ArtFul Living

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

While art often offers beauty, it sometimes gives us cause to rethink circumstance.

Throughout the centuries, artists (whether visual or performing) have used their talents to shake us a bit, to make us see things from a different viewpoint.
Currently on view in the Gallery of Contemporary Art at St. Louis Community College-Wildwood, through November 17, is “PORTRAITS OF COURAGE,” an exhibition of paintings by St. Louis artist Phyllis MacLaren.

MacLaren’s exhibit is a series of human rights paintings inspired by actual people. “My art honors people around the world whose human rights have been violated,” the artist said. “My hope is that viewers will remember the names and be witness to the courage. The stories are humbling to those of us with the freedom to make choices.” MacLaren’s writings are incorporated within the works, telling the stories of these people. Her work on the project began in 2010, involving extensive research on the person portrayed, with words in both English and the subject’s language.

I teach a painting class myself on that campus. While viewing the exhibition with my class, one of my students originally from Azerbaijan recognized both the name and the face in one of the portraits: “It is my friend!” she said excitedly. As she revealed the story of what her friend had endured, including imprisonment, we were all deeply moved. Art has the power to reach around the world to unite people as, in this case, my student with her friend.

View the exhibition, free and open to the public, on the third floor of the college, 2645 Generations Drive off Hwy. 109, 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Thursday; until 4 p.m. Friday.

On Veterans Day, November 11th, Mustard Seed Theatre opens ALL IS CALM: THE CHRISTMAS TRUCE OF 1914 for the 4th and final time. This a capella musical, featuring the voices of 10 men, tells the story of WWI soldiers who experienced a spontaneous night of peace in the midst of war. Holiday carols and popular tunes from that era blend with letters and newspaper accounts to tell this poignant story. Mustard Seed Theatre first introduced this staged version of the original chorale piece in November 2012, earning five St. Louis Theatre Circle Awards in 2013. It is a play that makes us consider that, if peace can be made for one night (as was truly achieved in 1914), can we not find a way for peace to exist always?

Cast members for this final production include a blend of “veterans” and new members alike including: Paul Cereghino, Kent Coffel, Steve Isom, Steve Jent, Greg Lhamon, Gerry Love, Antonio Rodriguez, Luke Steingruby, Kelvin Urday and Jeff Wright. Joe Schoen returns as Musical Director and Deanna Jent returns as Director.

Performances are Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m., with Sunday performances at 2 and 5 p.m. through December 4th. But it is the Thursday evening “Pay What You Can/Pay With a Can” shows that emphasize the concept of art’s power to impact society. Admission to these Thursday performances is a canned food or financial donation. These performances are made possible by audience members who can pay the ticket price or more to support those who have limited resources. New this year are Saturday performances that will be interpreted for the visually impaired by MindsEye Audio Description.

The Theatre is located on the Fontbonne University campus at 6800 Wydown. Active Military and Veterans can receive free tickets by using the coupon code “veteran.” For ticket info, visit www.mustardseedtheatre.com or call the box office at 314-719-8060.

From November 5 through January 29, Laumeier Sculpture Park presents South African artist Mohau Modisakeng’s indoor exhibition of photographs and videos. The Soweto-born, Cape Town-based artist creates “lush, elegant { images} that reimagine the black body in contemporary society.” Modisakeng is often the actor in his simple performances that express issues of rebirth against the historical trauma of colonization and apartheid. This is Laumeier’s second project organized in collaboration with Mark Coetzee, Founding Executive Director & Chief Curator, Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, Cape Town, that explores issues of Truth & Reconciliation from two distinctly different historical perspectives.

Also running through January 29 at Laumeier as part of the 2016 Kranzberg Exhibition Series is ALISON OUELLETTE-KIRBY AND NOAH KIRBY: ARENA. This massive outdoor installation consists of five sheet-metal megaphone with an interactive audio element. According to the artists, “The artwork translates and projects visitors’ voices into harmonic gibberish as a response to the flora and fauna in the Park.”

Laumeier is located at 12580 Rott Road. For info, call 314-615-5278 or visit www.laumeier.org.

When November draws to a close, please remember SMALL BUSINESS SATURDAY on November 26th. Support local art studios, galleries, bakeries, and any other fun places to shop—not only on that day, but throughout the year. You’ll find treasures, gifts and goodies that just can’t be matched for quality!

You can view Artful Happenings online at www.thehealthyplanet.com.