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

By Michelle “Mike” Ochonicky, Arts Editor

Cool Art In Hot August

The mere mention of “August” forms heat waves in my brain. Maybe the arts community is wise when it comes to weather, because there are lots of cool performances and exhibitions on the schedule.

Regular readers to this column may know that I am an artist, specializing in scrimshaw. Because scrimshaw is an historic American artform, I am sometimes invited to exhibit my work at various venues where history is involved. A number of years ago, I was asked to exhibit my work at the Four Rivers Folk Festival sited at The Homeplace 1850, located at Land Between the Lakes in Kentucky.

The festival was to include not only historic American art but folk music as well. Musicians from across the country came to participate in workshops, learning the history of the music, honing their skills over several days, culminating in performances by noted professional musicians.

The Homeplace 1850 preserves a sampling of the various types of houses that had been dotted this remote area prior to the creation of the dam that formed Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley. It remains a living history museum today, and is a lovely setting. In fact, I highly recommend it for inclusion in vacation plans! The consequential Land Between the Lakes is a nature preserve: no fast food restaurants, no gas stations, no hotels, just a peninsula of beautiful, undisturbed nature. So, the idea of hosting a festival at this place seemed a bit far-fetched: where would people come from? How would anyone find out about this event??

Needless to say, I was wrong, wrong, wrong! People came by the droves, cars flooding into the dusty field-turned-parking lot throughout the festival. To this day, I have no idea where they all came from. And I continued to participate in the festival for several years. Sadly, the event no longer happens, but great memories of it remain for me. My son, quite young at that time, even had lunch one year with a very nice musician—none other than Pete Seeger (but that’s a story for another time…).

It was at one of these festivals that I met a young singer/songwriter named Gillian Welch. I remember her in a floral dress, looking as if she’d stepped right out of 1930’s Kentucky. Her music was hauntingly beautiful. I bought her CD (the first she’d recorded) and she obligingly autographed it with a fuzzy magic marker. I’ve heard her name increasingly since that time, realizing that I was privileged to meet a rising star on her way up.

On August 13, Gillian Welch performs at The Sheldon with her musical partner, guitarist Dave Rawlings. They met at Berklee College of Music where Welch was studying songwriting as Rawlings studied guitar. Together, they moved to Nashville and have inspired new generations of country and folk singers and songwriters. Described as “the most lauded and loved voices of Americana music,” their songs have been recorded by Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris and Solomon Burke. According to the artists, their “work is deeply rooted in the world it has sought to portray: the American South.” For ticket info, call 314-534-1111 or visit www.thesheldon.org.

On August 14, 21 and 28, The Pulitzer teams live music and art with yoga in a program entitled, “Bamboo: Movement for Babies.” Collaborating with local yoga studio Urban Breath Yoga to create a movement and sound class for infants up to twelve months, The Pulitzer presents the sessions from 10-11 a.m.

As the mother of a now fully-grown adult, I wish this program had existed ‘way back when my child was an infant! Instructor Stacy Broussard will engage infants and their caregivers in gentle movement and light yoga, while listening to live music (yes, live music!!) performed by a harpist, cellist, flutist and violist of Chamber Music St. Louis. (Can’t you just feel the day’s tension melt away??). According to Brittny Koskela, Marketing Coordinator of The Pulitzer, “The class will take place on a set of custom-designed cushions by Dosa, Inc., beneath the mobiles of Alexander Calder.” Calder’s work is currently on exhibition at The Pulitzer’s Calder Lightness. For more info and to register, please email programs@pulitzerarts.org.

Check out even more ARTful things to see, do and hear at www.thehealthyplanet.com. Save ARTful Happenings as a favorite on your smarty-phone, so you’ll finish off the summer with ART at your fingertips. And, as The Tempos sang, “See you in September!”