If you're serious about art, Washington University's Gallery of Art in Steinberg Hall is probably on your itinerary. This year's exhibits have included engravings by Italian Renaissance star Andrea Mantegna and haunting photos from auto-accident scenes by former Swiss policeman Arnold Odermatt. Now's the time to head next door to an exhibit in the school's incubator for architects, Givens Hall. Ten Shades of Green, coordinated by the Architectural League of New York, demonstrates how buildings can be "green," or eco-friendly, and inexpensive and aesthetically cool, all at the same time. The display features images and models of the giant needle of a Frankfurt skyscraper, its frighteningly deep atrium filled with greenery; Australian public housing that looks like resort living; and a German exposition hall with a shape-changing roof. It's on view from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays, for free, through April 11. Call 314-935-6200 for more info.
Thursday, March 27
"My involvement [in gangs] was in the late 1960s and early 1970s in Los Angeles, the so-called gang capital of the country. My teen years were ones of drugs, shootings and beatings, and arrests," writes Luis Rodriguez in his riveting 1993 memoir, Always Running: La Vida Loca, Gang Days in LA. "I was around when South Central LA gave birth to the Crips and the Bloods. By the time I turned 18 years old, 25 of my friends had been killed by rival gangs, police, drugs, car crashes and suicides." The Washington University Assembly Series welcomes the author and poet to Graham Chapel, 6445 Forsyth Boulevard, for a free 4 p.m. talk. Rodriguez, who has created organizations to help gang youth, prisoners and others escape from la vida loca through the arts, speaks on "Hearts and Hands: Creating Community in Violent Times." Call 314-935-5285 for more info.
Friday, March 28
Moondial: A Macroscope to Enhance the Most Subtle of Dreams is the official, if unwieldy, title of Rich O'Donnell's new audiovisual performance piece, and it is the "macro" aspect that is most intriguing. Combining the video projetions of Van McElwee, the streaming data and computer-generated images of Patrick Vaillancourt and Nathan Snider and the inventive saxophone of John Butcher with his own unique percussion instruments, O'Donnell has set up a large-scale performance. The piece calls for the four artists to work in instrumental/visual duos and trios while maintaining a structural integrity that will require each player to be both a part of the whole and the whole of the parts at various times: "macro," indeed. Witness the construction of the "Moondial" at St. Louis Community College-Forest Park's Mildred E. Bastian Center for the Performing Arts (5600 Oakland Avenue) at 8 p.m. This is a free event (i.e., cheap Friday-night date), you college students. Call 314-644-9769 for more info.
Saturday, March 29
Is it a party with art? Is it an art show with music? Is it an evening of live performances with a great buffet? How is it that Venus Envy is entering its fifth year and there's still no easy way to explain it? The short answer is that Venus Envy is a celebration of women and the creative feminine ideal, and when they get together to show off, one city is not enough to contain them. The City Museum (701 North 15th Street) is hosting but one of three Venus Envy events, the other two being in Memphis and Baton Rouge. The City Museum is obviously a shorter drive, and in addition to all the art, the music by Brandy Johnson, Celia and a host of other talented ladies, Mariel the Trapeze Artist will be performing only at the St. Louis event, so you'd be stupid to pass this one up. The festivities commence at 7 p.m., the organizers request just a $5 donation and the food is always excellent. And did we mention the trapeze artist? Call 314-865-0181 or visit www.venusenvy.org for more info.
Sunday, March 30
Has a great play about bowling been written? How 'bout a great musical? How 'bout Grease II and that "Score Tonight" number? Speaking of grease, the vintage pine at Saratoga Lanes is glistening with lube for tonight's Bowl-a-Rama Fundraiser for the (Mostly) Harmless Theatre Company. The cute little eight-lane alley, built in 1916, is one of the nation's oldest bowling establishments. Head up to the second floor of 2725-A Sutton Avenue, where $15-$25 gets you shoe rental, unlimited bowling and snacks from 2-6 p.m. (plus a cash bar). (Mostly) Harmless has some cool plays planned for the coming season, including something written by Japanese philosopher/madman/poet/suicide Yukio Mishima and another play penned by Your Friends and Neighbors screenwriter/director Neil LaBute. Call 314-614-7411 for more info.
Monday, March 31
Did you notice that your breakfast tasted better this morning? Was your coffee a little richer, a little more invigorating? Did you sense that the quivering lump of nausea and doom that normally festers in your stomach on Mondays had been supplanted by the hazy, grass-scented anticipation you once felt as a child on the last day of school? That sensation is named hope (a.k.a. opening day), which means the Cardinals are back on the diamond and hoopla abounds, even if you don't have tickets. Immerse yourself in the Red Sea of Cardinal Nation by attending the Pep Rally at Kiener Plaza beginning at 11 a.m.; drink deep the fellowship of your brethren (and perhaps a frosty tallboy) at KEZK-FM's Opening-Day Ceremony, also at Kiener, from 1:15-2 p.m. Admission is free, concessions are available, music and fun are sure to follow and, just like Christmas, it comes just once a year. Call 314-436-6500 for more info. (Oh yeah -- tickets to the 3:10 p.m. game, against the Milwaukee Brewers, are sold out.)
Tuesday, April 1
In a recent column in The Nation on first lady Laura Bush's canceled poetry symposium, Katha Politt waxed poetic: "My daughter .../hates politics: Face it, Ma/they don't care what you think! All/passion, like Achilles/she stalks off to her room/to confide in her purple guitar and await/life's embassies. She's right/of course: bombs will be hurled/at ordinary streets ..." Washington University's International Writers' Center series concludes with a reading and booksigning by liberal columnist Politt, who's also an essayist, poet and the author of Subject to Debate: Sense & Dissents on Women & Feminism, at 7 p.m. Monday at the school's West Campus Conference Center (7425 Forsyth Boulevard). She also leads a seminar on "the art of the essay," followed by a reception at 4 p.m. today in Room 115 of Washington University's McMillan Hall. Susan Sontag has said of the outspoken columnist that "relief -- that someone is finally saying it -- is one of the many pleasures that Pollitt invariably gives me. Brave, funny, commonsensical, morally right on -- she's almost always right." Call 314-935-5576 for more on the free events.