Artful Living

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

Treat Mom To Art This Spring!

The Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis (CAM) at 3750 Washington continues to offer creative options to experience contemporary art. Stroller Tours and Morning Play Dates at CAM give parents with little ones the chance to connect and see exhibitions in an atmosphere that is patient with tiny visitors who often don’t have much patience themselves. Art Up Late on selected Friday nights keep the artistic party going from 9 p.m. until midnight with a lively crowd, drinks, music and socializing.

As CAM clearly strives to accommodate its many and diverse visitors, the museum recently announced that the popular Grove coffeehouse RISE, will have a second location in CAM’s café, beginning on May 1 as summer exhibitions open. Said CAM Executive Director Lisa Melandri, “We envision the museum as a gathering place, a community living room for the viewing of art. Rise fits perfectly with this concept. You realize that Rise is focused on community the moment you enter. They also make really good coffee and scrumptious food! I couldn’t be more delighted.”

Aaron Johnson, owner of Rise, agreed, “CAM is one of those cultural institutions for whom the idea of being a gathering place for community has become a priority.” A recent Vogue article, “An Insider’s Guide to the Magic of St. Louis, Missouri,” by Dawn Sturman noted both Rise and CAM among the city’s hallmarks. Now they can be enjoyed together.

And here’s what else is happening at CAM this month: The first major solo museum exhibition by Amy Sherald of Baltimore! Does her name sound familiar? Sherald was commissioned to paint the recently-unveiled official portrait of First Lady Michelle Obama, now on display in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.

Whether the people being portrayed are famous or not, Sherald presents a transformative vision of her portrait subjects. Her work is straightforward, powerful and bold. In the artist’s own words, “My paintings hold up a mirror to the present and reflect real experiences of blackness, today and historically, in everyday life and within the historical art canon.”

Sherald’s works have been described as “staged narratives” as she employs her distinct skill in realism in the portraits she embellishes with colorful costumes, fantastical props, and her signature gray-scale facial tones. The list of institutions that own her works is lengthy, and impressive. The artist will be at CAM on May 10th at 6:30 p.m. to discuss her work. The exhibition officially opens on May 11 (7-9 p.m. public reception) and continues through August 19. Find more details at www.camstl.org.

Memorial Day weekend brings the Annual Emerson SPRING TO DANCE Festival to the Touhill Performing Arts Center for the eleventh year. And it’s ALWAYS wonderful!! Presented by Dance St. Louis, every evening professional dance companies perform nonstop, diverse dance, offering every way to move from contemporary and classical to modern, tap, ballet, and much more.

Local dance troupes perform each day at 5:30 p.m. in the Terrace Lobby, followed by reserved seating performances in the Lee Theatre at 6 p.m. and the Anheuser-Busch Performance Hall at 7:30. The professional companies performing in those theatres hail from coast to coast and everywhere in between, plus international companies, namely, Ballet Nacional de Cuba (Havana) and the National Ballet of Canada (Toronto, Ontario). This year’s lineup boasts twenty-five companies, so attend each night to see them all. Combo ticket for both Lee and AB Theatre performances is just $20 per night (or $15 to attend performances in one of the theatres). Such a deal! And such a dancing delight! Full list of dance companies can be found at www.dancestl.org.

Applause to Fontbonne University’s Theatre, home of Mustard Seed Theatre, which is now the first in St. Louis to offer Hearing Loop Technology. This assistive listening technology allows patrons with varying audio deficiencies to better hear the productions. Generously sponsored by the Fontbonne Community Connection and Loop the Lou, the system provides a Radio Frequency System (RF) from an individually worn neckloop. Anyone can use the system, even those without hearing assistance devices, making theatre more accessible to everyone in our community.

Happy Mother’s Day to moms everywhere (especially to my own mom!).
Mark your calendar now for June 1-24 when Shakespeare Festival St. Louis returns to the Glen in Forest Park. This year’s presentation is everyone’s favorite Romeo and Juliet….and, as always, it’s performed nightly (except Tuesdays) and it’s FREE. Details at www.sfstl.org.