Category Archives: events

New Work at The Chapel


orange lips and fingertips, acrylic and oil on canvas, 56"x62", 2012

On Sunday orange lips and fingertips (pictured above) made its debut at The Chapel, a gallery that operates in association with Memorial Presbyterian Church in St. Louis, MO.  I’m showing four recent paintings alongside folded paper works by Marguerite Corey and photographs by Sylvester Jacobs.  If you missed the public reception, you can catch the show again on November 11 or by appointment (  Each of these paintings addresses concerns of gain and loss by way of memory, consumption, and death, reflecting upon what we take and what we leave behind.

smoke-shaped forest, ink, shellac, and oil on paper, 22"x30", 2012

I thought that I had finished smoke-shaped forest back in May (see the post from May 8, below), but ended up reworking the painting in early October.  The rising embers seemed to resonate with the blowing/falling cheese puffs, and as a result this piece edged out the competition for inclusion in the exhibition.  It’s another meditation on gains and losses, a depiction of cleared land with irregular trees and stumps scraped into a burn pile while the city throws its own light up over the horizon.  I’ll need to post a future image including the frame, which I made out of reclaimed quarter-sawn red oak.  The distinctive medullary rays provide a contrast to the starkness of the image, and its reclaimed nature (made evident by a few nail holes) is intended as an argument on behalf of both use and preservation.


natural edge board at LV SK8 Six

If you happen to be in Las Vegas on July 6th, swing by the Get Up Gallery (520 Freemont Street) to catch the opening of LV SK8 Six, a show of custom painted skateboards.  Well, I suppose we’ll have to use the word “painted” somewhat  loosely.  Participating artists were provided with a standard blank deck.  These are  made of seven-ply maple, and are pressed into a complex form which provides  a concave surface and an inclined nose and tail.

Instead of a traditional paint job I opted for building out the bottom of the deck with a thick slab of cottonwood bark.  I suppose that I was inspired by the cross-sections of the natural edge bowls that I have been making.  In any case it seemed to be a good use for the bark, which had been hanging around my studio for a few years.

Initial construction involved cutting the bark to rough length and carving it out to match the contours of the board. For final fitting in the center I was able to use the deck itself as a sanding block.


Tail detail showing the natural clefts and striations in the bark. I applied shellac and wax to the cut surfaces, but left the outer (gray) face natural.

Bottom view of board, showing the slight taper on the edges. The truck mounting holes have been drilled through the bark, and although I originally thought I might recess a rectangle for each baseplate I later decided that it would be too disruptive.

The finished deck. To my eye it has connotations of the thick-soled shoes that became popular among skateboarders in the late 80's.

I worked for as seamless a finish as possible in the joinery between the bark and the deck, because I wanted it to appear almost as if it had been peeled straight off of a tree.  I removed the manufacturer’s finish from the top of the deck and applied several coats of shellac, sanding to a fine finish.  This was then polished with paste wax and rubbed out to a silky smoothness.  The overblown textural contrast between the top and bottom of the board is meaningful to me in that it represents my own experience of skateboarding, friction and coarseness are interwoven with smoothness and speed.

EarthDance Farms Mission Award

The EarthDance Mission Awards, inaugurated in 2008, honor ordinary Saint Louisans who embody the EarthDance mission to grow and inspire local FARMS—Food, Art, Relationships, and Music, Sustainably!  Each year EarthDance recognizes a local farmer, artist, community activist and a musician, each of whom make our region socially dynamic, healthier, and more inspiring, in an eco-conscious manner.

The 2011 EarthDance Mission Award winners were selected by a panel of judges consisting of: Kelly Childs of Slow Food STL; Jean Ponzi of The EarthWays Center; Roseann Weiss of RAC; and Lew Prince, founder of Vintage Vinyl Records.

This year’s winners are:

Artist: John Sarra

Farmer: Paul Krautmann

Community Activists: Veronica Holden and Sarah Kate Buckles

Musician: Ryan Spearman

On Saturday, Septmeber 24th, 7pm-11pm, join us for the Mission Awards Ceremony and Dance Party at Blueberry Hill’s Duck Room.

This event will feature appearances by, and video tributes to, the five EarthDance Mission Award Winners.  Plus, you can (Earth)Dance to live musical performances by The Lulus and The Phat NoiZ Blues Band.  Purchase your advance tickets here!


Space B’s Greatest Hits: The Chelsea Years

John Sarra, throw it higher, oil on panel, 11 x 14, 2011

If you happen to be in New York this summer, stop by to check out Space B’s Gallery’s new location at 59 Franklin Street in TriBeCa.  On view is Space B’s Greatest Hits: The Chelsea Years, which  features work by Jeff Bailey, Conrad Bakker,  Daniel Caspera, Marc Connor, Randy Gilmore, Alex Menocal, Mary Anna Pomonis, John Sarra, Alex Schuchard, Patrick Smith, John Coyle Steinbrunner, and Erik Wicker.  The exhibition continues through the end of August.  Gallery hours: Friday & Saturday 12:00-6:00 and by appointment.  Call Alex at 917-518-2385.