There's mall art, and then there's ArtDimensions (www.artdimensions.org). For the uninitiated, ArtD is a group of local artists and art-supporters who have pioneered exhibit space on the third floor of St. Louis Centre (i.e. the CentreGallery, located above the mall entrance at Seventh Street and Washington Avenue). In addition to filling that gallery, the group also brings rotating exhibits to Moxy, Coffee Cartel and Third Degree Glass Factory, to name just a few art-enhanced spots around town. Consider ArtD an emissary of good art, and consider venturing to St. Louis Centre for the collective's free WinterFest and the opening reception for the CentreGallery's new show.
WinterFest, happening from noon to 8:30 p.m., is an alternative shopping event that features art by Justin Tolentino (whose work is pictured), Carol Eder, Peat Wollaeger, Jim Sabo and others who are open for business in temporary shops on the third floor of the mall. Live music and cooking demos make your shopping experience all the more merry. Then, the CentreGallery continues the merriment from 7 to 11 p.m. with the aforementioned exhibit opening, which showcases more than twenty local artists' work in the main gallery and a solo show by Mike Sleadd in the Guest Gallery and a whole mélange of food samples and poetry. Simply put, it will be a day of art for all of the senses, and all at the mall! Anna Teekell
Soulard Has Class
Contrary to popular Lenten lore, Soulard is home to some classy people. No really! Soulardians (mostly) are not the breast-baring revelers you see at Party Gras, but rather the types of folks who have pretty parlours (notice the fancy "u"). See for yourself during the 30th annual Soulard Holiday Parlour Tour, happening from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, December 3 and 4. These two-hour tours, which include some walking and some shuttle-riding, depart from the Humboldt School Annex (1110 Victor Street) every fifteen minutes and take you through some restored homes as well as some more modern renovations, all of which are done up in grand holiday fashion. Tour tickets cost $17 to $20 and are available at 314-534-1111 or www.metrotix.com; kids younger than twelve are free (and no worries, this actually is a family event). Alison Sieloff
Big Band, Big Fun
With your thrift-store wardrobe, you look like decades have passed you by. But now's your chance to act your clothing's era and fit in perfectly. Just drive that classy chassis on down to the St. Louis Casa Loma Ballroom (3354 Iowa Avenue; 314-664-8000 or www.casalomaballroom.com) for the Gateway City Big Band's performance. Music and dancing go from 8:30 to 11:30 p.m., and admission is $8. And if you can't dance in the big-band style (yet), free lessons are offered from 7:45 to 8:30 p.m. to help you be more convincingly true-old-school (instead of seeming merely too broke to buy new threads). Alison Sieloff
If it's a given that most Americans are largely ignorant of their lyrical heritage, consider the status of the poet of color in this nation. Perhaps even the casually informed know Langston Hughes, while the more literate can name-check Rita Dove, say, or Ai. Then there are figures like K. Curtis Lyle, ignored by mainstream media, drowned out by the raw degradation of gangsta rap, and still they sing against and through nihilism, as poets everywhere always have. Lyle, raised in Watts but a St. Louisan since the late '60s, is a poet of high vision and genuine importance. Lucky for us, we can hear him read from his work, for free, at 8 p.m. at the Schlafly Tap Room (2100 Locust Street; 314-241-2337) as part of the "Readings @ the Schlafly Tap Room" series. University of Illinois at Springfield professor Marcellus Leonard also reads. Visit www.belz.net/readings for more information about both poets. Alex Weir