ArtFul Living

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

It’s a New Year! So, do Something ARTful!!

The 1967 film, “The Graduate,” has plenty of memorable lines but one classic is when Mr. Braddock (played by William Daniels), a guest at the graduation party, offers young Benjamin, played by Dustin Hoffman, this career advice:
“I just want to say one word to you: plastics.”

It was Leo Baekeland who coined the term “plastics” in New York in 1907. From Tupperware to kids’ toys, and a myriad of other things, plastic fairly defined the late 1900’s. As this ubiquitous material usurped the place of pottery, glass, wood, metal, etc., artists have embraced it as a craft medium.

With the new millennium came a new conscientiousness of recycling, upcycling, social, health and environmental concerns about plastics and their tie to waste. Acrylic is malleable. It is intense in color. It can offer 2-D drawings 3-D possibilities. It can be translucent or opaque. Make Shift, the new exhibition at Craft Alliance Center for Art + Design proclaims, “Plastics need not be disposable; they can be bespoke, permanent, and meaningful. Make Shift celebrates the creativity and ingenuity that artists are displaying in their use of plastics as a dedicated medium.” Works by sixteen artists innovatively stretch the medium in every way imaginable.

It’s a cool exhibition at Craft Alliance’s location in the Loop at 6640 Delmar. The show opens with a reception on January 13, 6-8 p.m., and runs through February 26. For info, visit www.craftalliance.org.

Every now and then a really good idea comes along, such as the nonprofit initiative to connect people around specialty coffee and local art (sounds great already, huh?).
The Art Saint Louis gallery at 1223 Pine Street in downtown St. Louis is now home to Catalyst Coffee Bar (catalystcoffeebar.org), a new specialty coffee operation owned and operated by Art Saint Louis. The coffee operation was purchased from Mississippi Mud Coffee Roasters, which had operated in the hybrid art space at the location since its construction in 2013.

Art Saint Louis (artstlouis.org) has promoted the work of contemporary visual artists in and around St. Louis for over 32 years, “seeking to enrich lives through the work of St. Louis regional visual artists. This (coffee shop) is a hospitality-driven project,” says Art Saint Louis Executive Director Chandler Branch. “The idea for this space is that the art and artists who make it so special will become part of everyday life for more people in St. Louis.” With its central location downtown and extensive viewing hours, the 2,700-square-foot Art Saint Louis gallery welcomes a diverse audience of over 25,000 annually. Revenue from coffee sales benefits the organization’s nonprofit work. Bar manager Jac Pinto-Brickhouse explains, “We want to give our customers a great coffee experience and the knowledge that they are supporting a great cause.” Chase the January cold with a cup o’joe and an eyeful o’art!

Bruno David Gallery had long been a fixture in Grand Center. So, the gallery, which features contemporary art often by St. Louis artists, was missed when it closed its doors in 2016. Fast forward to November, however, and the gallery reopened in a new location at 7513 Forsyth Blvd. in Clayton. If you’ve not yet visited the new space, check out the latest exhibition that opens there on January 12-February 25, featuring works Leslie Laskey, Damon Free, Sarah Harford and Jill Downen. More info at www.brunodavidgallery.com.

Extra time in an airport doesn’t have to be boring. Travelers appreciate those terminals that offer ART exhibition as a welcome diversion—and, thankfully, more airports are presenting art exhibitions. The Meeting Place Gallery in Lambert St. Louis International Airport opens the year with an exhibition entitled, Makers: Past + Present. The exhibit highlights selected works by dedicated makers from around the country who have participated in Craft Alliance Center of Art + Design residency program. The works present artistic exploration of craft techniques and materials and highlight a real passion for fine craft. Delayed flights might be just a little more bearable at Lambert this winter!

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