Studios STL June 22-23, 2013

Although Open Studios has now become an accepted tradition here at CAM, it is instructive to consider how singular and unique a phenomenon it is in the larger context of national and international contemporary art institutions. Museums are destinations, places where people come specifically to perform a ritual of interacting with meaningful objects and experiences that is simultaneously personal and public. As such, they are both generally accessible yet somewhat closed off, allowing for a sense of contemplation about the world in a space that feels closed off from it. The artist’s studio performs a similar function, offering the opportunity for private reflection and deliberation as well as production. Typically, the labors that take place in the studio are only seen in their completed form in the museum space. Open Studios, however, allows the audience a rare window into the artistic process, not only in terms of what an artist may be working on, but also a sense of the atmosphere within which the work is made. While a studio visit is a normal and everyday occurrence for a museum curator—providing a way to familiarize ourselves with a new artist’s work and working process or a site for discussion about a project we’re developing for the museum with an artist—it is a special privilege and form of access that this program affords to our public. There are no set rules per se, but one would generally be advised not to be shy about asking questions, to be respectful of being a guest in someone’s typically very personal space, and to visually absorb as much as possible. CAM is incredibly grateful to the St. Louis artist community for their annual partnership with the Open Studios program and we sincerely hope the experience is a thoughtful and enriching one for all involved.

By Dominic Molon, Chief Curator

About Open Studios STL
Now in its eighth year, Open Studios STL (formerly known as City-Wide Open Studios) features more than 170 St. Louis-based artists who open their studios and art spaces to the public over the course of one weekend. Studios and gallery spaces are open Saturday and Sunday, June 22 and 23, 11:00 am–6:00 pm, with locations east of Grand Blvd. open on Saturday and locations west of Grand Blvd. open on Sunday. In addition, CAM is hosting a kick-off party at the Museum on Friday, June 21, organizing a variety of guided tours, and sharing information about artist-organized events taking place throughout the weekend.

Visit to search artists by neighborhood, medium, and more.


Has the World Changed or Have I Changed?

Jeremy Deller, Has the World Changed or Have I Changed?, 2000. Performance, Expo 2000, Hanover, Germany. Courtesy the artist. © Jeremy Deller

I first met Jeremy Deller at his studio in London in 2000. It was my last stop in the city en route to Heathrow and had been prefaced by two recent encounters with Jeremy’s work that heightened the anticipation of our meeting. As part of the Tate Britain show Intelligence, he’d presented his collaborative “Folk Archive” project with fellow artist Alan Kane which functions as an ongoing compendium of the art and cultural production of everyday contemporary Britons. I was blown away not only by the breadth and volume of the material, but also by his redefining the notion of what “folk art” could mean and represent—as something that could truly embody the creativity of a people rather than merely signifying a particular genre of art. The other was a more subtle and subdued work presented as part of the exhibition Protest and Survive at the Whitechapel Art Gallery, titled Has the World Changed or Have I Changed? (2000). I immediately recognized the phrase from the song “The Queen is Dead” by the legendary 1980s Manchester The Smiths. Both the song and the eponymously-titled album that it opens were a staple of my musical life as a Chicago-area teenager, yet I’d never really meditated on that lyric until prompted by Deller’s intervention. The work itself—represented as part of the larger installation Beyond the White Walls (2012) in CAM’s presentation of Jeremy Deller: Joy in People (opening February 1)—features documentation of a day that Deller spent with a circus clown in and around the German town of Hanover. The droll tragicomedy of the situation fit perfectly with the sense of world-weariness of the title phrase. While its appearance in the middle of The Smiths’ song is mitigated by the momentum of Johnny Marr’s urgent guitar, placed in this new context it becomes a somewhat maudlin reflection on growing old, on the passage of time, and one’s ability to truly feel in touch with the present moment. I suspect that both Marr’s guitar and a teenaged lack of life-perspective conspired to obscure the lyric for me in 1986, but since then I cannot help but reflect on the phrase when confronted with some new cultural phenomenon, the appeal of which I cannot fathom.

The forthcoming opening of Jeremy Deller’s survey exhibition at CAM has prompted me to ask the question “has the world changed or have I changed” once again from perhaps a more affirmative and optimistic perspective. The world HAS changed since The Smiths first posed that question to me, as have I—thanks, in part, to Jeremy’s work. As the exhibition demonstrates through a range of experiences—from a re-creation of Deller’s first show in his parent’s home to an exploration of the life and times of British glam-wrestler Adrian Street—there certainly is joy to be had in the things that people do, say, make, and sing—things that in large and small ways change the world and our relationship to it.

By Dominic Molon, Chief Curator

Shop “POP” for the Holidays


Paper Boat Studios

We are proud to feature many St. Louis-based artists in the CAM POP shop, many of whom have created CAM exclusives—just in time for the holidays.

Amy Thompson presents gorgeous calendars, funky coasters, and unique letterpress games from her company, Paper Boat Studios. Amy teaches book design and typography at Maryville University and operates two Chandler & Price letterpress printing presses—Leona and Dolly—out of her Cherokee Street storefront.

Jenny Murphy is the founder and executive director of Perennial. Inspired by objects discarded on the side of the road, Jenny started Perennial as a way to fight back against the consumer culture that leads to such waste. For CAM, she has made amazing “do-it-yourself” kits, including one for making coasters out of wine corks.

Scarves, coasters, and dishtowels from screen printer Amanda Gray-Swain of Sprouted Designs feature natural images that Amanda photographs and then transfers to the screen.

And last but not least, multi-talented Gina Alvarez has created sweet and delicate necklaces as well as gorgeous shadow boxes with small pieces of her art. Look for her pieces under the name Fox and Whale. (I think they are a treasure and own two shadow boxes myself.)

Just for the holidays, several of these artists are making CAM exclusives. Special snow globes, paper garlands made from letterpress remnants, and scarves will be on sale starting next week.

See you at CAM!

Judy Glik, Firecracker Marketworks


Vote for…


One of my favorite “comfort movies”—those special films you can pop in the DVD player anytime or can’t resist finishing out if you catch it on cable—is Alexander Payne’s Election, from 1999. The many snappy lines and inspired comedic acting notwithstanding, it remains a great testimonial to the fact that one vote can indeed make a massive difference. On November 6, those of voting age who haven’t already done early voting will head to the election booths yet again to cast their ballot for congressmen and women, senators, governors, and of course, the President of the United States. While there really isn’t such a thing as an insignificant race in an election—every office signifying in some way a political decision made by the electorate—it is, of course, the presidential election that most visibly and comprehensively reflects the way the nation as a whole perceives itself and where it wants the country to go.

Rather than sit passively on the sidelines of this important election between two rival candidates/parties with often diametrically opposed visions of how the country should be run, CAM has welcomed a provocative work by New York-based artist Jonathan Horowitz–Your Land/My Land: Election ’12–into the lobby as a way for our audience to reflect on, or perhaps even cope with, the forthcoming election. The basics of the installation include the division of the museum’s main entrance space into blue and red carpeted halves; suspended video monitors continuously streaming MSNBC and Fox News broadcasts simultaneously; and portraits of Mitt Romney (leaning on the wall) and Barack Obama (presented above on the same wall), set to change position or remain static depending on the election’s outcome. Beyond the implied sense of participation of being immediately immersed within the work, CAM has held debate screenings and invites the public to watch the results of the elections the night of November 6.

The event will not only fulfill Horowitz’s vision for the work to function in a “public” capacity but offers St. Louisans an opportunity to truly feel part of a larger civic collective on such an important night. I hope you’ll come join to watch the results, but first, be sure to VOTE!!!!

By Dominic Molon, Chief Curator




CAM POP is the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis’s innovative new retail space, consisting of a series of focused pop-up shops that change with each new exhibition season. One: Contemporary Design is CAM POP’s debut shop, featuring products from carefully selected artists and artisans that relate to new trends in contemporary design.

Our opening selection features artists who are creating innovative work right here in St. Louis. Tied to the current exhibition by Jonathan Horowitz, Your Land/My Land: Election ’12, and CAM’s debate watch parties, we thought we’d feature some political items to make you laugh. From Bobbi Nesladeck of Down Zipper, “Barack” and “Mitt” squeek toys for dogs are one of our best-selling items, and we love supporting this witty local artist.

We also asked Brooke Pratt from Sucre Shop make “Barack” and “Mitt” wooden spoons. Brooke’s work has been featured in the national magazines Martha Stewart Living, People, and Redbook, as well as locally in Feast. Wouldn’t it be fun to use these candidate specific utensils at your next political gathering? Which one would you choose? Which toy would your dog choose? Let the debate begin!

For the non-political shoppers out there, local artists Gina Alvarez, Amanda Verbeck, Amy Thompson, Amanda Gray-Swain, and Heidi Neuman lend creative twists to traditional items like dish towels, coasters, and jewelry. As their work has proved tremendously popular, we’re commissioning them to create CAM exclusives for the holiday season. Stayed tuned for fun and unique holiday gifts, only available at CAM.

National artists like Asheville ceramist Heather Knight and Minneapolis jeweler Tia Keobounpheng also bring fresh, cutting-edge design to the mix. And we have toys and items for children too!

One: Contemporary Design is only open through December 30. Afterwards, we’ll make room for our next pop-up shop concept, which will coincide with CAM’s spring exhibition season. We receive new jewelry, gifts, and toys weekly, and every purchase you make at CAM POP supports CAM and the artists we feature. Don’t miss out—come by often!

By Judy Glik, Firecracker Marketworks


EXPO CHICAGO report by Dominic Molon


This past week, CAM participated in the inaugural edition of EXPO CHICAGO, arguably the most substantial and successful attempt to bring a viable and relevant international art fair back to the Midwest. We were represented with an extraordinary booth project by Lauren Adams titled We the People, an extension of her Front Room project at CAM currently on view through October 14th. It became one of the biggest hits of the fair, including an elegantly immersive display of wallpaper that Adams designed based on a pattern from the Revolutionary War era (1775–1783) and featuring slogans from Occupy Wall Street and Tea Party protests in recent years. The artist was on site and at given times throughout the day would work with visitors to paint their own protest slogans on ceramic plates that were assembled on a shelf towards the top of the booth, for which the participants would receive a commemorative tea towel (designed by Adams) in exchange. Assistant Curator Kelly Shindler, who organized both the booth and the Front Room project, heroically manned the operation throughout and served as interpreter for the work and as an ambassador for the museum. When originally presented with this extraordinary opportunity by the EXPO CHICAGO organizers to create visibility and awareness for the institution with the booth, my initial inclination was admittedly to present something more static and less labor-intensive. I am immeasurably grateful to both Adams and Shindler for persevering with a plan that made the project more interactive and, as a result, much more engaged, exciting, and effective in translating the energy and spirit of CAM’s program to a broader audience.

I made my own contribution to CAM’s participation in EXPO CHICAGO as part of a panel discussion with my colleagues Michael Darling, Chief Curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), Chicago, and Lisa Dorin, Associate Curator of Contemporary Art at the Art Institute of Chicago, moderated by art critic Paul Laster. We’d agreed to focus on art fairs themselves and how museum curators relate to them, function within them, and utilize them, and so forth. Having witnessed the rise and fall of the art fairs in Chicago more or less first-hand in my 16 years in the curatorial department at the MCA, I could attest to the critical loss of collective self-identity, momentum, and urgency felt by visual arts community as it became apparent that New York, then Miami, were redefining the landscape for art fairs in America. I also spoke to a more personal shift in how I approach art fairs, having moved from a collecting institution to CAM, with the emphasis placed more on spending time with donors, working on exhibitions in conversations with gallerists and artists at the fair, general networking, and, of course, seeing and absorbing as much art as possible.

Highlights from the fair included a stunning painting by Christina Ramberg (subject of a CAM exhibition next summer) at Russell Bowman Fine Art, as well as drawings by Ramberg at both David Nolan and Corbett vs Dempsey. The latter gallery’s booth featured an incredible range of works by artists such as Albert Oehlen, Peter Saul, and new favorite Keiichi Tanaami (careful … they’re a bit naughty!!). Inigo Manglano-Ovalle’s Dirty Bomb, 2008, part of the curated show In/Situ, was also fantastic. Other hits for me included Lorna Simpson’s collages at Salon 94, Richard Hamilton’s vacuum-formed Guggenheim relief at Allan Koppel, the Philip Guston at William Shearburn’s booth, and the Paul Cowan paintings at Clifton Benevento. Front Room alumnus John Opera (January 2011) had extraordinary new work at Andrew Rafacz’s booth and forthcoming Front Room artist Anthony Pearson had a lovely two-person show with legendary Chicago painter Julia Fish at Shane Campbell’s Lincoln Park space.


Lauren Adams (R) with We the People participant.

All images above: Lauren Adams, We the People, installation views at EXPO CHICAGO, September 20-23, 2012. Photography: Clare Britt


CAM is pleased to be participating in the inaugural EXPO CHICAGO art fair, September 20–23 (Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand Avenue, Chicago). We will be presenting an interactive installation by Lauren Adams—who is currently exhibiting in the Front Room—at booth 520. On Friday, September 21 at 1:30pm, Dominic will be speaking on the Contemporary Curator’s Panel at the fair (more details below). If you’re in Chicago, please make sure to stop by and say hello!

EXPO CHICAGO/2012 features an outstanding selection of 100 international exhibitors as well as a limited number of young galleries in the Exposure section. Additional programming includes IN/SITU, a showcase of large-scale installations, site-specific and performative works by leading international artists situated throughout the fair, and /Dialogues, a daily series of panel discussions and conversations with leading artists, architects, curators, designers, and art professionals. Visit for more information.

We the People is an interactive installation in which artist Lauren Adams has painted slogans from recent Occupy Wall Street and Tea Party protests into reproduced Revolutionary War-era wallpaper. Visitors to CAM’s booth (520) can paint their own “protest” on a unique ceramic plate to be displayed during the fair. A custom-designed tea towel both advertises the project and will be exchanged with visitors in return for their contributions. The project complements Adams’ presentation in CAM’s Front Room, on view through October 14.

Friday, September 21, 1:30 pm Contemporary Curator's Panel features Michael Darling (Chief Curator, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago), Lisa Dorin (Associate Curator of Contemporary Art, The Art Institute of Chicago), and Dominic Molon (Chief Curator, Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis). Moderated by Paul Laster (Editor, Artkrush).

Days 5, 6 and 7: Chevy Keys to the City

Having returned to St. Louis from Sedalia the day before, Friday featured the Silverado 2500 back at CAM … though only for a few hours as I was soon making a trip to Lambert International Airport for a meeting to discuss the possibility of the museum’s using a bank of windows near baggage claim in some way (either for publicity or an off-site exhibition.) After work, Lara and I took the truck to one of our favorite restaurants in town, Home Wine and Kitchen in Maplewood.

The next morning we rose early to hit the Tower Grove Farmers Market. Since we’d moved to St. Louis in 2010, it has become our favorite resource for organic produce but also features stands such as Companion Bakery and the incredible salumeria, Salume Beddu. Having stocked up on fresh pasta, peaches, and cheese, we decided to try the Southwest Diner in Maplewood. We instantly fell in love with the warm atmosphere and cozy décor of the restaurant, both of which were instantly superseded by the food, which was an incredible and inventive take on Southwestern cuisine. (It also bears noting that the restaurant, appropriately enough, is located on Southwest Avenue.)

After finishing one the best slices of key lime pie that either of us had ever had, we proceeded to Bob’s Seafood Market on Olive to get lobsters to grill for dinner. Once we’d secured two crustaceans to that effect, we dropped them at home and headed to see more live animals – this time at the St. Louis Zoo. St. Louis happily boasts one of the best zoos in the country and … it’s free!

Having completed the trip to the zoo, I dropped Lara off at home and headed over to the North Side Workshop, a non-profit art space dedicated to addressing cultural and community issues in North Saint Louis. It was founded by friends Juan William Chavez and Kiersten Torrez, and their programming “focuses on incorporating socially engaged art and education with the goal of fostering social progress in North Saint Louis communities.” I came upon Juan watering the Workshop’s garden, where they teach local children about gardening, and asked him how the bees in the hives they maintain on-site were doing. North Side is an incredible asset to the city of St. Louis and an excellent example of a new development in contemporary art practice – the engagement of a community as a way of making art.

I headed over to White Flag Projects, an alternative space for contemporary art on Manchester Avenue, to see a more “traditional” presentation of art in the group show “Ghosts Before Breakfast” curated by the founder of White Flag, Matthew Strauss. Established in 2006, White Flag, like North Side, is one of the most welcome cultural endeavors in the city, bringing adventurous new art to St. Louis with strikingly singularity and focus.

Sunday was a bit more low key and at home but we made an exception to try a “new place” for us which is something of a St. Louis phenomenon by now: the soul-food restaurant, Sweetie Pies in the Grove. Now the subject of a reality television show on Oprah Winfrey’s television network, Sweetie Pies treated us to some of the most amazing comfort food imaginable (including the finest examples of fried chicken, black-eyed peas, meat loaf, and pecan pie this or any side of the Mississippi.

Much of the weekend encapsulated what to me are three of the “keys” to the city of St. Louis:

1.) Explore: with an open mind: So many of the best places we’ve found here in St. Louis were discoveries rather than suggestions or recommendations. Simply by taking a chance on a place that looks intriguing—Southwest Diner, for example, is a restaurant we’d passed many times and developed a healthy curiosity about—one can quickly find places that may become favorites forever.

2.) Do the research: We found Bob’s Seafood as a result of following up on things we’d read in the local food magazines Feast and Sauce. (Salume Beddu was a similar discovery – as was the fantastic Cajun restaurant Riverbend in Soulard, which we found on the blog “St. Louie Foodie.”) Getting to know your city by keeping up with pays dividends …

3.) Have high expectations: The reputation of my own institution, the Contemporary Art Museum, was the key reason I moved to St. Louis, yet I’ve been overwhelmingly impressed by the quantity and quality of the other art museums and organizations here in the city. From the aforementioned North Side Workshop and White Flag Projects, to the Saint Louis Art Museum, Mildred Lane Kemper Museum, Laumeier Sculpture Park, Isolation Room, the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts, the Luminary, and others, the vitality and excellence of the art institutions here is indicative of the standards set across the board—from the Missouri Botanical Garden to the St. Louis Symphony every aspect and facet of city life in St. Louis!

Dominic Molon, Chief Curator

Days 3 and 4: Chevy Keys to Your City

Having driven the Silverado 2500 from St. Louis to Columbia the night before, I drove with my wife Lara to Sedalia, Missouri, home of the Missouri State Fair where I had been invited to jury the fine arts competition for 2012. I’d never been to a State Fair and so the opportunity to see one up close and more or less behind the scenes piqued my curiosity to a considerable degree. We made our way down I-70, turning off at Highway 65 to get to Sedalia. Although I’d constructed a pretty serious “trucking” mix for the journey, we’d elected to give the satellite radio some time. Both of us having grown up in the 1980s, we were naturally drawn to the “new wave oldies” station, providing the rather hilarious cultural dissonance of driving into the Fairgrounds amidst tractors and trailers, corn-dog stands, and other rustic Americana with British goth-industrial band Sisters of Mercy’s “This Corrosion” blaring on the speakers. After finding the Fine Arts building I set to work jurying the show. The work, refreshingly, had been created by artists from everywhere in Missouri BUT St. Louis and featured everything from elegant photographs of billboards along I-70 shot at nighttime to ingeniously figurative sculptures crafted from fabric and found materials.

Afterwards, I joined Lara and her folks in checking out other buildings—Agriculture being especially interesting for its enormous watermelons, pumpkins, and rows of cured hams—and then off for a decadent fried catfish lunch at Sedalia’s legendary LeMaire’s Cajun Catfish. From there we visited the Daum Museum of Contemporary Art on the campus of Sedalia’s State Fair Community College. Housed in a comfortable and attractive space, it featured prints by legendary contemporary artists such as Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, and Andy Warhol, as well as an excellent example of the still-somewhat overlooked abstract American painter, Gene Davis.

We checked into Sedalia’s historic Hotel Bothwell (said to be haunted!) and later returned to the fairgrounds to check out the “buttercow”—this year, a bovine version of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa appropriately re-titled the “Mooona Lisa”—as well as the chicken house prior to attending the reception for the art competition opening. We capped the evening off with a trip to Kehde’s Bar-B-Q where we dined in an old rail car. Fun!

After a ghost-free night we rallied early for breakfast at the Sunrise Café and blazed a trail back to St. Louis where we checked out a local Italian favorite, Trattoria Marcella (3600 Watson Road).

More to come …

Dominic Molon, Chief Curator

Day 1: Chevy Keys to Your City


My week as a participant in Chevy’s “Keys to Your City” program began with the delivery of a Silver 2012 Chevy Silverado 2500 to my doorstep in the Fox Park neighborhood of St. Louis. Perhaps the most immediately striking thing was the sheer SIZE of the vehicle. While I grew up around my dad’s various pick-up trucks, they tended to be more modestly scaled to accommodate the bricklaying side jobs he’d do on the weekends. Having access to a vehicle that could carry the hatchback that my wife, Lara, and I use as our primary car is quite another matter! Regardless, a change of pace to end the summer is a fun prospect and with Chevrolet having recently agreed to sponsor my favorite sports team-British soccer powerhouse, Manchester United-it seemed totally appropriate! First order of business is to take the Silverado to Columbia, Missouri, home of my in-laws and the SEC-glory-bound Mizzou Tigers, for the evening with my wife before we all head to Sedalia where I will jury the art exhibition for the 2012 Missouri State Fair. Columbia, incidentally, is a fantastic side-trip from St. Louis-only two hours away and one of the most fun college-towns in the U.S. While there, head to Booches for one of the best burgers ever (have 3 – they’re small!), then to Tropical Liqueurs (aka “Trops”) for one of their powerfully sweet cocktail concoctions.

For the maiden voyage of the Silverado, I put together a playlist that reflected the sublime power of the machine or tapped into the fascination with “big rigs” that many a child of the 1970s had when growing up:

1. John Williams, “The Imperial March (from ‘Star Wars, Episode 5: The Empire Strikes Back”
2. Big Black, “The Power of Independent Trucking”
3. Judas Priest, “You Got Another Thing Comin’”
4. Duke Ellington, “Truckin’”
5. Red Sovine, “Giddy Up Go”
6. Motorhead,”Ace of Spades”
7. Dwight Yoakam, “Truckin’”
8. AC/DC, “Highway to Hell”
9. Roger Miller, “King of the Road”
10. Jon Wayne, “Truckin’”
11. Pavement, “Heaven is a Truck”
12. Jerry Reed, “Eastbound and Down”
13. C.W. McCall, “Convoy”
14. Led Zeppelin, “Moby Dick”
15. T. Rex, “Truck on (Tyke)”
16. Georg Solti, Vienna Philharmonic, Wagner, Die Walkure, “Vorspiel: Hojotoho Heiaha (The Ride of the Valkyries)”

More to come …

Dominic Molon, Chief Curator

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