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By: Celine Reinoso
Twenty-five years ago, Ben and Susan Uchitelle realized their passion for arts, culture, and creativity in St. Louis when they founded the Saint Louis Art Fair. What used to be only a few tents across a couple of streets in downtown Clayton is now one of the best art fairs in the country.
St. Louis is no stranger to art as hundreds of gallery events, public exhibitions, and cultural festivals grace our city every year. As the region’s leading producer of arts, cultural, and educational programming, HEC Media is your gateway to everything you need to know about the arts in St. Louis.
First on our list is the Saint Louis Art Fair. Presented by the Centene Charitable Foundation, the Fair brings more than 180 artists from around the world and more than 130,000 attendees to the heart of Clayton. From jewelry makers to metalsmiths to mixed-media painters, the artists of the Fair have been selected and juried from more than 1,000 applicants, proving them to be the best in the nation.
Weeks before the gates open and the first tent is set up, you can get to know every artist and the story behind their work through our Meet The Artists series. Each interview tells the viewer an in-depth story of the passions, processes, and inspirations of the artists. Go to stlfair.com to meet all the artists!
The Saint Louis Art Fair itself has an interesting story as well, and HEC is telling that story in a new documentary, Meet Me at the Fair. Focusing on the Fair’s 25th year, its founders, staff, and participating artists discuss the Fair and its impact on our community. You can view the documentary on hecmedia.org and on Sunday, Sept. 2 at 7 a.m. and Friday, Sept. 7 at 11:30 a.m. on KTVI Channel 2.
The Fair does not only offer attendees free admission to the best artwork, but it also brings local restaurants, businesses, musicians, and performers together to truly bring the Fair to life.
You can also enjoy free artist demonstrations of woodworking, ceramics, weaving, and more at the Fair. Additionally, it has launched programs that promote art appreciation and the importance of supporting artists.
If you can’t make it to Clayton that first weekend in September, don’t worry because St. Louis is constantly opening new art exhibitions and cultural festivals. The oldest arts organization west of the Mississippi, St. Louis Artists’ Guild hosts workshops and art classes along with their current exhibition, For Every Negative There Is A Positive. Curated by world-renowned woodcut artist Tom Huck, the collection explores the concept of positive and negative space through different mediums.
Similarly, Art Saint Louis bridges art and the community by creating original exhibitions of work done solely by local artists. By fulfilling their mission of “enriching lives through the creative activity of our region’s contemporary visual artists,” Art Saint Louis has just opened Menagerie, a collection depicting animals, beasts, and creatures real and imagined.
When you think of art in St. Louis, you can’t forget the Saint Louis Art Museum (SLAM) at the top of Art Hill in Forest Park. Its collection includes more than 34,000 works from Ancient to Modern Art in mediums like paintings, photographs, textile, sculpture, and more. SLAM is the first in the United States to host Sunken Cities: Egypt’s Lost Worlds, a collection of never before seen treasures from ancient Egypt. Be sure to see the exhibit before it closes on Sept. 9.
If you’re interested in contemporary art, the Bruno David Gallery and the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis are the go-to. Located not to far from the Saint Louis Art Fair, the Bruno David Gallery is home to some of St. Louis’ most innovative mixed-media contemporary artwork. Focusing on the diversity of the printmaking field, the gallery presents Yvonne Osei, Justin Henry Miller, John Howard Young, and E.R.O. until Sept. 29. Watch for the preview soon on hecmedia.org!
Head downtown, you’ll probably come across the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis (CAM) and not even realize it. The sleek and minimalistic design of CAM is a contrast to its ever-changing collection inside. Each year, they show around six main exhibitions by both American and international artists. This year’s collection included work by Amy Sherald, the artist behind the official portrait of former First Lady Michelle Obama.
The art of St. Louis however isn’t limited to galleries and exhibitions. For a musical and performance experience, check out Pro-Arte Saint Louis and Dance St. Louis. With concerts and arrangements inspired by Antiquity and the Medieval and Renaissance eras, the Pro-Arte Saint Louis ensemble delivers a combination of recognizable masterworks and not often heard compositions.
For a more visual and active experience, Dance St. Louis offers audiences world-class performances and unique dance education outreach. It brings the full spectrum of dance, from classical ballet, contemporary ballet and modern dance to ethnic, ballroom, tap, jazz, hip-hop.
Theatre in St. Louis does not go without mentioning the Fabulous Fox Theatre. Once you step into the big brass doors, you’re hit with views of the Siamese-Byzantine interior design. The show only continues once the lights dim and the curtains rise. The Fabulous Fox offers behind the scenes tours (both regular and haunted), concerts, stand-up shows, musicals, plays, and more.
The best thing about the arts is the freedom to actualize anything a creative can think of and St. Louis is home to some of the most unique and specialized creations. HEC went behind the scenes of the FAUSTival, the new theater festival surrounding the myth of German character Faust. From August to December, theatergoers can see five different adaptations of the story of a man who sold his soul to the devil in exchange for knowledge, power, and success.
If you’re more in the mood for an at-home storytelling, the new podcast, Fablist, provides listeners with fully produced, scripted stories with live actors, cinematic sound design and original songs. Available on every major podcast app, Fablist has released their pilot story “Pear Blossom,” a retelling of the classic Korean Cinderella Story.
And if you still crave the art fair feel, check out the St. Lou Fringe, an event for emerging artists and cutting edge performers. The festival seeks to promote the accessibility of art to developing neighborhoods and the creative and economic growth of our community.
The Saint Louis Art Fair, ongoing local art exhibitions, and musical performances are just a few among many of the events that make up the rich art of our city. Be sure head to hecmedia.org so you don’t miss out on our in-depth interviews, behind-the-scenes looks and exclusive coverage of everything arts, culture, and education in St. Louis.