ARTful Living

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

Art Is More Than Pretty Pictures

“ ‘twere, the mirror up to nature, to show virtue her own feature, scorn her own image, and the very age and body of the time his form and pressure.” 
 — Hamlet/ William Shakespeare 

I’ve long believed that ART is more than pretty pictures, pleasant music, and nice theatre. Art has boldly taken the role of speaking out about social circumstances and problems, of reflecting topics that may be uncomfortable. Moreover, art serves as a permanent reminder of the era when it is created. Think Guernica by Picasso or The Third of May by Goya. Said philosopher George Santayana in his 1905 series, The Life of Reason: The Phases of Human Progress, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” (Sorry to those who misquote, but Winston Churchill did not say that!). 

Through March 14, Gallery 210 on the UMSL campus hosts War Toys: Israel, West Bank, and Gaza Strip. According to Exhibits USA, the organization presenting this touring exhibition, “Children often share their experiences and emotions through indirect methods of communication, such as art and play. As a result, their personal accounts of war frequently go unseen and unheard.” In this exhibit, Brian McCarty’s photographic works interpret children’s drawings to offer insight.

McCarty is recognized for “postmodern integration of concept and character in his work,” merging photo-illustration with reportage. With the support of specialized therapists and caregivers, the drawings these children created express what they have witnessed in Israel and Palestine. With their works are McCarty’s photographs.

Said Dr. Julia J.A.G. Byers, Professor of Art Therapy at Lesley University in Cambridge, MA. “McCarty asks us to reflect on the innocence of childhood when surrounded and thwarted by human suffering. He asks us not to deny its existence but, rather, to question how to play—with resolve and resilience—in the face of such reality.” More info at www.gallery210.umsl.edu

It’s been said that everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, most especially in St. Louis. But Ireland has not been without its strife. That difficult history is often reflected in the music of the Emerald Isle: tales of conflict, war and loss, based on history. Acclaimed Irish bands Danú and Goitse perform their only U.S. bill at The Sheldon on March 6. Details at www.thesheldon.org. Miss their concert? The annual Ancient Order of Hibernians Parade (and lots of Irish music following) kicks off on Tamm in Dogtown at 11 a.m. on March 17. 

But if those dates are already booked on your calendar, the Martin Hayes Quartet brings soulful interpretations of traditional Irish music to the Touhill on March 28. Violinist Hayes is recognized worldwide for his collaborations with extraordinary musicians such as Bill Frisell, Ricky Skaggs, and the Irish Chamber Orchestra. Martin was recognized as Musician of the Year (the Gradam Ceoil) from TG4, Irish language television. He brings with him Dennis Cahill on guitar, Doug Wieselman on bass clarinet and Liz Knowles on violin and viola. Find more info at www.touhill.org

I was privileged to know both of my grandmothers — powerful women, indeed! Gertrude was born in 1893, a native St. Louisan, and very active in politics. Amelia was born in 1894, immigrated from Germany just as World War I was brewing, and built her own life in a new country far from her family. Both had incredible stories of determination and perseverance. What has remained with me, from each of them, is the fact that they waited (and worked!) to gain a voice through the vote. Gertrude was 27 and Amelia was 26 when the 19th Amendment was finally ratified. I think of them every time I vote (and I ALWAYS vote!).

The Suffrage Movement was one of the most remarkable non-violent efforts to change social attitudes and institutions in the modern era. From March 20 to May 1, the Foundry Art Centre in historic St. Charles, presents Voting Daughters: 100 Years of Suffrage. This exhibition celebrates the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote (really??? It took THAT LONG to “allow” women to vote?!?! But no bitterness here…). The exhibition investigates the ways in which women’s voices inform and impact the contemporary landscape. Opening reception is 5:30-8 p.m. For info, visit www.foundryartcentre.org. Honor the women who persevered for the right to vote by voting on November 3 this year.