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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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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

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

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

New Art in the Neighborhood Finalist for the 2012 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award


New Art in the Neighborhood, CAM’s teen program that seeks to nourish the creative minds of our city’s talented young artists, was selected as 1 of 50 finalists for the prestigious 2012 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award by the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. Along with its cultural partners – the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services – the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities chose 50 programs from across the country that “present rich arts and humanities learning opportunities to young people.”

Every Saturday during the school year, up to 20 teens selected through a competitive application process come to CAM for pre-professional level art instruction with educational staff and visiting artists. This intensive approach presents participating students with opportunities and resources that are not available in their regular school curriculum. This nationally acclaimed program challenges students to adapt to the materials used at the forefront of art today, and it enables them to build a portfolio of work they can use to apply to college or employment. We are thrilled to report that 100% of students graduating from the program during the last decade have gone on to college.

Click here to find out more about NAN and to download an application for the Fall 2012 session.

Teen Museum Studies Countdown: 1 Day Until EQUIPOISE


Mid-install, Teen Museum Studies breaks to celebrate in acronym.

Check out the final exhibition this Tuesday from 6:00 – 8:00 pm at the Contemporary Art Museum.  Let us know you’re coming by RSVPing on Facebook –

Installation Sneak Peek





Teen Museum Studies Countdown: 4 Days Until EQUIPOISE

In conjunction with the 7th Annual City-Wide Open Studios Preview Party on Tuesday, July 24, CAM’s Teen Museum Studies program will unveil their Teaching Gallery exhibition, Equipoise: The Cycle of Life. This exhibition includes American, Vietnamese, and Zimbabwean artworks from Novus International’s corporate collection. Equipoise: The Cycle of Life portrays a variety of photography, embroidery, fossilization, and sculpture that explores the balance and patterns of the natural world. The Opening Reception will take place from 6:00 – 8:00 pm and feature live music, refreshments, and activities.

Here are two Teen Museum Studies students pulling together loose ends.

“If we can’t get a band maybe we could bring back the mime?”

“But mimes are really expensive. They range from about two hundred to five thousand dollars.”

Held each summer, TMS offers twelve local high school aged students an innovative way to learn about museum careers.  Started in June 2010, TMS gives students the chance to learn how a museum operates and exhibitions are created.  Over the course of six weeks and twelve sessions, students work with CAM staff members across all departments – curatorial, public programs, marketing, fundraising, and education – with their time culminating in a mini exhibition in CAM’s Teaching Gallery.  For more information, videos, and pictures, visit the TMS Facebook page at

Job Opportunity: Graphic Designer

CAM seeks a highly creative and versatile Graphic Designer to join our full-time staff. Reporting to the Director of Programs and Audience Development, the Graphic Designer will be responsible for the conceptualization, design, and production of a wide range of print and web collateral, including newsletters, brochures, event invitations, postcards, advertisements, interpretative tools (such as the mobile app), and exhibition catalogs. Specific responsibilities include working closely with Museum colleagues across departments to develop dynamic and innovative designed materials consistent with CAM’s brand identity; acting as a liaison with outside vendors; and managing production budgets and deadlines.

The successful candidate is a self-starter with excellent communications skills, who is comfortable managing multiple projects in a fast-paced, team-oriented work environment and equally at ease with print and digital media. Requirements: 2+ years professional design experience and Bachelor’s degree in related field; skilled in typography and layout design; expertise in Adobe Creative Suite. Strong knowledge of and interest in contemporary art is preferred.

To apply, please email cover letter, resume, link to digital portfolio, and salary requirements to with subject line: “Graphic Designer Application.” Email only; no phone calls or packages please. Applications will be reviewed on an ongoing basis until the position is filled.

CAM Hosts New Music, New Works

Inspired by the Great Rivers Biennial 2012 exhibition, CAM, in collaboration with the Mizzou New Music Initiative, is pleased to present New Music, New Works at 2:00 p.m. Saturday, May 19. This event is free and open to the public.

The event will feature the world premiere of original compositions by University of Missouri students Grant Fonda, Joe Hills, and Joseph Weidinger, each of whom has created a new piece that attempts to capture the aural essence of one of the three Great Rivers Biennial artists’ projects. The Mizzou New Music Ensemble, directed by University of Missouri associate professor Stefan Freund, will perform all three compositions, along with Ad Parnassum, a piece by 2005 Pulitzer Prize winner Steven Stucky that was inspired by sketches by artist Paul Klee.

“There’s been a historic link between the visual and musical arts, and we’re glad to be able to continue that tradition,” said Freund. “Any time we have an off-campus performance, it’s an opportunity for our composers and performers to step out of the academic world and into the real world. That’s a valuable experience for them.”

“Collaborating with CAM provides an interesting challenge for these bright, young composers, while also introducing their talents to new audiences,” said Jeanne Sinquefield of the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation, which provides financial support for the Mizzou New Music Initiative. “Composers want their music to be performed in front of audiences. Forging alliances like this one is another way our new music programs in Missouri are helping them achieve their aspirations.”

grantfonda-largeB&WGRANT FONDA
Grant Fonda (b. 1985) was selected as a semi-finalist in the 2011 Transatlantyk Instant Composer Competition (a part of the Transatlantyk Film and Music Festival), and was one of just two Americans selected for this international competition. In 2010 and 2011, he was a finalist for the Sinquefield Composition Prize, and in 2006 his Of Shepherds, Angels and the Advent of a Miracle won honorable mention at the Fred Bock New Music review. His composition Out of Darkness, Light was commissioned by the Master’s College School of Music in 2007 and given nine consecutive performances in their Come ChristmasSing concerts. Fonda also received honorable mention for his string quintet Five Horses in the University of Aberdeen 2009 Music Prize competition, and has had several other works for choir, wind ensemble, and orchestra commissioned and premiered at colleges and churches in the U.S.

Fonda attended the Master’s College in Santa Clarita, CA, studying music composition with an emphasis in film scoring and percussion under Richard Pressley and Stephen Johnson. He and his wife Carley currently live in Columbia, Missouri, where he is completing work on an MM, Composition at the University of Missouri under the instruction of W. Thomas McKenney and Stefan Freund.

joehills-small-colorJOE HILLS
Joe Hills (b.1987) is a composer of many styles, genres, and instrumentations with a strong appreciation for music of all forms and tonalities. He has written for wind and chamber ensembles, full orchestra, solo and ensemble percussion, drum & bugle corps, and marching band. Prompted by his father, Terry Hills, bringing home the first version of Finale on floppy disk, Hills began his compositional career at a young age. He also enjoyed marching for six years with the Blue Knights Drum & Bugle Corps, which inspired his love for marching music and drill writing.

Born and raised in Colorado, Hills began his undergraduate studies at Colorado State University with an interest in music education, but soon transitioned to composition. He completed his degree in the spring of 2011, and was accepted into the University of Missouri graduate program in the fall of 2011. He is now pursuing a Master of Music in Composition, studying under Dr. W. Thomas McKenney, and serving as a graduate assistant for the theory department at Mizzou. Hills was a finalist for the 2012 Sinquefield Composition Prize.

josephweidinger-smallB&WJOSEPH WEIDINGER
Joseph Weidinger (b. 1990) is currently completing his coursework at the University of Missouri and in May 2012 will graduate with a B.M. in Music Composition. His composition teachers include Dr. W. Thomas McKenney and Dr. Stefan Freund. Over the course of four years, Weidinger has written more than 20 original compositions. In addition to writing original music, he also has done work in arranging and transcribing and as a copyist.

Weidinger also is active as a performer, primarily as a pianist and organist. As an organist, he has been playing regularly in Catholic church services since the age of 13. At the University of Missouri, Joseph studies piano under Dr. Peter Miyamoto. Aside from learning the traditional piano repertoire, he has performed in number of his own pieces and the works of others for churches, musicals, and wind ensembles.

The Mizzou New Music Initiative brings together a diverse array of programs intended to position the University of Missouri School of Music as a leading center in the areas of composition and new music. The Initiative is made possible by the generous support of Dr. Jeanne and Mr. Rex Sinquefield and the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation.

The Mizzou New Music Ensemble is made up of University of Missouri graduate students under the direction of Stefan Freund, a cellist, composer and associate professor. They serve as the repertory group for the Mizzou New Music Initiative, working with faculty, students and visiting composers, and give public performances on campus and in the community. The Ensemble’s members for the 2011-12 season are Stephanie Berg, clarinets; Ryan Borden, percussion; Young Kim, flutes; Matthew Pierce, cello; David Snow, violin; and Renata Tavernard, piano. For this concert, Rachel AuBuchon also will perform on piano, and doctoral candidate Christopher Baumgartner will conduct the Steven Stucky composition Ad Parnassum.

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