Hélène Baril at Museum Blue

At the (what I think is) the back of the building, the back of the building that is the City Museum, I find the elevator. I walk through the lobby, to the elevator, and up to the fourth floor to the studio/project space that is Museum Blue.  Spilled out of the elevator, I walk down the longish greyish hallway that is dotted with thick columns – their decorator has forgotten them, or just prefers that the columns be a spray-painted pastel colors popular more than a couple decades ago. Fourth floor is also a storage site for the City Museum. Dave and Sage are at the end of the hall. They are ready for this winter to be over. Dave says winter is going to last forever and  it is going to be unbelievably cold. Sage scoffs. Here I am at the entrance at the entrance of Museum Blue and Hélène Baril’s You are the last of the Cadillac. At the door, Carlie laughs and laughs, I haven’t moved from this spot, she says. I haven’t even looked at the art work. Carlie says she [the artist] found most of this stuff from what was around Paul Artspace. There are painted plaques on the wall, We always forget something in History. There are six portraits (from L to R) of Laumet de Cadillac , Don Quixote, a bird, Woman, Sancho Panza,  and Alexis De Tocqueville. There is a Cadillac logo placed in the middle of these small ovals. I meet Hélène, just as she is headed to find the bathroom. I do not show her the windmill tattooed on my neck. There are several assemblaged floor sculptures; one is a plastic yellow bird sitting in a race car. There is also a color pencil drawing of the same bird in a car on the wall. Re-made bricks, painted not the familiar burnt umber, but a cooler, greyish brown, their holes are filled in and colored red and blue and yellow. I pass three gentleman, the tallest one is saying someone gave Miley Cyrus a baby pig…really smart guy, he says.  There are more pencil drawings, one done of the re-made bricks. The drawing is accompanied by a small found framed piece consisting of three tiny drawn bird houses. Behind me, a totem with the words “The She” mirrors the bird house roofs on one side, but as I walk around the object, I see the roof is a rusted clamp set on a two by four. I pause the longest in front of a watercolor of a cardinal confronting ghosts from St. Louis’ past. Icons have been remixed and regurgitated in a way that is provocative and surprisingly unsettling to me. I don’t think I have ever been shown my city by someone who doesn’t live in St. Louis. I am stopped, finally, with painted snake-like tubes that are painted in primary color and say MISSISSIPPI and MISSOURI painted in white, and two other words, but I forgot to write them down. A curtain marks the end to Museum Blue. A man pokes his head behind the curtain. Yes, this is studio space, a voice from behind the curtain says to the man. I hurry to scribble my notes.  I turn around, back through the gallery to head back downstairs. Gallery voices are replaced by the buzzing lights of the building. A man I should know but don’t, holds the elevator for me.  He says are you writing a review? I say yes…kind of. Well, we need it, he says.  The world needs more help interpreting what it’s looking at. Now I wonder if he was kidding.


Images courtesy of Museum Blue and Paul Artspace.

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