With Michelle “Mike” Ochonicky

Healthy Planet Arts Editor

Art Is A Hot Ticket This Summer


A great place to beat the summer heat is in a movie theater. Films are relaxing, entertaining, thought-provoking, discussion-starting, scary, moving, or just plain fun.

My family has always enjoyed the silver screen. I remember when outside summer playtime would end early for the annually scheduled television showing of “The Wizard of Oz” (yes, before DVD’s and cable t.v.!).  My mother made a big bowl of popcorn as the neighbor kids gathered at our house to be scared by the Flying Monkeys and Wicked Witch of the West.

Now, at a university a few states away, my son teaches film studies. During a recent visit he detailed his summer job of writing for the Milwaukee Film Festival. I guess it’s true that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, but it made me pay a little more attention to the summer film scene in St. Louis.

Anyone who jogs, walks, bikes or drives through Forest Park has noticed that the St. Louis Art Museum is under major construction as the new expansion wings are added. While some galleries are closed at present, the Museum is definitely open! Not only is the Museum open, it’s stretching out on the front lawn this summer with a new, fun Outdoor Film Series.  Art Hill, directly in front of the Museum, comes to life in July with “The Magic of Vincente Minnelli”—great classic films by a great classic director. Bring a snack, blanket, family and friends to see An American in Paris (starring Gene Kelly as a starving artist in Paris, 1951) on July 9, The Bandwagon (called one of MGM’s most important musicals, starring Fred Astaire, 1953) on July 16, Lust for Life (the 1956 story of Vincent Van Gogh, starring Kurt Douglas and Anthony Quinn) on July 23, and Meet Me in St. Louis (the 1944 classic with Judy Garland). The films are free and start at 9 p.m.

All year long, a film series program runs quietly at Webster University. The Moore Auditorium at 470 E. Lockwood, is home to this open-to-the-public program, with bargain rates for great films ($6, with discounts for seniors and students to $5). July marks the centennial of perhaps the greatest and most influential artist in world cinema with Kurasawa at 100.  This series offers seventeen films by the great Japanese master Akira Kurosawa. A full screening pass, good for all seventeen films, is available from the box office for $50. Visit http://www.webster.edu/filmseries for details.

The 10th Annual St. Louis Filmmakers Showcase is presented July 17-22 by nonprofit Cinema St. Louis. According to Chris Clark of Cinema St. Louis, “SLFS screens works written, directed, edited or produced by St. Louis natives or those with strong local ties.” With a total of sixty-five films in this year’s event, the centerpiece for the showcase are sixteen film programs that screen at the Tivoli, from full-length fiction features and documentaries to multi-film compilations of fiction and documentary shorts. Most offer Q&A sessions with filmmakers. SLFS also presents free filmmaking seminars, for those interested in the moviemaking process, to be held at Regional Arts Commission on July 17. The event closes on July 22 with an awards party at Blueberry Hill’s Duck Room. This event is also free, but donations are appreciated. Visit www.cinemastlouis.org /showcase.html to learn more.

A topic dear to my heart is the subject of a new exhibition at St. Louis University Museum of Art entitled, Urban Wanderers. More than 40 artists have painted, photographed, illustrated and sculpted their interpretation of abandoned dogs and cats that have been given a second chance, thanks to rescue efforts of Stray Rescue. This exhibition opens July 18, with a reception starting at 5:30 p.m. Loretta Swit, actress of the hit series M*A*S*H as well as a staunch Stray Rescue supporter, is scheduled to attend, with several of her own paintings in the exhibition. The museum is located on Lindell Blvd.; for info, visit http://sluma.slu.edu or phone 314-977-2666.

Make plans now for August 6 when the St. Louis Artists’ Guild and ArtDimensions team up to present ArtDTour. For $10, ride a school bus to galleries and museums with food and wine at various stops (for $20, you can upgrade to an air-conditioned shuttle PLUS attend the after-party!). Gather some friends for a great summer evening of fun—and art! Visit www.artdimensions.org or www.stlouisartistsguild.org for details and reservations.