Ming Dynasty Exhibit, Plus An Evening in the CWE

Friday night, Jen, Kim, Kate and I went down to the St. Louis Art Museum to take in the Ming Dynasty Exhibit. The exhibition had been running for a while and was nearing its end, and with Fridays bringing free admittance, we figured it was perfect timing. Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to take pictures, so allow me to describe the evening the old fashioned way. We got up there around 5:45 or so and were able to walk right in. Crowds came out later in the evening, so this is a great time to visit. Strangely, there weren’t many Asians visiting the Asian art exhibit. Either they aren’t that interested, or they didn’t procrastinate until the very end like SOME people.

The exhibition was huge and diverse: scrolls, paintings, sculpture, textiles, tools, ceramics, and even architectural ornaments were all included. When you take into account the idea that these things are all al least 400 years old, just the fact that they were preserved in such exquisite condition is amazing enough. The colors of many of the scrolls are just as vivid as they must have been on day one. My favorite piece was a 30-foot scroll that depicted the emperor playing sports on the fields of the castle. Turns out, the Chinese played golf back in the day… who knew? Jen was a big fan of the jewelry. The amazing craftsmanship and intricacy of the pieces was breathtaking and the purity of the gold made for blinding bling. The porcelain pieces were really nice as well.

After the exhibit, we went to Llywellyn’s in the Central West End for dinner because it was a beautiful night and we wanted to sit outside. We scored a nice table on the sidewalk, and with the exception of a karaoke DJ thinking it’s OK to get the party started with “Tears In Heaven”, the night was perfect. The food there was good and a couple beers went a long way towards putting my mind at ease. Afterwards, we went to Left Bank Books to support local booksellers and visit Spike the Cat. Then, while I was dropping our purchases off at the car, Jen and the girls enjoyed the various street performers. The best was the fire twirling girls:

Fire Twirler

With it still being a beautiful evening, we strolled down Euclid to the gelato joint next to Culpepper’s. I had half chocolate, half coconut. It tasted like a Mounds bar. I could have added Almond, but I wasn’t feeling like a nut. All in all, a good time and a great night to be outside.

Action/Abstraction at St. Louis Art Museum

Catching up on an event that happened a while back…

On December 26th, Jen, Kate, Katie, Kim, Cousin Drew, Kenny, Krissy, Alex, his friend Mikey, and I all went down to see Action/Abstraction: Pollock, de Kooning, and American Art, 1940-1976, an exhibition at the St. Louis Art Museum. I was really excited to see the Pollocks up close, and while I was a little disappointed to see that there were only two on display, the ones they had were really great. I’m not a big de Kooning fan, but there were also some other artworks that were really nice, especially a large Rothko.

Perhaps the painting that generated the most discussion was Peter Saul’s Icebox #3, which is filled entirely with penises, some obvious, some more deviously subliminal.

After the exhibition, the party moved to Schlafly Tap Room where they were celebrating their 17th birthday party by selling beer at 1991 prices: $2.95 / pint. Nice. We ate and drank there for a couple hours (there was a wait for a table of ten, plus somewhat leisurely service) but the atmosphere was great and everyone had a good time.

I don’t do New Year’s Resolutions, but there is no reason in the world why we shouldn’t go to the Art Museum more often. Plus, there are so many great artworks there to see:

5. These 10 signature artworks from our beloved Saint Louis Art Museum (not all of which are on view at all times): the Egyptian Mummy Mask, the Buddhist deity Guanyin, Liu Cai’s 8-foot-long hand-scroll Fish Swimming Amid Falling Flowers, George Caleb Bingham’s The Verdict of the People, Vincent van Gogh’s Stairway at Auvers, Henri Matisse’s Bathers With a Turtle, Max Beckmann’s Christ and the Woman Taken in Adultery, Claude Monet’s Water Lilies, Jackson Pollock’s Number 3, 1950 and Gerhard Richter’s Betty.

We managed to see most of these before our allotted time at the exhibition, and in doing so, we checked off another on the STL 101 list. Good times!

2nd Annual Gingerbread House-Making Party

Welcome to Sweetville, USA. Come, I’ll show you around this candied goodness and hopefully you decide to stay a while. It’ll be a real treat!

Strolling down Main Street, we first come upon Amanda’s Sweetville Tavern, the local hangout for the residents. Not only does the Tavern serve such wonderful food, there are some drink specials that are known around the tri-state area, including the Candy Cane Drop Shot, the Wintry Mix and the Flaming Reindeer. It’s THE place that people go to get frosted.

A little further down the street, we have the Sweetville Post Office. Now, this is no ordinary post office with ordinary postal workers. When you drop your letter off at the mailbox, you are actually handing it to a red ninja (they are excellent in the art of disguise). Then your mail will be be delivered, swiftly and stealthily, faster than you can say, “candied throwing star.”

Of course, in the center of town, you will find the Sweetville First Church of Icing, the glue that keeps Sweetville together. The exquisite stained glass dates back to the Jolly Rancher period, a time of turmoil and toothaches. The nativity scene was generously donated by Mr. and Mrs. Gummy Bear, who’s family founded Sweetville. It is a place of worship and town functions, from meetings to cupcake parties.

Sitting on the outskirts of town is the Sweetville Railyard, home to the Sour Rainbow Road Express. This train is the only way in and out of Sweetville and is always punctual, nothing will stop it from getting to the station on time, even cows on its peppermint tracks. Off to the side, some homeless Gummies are living in a graham cracker box, just waiting until the next shipment of marshmallows to come in. Luckily, they are on the outside of town and no one sees them so they don’t tarnish the sugar-coated shininess of Sweetville.

Now, let’s take a walk and meet some of the residents so you can get the flavor of the town.

Say hello to Monika and her quaint cottage. When she first moved into town, she had a bit of trouble constructing her home. The contractor’s icing failed when her home crumbled into pieces. Fortunately, she hired another contractor who analyzed her dire situation and time constraints and suggested a new building material that was slowly being introduced in the gingerbread-house building: hot glue. Apparently, this concoction worked and now you can often see her sitting outside her door, offering anyone a cup of hot chocolate or fresh baked cookies.

Next door, you have Beth’s charming home. As you can see, she is a lover of chocolate-covered mushrooms. Now, in small quantities, they are very healthy for you but in high doses, they are highly addictive. When consumed in large quantities, one can experience a sugar rush which causes extreme hyperness, the jitters and running around outside naked. Very powerful stuff. Her home is always such a joy when lit up in lights. Clark Griswold is her uncle and every year he comes to help her put them up for the holiday season.

Finally, we have the resident artist, Kate, who’s retreat is up on Big Rock Candy Mountain. The candied rocks decorating the outside of her home were found down by Chocolate Syrup River, a popular destination in the summer. She often opens her home to anyone who is interested in finding a place to work on their art. It is peaceful up there, especially in the winter when it often snows coconut flakes to the point where you can’t even eat enough of it to leave your house.

There you have it, a little tour of our saccharine town. If your sweet tooth can handle it, we would love to have you!

For the rest of the pictures, click here.

Laumeier Sculpture Park

3. See Ernest Trova’s sculptures, tucked away in the wooded grounds of Laumeier Sculpture Park. It was his gift of 40 sculptures—the largest public collection of this internationally known St. Louisan’s work—that made it possible for the park to open, and coming upon one of his Cantos or Variations amid the trees is magical.

Where can you go to see giant sculptures scattered about the property in no apparent order? That’s right, Laumeier Sculpture Park! After our adventure at Grant’s Farm, we all headed over to a place where we knew the exhibits wouldn’t attack us. There was a John Waters exhibit inside which creeped me out, I won’t lie. Interesting, but creepy. Once we got outside, the first thing that greeted us was this:

Um, hmm, that was not what I was expecting. As we wondered further into the park, I noticed how serene the place was. Since it is a county park, I expected crowds of people lounging around on the ground, running around, children screaming. You found none of that here. As you walked around and under these magnificent sculptures, you felt like you were in your own little world.

Here is Bob’s favorite one:

And I thought this one was pretty cool, it reminds me of a very old treasure that you found stored in an attic somewhere:

We didn’t spend too much time there and I know there are so many more pieces of art that have not yet been seen so I will have to remember to go back again. Here are some more photos, if you’re interested.

2008 St. Louis Art Fair

86. Buy art so original, you can crow about finding it—either in May, at the newcomer, Belleville’s Art on the Square, still pinching itself after ranking first in the nation in the 2007 Art Fair SourceBook, or in September at its older sibling, the Saint Louis Art Fair in Clayton, which has been reaping similar accolades for years.

I’ve been working down in Clayton for the past 6 years and I always see the city setting up for the Art Fair and each year I say to myself, “We should go to the Art Fair.” Then, as soon as I get home, I totally forget about it. Well, not so this time. This year, I made a point to mention to Katie that the Art Fair would be cool and so now that I had said it out loud, we were going to go.

I knew going into this that I was not going to be able to buy anything because art is expensive so I did the next best thing: I got their business cards with their websites printed and so now I can go and gawk at their fabulous pieces of works from the comforts of my own home.

Some our favorites were:

Bruce J. Peeso has some really awesome, extremely horizontal, photo-realistic landscapes. These paintings were probably 3-5 feet long and at most 6 inches tall. The gave a really tremendous expression of space and distance and were Katie’s favorite artist at the show.

Chris Roberts-Antieau is a fiber artist that has some large, colorful, and quite humorous works. Bob’s favorite was the Celebrity Mugshots, but Household Safety Techniques was really nice as well.

Bryan Cunningham has some really great mixed media pieces that had that old-timey look that would make you think that Jack White probably owns a piece or two.

Xavier Nuez brought some large, super-saturated photographs showcasing the beauty of urban decay. He had shot many of his most recent series here in St. Louis, a prime choice for finding urban decay.

Michael Hoffman was another of Bob’s favorites. He had some large abstract colorfied paintings with really bright, slick looking colors that would look great over a fireplace. Bob has sworn that he will purchase some of this when we can afford Capital A Art in our home.

Heinrich Toh’s contemporary Asian art was my favorite. His works mixed printmaking and photography to give a really interesting vibe.

In addition, we ran into Bob’s friend and ex-coworker Alex and hung out on the Il Vicino patio with him and a couple friends shooting the breeze. A great night for all, even if it made us want things well outside of our price range. :-(