ArtFul Living

St. Louis Area Fine Arts, Crafts & Performing Arts

Michelle “Mike” Ochonicky, Arts Editor

Happy ARTful New Year, Everyone!

I love every new year, even if I do usually write the wrong year on most things for at least two months. Each new year holds such promise. Even without formal new year’s resolutions (who needs that stress?!), a new calendar offers a fresh start, the chance to move forward in new directions. Just as important, the new year offers the opportunity to look backward as well, to reflect on the past year.

This new year marks the start of my fifteenth year as Arts Editor here at The Healthy Planet. I’m just as fired up about the arts in St. Louis now as I was when I wrote my first column for the January 2004 issue. It was change in direction at that time for me, learning what it was like to work at a monthly publication — with a great “planeteers” who soon made me feel right at home. Every month in every year since then, I enjoy discovering, and covering, what’s new in the region’s arts.

While a few arts groups have come and gone, more galleries and performing groups have emerged throughout the region since then. Of course, there are always budget struggles along the way for art groups and institutions, but St. Louis remains a region of people who care about cultural arts. And that’s a good sign for our community.

Art St. Louis was firmly established in downtown St. Louis at the time when I joined The Healthy Planet. And the gallery space they now have at 1223 Pine continues to host some great juried exhibitions, such as the current Winter 2019: Attention to Detail. The all-media show opens on January 12 with a reception, 5-7 p.m. Fifty featured works, selected from 215 submitted works, are “defined by the details of their composition.” According to Robin Hirsch Steinhoff, Artistic Director at Art St. Louis, “(The) artworks are either marked by a density of detail or intricacy, or by details presented in isolation or contract to surrounding elements—all works where significance, meaning or impact is achieved principally in or through detail.” The exhibition runs through February 13; more details at www.artstlouis.org.

Fifteen years ago, the Delmar Loop had a lively arts scene, anchored at each end by Regional Arts Commission and Craft Alliance. Since then, Craft Alliance, with its expanded name of Craft Alliance Center of Art + Design, opened a second facility in the also-expanding Grand Center. Although both locations host exhibitions, the Delmar location presents Current Profile, which opens on January 11 with a reception from 6-8 p.m. The exhibitions remains through March 17.

While portraiture has historically served to create the likeness of a person, it has also offered an avenue to explore social status and experimentation with artistic materials. It is easy to trace how people looked — or at least how they wanted to be remembered — throughout the ages by perusing any museum, or even any art history book. Ancient Greeks produced portraits of both gods and citizens (albeit mostly wealthy citizens). The Renaissance produced artists who specialized in immortalization via portraiture, again mostly for society’s well-to-do. In modern culture, partly due to the use of camera technology, portraiture reaches throughout social strata.

According to Stefanie Kirkland, Director of Exhibitions at Craft Alliance, “The works in this exhibition are in some ways keeping with tradition — works depict either iconic figures from history of study a more archetypal range of emotions and identities. However, in other ways the works represented speak in a fresh voice to the material and cultural minutia of this moment.”

On January 12, artist Richard James presents “Mannerisms and Proclivities,” a workshop in conjunction with the exhibition. Demonstrations will include methods for constructing a ceramic head by combining components with objects, materials and processes in relation to James’ rural upbringing in Tennessee. Discussions will include the development of emotion and narrative through the arrangement of facial features in portraiture. For workshop registration details, visit www.craftalliance.org.

As the new year debuts, I hope that you will also assess the role that art plays in your own life. Select a few exhibitions and/or events to attend from my ARTful Happenings calendar (viewable all month long online) and discover something new. Whether you pick up a paintbrush or appreciate the works created by someone else, whether you sing a song or allow yourself to be moved by a professional performance, let the arts enrich you all year long.