The ArtsJun 01, 2012
The Hot List: Arts & Culture
If you haven’t treated yourself to a cultural education for some time, then prepare to get schooled—because the St. Louis arts and culture scene is sizzling.
Story: Katie Davis
See the full Hot List feature in the June issue of ALIVE, or in the digital edition.
Best New Arts & Culture Venue: Peabody Opera House
A St. Louis landmark resurrected, the Peabody Opera House has lived up to the city’s grand expectations, and then some. From the elegantly restored historic architecture to the diverse performance lineup—everything from Oprah to “Mary Poppins”— it is quickly reestablishing itself as a heavy hitter in STL culture. We should’ve known when Aretha Franklin and Jay Leno showed up to perform on opening night.
1400 Market St., Downtown, 314.499.7600.
Best Art Fair: St. Louis Art Fair
It’s hard to argue against the planning, expertise and passion poured into this fair each year. Held Sept. 7-9 in downtown Clayton, the eclectic festival has continued to ramp up the city’s fine art status nationwide. The diversity is outstanding—there are woodworks, paintings, photos, glass art and sculpture, to name a few. But, it's the undeniable style and class of the event that has truly elevated it to national attention. Downtown Clayton, culturalfestivals.com.
Best Live Theater Venue: The Fox Theatre
Patrons who frequent The Fox know that it deserves the “fabulous” in its official name. The building’s grandiose interior is unmatched, with its velvet staircases, marble pillars and gold statues. The go-to spot for musicals, concerts and other live performances (this year’s highlights include “The Lion King,” Sting and Barry Manilow), The Fox keeps the tradition of dressing up and heading to Grand to see a show alive and well.
527 N. Grand Blvd., Grand Center, 314.534.1678.
Best Season Lineup: The Repertory Theatre
Now in its 46th season, The Rep consistently draws us in with its incredible selection of high-quality productions. We're already impressed with the 2012-2013 lineup, featuring Jane Austen’s witty “Sense and Sensibility,” crime-thriller “Double Indemnity” and romance- musical “Daddy Long Legs.” What can we say? Longtime Artistic Director Steven Woolf’s skillful interpretations of the top productions around seem to get us every time.
130 Edgar Road, Webster Groves, 314.968.4925.
Best Gallery: Bruno David Gallery
In the heart of Grand Center, Bruno David Gallery has certainly positioned itself as a well-connected dealer of contemporary art. Featuring a main gallery, project room, front room and new media area—continually filled with provocative art, videos installations and interactive exhibits—this hip gallery has definitely earned its spot amidst STL’s top art mavens.
3721 Washington Blvd., Midtown, 314.531.3030.
Best Theater Company: HotCity Theatre
Edgy, thought-provoking and progressive, HotCity Theatre is known for its eclectic shows and deep city involvement. Its current season examines the lives of professorsmitten students and runaway wives. But, perhaps what’s most award-worthy is its focus on human relationships and its constant, actor-centric mission of portraying those relationships with truth and vulnerability.
3547 Olive St., Midtown, 314.289.4060.
Best Arts Educator: COCA
When dancers, actors and other performing artists gather to discuss “who’s doing what” or “who’s performing where,” it’s understood that mentioning COC A demands instant respect. The center has been serving St. Louis with workshops, classes, performances, exhibits and community events in support of the arts since 1986. Audiences see eclectic ballets, musicals and hip-hop performances, as well as storytellers, musicians, photographers and more. Art is displayed in the Millstone Gallery, and the organization works closely with schools through its Urban Arts and Interchange programs. Vital to local arts development, COCA is the backbone of St. Louis’ artistic future.
524 Trinity Ave., University City, 314.725.6555.
Best Museum: Saint Louis Art Museum
SLAM earned its place in the city long ago, but it refuses to rest on its laurels. Boasting over 30,000 pieces of art, SLAM has expanded its exhibits to contemporary photography and multimedia projects, as well as free lectures and video discussions. A massive expansion is planned for its interior galleries and the building’s perimeters—keeping with its mission to constantly change and grow—like all great artists strive to do.
1 Fine Arts Drive., Forest Park, 314.721.0072.
Best Arts Innovations: St. Louis Symphony
Although Rachmaninoff, Dvorak and Beethoven will forever hold their permanent thrones at Powell Hall, the St. Louis Symphony also has shows based on Final Fantasy scores, James Bond and the music of Led Zeppelin and The Beatles—not to mention bringing in stars like Sinatra-influenced Michael Feinstein. It’s no wonder the organization embarks on a prestigious European festival tour come fall.
718 N. Grand Blvd., Grand Center, 314.533.2500.
Best Dance Organization: Dance St. Louis
Originally started as a collaborative effort between local dancers, teachers and enthusiasts, Dance St. Louis consistently brings troupes like Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and The Joffrey Ballet to the city’s stages. The 2011- 2012 season brought in the Martha Graham Dance Company and “Billy Elliot the Musical," among others, and next year promises the likes of "STOM P," "Moulin Rouge the Ballet" and the New York City Ballet. Most recently, fans of contemporary dance got their annual fix with the ever-growing Spring to Dance Festival.
3547 Olive St., Midtown, 314.534.5000.
Best Performing Arts Organization: Touhill Performing Arts Center
Whether your particular fancy is ballet, jazz, symphony, global music or something a bit more alternative—like a spokenword ballet or improv comedy sketch—Touhill caters to fans of the stage…period. The organization is one of the most current in the area—allowing its web visitors to choose their ideal series and its patrons to join the E3 program, which allows show-goers to meet after performances to review, debate and discuss.
1 University Blvd., Florissant, 314.516.4949.
Best Cultural Festival: Japanese Festival
Aesthetically speaking, there are not many places that trump the Missouri Botanical Garden. Add a nationally recognized Japanese Festival (Sept. 1-3) to the mix of gorgeous, well-maintained gardens, heavily involved team members and a location in the heart of Shaw, and you’ve created the perfect festival setting. One of the first Japanese festivals in the US, this annual event features dozens of traditional performers—including dancers, martial arts masters and drummers—as well as authentic Japanese cuisine, Sumo wrestling, storytelling, bonsai art and eye candy galore. Don’t miss the official kickoff, held in the lantern-clad Japanese Garden.
4344 Shaw Blvd., Shaw, 314.577.5100.
Best Music Event: LouFest
The music festival underdog to cities like Chicago and Portland, St. Louis finally upped its summer music game when Brian Cohen organized the city’s first indie-influenced festival in 2010. With bands like Broken Social Scene and She & Him, LouFest immediately clicked with STL’s music-adoring fans. The next year saw The Hold Steady, TV on the Radio and an even larger crowd—with many more out-oftowners making the trek to hear great music and sample from local vendors. When this year’s lineup (Aug. 25-26)—The Flaming Lips, Girl Talk, Phantogram and more—was announced to a screaming crowd at Plush this spring, one thing became absolutely certain: LouFest has not only grown—it has exploded.
Central Field, Forest Park, loufest.com.
Best Theater Event: Shakespeare Festival
City-dwellers roaming Forest Park in the summertime have often been shocked to find Shakespearian plays taking place—for free. Audiences are now enjoying the 2012 performance, “Othello,” under the supervision of Director Bruce Longworth. But, the fun doesn't stop there. The crew also organizes “Shake-38,” a series of 38 Shakespeare plays performed around the city, as well as educational camps for kids. Shakespeare Glen, Forest Park, sfstl.com.
Best Special Exhibits: Missouri History Museum
Known for in-depth looks at historical events and trends (most recently with its “Mammoths and Mastodons” and “The Language of Portraits” exhibits), the Missouri History Museum is branching out and planning more outside-the-box events and exhibitions than ever before. The Titanic Centennial Weekend and Pink & Purple Fashion Show are just two of the recent initiatives that allow the museum to connect with a variety of artistic communities and present history to St. Louis in unique and unexpected ways. Guests can stroll through numerous exhibits, attend museum-sponsored plays and films and even listen in on lectures, like “The Coming War with Robots.”
5700 Lindell Blvd., Forest Park, 314.746.4599.
Best Culinary Festival: Taste of St. Louis
Art and foodie cravings are no laughing matter at this culinary extravaganza. With its gourmet food samples, a juried Art & Wine Walk, national and local bands and the highly anticipated Chef Battle Royale, Taste of St. Louis (Sept. 28-30) has grown into a multidimensional event. Filled with plenty to see, touch, smell, hear and—well—taste, this festival has rightly earned its premier status in food-lovers’ hearts.
Soldiers Memorial, Downtown.
Best Free Event: Fair St. Louis
Locals sound a little like World’s Fair-goers as they reference the city’s expansive—and, of course, free—July 4th celebration. In the thick of St. Louis’ infamously humid summer, Fair Saint Louis manages to distract its throngs of attendees with festivities like the Veiled Prophet Parade, multiple races, air shows, fireworks displays and big-name concerts—this year featuring Third Eye Blind, Heart and Dierks Bentley.
Gateway Arch grounds, Downtown.
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