ARTful Living: Art Appreciation In Difficult Times

Michelle Mike Ochonicky Craft Alliance

By Michelle “Mike” Ochonicky
Healthy Planet Arts Editor

Photo Caption: Every Thing and More, clay works by Patti Chalmers at Craft Alliance.

Today we face more concerns than any one of us could ever imagine. I started to write, and rewrite, this column more times than I can count, distracted by too many constantly changing current events.  It’s a challenge to find a starting point…

I belong to an arts organization, located in New York, that shows my artwork from time to time. An email, sent by the organization’s director on January 7, spoke so eloquently about art that I want to quote it here:

“‘The power of life and death is in the tongue,’ were the words spoken by the Chaplain in the US Congress early this morning following yesterday’s violent and chaotic events { in the Capitol} . 

The power of life and death is also in the brush, the scalpel, the camera and any way we can make art. At times like this, just as over the past 12 months, making art is reaffirming. For ourselves, yes, but also for those around us and those we touch and help with our art.

Art is power but soft power, positive power. Art stands up to tyranny, fascism and documents misdeeds and good ones. Art will persist and help lead us into 2021.

Art has helped us maintain and build community even as we have had to remain distant.”

It’s worth re-reading those words. Art speaks. Art documents. Art calms. Art matters. It WILL persist.

The first Wednesday in February is normally Citizens Day at the Legislature, organized by Missouri Citizens for the Arts, over the past 35 years. This is a day to visit state legislators and remind them of the VALUE and IMPORTANCE of the arts in Missouri. It is also the day when Missouri Arts Council presents its Missouri Art Awards. But this year is different.  That day has morphed into a full week, February 1-5, when citizens are asked to instead contact their legislators via letter, phone or email. Due to Covid-19, there will be no in-person ceremony to celebrate Art Award. Congrats go to Upstream Theater for being named an Art Award recipient. Well-deserved!

Connect with some great ARTful conversation on February 5, 4-5 p.m. when The Contemporary Art Museum hosts its First Fridays online. Tim Portlock discusses his Great Rivers Biennial exhibition, Nickels from Heaven, with Misa Jeffereis who curated GRB 2020. Click here https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_Q_bbJqLCS1qfXIrIUQXL9w to register for the free event.  

To visit CAM in person, simply reserve free, timed-tickets at www.camstl.org. While you’re at it, book free timed-tickets at the Pulitzer (right next door!) at www.pulitzerarts.org. Make the trip extra fun by reserving free, timed-tickets at The Sheldon Art Galleries, too. 45-minutes to have the galleries all to yourself and your own party(up to 10 people)! Make your reservation at TheSheldon.eventbrite.com

Speaking of the Pulitzer, SLSO cellist Elizabeth Chung performed Nathalie Joachim’s Dam Mwen Yo as part of the St. Louis Symphony Live at the Pulitzer Video Series. The New York Times named that piece one of the “25 Best Classical Music Tracks of 2020.” Listen to the full video performance here:  https://pulitzerarts.org/program/st-louis-symphony-live-at-the-pulitzer-video-series-2020-2021/?

If you’re looking for a great listen, Jazz St. Louis continues to provide awesome free jazz online with Season of Stream Vol. 5: A Midwinter Night’s Stream. Visit jazzstl.org/sos/ to find out who’s performing each week, right through March 18th. Past performances are also archived and accessible there.

Said Maya Angelou, “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” Ten instructors at St. Louis Community College-Wildwood are also active artists, demonstrating that creativity does not run out. View the Faculty Art Exhibition virtually at www.stlcc.edu/ww through March 5.

Craft Alliance presents Every Thing and More , a solo exhibition by ceramic artist Pattie Chalmers. The exhibition will run in the Staenberg Gallery, 5080 Delmar, through March 20. Visit www.craftalliance.org for details.

To see the 2020 Hall of Fame Induction and Awards Exhibition, book a private tour of the International Photography Hall of Fame and Museum at 3415 Olive, Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Then check out the great gift shop, too.  Find out details at www.iphf.org

Laumeier Sculpture Park’s newest exhibition, The Future is Present: Art and Global Change, examines the intersections between art and some of the world’s most pressing issues: climate change, environmental crisis and the related global repercussions. The works by 9 artists explore their commitment to understanding humankind’s material impact on nature and technology’s role in understanding this global emergency. The exhibition runs February 6 – May 9, 2021.

And a change for 2021: The Foundry Art Centre in St. Charles is now operated by the city of St. Charles, as part of St. Charles Convention and Visitors Bureau.