ArtFul Living

With Michelle “Mike” Oconicky
Healthy Planet Arts Editor

This month’s column is all about ME.

Yes, ME!! I’m delighted to celebrate the month with my very favorite events—and I think some of them are your favorites, too!

The best place to start is a walk to the world-class art museums and galleries of Grand Center on May 11. From 5 to 9 p.m., the Art Walk in Grand Center is a lovely way to spend a Friday evening in spring. Strollers will be the first to view a new temporary public art installation, “A Chromatic Confluence,” at Grand Boulevard and Samuel Shepard Drive. Designed by the Austin, Texas creative enterprise Thoughtbarn, the creation includes over 20,000 feet of multicolored lights in a maze-like structure of multiple paths. Lit at night, “A Chromatic Confluence” fills out a 25×65 square foot space. Members of youth orchestra Orchestrating Diversity, tucked in alcoves of the piece, add live music to the experience.

The galleries and museums of the area will host receptions galore and special exhibits. There’s plenty of artsy fun, too. Equipped with a “passport,” visitors may collect stamps at each stop. Those with six or more stamps will receive discounts at participating district restaurants and venues. For those who are apt to wander, this year’s Art Walk will feature the “Purple Path,” 1.5 miles of purple tape to guide visitors to various museums, galleries and entertainment throughout the Grand Center district and St. Louis University campus.

Check www.grandcenter.org for the overwhelming list of venues and entertainment. The cost for this fabulous evening? Absolutely free. Don’t miss it!

Next, rest your feet as you take in the fancy footwork of the greatest dancers in North America, May 24-26 at Spring to Dance. For the fifth year, Dance St. Louis treats the region to a smorgasbord of dance, thirty diverse dance companies from the U.S. and Canada. Each evening, interactive performances by St. Louis-area companies begin at 5:30 p.m. in the lobby (and they’re all great!), followed by 6 p.m. performances by four companies in the Lee Theatre and, at 7:30, six more companies perform in the Anheuser-Busch Performance Hall. The cost for this incredible package? Just $10 each night (you read that correctly: ten dollars!!)

Although performances in the Lee Theater are, as always, included in the $10 tickets, the Lee performances this year are open only to ticket holders who ask for a free Lee Theater pass at the Touhill box office the night of the show. “We will start handing out passes at 4:40 p.m., and when they’re gone, they’re gone,” Executive and Artistic Director Michael Uthoff said. “This way no one will end up standing fruitlessly in line at the Lee entrance hoping for a seat to open up. Instead, if you weren’t able to secure a pass, you can go right away to the Terrace Lobby and enjoy the interactive performances by local dance troupes that run continuously from 5:30 to 7 p.m

The full list of companies is staggering: check it out at www.dancestl.org. “For instance, I am excited about the return of River North Chicago Dance Company and Buckets and Tap Shoes, who captivated everyone when they were here two years ago,” Uthoff said. “New companies include Q Dance from Canada and Jennifer Muller/The Works from New York.”
Advance tickets are recommended; call Dance St. Louis box office at 314-534-6622; www.dancestl.org, or the Touhill at 314-516-4949; www.touhill.org.

Shakespeare Festival St. Louis presents the bard’s “Othello,” May 25-June 17, excluding Tuesdays. Located at Shakespeare Glen in Forest Park (just across from the Art Museum), the play is presented outdoors in nature’s beauty. Bring a chair or rent one there, pack a picnic dinner or buy gourmet goodies there, the Shakespeare Festival is a Do-Not-Miss event. (Even a broken leg one year couldn’t keep me from attending!).

“Othello,” believed to be written in 1603, presents an outsider who misplaces his trust with cataclysmic events. The themes of love, racism, jealousy and betrayal make this one of Shakespeare’s most popular plays. But don’t be put off by this classic: at 6:30 p.m. each evening, a 20-minute Green Show offers a fun synopsis of the play so you’re well-prepared. Musicians, jugglers, dancers and singers keep you entertained until dark. A craft table for kids, conversations with area scholars, backstage tours, and post-show talkbacks round out the evening.

Cost for this evening? Free, nada, zip. (So, maybe you can put a buck or two in the donation slot). More info at www.shakespearefestivalstlouis.org or call 314/531-9800.

Other important May events: Happy Mother’s Day, Mom! Happy Birthday to my wonderful husband. What a great month!!