ArtFul Living

St. Louis Area Fine Arts, Crafts & Performing Arts

Michelle “Mike” Ochonicky, Arts Editor

Savor Everything, But Especially Art!

In our last issue, I promised to share a bit about my recent adventures in Italy. It was wonderful (and wine-filled!); it was breathtaking (literally: I hiked up mountains!); it was inspiring (the art and spirituality of Umbria is amazing). 

One of the most meaningful things that happened to me was to experience the deliberate, slow pace of life in that region. Summer tourists were all gone, so life had returned to normal in the little villages throughout the countryside. People there savor art, conversation, food. What would be merely a passing moment here became a lengthy dialogue in Umbria. I am still not sure how, when my husband and I had a late-night dinner in a tiny trattoria, the waiter somehow mentioned the Greek philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras. Roberto then engaged us in a dinner-long discussion of the Pythagorean Theorem. It even involved drawings on a napkin and then he called the cook from the kitchen to join the conversation. What was even more remarkable about all of this is that they spoke minimal English and we really speak only enough Italian to order dinner. Yet, we all took the time to understand each other, to enjoy that time, and to make new friends. And that was just our first night there….

I came home with a fresh appreciation for the years of training, struggle and practice that go into the making of any art. When someone invests how much of a life to perfect and present art, we (as the audience) should value that dedication, and never rush our own experience of the artform. 

In that spirit, I encourage you to slow down a bit, to experience things a bit deeper. Maybe start here:

Metro Theater Company presents the rolling world premiere of Ghost at the Grandel Theatre in Grand Center, February 2-March 1. It’s a month-long opportunity to experience the 2016 bestseller by New York Times bestselling author and Newbery Award honoree Jason Reynolds. The book transitions its meaningful message well to the stage.

Set in the present, this play is genuine and entertaining. Main-character Castle Cranshaw (a.k.a. “Ghost”) battles difficulties of his past and present, finding real friends and a father-figure along the way: meaningful lessons for ages 10 to adult. Co-commissioned with Nashville Children’s Theatre, Metro Theater Company opens its run on February 2 with a visit by Matthew Carter, the real-life inspiration for the title character. More info at www.metroplays.org. 

Dance St. Louis brings the foot-stomping 25th Anniversary Riverdance to The Fabulous Fox, February 14-16. It’s a world-recognized, breathtaking classic, even more so in this silver celebration. 

As part of a six-month world tour with performances in Germany, France and Italy, Alvin Ailey II arrives February 22 at the Touhill Performing Arts Center. The company is recognized for its diversity of ballets by innovative choreographers that showcase the dancers’ athleticism, artistry and agility. The iconic Revelations (the true American masterpiece by Alvin Ailey himself) will be performed, along with four world premieres commissioned for this season. Included is a work, Still, by Kirven Douthit-Boyd. 

Douthit-Boyd is a former Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater member (2002-2004 Ailey II, 2004-2015 Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater). He is currently co-artistic director of dance at COCA. This piece is set to an original score by St. Louis-based musician, arranger, producer and trombonist Lamar Harris. Reserve a seat to this sure-to-sell-out performance now at www.dancestlouis.org

Celebrate Valentine’s Day and show your love for a favorite artwork at the St. Louis Art Museum during Hearts for All. Pick up a free paper heart upon your arrival February 14-16, find the artwork you love and leave your heart near the work. Write a short message to describe why you like that work. Spread the love! Share a photo of your heart near artwork with hashtags #HeartsforArt or #SLAMHeart. Then watch those paper hearts pile up. 

While there, visit the new exhibition Millet to Modern Art: Van Gogh to Dali, opening February 16. Purchase timed-entry tickets at www.slam.org

Finish the month at Powell Hall when the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and a full rock band perform the Music of Queen, February 28. This electrifying concert bridges the gap between rock and classical. For tickets, visit www.slso.org.