ArtFul Living

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

September signals the start of fall and the opening of autumn art exhibitions and performances. The perfect way to get back into the ARTful swing of things!!

Hats serve as an avenue to explore black history and identity in Crowns, a play by Regina Taylor presented by The Black Rep. The variety of hats worn by those in the African American community take on a more significant role than mere fashion as the characters in this coming-of-age story tell tales of their lives as represented by the hats they were.

The hats transition to significant “crowns” of a sisterhood of women. 17-year old Yolanda and crusty 73-year-old Grandmother Shaw are joined by Velma, a 27-year-old mortician; Jeannette, a 35-year old flirt; 40-ish straight-laced Wanda, and larger than life Mabel, the preacher’s wife. Put these powerhouse women onstage together and hold on to your seat as heading-for-trouble Yolanda gets a lesson in life. The play runs September 5-23 at the Edison Theatre on Washington University’s campus. Ticket info is available at 314-534-3810 or online at www.theblackrep.org. According to info from The Black Rep’s Producing Director Ron Himes, “This season, we’re not only celebrating people of color, but colorful people. The bright and the beautiful, the vivid and the vivacious—people of every color who boldly color our world.”

September heralds the annual launch of Dance St. Louis’ performance season. This year promises to be a “season of firsts—of premieres for works never before seen in our city.” Hip-hop, contortion and contemporary dance fuse into Wewolf, the Los Angeles-based dance company formed by international artists Rauf Yasit (aka RubberLegz) and James Gregg. Their focus is to create a merger of their dance methods with visual arts. The result of their collaboration this time is Henry and Edward, making its North American debut here on September 15, at the Grandel Theatre in Grand Center. Harry and Edward abstractly represents the famous Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, searching the connection of how two bodies join to create one soul. How do those two vastly different beings dwell within one being? Incredible dance moves weave together the thoughts of these two personalities, and the result is one amazing evening. Wewolf’s press info says, “It’s the battle of the euphoric high and how to maintain that sensation, with the battle within oneself and the voice of the alter ego.” Clearly this is not a typical dance performance!
The other premiere selections to come from Dance St. Louis this year include An Evening of Ballet Stars, London’s Company Wayne McGregor’s Autobiography, the always-sells-out Pilobolus and, of course, Spring to Dance. Details at www.dancestl.org.

Art St. Louis states, “Drawing is a foundation of all art making.” But what part does un-drawing have in the artistic process? Erasing what has been drawn can be as powerful as what it put to paper. Pink Pearl, an all-media juried exhibition at Art St. Louis, 1223 Pine Street in downtown St. Louis, presents artists who explore and interpret this concept. Attend the opening reception on September 22, 5-7 p.m. to chat with some of the artists about how they approached the erasing of their art. The show runs through October 25. More info at www.artstlouis.org.

Start and end the month at the Jacoby Arts Center in Alton, Illinois for two musical performances. On September 8, Elsie Parker & the Poor People of Paris perform classics from Edith Piaf and the French café scene. Just $12 buys a ticket. And on September 28, vocalist Erin Bode takes center stage with her great jazz, folk and pop songs. Reserve a $20 ticket for that concert now. Details at www.jacobyartscenter.org.

Spend mid-month (September 15th) at the Old Webster Jazz and Blues Festival, touted as “one of the most family-friendly jazz festivals on the planet.” It’s free, and right in the heart of downtown Old Webster Groves where you’ll find plenty of food, drink, shopping and, for one day, live jazz and blues. The music is nonstop, and so is the fun. Details at www.oldwebsterjazzfest.com.

CORRECTION: In last month’s issue, Art St. Louis was inadvertently identified as the oldest art guild west of the Mississippi. That distinction does, in fact, belong to the St. Louis Artists’ Guild. We regret any confusion this error may have caused.