ArtFul Living

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

September is a Month of Diversity of Art…

The Amherst Park Peace Festival on Saturday, September 12, 2015 is a gathering for diverse local groups in a cross-cultural event designed to promote peace and harmony. Near Skinker and Page Boulevards, the 11 a.m.-2 p.m. event offers such entertainment as Nitro Latin Jazz Band, KYPE Dancers, St. Louis Cultural Flamenco Society, Salsa Dance lessons, African folk arts, St. Louis Art Museum children’s art activities, and readings by St. Louis Poet Laureate Michael Castro.

According to Cecilia Nadal, Executive Director of Gitana Productions, “The Amherst Park Peace Festival is a successful prototype of how communities throughout the St. Louis region can bring together people of different cultures and backgrounds for cross-cultural engagement.” Gitana Productions is known for its presentations of rarely seen international and local artists exhibiting diverse, traditional and innovative artistic expressions.

The idea of a unity concert stemmed from a tragedy in June 2010, when 15-year-old Eritrean refugee Sahele Wodede was slain in the Amherst neighborhood. That first peace festival was successful in initiating public engagement between immigrant and African American groups, each of which had suffered from misperceptions and discrimination against the other.

Gitana’s work was featured in a PBS series Homeland: Immigration in America in 2012. “People can co-exist, but community means more than co-existing,” Nadal said. “Authentic relationship development can reduce violence.” For more information, visit www.gitana-inc.org.

This month (opening August 28), through October 10, Craft Alliance Center of Art + Design in the Delmar Loop hosts “Speaking with Threads,” featuring works by seven artists. This exhibition is presented in conjunction with Innovations in Textiles 10, a regional collaborative event celebrating fiber art.

Exhibited work includes utilitarian skills like embroidery, knitting, and sewing, and elevates them to a state of fine art. The work is vastly diverse in style and subject matter but share the component of tiny stitches which grow into intricate images. Curator Jane Sauer stated, “I am fascinated by the end result from the accumulation of hundreds and perhaps thousands of small elements coming together to make a powerful statement. This exhibit looks at the overlap between art, craft, and popular culture.” Visit www.craftalliance.org for more info.

Known for its rich weaving of musical talent, St. Louis Classical Guitar Society brings the very best performers in the world to St. Louis in each of the concerts they present. This month is no exception. Swedish guitarist and composer Johannes Möller has enthralled audiences throughout Europe, Asia, South and North America… and now it’s time to charm St. Louis!

First Prize recipient in the Guitar Foundation of America’s International Artist Competition (regarded as THE most prestigious guitar competition in the world), Mr. Möller also won the Dutch Vriendenkrans Concours, while competing in 2008 against performers in all instrumental category. His intense musical studies have taken him to London, The Hague, and the Czech Republic.

Following his concert at The Ethical Society on September 26, Mr. Möller will conduct a master class September 27 at Washington University’s 560 Music Center in University City, 1-3 p.m. For details, visit www.guitarstlouis.net.

St. Louis is the birthplace of many forms of art: Scott Joplin’s ragtime music; Ero Saarinen’s huge sculpture; Eugene Field’s poems, Tennesee Williams’ plays; Josephine Baker’s dancing. Not to be omitted from that roster are the culinary arts—and St. Louis is noted for some famous (if quirky) favorites. On September 24, Brian Pelletier gives a tantalizing lecture, “How Food Flops Became Famous St. Louis Favorites.” As MindFest co-founder Anne Murphy said, “What’s not to love about St. Louis specialties such as Toasted Ravioli, Gooey Butter Cake, Waffle Cones, and Marshmallow Pie! But how did they come about? Attendees will learn how to make the best gooey butter cake, where to get the best toasted rav, what makes waffle cones so tasty, and what marshmallow pie tastes like. Mmmm!” Mind Fest STL presents all sorts of outside-the-box seminars for inquisitive adults. For more information, visit www.mindfeststl.com.

Mark your calendar now for an exciting, energizing, do-not-miss presentation scheduled for its world premiere on October 2 at COCA. wUNDERland is the first of its kind, taking hip-hop dance (and some truly awesome costumes!) into the world of Alice in Wonderland. Anthony “Redd” Williams, artistic director of the COCA Hip-Hop Crew and an internationally known hip-hop star himself, celebrates the 150-anniversary of Wonderland with his original dance production, showcasing talent from throughout the region.

Prepare to be delighted and dazzled by the Mad Hatter and friends as they lead you down the rabbit hole with cutting-edge choreography. For details, visit www.cocastl.org.

You can see “ArtFul Happenings” at TheHealthyPlanet.com