ArtFul Living

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

Fall Fashion And The Arts

September signals the end of summer as we round the curve into fall. Time to pull out some autumn fashion pieces! Speaking of which, if you haven’t yet seen Reigning Men at the St. Louis Art Museum, get there before the exhibition closes on September 17. It’s a fun historic journey through men’s styles, although if you still have any of these fashion statements still in your closet, it might be best to leave them there!

The Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, on Washington University’s campus (1 Brookings Place) hosts an opening reception on September 8 for its autumn exhibitions. Renaissance and Baroque Prints: Investigating the Collection surveys the museum’s substantial collection of prints from the 15th-18th centuries. Regular readers of this column know I love early European printmaking so I can’t wait for this exhibition to open. The works to be exhibited represent woodcuts, engravings, etchings and some drawings, many of which have rarely been shown.

It was during the Renaissance that serialized images began to circulate on a wide scale, carrying art outside of its previously secluded realm of palaces and churches. Such art was embraced by a newly expanded group of artists and collectors. Additionally, subject matter expanded greatly in printmaking, feeding the fascination with classical antiquity that marked the Renaissance era.

The artists who produced prints during the Baroque era pushed the artform with dramatic effects and innovative techniques, giving us everything from religious to fantastic images. Works by such major innovators as Albrecht Durer (1471-1528), Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669), Daniel Hopfer (1470-1536), Marcanonio Raimondi (1480-1530) and Giovannie Battista Piranesi (1720-1778)—all in this exhibition — are sure to demand serious magnifying glass study.

Simultaneously on view at the Kemper is Kadar Attia: Reason’s Oxymorons, a look into how we understand and experience trauma and psychological repair. The installation includes 18 video interviews of a diverse roster of experts such as historians, psychiatrists, and philosophers. Set in a sterile, office-like atmosphere of cubicles representing both bureaucracy and isolation, the maze-like format invites viewers to chart their own path through the multiplicity of worldviews and practices presented.

The collection of interviews at the center of Reason’s Oxymorons elucidates but also complicates this dichotomy, presenting a montage of viewpoints on the human condition that cross disciplines, themes, and philosophies. Although employing documentary and archival research methodologies, Attia’s interviews ultimately convey a different kind of knowledge, opening up shifting notions of reality and creating a fluid discourse that embraces, as one psychoanalyst puts it, “the guarantee of non-knowledge” versus the dead-end of certainty.

So, let’s discuss the ART of the written word — and where is a better place for such discussion than Nancy’s Jazz Lounge at the Harold and Dorothy Steward Center for Jazz (home to Jazz St. Louis) at 3536 Washington?! The Jazz St. Louis Book Club is facilitated by Dr. Gerald Early, a Merle Kling Professor of Modern Letters, Professor of English and of African and Afro-American Studies, Director of the Center for Humanities, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences at Washington University. Simply put, any literary discussion will be impressive. The rules for this club are simple: Members are asked to read the month’s selection and to participate in lively discussion starting at 7 p.m. The club is free but a ticket is required to attend (register at 314-571-6000 or email phil@jazzstl.org). This year’s club will focus on nine amazing books, ranging from histories and biographies, to autobiographies and novels, each carefully selected by Dr. Early. Light refreshments follow each meeting. Attend all meetings, or as many as you would like. The selection for September 12 is Young Man with a Horn by Dorothy Baker, regarded as the first jazz novel and filled with the music that defined an era.

Finish off September with Dance St. Louis’ season opener. TAP Dynamics combines live jazz with tap by “three of the world’s greatest tap dancers” (The New York Times), all in the Grandel Theatre in Grand Center, September 30-October 1. Jason Samuel Smith, with Emmy and American Choreography Awards to his credit, directs the LA Tap Festival (and designs his own signature tap shoes). Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards boasts a long list of awards, having served as Michael Jackson’s personal tap instructor. Derick K. Grant established his own tap company Tap2You, and collected Ovation and Helen Hayes Awards. Together these three are the most influential and celebrated tap dance luminaries in the world. Visit www.dancestlouis.org for details and tickets for their don’t-miss performance.