ArtFul Living

St. Louis Area Fine Arts, Crafts & Performing Arts

Michelle “Mike” Ochonicky, Arts Editor

ArtFul Instruction

St. Louis is home to some absolutely incredible ARTful institutions. And maybe we residents of the area sometimes take them for gran…ed.

The world-class programs, exhibitions and performances that these institutions bring to us require funding beyond just ticket prices. Missouri Arts Council, Regional Arts Commission, and the Arts and Education Council provide support but the corporate community also gives tremendous support for the arts in St. Louis. Pay close attention to the next program book you receive at any performance and you’ll see the major corporations that help to cover those artistic costs. The list of those corporations is impressive. We, as audience members, thank those corporations for their civic involvement, for helping to make our region artistically better. Here’s just one example:
The Sheldon opened its doors in 1912 and is known for its perfect concert acoustics. The adjoining Sheldon Art Galleries present quality visual exhibitions. The Ann Lee and Wilfred Konneker Gallery at the Sheldon is the site for the Jim Dine sculpture, The Heart Called Orchid, 2003. Over 25,000 young people are engaged in Sheldon education programs plus 125,000 individuals participate in over 350 Sheldon events each year.

Understandably, such programming doesn’t come cheap.

With the support of a $15,000 grant from the Monsanto Fund, The Sheldon will be able to support educational programs serving over 25,000 grade school and high school students in the St. Louis region, including 10,000 young people from St. Louis Public Schools, North County school districts and other urban and rural schools serving disadvantaged students.

For the 2016-2017 season, The Sheldon launched “The Sound and Science of Music,” utilizing STEM disciplines (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) to reveal the science of acoustics through fast-paced, live performances by top local musicians.
“With the support of the Monsanto Fund, students are introduced to many different genres of music in the intimate setting of The Sheldon’s historic concert hall. They also have opportunities to participate in music and visual arts workshops, performances, mentoring. Students learn to combine the creativity of the arts with science, technology, engineering and math and are challenged to create their own musical instrument. It’s the perfect STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, ART, Mathematics) program,” said Susan Wise, Director of Education.

And the Monsanto Fund just awarded The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis a grant of $25,000 to support its Imaginary Theatre Company (ITC), which brings professional theatrical performances to schools and community venues throughout the bi-state area.

The Monsanto Fund, the philanthropic arm of the Monsanto Company, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening the communities where farmers and Monsanto Company employees live and work. Visit the Monsanto Fund at www.monsantofund.org.
Gitana Productions is recognized for its thoughtful artistic connections, utilizing performances to bring diverse audiences together.

On Saturday, February 18, Gitana presents its 19th annual “Faces of Love Concert and Dinner,” an international-flavor Valentine’s celebration concert and dinner at the Ethical Society of St. Louis, 9001 Clayton. Dinner features authentic dishes from four leading St. Louis ethnic along with candlelight, champagne and chocolates beginning at 6:30 p.m. The participating restaurants are Olive Green International Cuisine (African), Haveli’s Indian Restaurant (Indian), Café Natasha (Persian) and Mandarin House (Chinese). Mmmm, mouth-watering!

Aska Kaneko, virtuoso violinist from Japan, and well-known St. Louis trumpeter Dawn Weber collaborate to create a unique, cross-cultural concert at 7:30 p.m., including jazz and contemporary styles.

“This musical collaboration clearly demonstrates that innovation and cross-cultural engagement is not just cultural but also spans creative styles, musical backgrounds and disciplines,” said Cecilia Nadal, executive director of Gitana. “We are excited to see where these two talented artists will go creatively with their shared compositions and improvisation.” As a nonprofit dedicated to creating a diverse and dynamic community through cross-cultural awareness, Gitana presents a rarely seen diversity of international and local artists.

Tickets for the dinner and concert are $50; concert only is $25. Call 314-721-6556; view a video performance at www.gitana-inc.org.

Chesterfield has a history of encouraging public art, acquiring over $5 million worth of sculptures since 1997. Adding to that collection, Chesterfield Parks, Recreation & Arts announced Leland Drexler-Russell as its Public Art Competition winner. The chosen public art sculpture, “Flow,” will be an interactive piece placed near the lake in Chesterfield’s Central Park; anticipated completion date is summer 2017. “It’s a really exciting time because this is my first permanent installation,” said the artist.

The design vision of “Flow” brings attention to the native plants of Missouri wetlands: cattail-sculptures surround the lake and a lotus sculpture floats on its surface. The installation is solar-powered (with a timed shut-off at 10:30 p.m..), illuminating the lake as a scenic backdrop to the Chesterfield Amphitheater during summer events.

Drexler-Russell is a local sculptor, designer and fabricator, drawing inspiration from flora and fauna of earth and faraway worlds. Drexler-Russell is the current director of arts and sustainability at City of Night St. Louis.