With Friday night being the unofficial official night for art-show openings, one can end up running all over town to take in a show or two (or three). While enjoyable in its own way, the hopscotch method can make for a very long evening in the car after a very long day in the office. So the Sheldon Art Galleries' (3648 Washington Boulevard; 314-533-9900 or www.sheldonconcerthall.org) method of opening several new shows in one night is a welcome chance to see a variety of artists' work in one quick stop. Friday, September 23, is one of those chances, with four new shows opening between 5 and 7 p.m.
Accidental Mysteries: Extraordinary Vernacular Photographs from the Collection of John and Teenuh Foster is a mouthful of a title and the most compelling of the three shows. The Fosters collect wayward photographs from flea markets and yard sales, most of them snapshots (rather than professional "art" photos). These images, separated from their original context and devoid of personal meaning for most viewers, have an aura of mystery and strangeness. Nothing creepier than a candid shot of a strange kid with devil eyes, after all.
The people in Dennis Owsley's photographs are much more recognizable. In the Moment: Performance Images of Jazz Music by Dennis Owsley showcases the KWMU (90.7 FM) radio host's passion for jazz through his inspirational photos of musicians such as Claudia Acuña, Milt Hinton and Willie Akins caught in the throes of creation.
A Celebration of Vision: The Art of Phillip Hampton demonstrates that youthful exuberance can last a lifetime, if properly tended. The Edwardsville, Illinois, resident combines his knowledge of art history, the techniques of European and African art, and the power of abstract art with his 60 years of professional experience to create paintings that reveal a deeply personal and unique world that is beautiful and magical. -- Paul Friswold
Piece of Craft
Devotees of HGTV's program Crafters Coast to Coast know that often the difference between a good project and a truly great one is in the details. HGTV clearly learned the lesson, as it changed the show's name to THAT'S Clever in the process of retooling the program to appeal more to the Readymade-reading crowd of handy-types. If you're inspired by the new wave of crafters who shy away from the glitter-and-macaroni projects of yesteryear in favor of arty, funky projects, get to the City Museum (701 North 15th Street; 314-231-2489 or www.citymuseum.org). Talented guest crafters from THAT'S Clever's upcoming season share tips and offer advice on paper-making, tie-dying, pottery and more. Admission to the City Museum is $8 to $12, and the crafting gets crafty in Art City between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. -- Paul Friswold
What puts the "happy" in "happy hour"? If you answered "alcohol, duh" and can't remember the last time you had orange juice sans vodka, then you ought to attend the non-alcoholic Mocktail Mixer from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on the outdoor patio at The Heights (8001 Dale Avenue, Richmond Heights; 314-645-1476). Imagine: a free happy hour where you don't have to shout to be heard or translate others' slurring into coherent English. Better yet, having hooch-free fruit drinks and cocktails all but guarantees that you won't wake up and swear you'll never drink again. Trust us, your liver (and conscience!) will thank you -- and so will your waistline: even the appetizers at the mixer will be healthy. -- Kristie McClanahan
After the hurricane of reality we've recently faced, a little dose of nonsensical nursery rhymes is just what the doctor ordered (or was that the directive from the Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe?). Anyway, 100 of Mother Goose's favorites have a brand-new look with colorful illustrations by the renowned local artist Mary Engelbreit. And at 7 p.m. Miss Mary will be reading from and signing copies of Mary Engelbreit's Mother Goose: One Hundred Best-Loved Verses at a free event at the St. Louis County Library Headquarters (1640 South Lindbergh Boulevard in Ladue). Note: The only books that Engelbreit will sign are available for purchase at Left Bank Books or at the event. For more information call the library at 314-994-3300 or visit www.slcl.org. -- Amy Helms