There is the raw, amazing world manifest to our five senses, and there's the busywork of a quotidian existence that has us bolting stimuli like so much junk food in this, the age of the petulant god Speed. And then there's that life invisible to our weak eyes, a reality we miss without science's instruments. That's the infinitude artist Chris Kahler tries to render in his first show for Elliot Smith, entitled Recent Work -- the interplay between tiny host organisms and their parasites. The stuff of the biology lab morphs into Kahler's paintings: Colors saturate through, then fuse into one another in the shapes of orbs and tendrils representing microscopic structures, captured mid-movement in a kind of free, lysergic dazzle.
Juxtapose that with the work of photographer (and longtime Smith regular) Elaine Blatt, a native St. Louisan who has exhibited widely. Her Gay Pride Parade is a series of photographs shot between 2002 and 2004 during the pride parades in London and Paris. Subjects denied some of their fundamental humanity in contemporary America are accorded an undiminished presence in Blatt's images.
Elliot Smith Contemporary Art (4729 McPherson Avenue; 314-361-4800) hosts an opening reception for both Kahler's Recent Work and Blatt's Gay Pride Parade on Thursday, October 21, from 6 to 8 p.m.; admission is free. Both exhibits run through November 28. -- Alex Weir
Pan's the Man But he's really just a boy
The hot new children's novel Peter and the Starcatchers is to the classic story of Peter Pan as The Phantom Menace is to Star Wars: a prequel that shows just how Peter met his nemesis, Captain Hook; where fairy dust really comes from; and what Peter's life was like back when he was just another flightless orphan.
The shared brainchild of Pulitzer Prize-winning humorist Dave Barry and acclaimed detective writer (and St. Louis local) Ridley Pearson, Peter and the Starcatchers receives its oratorical debut here at 7 p.m. in the St. Louis Public Library's Great Hall (1301 Olive Street; 314-539-0348). Both authors read from, discuss and sign copies of the book. The event is free -- and pointy green shoes are optional. -- Rose Martelli
When Kids Go Bad They're really bad
Pharmacists-in-training seem like the last group of people who would have a theatrical bone in their bodies -- you know, with all the counting and science and all. But these serious students need that artistic release, just like the rest of the creative world. See them in action Thursday through Saturday (October 21 through 23) as the St. Louis College of Pharmacy stages The Bad Seed. If you think your children/nieces/ nephews are misbehaving, naughty creatures, you haven't seen anything yet. This thriller, which enjoyed a big-screen release in 1956, features a not-so-nice little girl who really, really wants things to go her way. Catch it at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday and at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday at the College Theatre at Whelpley Hall (4539 Parkview Place; 314-446-8445). Tickets cost $4 at the door. And as much as it may please you to scare the young terrors in your life, no, you may not bring any children younger than twelve. -- Alison Sieloff
Look for Mr. Night in the Run for Your Life! costumed 5K race this year. After successfully petitioning co-workers for the $20 pledge minimum (for the ALS Hope charity, and its fight against Lou Gehrig's Disease), he'll be at the 10 a.m. start in Tower Grove Park (4256 Magnolia Avenue; register at www.alsrun.org) wearing his Halloween get-up (the undead Noel Coward). The run may re-deaden him, though, so he'll probably opt for the one-mile short course. -- Paul Friswold