ArtFul Living: St. Louis Area Fine Arts, Crafts & Performing Arts

Michelle “Mike” Ochonicky, Arts Editor

Meet Me In Brussels, Meet Me At The Fair

There’s a fascinating exhibition, “Lost and Found,” at the Foundry Art Centre in St. Charles through June 21. It strikes a particularly personal and coincidental chord with me this month.

A couple of years ago at a consignment shop, Jeff Phillips found more than a thousand unmarked photographs of an unknown man and a woman. Immediately his questions arose: Who are the people? Why were their portraits abandoned? Where are they now?

“Lost and Found” shares the story of a social media search party attempting to discover the identities of this anonymous couple who traveled the world more than 50 years ago. The exhibition presents the beauty, humor, and mystery of found photographs and explores the intersection of photography, social media, and our places in history. How Phillips’ curiosity was sparked by mysterious slides, the power of social media and the dedication of one man to uncover Harry and Edna’s story has evolved into an art exhibition. Read more at www.HarryandEdna.com, or visit the Foundry Art Centre.

The thought of what future generations will think of the ARTful trail I may leave behind is a bit daunting; I’m too busy living ARTfully to think about the future just now. Since the last issue of The Healthy Planet was printed, I had an opportunity to spend some time in Belgium. The main purpose of the trip (besides eating lots of Belgium chocolates!) was to study fine medieval etchings and view Flemish Primitive classics up close. I love Bruegel and Bosch (but can even enjoy Magritte). A special photograph also factored into the ARTfulness of this trip.

Sorting through old photographs some time ago, I found a snapshot of my grandmother, marked “Brussels, Belgium , World’s Fair, 1958”—55 years ago. In the background was a strange, sleek, ultra-modern structure. The Atomium was built for the Fair. It still stands in Brussels, still allows tourists to scurry through its tubes and orbs like hamsters, still affords breathtaking views of the city. So, a detour from 17th century Flemish art to contemporary 20th century sculpture was in order. Cousins from Germany met me there for our quest. We spent over an hour tramping around the Atomium grounds to find the precise location where the 1958 photo was taken, to replicate it with a new generation — and promised to meet again on that spot in 55 years (I might have to renege on that promise!).

A high-speed train trip to the northern city of Bruges immersed me totally into a magical place that “stopped” in the 16th century when its harbor silted over and the town went to sleep. Here “old” means 600 years, not 6! Every view is like stepping into a Flemish painting (except for the Salvadore Dali exhibition, which was also awesome!).
ARTful living is alive and well in a tiny bed-and-breakfast called Anselmus Hotel. Located in the heart of Bruges (the entire city is a registered UNESCO World Historic Site), Anselmus is delightful, charming, wonderfully ARTful!! Two back-to-back houses are connected by a lovely garden room. My room was located in the “new” house (built in 1700), as compared to the “old” house from 1600. Humanist Anselmus Boetius de Boodt called this place home back then. (www.anselmus.be)

Each morning, innkeepers Ronnie and Magda presented breakfast in their dining room while classical music played softly in the background. The diversity of multiple languages, softly spoken by guests sipping coffee, created a gentle hum in the room. Tables draped in multiple shades of dove grey and smooth cream began the day with a rare gentility. Even the rolls were carefully, intentionally arranged to look beautiful. Any disruption of the display sent Magda back to the kitchen with the tray so she could ARTfully place each one, “just so.” Ahhhh, no stress, no hurry here!

Churches have served as repositories of fine art for centuries and remain so, especially in Europe. My husband jokes that, “There are no ugly churches in Europe.” Every church on every corner is worth a visit to view masterpieces from painters, sculptors, architects and even musicians. Popping into Sint Salvatorskathedraal in Bruges provided an impromptu concert as the resident organist practiced his art filling the space with audial beauty. A tiny room in Sint Janshospital was the setting for an intimate concert of original works by harpist Luc Vanlaere (www.lucvanlaere-harp.be). A brick archway provided perfect acoustics for Jacek Dzwonowski and Michal Lech (www.altravolta.pl) to perform string classics such as Pachelbel’s Canon without any amplification.

It’s strange to say that I know my way around the Louvre or the Prada better than I will know the newly expanded St. Louis Art Museum when it’s unveiled this month. I am excited about being a “new” visitor, seeing things in different settings and getting to know them all over again. Time to be an ARTful tourist in St. Louis.