Put artist Bill Smith's exhibition at the World Chess Hall of Fame on your "must see," "to do," "just get there!" list(s). His work, Beyond the Humanities, is on view until September 15, which allows plenty of opportunity to stop by the neighborhood museum more than once. Go especially when you need some quiet reflective time. It's that magical, and calming.
In the opinion of Amanda Cook, spokesperson for The World Chess Hall of Fame, people from this area are not as familiar with Bill Smith's art as those from other parts of the country. The O'Fallon, Illinois native, who creates multimedia pieces in a big barn on his property there, is represented by New York's P.P.O.W Gallery and has had solo exhibitions around the country. Smith's work is not completely unknown in St. Louis however, as I noticed in the WCHOF brochure that Smith exhibited at the Saint Louis Art Museum five years ago, and at White Flag Projects, 4568 Manchester, in 2005.
Smith's educational background provides a window into why his work, which combines art and science, is so special. His academic credentials include a certificate in mechanics from Ranken Technical Institute (located on an 18-acre campus on Newstead just north of Delmar), a B.S. in Microbiology and Chemistry from SIU, and a M.F.A. in Sculpture from U of I, Champaign-Urbana.
The WCHOF brochure states that Smith's "Beyond the Humanities explores how rules guide the creation of our world's structure and behavior...Smith uses art to show the underlying similarities of all things..." The connection between Smith's work and the game of chess is explained thusly: "Like Smith's work, chess is defined by rules, patterns, and interactions. The rules of a game are analogous to the laws of nature..."
My camera couldn't pick up the extra-fine filament in Structure, above, a multimedia piece that weighs 2 ounces and reaches up 240 inches through the museum's staircase from the 1st to the 3rd floor. Structure moves just slightly in the ambient air, which is measured by a computer, above. Watch Smith's video below:
Inside the gallery space further magic awaits. The centerpiece of the exhibition is sperodendron, which could be viewed as a dandelion, a cell---whatever your imagination allows. The following photograph and video were provided by Amanda Cook courtesy of the World Chess Hall of Fame.
On the second floor there is an exhibition titled Everybody's Game, Chess in Popular Culture, which includes chess sets made of Legos, sets made for Coca Cola, Anheuser Busch, and Winnie the Pooh characters. There are stills from movies, television shows, and commercials where chess was featured (e.g. Star Trek, Smirnof). Everybody's Game closes this Sunday, April 14.
The third floor exhibition space features The President's Game, which shows how chess has fascinated American presidents for over two hundred years. Among the pieces on view is George Washington's chess set with its wooden storage box, 1770's. The President's Game closes April 21.
When you visit, take time to view the wall covered with visitors' comments about the role chess has played in their lives, and visit Q Boutique, voted Best Gift Shop 2012 by the Riverfront Times!
World Chess Hall of Fame, 4652 Maryland Avenue, Mon. Tues. Weds. 10 to 5, Thurs.- Sat. 10 to 6, Sun. Noon to 5, Closed Monday, (314) 367-9243.