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Feb. 29, 2008 - April 27, 2008
Reception Friday, Feb. 29, 4 - 7 p.m.
Artist's Gallery Talk at 5 p.m.
The 15 minute documentary by Malcom Gay, "Cindy Tower: Workplace Series" will be shown in the Crossroads Theatre.
Reviewing Cindy Tower's solo exhibition at the New Museum of Contemporary Art in 1994, Roberta Smith observed in The New York Times that "Themes of destruction and preservation, waste and recycling put in regular appearances, without pressing the point or becoming preachy." At the time Tower was creating installations that included a mix of her own paintings, found objects, and on occasion great quantities of panty hose. With titles like "What To Do with Old Boyfriends" and "Pirate Cindy," her installations were characterized by energy, outrageousness, and humor, but fundamentally expressed an underlying concern with transience, decay, and the passage of time.
Around 2000, Tower turned from self-constructed to ready-made installations, which she painted. In an article published in 2005, Tower explained her motivation: "Basically, I decided to paint paintings honoring vanishing American industries because everything I love is disappearing." Since 9/11 her "Workplace Series" has focused increasingly on the industrial ruin. Once the apogee of optimistic, entrepreneurial capitalism, these crumbling structures, like the values they symbolized, are stark reminders of battles waged and lost.
When not teaching at Washington University, Tower paints in situ. She does not photograph the view and retreat to a studio. Rather, she works in the midst of the chaos itself accompanied by a small dog and bodyguards (one of whom is real; the other a stuffed dummy). At night she hides her canvases among the ruins. Frequently, the paintings suffer cuts and tears.
Among the crumbling industrial sites where she has painted are the Forman Family Factory in Brooklyn, New York; the Gilbert and Bennett Manufacturing Company in Georgetown, Connecticut; the Brooklyn Navy Yard; the Armour meat packing plant and the Carondelet Coke Plant, both Saint Louis area industrial sites; and, most recently, the Federal Mill #3, Park Hills, Missouri.
By capturing the raw beauty and tragedy of industrial ruins, she hopes to help reduce wastefulness, replace disposition with preservation, and encourage a more equitable sharing of ever-diminishing natural resources. Devoid of irony, glibness, and cynicism, her paintings and outlook are fundamentally affirmative.
Museum Hours are: Monday-Friday: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. For additional information: Ellen Hahs firstname.lastname@example.org or (573) 651-2301.