As Autumn Arrives, Wrap Yourself in ART!

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

From September through November, the St. Louis region (and beyond!) welcomes Innovations in Textiles STL 2019 (IT19). Exhibitions, workshops, and lectures abound with collaborations of over 45 organizations and venues in St. Louis City and County, St. Charles, plus westward to Columbia, Missouri and east to Alton and Mount Vernon, Illinois.

Innovations in Textiles debuted in 1995 as a collaborative event involving Craft Alliance, COCA, Art Saint Louis, St. Louis Art Museum and Duane Reed Gallery. With the initial intent to “explore and celebrate contemporary fiber art and its makers,” Innovations in Textiles has grown to encompass nonprofit and private arts organizations, curators, collectors, educators and venues.

According to Anne Murphy, Program Coordinator for this massive happening, “(Attendees will) see innovative works in fashion and performance art by local and regional artists.” The event not only celebrates all things fiber but invites the public to get involved as well.

Here’s just a sampling of the unusual sort of activities Anne mentioned: “Attend Needle Festival Tributes and bring your bent or broken needles to an installation honoring their service. Enter a forest of 3-D art quilt totems. Attend a free-style fashion show of recycled and repurposed materials. Learn how to make hand-dyed scarves in the microwave…or paint them. Discover art quilts that take layered and stitched fabric to unexpected interpretations.” Some of these exhibitions and events run over several weeks and days, but some are limited to just a single day. Each is completely different, so visit several! Find all the details and locations at www.innovationsintextilesstl.org.

Additionally, IT19 partners this year with Surface Design Association, an international textile/fiber art organization. SDA brings their “Beyond the Surface” biennial conference and related events to St. Louis October 3-6. SDA maintains a focus on inspiring creativity, encouraging innovation and advocating for artistic excellence as the global leader in textile-inspired art and design. Learn more: www.surfacedesign.org.

On September 21-22, St. Louis says, “Bienvenue, Stephane!” to St. Louis Symphony Orchestra’s new Music Director. Stephane Deneve’s first concert is promised to be a joyful celebration, including the world premiere of a piece that SLSO commissioned expressly in his honor. And what better work to conduct than Gershwin’s beloved An American in Paris?! Works by Higdon, Debussy, Connesson, and Ravel round out the program welcoming Monsieur Deneve to Powell Hall. A complimentary champagne toast during intermission kicks off SLSO’s 140th season in high style. Tickets will sell fast for this very special performance, so reserve yours today at www.slso.org.

On September 28, St. Louis celebrates the grand reopening of the Mildred Lane Kemper Museum on Washington University’s campus. The public is invited to see the newly expanded and renovated museum, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Experience new and reconfigured galleries on all three floors of the building plus new commissions by artists Tomas Saraceno and Dan Graham.

Visitors will be greeted by a soaring new glass-lined lobby and the new 2,700-square-foot James M. Kemper Gallery for postwar and contemporary art. Other renovations include the reconfigured Gertrude Bernoudy Gallery for 19th- and early 20th-century art, a first-floor coffee bar, and a suite of new galleries on the Museum’s lower level. Outside, the reinstalled Florence Steinberg Weil Sculpture Garden will extend the Museum’s reach into the surrounding green space.

As if that weren’t already enough, visitors will view Bare Life, an exhibition of works created over the last two decades by Ai Weiwei. As one of the most important artists and humanitarian voices of our era, Weiwei’s works are presented in this thematic exhibition to offer new insight into the celebrated Chinese artist’s work on human rights. Included are his deep W35 artworks, in a variety of media. Born in 1957 in Beijing, Weiwei uses his art as an activist to call attention to human rights violations on an epic scale, and for social engagement. In a country where freedom of speech is not a recognized right, Ai Weiwei has endured surveillance and arrest for his outspoken art. For his artist’s statement, Weiwei wrote, “Creativity is the power to reject the past, to change the status quo, and to seek new potential. Simply put, aside from using one’s imagination – perhaps more importantly — creativity is the power to act.”

And welcome back, Kemper Museum. We’ve missed you!