From the 1950s to the mid-1960s, it seemed like everything and everyone in California was cool: Pierre Koenig and others were designing airy case-study homes, and Charles and Ray Eames' sleek furniture looked gorgeous in those types of spaces; painters including Karl Benjamin were creating colorful abstract works, and cool jazz musicians like Chet Baker provided a soundtrack for the stylish scene. Even though photographs allow you to peer into these happening times, which were shaped by the aforementioned visionaries along with many other people, these images don't actually help you to relive the mid-century-modern period. For that you have to head over to the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum on Washington University's campus (Forsyth and Skinker boulevards; 314-935-4523 or www.kemperartmuseum.wustl.edu), where the Birth of the Cool: California Art, Design and Culture at Mid-Century exhibition opens on Friday, September 19. At this multimedia show, you'll have the opportunity to experience a jazz lounge, check out period TV programming, view paintings and photographs, and utilize an interactive timeline about the era, all while learning about the artists already mentioned and others. And as if all that isn't cool enough, at the free opening reception (from 7 to 9 p.m.), you can sip martinis and peruse the exhibition while a jazz band plays Miles Davis' Birth of the Cool album live! Cool, indeed! The show remains up through Monday, January 5, and the museum is open every day but Tuesday.
Mondays, Wednesdays-Sundays. Starts: Sept. 19. Continues through Jan. 5, 2008