With Michelle “Mike” Ochonicky

Healthy Planet Arts Editor


S-l-o-w D-o-w-n

And Enjoy The Experience of Art


I wear multiple hats, as so many people in the arts tend to do. When not writing for The Healthy Planet magazine, I work for Missouri Artisans Association/ The Best of Missouri Hands. This statewide nonprofit organization recently formed a collaboration with VSA Arts of Missouri, another nonprofit organization. VSA serves artists with disabilities. These are tremendously talented painters, photographers, sculptors, etc. who overcome physical limitations to create their artwork. Missouri Artisans Association just concluded an annual conference, where several artists with disabilities were in attendance. Our conference attendees this year included guide dogs, sign interpreters and personal assistants. It was magical to see artists of all levels and abilities come together to share their love of art, in spite of communication hurdles or limitations. One attendee said to me, “What is happening here is simply incredible.”

Art just transcends differences and connects us all. You may have experienced this yourself when an audience leaps to its collective feet for a standing ovation after a stirring performance. No communication coordinates such a response; it’s simply a result of the art touching each member of an audience. Or perhaps, you’ve stood before a work of art in a museum or gallery—maybe in a foreign country where you didn’t speak the language, next to a stranger you’ve never met–yet still aware that the piece communicates clearly to each of you. Art removes barriers and speaks for itself.

Blank Canvas Studios is a non-profit program that supports adults with developmental disabilities. Each artist supported by this program has the opportunity to display original art for sale to the public on April 16 at 122 Point West in St. Charles. For info, call 636-724-6616 or visit www.rdh-mo.org. Attend this event to snap up a beautiful piece of art by some very talented artists, and to encourage them to create even more.

Slow Art is a global grassroots movement, run by volunteers, aimed at helping people see art in a new way.  Said Linda Wiggen Kraft, co-host of the St. Louis Slow Art Day, “Our mission is to reach people who are not regular museum-goers, and include those who are. We encourage people to spend five or ten minutes looking at a (single) piece of art. The result is that participants get inspired, not tired, and want to return again and again.” To register for Slow Art Day (Saturday, April 17), simply visit www.SlowArtDay.com. You’ll be assigned a time to visit the St. Louis Art Museum and meet with a volunteer host there for directions. Space is limited so sign up soon! To finish the experience, participants will enjoy lunch with other Slow Art Day-ers, to discuss what they viewed. So s-l-o-w down, and enjoy the experience of art!!!

An exhibition that’s all about the slow, experience of art opens on April 30. Edward Crim went to Forest Park every day, for a year, to chronicle 365 consecutive days in St. Louis’ favorite park. No matter what the weather, this dedicated artist found fascination there every single day. What can you expect to see? I think the title, “My Year in the Park: A Middle-Aged Guy Thinks About Life, the Universe and Everything,” is enough to make us all curious. View it at Norton’s Fine Art and Framing on Big Bend through May 31. Details at www.NortonsFineArt.com.

If art is truly about the experience, you’ll definitely want to experience Wall Ball on April 3. Described as “pulsating, hypnotic, electrifying,” Wall Ball is an eclectic mix of artists, patrons and admirers, hosted by St. Louis City Open Studio and Gallery (SCOSaG). More that fifty-five artists will create the excitement, while guests bid on the artists’ work as it’s being made. There’s music, L’Ecole Culinaire’s appetizers, cocktails, even a cupcake raffle to tempt the taste buds. Add that to a silent auction, performances by Super Fun Yeah Yeah Rocketship, a bubble bus with glow in the dark bubbles, fashion designers, and enough components to keep things hopping until midnight.

All proceeds directly benefit SCOSaG, located in Tower Grove Park, whose mission is “to provide a safe and educational environment for children to explore the arts and to strengthen the ties within St. Louis neighborhoods, its families and its youth,” since 2002. SCOSaG offers a range of creative opportunities from “ceramics to painting to improv to singing.” Just $30 in advance, or $40 at the door of Neo on Locust. Visit www.wallball2010.eventbrite.com for details.  Find out for yourself what a bubble bus is!

Congratulations are extended to Mandy Langston Manley, the winner of St. Louis Publishers Association’s “Get Ready, Get Published” contest. Mandy’s manuscript, Foundations, will be transformed into a saleable book, as a result of the grand prize valued at $8,900 for editing, proofing, design, promotion and other services. The completed book will be introduced at The Big Read in Clayton later this year.