ArtFul Living

St. Louis Area Fine Arts, Crafts & Performing Arts
Michelle “Mike” Ochonicky, Arts Editor

July Defines “Summer.” Say “July” and thoughts of summer relaxation come to mind.

No school for kids, maybe a lightened work schedule for adults. The pace is slower with al fresco dinners or morning coffee on the porch. The days are long and the dress code is casual. Amateur softball, little league, and professional baseball make a classic American summer evening. Of course, there is also vacation travel.

On a recent jaunt in downtown St. Louis, I noticed groups of obvious tourists, snapping pictures of the Arch, strolling downtown streets with maps in hand and sneakers on their feet, smiling the recognizable smile of people enjoying a break from their everydayness, from wherever they call home. Nice! It’s good to see visitors. But it makes me wonder WHY do people vacation in St. Louis? A lot of visitors come here, so there must be something to attract them all! I love the Cardinals, but I think visitors come for more reasons than just our beloved baseball team. Last month, when I attended the Shakespeare Festival in Forest Park, I noticed a lot of out-of-state license plates in the parking area. Lots of locals, sure, but lots of tourists, too.

Sometimes we “locals” become so accustomed to what we have that we take things for granted. We get used to the fact that so many of our cultural institutions (the very places that attract tourists!) are free, or extremely reasonably priced. I don’t even want to mention how much I paid recently for an admission to the Art Institute of Chicago, but it was definitely not free. So, soak up the ARTistic values St. Louis offers.

To get you started, let’s play a little free-association game. When you think “July,” respond with an ARTful word, such as:

Nobody does outdoor summer concerts better than St. Louis. Check out Parties in the Park in Clayton. Pack a chair and head to Art Hill Plaza in Forest Park any Friday night in July for live concerts, too. Or take in a Wednesday evening Whitaker Concert at Missouri Botanical Garden.

Film Series.
After a Friday night concert, stay at the Art Museum for outdoor films on Friday night. They’re free and fun. Webster University hosts a tremendous selection of international films this month inside Moore Auditorium on Lockwood, at affordable ticket prices.

Outdoor Sculpture.
Let’s start at the BIGGEST outdoor sculpture in the United States: the Gateway Arch by Eero Saarinen. Have you been there lately? Have you EVER been to see it up close? (I’m always surprised when native St. Louisans tell me they’ve never been on the Arch grounds). People come from all over the world just to marvel at its sleekness. It’s pure
ARTistic grace. And the museum under it is worth a visit, too.

City Garden, right on Market Street, presents joyful works by artists from around the globe. And it’s free! The entire family will love its delightful fountains. Laumier Sculpture Park, just off Lindbergh in Sunset Hills, offers visitors the excitement of “discovering” the works scattered throughout the grounds. Until I visited recently, I’d forgotten how much fun it is to get up close and personal to those works.

Cool Museums.
When outdoor temperatures soar in July, it’s refreshing to wander the cool collections of the St. Louis Art Museum, The Contemporary Museum of Art, St. Louis University Museum of Art, The Pulitzer, The Sheldon Galleries—and that’s only some of the museums in our area. Bring the family along to engage them in the ARTful experience. That kind of relaxed summer visit can instill a lifelong love of art.

So visit a gallery! Even if you’re not in the market to buy a piece of artwork, experience an exhibition of current artwork at one of the many outstanding visual art galleries in our region. Check my ARTful Happenings Exhibits listings to plot your gallery path.
Live Performances.

The Muny is a St. Louis favorite, but there are lots of other performance venues in full swing during the summer, too. Take in a play, maybe experience an opera on July 6 at Union Avenue Opera.

This month, reserve some in-town summer vacation time to enjoy, or to re-experience, St. Louis’ ARTful opportunities. Act like a tourist and see the things you’ve been meaning to see, experience the events you’ve been wanting to hear or watch. I’ve heard that St. Louis is a great place to visit!