ARTful Living

St. Louis Area Fine Arts, Crafts & Performing Arts

Michelle “Mike” Ochonicky, Arts Editor

This month, let’s talk about two ARTful spots that may not be on your radar.

Housed on Pine, in the middle of St. Louis University’s campus, is the Museum of Contemporary Religious Art, better known as MOCRA. Unless you’re familiar with the SLU campus (in the heart of Grand Center), you might not even know it’s there. And it’s a gem! The exhibitions that MOCRA presents always give pause for thought and discussion.

“Transformation is an element of the creation and experience of art,” said a recent MOCRA press release.

Yes, indeed! Art moves us, inspires us, disturbs us, makes us think. Sometimes that’s comforting; sometimes that’s uncomfortable. But either of those feelings is what defines art. It is the task of artists to manipulate materials and perceptions to bring viewers—and even artists themselves—to new physical, psychological and spiritual states of existence. Art challenges and, to quote MOCRA’s release, “sometimes an artwork evokes in us a sense of connection to something other, and perhaps greater, than ourselves. We are moved beyond surface, material existence to an engagement with deeply human concerns such as suffering, love, mortality, and immortality.” Those emotions lead to the questions of mystery and, perhaps, religious inquiry. “In one way or another, {art} invites us to a more focused attention, to a deeper understanding, and to an engagement with mystery.”

This is the very premise that MOCRA has explored through art for nearly 25 years. Its present exhibition, Transformations, reflects geographical, ethnic, religious and spiritual range among artists, featuring works by Salma Arastu, Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons, Jordan Eagle, Nancy Fried, Luis Gonzalez-Palma, Adrian Kellard, DoDo Jin Ming, Jim Morphesis, Daniel Ramirez and Susan Schwalb.

Currently, parts of the museum are cordoned off as a major recent acquisition, Cruz to Bishop Oscar Romero, Martyr of El Salvador, a 1981 work by Michael Tracy, is being prepared for presentation. Conservation work is tedious, delicate work that’s generally done in museums where the public is not. Take a look at what is usually behind-the-scenes work while the process of conservation is done at MOCRA in rare public view. Be amazed by the array of materials and techniques employed in the art conservation process. Details at www.slu.edu/mocra

Just across the path from MOCRA is the Samuel Cupples House Museum and Gallery. MANY years ago, before the house underwent renovation, I attended art history classes in it. It was spooky then, but can now be described as a gorgeous, turn-of-the-other-century historic house, with some great glass and art collections on display. And, before you leave the SLU campus, pop over to 3663 Lindell to visit St. Louis University’s Museum of Art. It’s a beautiful venue, with an impressive variety of art. Learn more at www.slu.edu/sluma

A nominating committee of the International Photography Hall of Fame and Museum representatives and notable leaders with a passion for preserving and honoring the art of photography selected and just announced its 2017 class of Photography Hall of Fame inductees. The Awards and Induction Event is scheduled for Nov. 17, at the IPHF in Grand Center. Additionally, the first-ever Lifetime Achievement Award announced its 2017 class of Photography Hall of Fame inductees, and first-ever Lifetime Achievement was designated for Kenny Rogers, singer, songwriter, record producer, actor, photographer, and author. Patty Wente, Executive Director of the IPHF said, “This year, the IPHF is honored to recognize ten creators who have uniquely revolutionized the modern photography industry. Our 2017 awardees are innovators who broke the norm of tradition and conceived their own ways of creatively communicating with the world around them.” Although varying widely in style and practice, all the inductees are considered significant innovators, introducing new means of artistic representation and expression.

The awardees are:

  • Harry Benson, iconic portrait photographer
  • Ernest H. Brooks II, black-and-white underwater photographer
  • Edward Curtis, photographer of the American West and the North American Indian
  • William Eggleston, pioneer of color photography
  • Anne Geddes, portrait and infant photographer
  • Ryszard Horowitz, pre-digital special effects photographer
  • James Nachtwey, photojournalist and war photographer
  • Cindy Sherman, conceptual portrait photographer
  • Jerry Uelsmann, photomontage photographer

What?? You haven’t been to IPHF? Put a visit to 3415 Olive on your to-do list. Find hours and details at www.iphf.org.