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

By Michelle “Mike” Ochonicky, Arts Editor

Art Is All About LOVE!

A few years ago, I visited Le Musee des Beaux Arts in Montreal. The LOVE sculpture by American artist Robert Indiana, 1964, outside the museum entrance made me smile. It’s an iconic image, seen everywhere when it was created, a statement of its era. In a time of love-ins and “make love, not war” slogans, Indiana presented the very word itself to be art.

And isn’t that what art is about? Love. How can art be without passion? Can art exist without evoking emotion from those who view it, hear it, experience it? Art is love—not always beautiful, but always full of heart. Artists do what they love (create art!) and share it with the public (who, hopefully, love it as well).

With that starting premise, I thought February – with Valentine’s Day right in the middle of the month—is the perfect time to experience art that comes from the heart. What better way to experience art than through the performing arts!

Mustard Seed Theatre presents Ellemosynary by Lee Blessing, February 5-21, at Fontbonne University Fine Arts Theatre, 6800 Wydown. The play examines the subtle but perilous, funny yet poignant relationship between a young girl, her mother and her grandmother.

Thursday night performances are Pay What You Can/Pay With a Can and tickets are available for a financial donation or canned food item(s). Food items are donated to local food pantries. Order tickets visit www.mustardseedtheatre.com or call 314-719-8060.

Metro Theatre Company offers a main stage performance in the Lee Auditorium at Missouri History Museum, February 12-28. Before Muhammad Ali became one of the greatest heavyweights in the history of boxing, before he said “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee,” he was Cassius Clay, Jr. in racially segregated Jim Crow Louisville, Kentucky. “And In This Corner….Cassius Clay” is a play by award-winning playwright Idris Goodwin, centered on this early time in the boxer’s life. The story of a young man who believes he has unlimited potential, while facing segregation and racism, remains impactful today. With the help of his boxing coach (a white police officer) Cassius follows his dreams. The play demonstrates that the good of the community surpasses personal success as Cassius learns to use his gifts in unexpected ways. The play premiered last year in the boxer’s hometown of Louisville. St. Louis is only the second city to present the drama.

But don’t expect the performance to be “staged.” Famed fight choreographer Drew Facher has traveled to St. Louis weekly to work with starring actor Trigney Morgan. Trigney and cast members learned fight choreography and endured boxing training with Drew and with St. Louis All-City Boxing to give audiences a truly realistic performance. Find ticket info at cassiusproject.com or call 314-441-5792.

Classical guitar is often described as music that stirs the soul. The St. Louis Classical Guitar Society presents just such music by China’s foremost classical guitarist Xuefei Yang on February 13 at 8 p.m. at The Ethical Society. A child prodigy who won Second Prize in the Beijing Senior Guitar competition (the only child competitor at age 11!), Xuefei Yang became the first Chinese guitarist to launch a professional career. She has performed with orchestras worldwide and her music WILL touch your heart. The single performance is sure to sell out, so reserve tickets now by calling 314-229-8686 or at www.guitarstlouis.net.

Dance St. Louis’s original creation, New Dance Horizons, returns for its fourth year with new works by three African-American choreographers, each paired with a local professional dance company to present three world premieres at the Touhill Performing Arts Center, February 26-28. New Dance Horizons IV presents a creations by Bessie Awards winner Bebe Miller, performed by MADCO; by San Francisco-based choreographer Robert Moses paired with Big Muddy Dance Company; by dance pioneer Dianne McIntyre who bases her work on three Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater principal dancers: St. Louis’ beloved Antonio Douthit-Boyd, Kirvin Douthit-Boyd and Alicia Graf Mack, accompanied by a local dance ensemble. Sure to be a wow-performance, find more info at www.dancestlouis.org.

Wrap up with a rare performance by the Polish Baltic Philharmonic Orchestra from Gdansk, Poland on February 29 at 8 p.m. According to Scott Kennebeck of Cathedral Concerts, “Their playing is infused with international and historical influences, with lofty passions that witnessed tragedy and spurred revolutions, emotions that drove humankind since time began to make music.” With the performance set in the breathtakingly-beautiful Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis on Lindell, it’s the perfect ending to the month. Details at www.cathedralconcerts.org.