ARTful Living

Michelle Mike Ochonicky Sunset Over Lyon School Prairie Julie Wiegand

By Michelle “Mike” Ochonicky; Healthy Planet Arts Editor

Gerry Brooks is an elementary school principal in Lexington, Kentucky. He knows firsthand about teaching and has spot-on insight about the challenges to staying safe in COVID-time. His 3-minute videos, usually recorded in his car, have made me double-over with laughter on dark days during the past year at times when I thought I’d never even smile again. (Just Google-search Gerry Brooks for a guaranteed laugh!).

One of Gerry Brooks’ funniest videos relates to the ingredients of, as he calls it, “Dollars-Tree bologna.” This particular video accurately sets the tone as we enter this new year: What’s in it? 

“I don’t know.” 
Should you try it?  
“I don’t know.” 
Is it safe? 
“I don’t know.” 

Plenty of arts institutions, performers, and artists are asking the same questions. Will we return to in-person performances? I don’t know. Will there be art shows and fairs again? I don’t know. Uncertainty makes things very difficult.

But what we do know is this: the arts need YOU this year. Throughout 2020, the arts adapted to keep us entertained virtually, provided private visits to museums by reservation, produced quality art programs for you and your children at home. So, we step into 2021 knowing that health challenges are not yet over. The “health” of local arts depends upon YOU to support them. 

Shortly after the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904, the undeveloped land west of Forest Park attracted developers and downtown residents. That interest produced an incredible diversity of architecture, including over 4,000 buildings that Esley Hamilton, St. Louis County Parks and Recreation Preservation Historian, catalogued. More than 40 of those properties were added to the National Register of Historic Places. Additionally, he worked with the Missouri Department of Transportation to save a community of homes that belonged to the county’s first African American development during the Highway 40 expansion project. Hamilton has been called “irreplaceable” and “encyclopedic,” and received one of four nationwide preservation awards from the Secretary of the Interior. Clayton Community Foundation (CCF) now announces the Clayton’s Neighborhoods Video Project, a close look at eight neighborhoods in Clayton designed by nationally known architects in the 1900s. The videos are available at CCF’s YouTube Channel (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC0m76lPuilLunQcZtU4CWhg) and then take a winter stroll to see the structures for yourself.

Classical guitarists will love Scholars Series with Dr. Jeffrey Noonan, livestreamed by St. Louis Classical Guitar, on January 31, 2-5 p.m. Reserve your spot (just $10) and learn a lot at www.stlclassicalguitar.org.

Keep the young folks in your household active this winter with Circus Harmony and COCA. Classes to learn circus performing arts begin January 11. Find the info at www.circusharmony.org. In-person dance and art classes (as of this writing) begin at COCA’s expanded facility on January 8. Registration info at www.cocastl.org

The Blue Strawberry, 364 N. Boyle, continues its great 7:30 p.m. “Live and Livestream” performances with Erika Johnson’s Gemini Project (Jan. 9); Byron Brownstein Trio (Jan. 21), Crystal Lady Unplugged (Jan. 22-8 p.m.), and Sya Collins: It’s My Birthday and I’ll Sing What I Want To (Jan. 30). Order tickets and dinner (in-theatre, or delivery available!) at https://bluestrawberrystl.com/ 

Introduce children to the magic of opera with Opera on the GO!, a program that combines live performance with engaging workshops on stage makeup, lighting design, and singing, offered by Opera Theatre of St. Louis. This family-friendly presentation called Pirates and Pancakes includes a 30-minute abridgment of Gilbert and Sullivan’s comedy The Pirates of Penzance, streaming January 23-February 6. Read all the details at https://opera-stl.org/ 

The first gallery exhibition of 2021 at Art Saint Louis, 1223 Pine, goes up on January 16. The multi-media show, Remnants, features works utilizing remnant materials. Through February 17, find out more at www.artstlouis.org

January 6-February 27, Green Door Gallery presents Lay of the Land, a multi-media exhibition of works celebrating the beauty of the earth. Located at 21 N. Gore, the gallery provides more details at www.greendoorartgallery.com.

From January 30-March 13, Bruno David Gallery, 7513 Forsyth, presents three exhibitions: Buzz Spector: Paper Made and Unmade; Charles Schwall: Sea Lover; St. Louis Story Stitchers Artists Collaborative: WADE. Visit www.brunodavidgallery.com for details.

This issue marks the start of my 16th year here at The Healthy Planet. I recognize how important the ARTS are to our area’s vitality, and hope that you do, too. Be sure to make 2021 an ARTful year.

Photo: “Sunset Over Lyon School Prairie” by Julie Wiegand; Lay of the Land exhibition at Green Door Gallery