1. See a chess-themed art show featuring St. Louis artists
In 1944 Marcel Duchamp, Julien Levy and Max Ernst organized The Imagery of Chess, an exhibition of chess sets reimagined by artists and performers. Their hope was that people's vision of the chess board and pieces would be expanded beyond the then-accepted options of either the classic Staunton design or the "French" set. In 2016, the World Chess Hall of Fame exhibited some of the works from the 1944 show to acknowledge the debt owed to those artists for forever altering the look of chess. Imagery of Chess: St. Louis Artists is the new follow-up exhibit, which invites twenty local artists to have their way with the game pieces. Among those participating are Eugenia Alexander, who cites the Afrofuturism movement as a key influence on her work; fashion designer and Project Runway vet Michael Drummond; and Yuka Suga, a glass and metals artist who also works as a therapist. A second, simultaneous show, Pow! Capturing Superheroes, Chess & Comics, showcases more than 200 chess-themed comic books (you'd be surprised by how many super villains play chess to keep their minds sharp for optimal intricate scheming functionality). There are also superhero-themed chess boards and a comic book reading room. Both exhibitions opened on March 23 at the World Chess Hall of Fame (4652 Maryland Avenue; www.worldchesshof.org). Imagery of Chess continues through September 14. Pow! remains up through September 17. Admission is a suggested $5 donation.
2. Catch a symphonic/operatic mashup
Composer John Adams and librettist Peter Sellars addressed Handel's Messiah from the twentieth century with their nativity oratorio El Niño. Now, from the stark weirdness of the 21st century, they bookend that work with The Gospel According to the Other Mary, a symphony/operatic mash-up that tells the story of the Passion from the point of view of Mary Magdalene, her sister Martha and their brother Lazarus. It's a massive work that requires a sound designer, a cimbalom (a large hammered dulcimer sized for concert halls), a half-dozen vocalists and the power of a full chorus. This Gospel (a joint reply to Bach and his Passions) weaves in contemporary social narratives from writers such as medieval mystic Hildegard of Bingen and Dorothy Day, the bohemian who converted to Catholicism and advocated for the poor and homeless as part of the Catholic Worker Movement. It's a much more feminine view of the Passion than the version in the Bible. The St. Louis Symphony presents The Gospel According to the Other Mary at 8 p.m. Friday and 3 p.m. Sunday (March 24 and 26) at Powell Hall (718 North Grand Boulevard; www.slso.org). Tickets are $25 to $111.
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