ArtFul Living

With Michelle “Mike” Ochonicky
Healthy Planet Arts Editor

Summer Is For Children

For more years than I care to count, I’ve spent summers teaching art enrichment classes. It delights me to wonder which of these budding young art enthusiasts will someday blossom into a prominent artist.

Personally, I believe that artistic skill does not necessarily correlate to age. Often it’s difficult to discern the age of the artist just by viewing a finished work.

Pablo Picasso had much to say about this topic as well. Perhaps it is because Picasso lived a very long life and produced so much art that his words carry powerful wisdom. Among his comments: “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” “It takes a very long time to become young.” “It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.”

The Blooming Artists Project is the brainchild of Lindbergh School District educator Marilyn Callahan. Facilitating a bond between young artists and established artists, this initiative paired elementary and high school students with local, professional artists. Through the exchange of perspectives, ideas and techniques that began in January, the young artists “bloomed” with the expertise of their master-mentors. Jewelers, sculptors, painters, fiber artists and photographers partnered with students to bring ideas to fruition. In turn, the master artists created works inspired by their students. The results are shown in an exhibition of side-by-side works by each mentor and mentee at Clayton Fine Art Gallery, 21 N. Beminston, from May 30 through June 22. More info at www.claytonfineartgallery.com.

Maybe it’s the child in each of us that has boosted the current wild fad of “selfies.” Thanks to cell phones, everyone, everyone, is snapping quick self-portraits. Once (and only once), when my son was just a little tyke, he somehow managed to scramble atop the refrigerator and proudly call me into the kitchen by shouting, “Look where I am!” That’s exactly what selfies say, “Look where I am!” Selfies capture moments; they reflect and record who we are, where we are, and tell the world to “Look at me!”
So…are selfies art? PHD Gallery on Cherokee asks that very question with a new exhibition entitled “Selfie STL.” Fifty area celebs were invited to snap cell phone selfies for an exhibition that opens on June 7, from 7-10 p.m. The group includes selfies of artists, arts administrators, photographers, academics, educators, gallerists, journalists, dancers, actors, politicians, and drag queens. The exhibition promises to be fun. Snap a selfie while you’re at the opening reception! More info at www.phdstl.com.

Young and old alike are sure to love “Karamu: Fiesta of Latin and African American Music” on June 14. Presented by Gitana Productions, the evening kicks off at 6 p.m. with “Salsa con Salsa,” a free salsa tasting and competition involving 10 local Mexican restaurants plus Salsa dancing with free dance lessons led by Carmen Guynn of Cha Cha Cha. Guests will taste and vote on the “Best St. Louis Salsa Sauce” in the salsa competition. With the mood set for an evening of fiery music, the area’s best musicians, including the Bosman Twins, Denise Thimes, and the Latin Fire Ensemble, perform starting at 7:30 p.m.

“We’re so excited to bring the best of St. Louis’ Latin and African American musicians together for this event,” said Ceceila Nadal, executive director of Gitana Productions. “Karamu is the Swahili word for ‘party’ or ‘fiesta’ and that’s what we’ll be doing.” Jazz, Congolese drumming, poetry readings, and an art exhibit round out the event at Union Avenue Christian Church. For ticket info, call 314-721-6556.

Circus Flora is a grand celebration of the child in all of us. The intimacy of this circus is like no other. Music by a live band, costumes beyond description, and incredible world-class performers, all so close, are the hallmarks of St. Louis’ beloved Circus Flora. This year’s show, entitled “The Pawn,” centers on a story about the intriguing game of chess. It runs through June 22 under the air-conditioned Big Top in Grand Center. Be awed! Find out more at www.circusflora.org.

It is with sadness that we send sympathy to all of the Circus Flora family on the passing of founder and artistic director Ivor David Balding, on May 9, 2014. David was a big presence with a big voice, a big vision and a big heart. He will truly be missed.