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Smokey and the Bandit

Wed., May 24, 7 p.m.
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Forty years ago saw the release of one of the most iconic films in American cinema. No, not Star Wars — Hal Needham's Smokey and the Bandit. Burt Reynolds stars as the hot-shot driver known, after his CB handle, as "the Bandit," who runs interference for his trucker pal Snowman (country music legend Jerry Reed). Snowman is hauling a trailer full of illicit beer across the Southeast to win a bet with Big Enos and Little Enos (Pat McCormick and Paul Williams, respectively). It'd be a cake-walk for our heroes, except irascible county sheriff Buford T. Justice (Jackie Gleason) refuses to give up his pursuit of "that sumbitch" Bandit. Turner Classic Movies (yes, really) presents two special 40th anniversary screenings of Smokey and the Bandit this week. You can see it locally at 2 p.m. Sunday and 7 p.m. Wednesday (May 21 and 24) at the Marcus Wehrenberg Ronnies 20 Cine (5320 South Lindbergh Boulevard; www.fathomevents.com). Tickets are $12.50. $12.50

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Audubon and Beyond

Mondays-Thursdays, 7:30 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Continues through June 15
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Among those of the ornithological persuasion, the St. Louis region is of prime interest because of our natural flyways. The Mississippi River underwrites that status; it's a superhighway for migrating birds. We have another feathered fact to boast about: While the renowned birdman John James Audubon was still alive, the St. Louis Mercantile Library acquired a rare reserved copy of his masterwork, Birds of America, from his family. This is tantamount to owning a Gutenberg Bible. Celebrate it with the exhibit Audubon and Beyond: Collecting Five Centuries of Natural History at the St. Louis Mercantile Library on the University of Missouri-St. Louis campus (1 University Drive at Natural Bridge Road; 314-516-7240 or www.umsl.edu/mercantile). The extensive exhibit incorporates sections relating to not only birds but also reptiles, mammals, fish, insects, humans, astronomy, geology, meteorology and more. Audubon and Beyond is open 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and noon to 8 p.m. Sunday (November 9 through June 2017). Admission is free. free admission

University of Missouri-St. Louis-Mercantile Library (map)
1 University Dr. at Natural Bridge Road
North St. Louis County
phone 314-516-7240
Audubon and Beyond

First Impressions

Wednesdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m. Continues through May 27

Pride and Prejudice remains immensely popular more than 200 years after its release thanks to Jane Austen's ability to translate to the page the love, longing and hasty decision-making of young women. For the final production of Slightly Askew Theatre Ensemble's tenth season, the company presents First Impressions, an interesting take on Austen's novel. Inspired by Elizabeth Bennet's reliance on first impressions, Ellie Schwetye and Rachel Tibbetts polled people via social media about their first impressions of the novel. These gathered recollections are woven into the story as a way of celebrating the novel's perpetual pull on readers' hearts and minds. First Impressions is presented at 8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday (May 17 to 27) at the Chapel (6238 Alexander Drive; www.slightlyoff.org). Tickets are $15 to $20. $15-$20

The Chapel (map)
6238 Alexander Drive
Clayton First Impressions

Imagery of Chess: St. Louis Artists

Wednesdays-Fridays, 10 a.m.-9 p.m., Sundays, 12-5 p.m. and Mondays, Tuesdays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Continues through Sept. 17

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 open a free reception from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, 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. $5 suggested donation

4000 Miles

Wednesdays, Thursdays, 7:30 p.m., Saturdays, 8 p.m. and Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through May 28

Leo didn't intend to end up at his grandmother Vera's apartment in Manhattans West Village, and she certainly wasn't expecting him -- especially not in the middle of the night. But at 91, she's learned a great deal about life, and she can tell something is wrong with her grandson. Something terrible happened during his cross-country bicycle journey, that's for certain. Vera doesn't mind his company; things have been awfully quiet in her life since her husband passed away. Leo's sudden appearance might turn out to be just what both of them need at this point in their lives. Amy Herzog's intimate play 4000 Miles is about the distance between age 21 and age 91, and how small it really is. The New Jewish Theatre closes its season with 4000 Miles. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday (May 11 to 28) in the Wool Studio at the Jewish Community Center (2 Millstone Campus Drive, Creve Coeur; www.newjewishtheatre.org). Tickets are $39.50 to $43.50. $39.50-$43.50

The Hats of Stephen Jones

Fridays, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. and Tuesdays-Thursdays, Saturdays, Sundays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Continues through Sept. 3
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You may not recognize Stephen Jones by name, but you've most likely seen his work. The English milliner's creations have been worn by trend-setting celebrities for more than 30 years, from Princess Diana to Lady Gaga. A selection of eight of his avant-garde hats are displayed at the Saint Louis Art Museum (1 Fine Arts Drive; www.slam.org) in Hats of Stephen Jones, a complementary exhibition to the ongoing exhibition Degas, Impressionism, and the Paris Millinery Trade. Jones' exhibit will remain up from Friday, April 21 to Sunday, September 3. At 2 p.m. Sunday, April 23, Jones visits the museum to discuss his work and his inspirations with New York milliner Jennifer Ouellette. Admission to the lecture is $20 to $25; exhibition admission is $6 to $15. $6-$15

In the Realm of Trees

Fridays, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. and Tuesdays-Thursdays, Saturdays, Sundays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Continues through Sept. 3

Classical Chinese artists often used trees as inspirations or the focus of their works. Trees and the natural world are the focus of the new exhibition at the Saint Louis Art Museum (1 Fine Arts Drive; www.slam.org), In the Realm of Trees, which includes photographs, paintings and decorative works that glorify the beauty found in nature. The centerpiece of the show is a set of contemporary photographs called Sacred Tree on Mount Lu, made by Beijing-based photographer Michael Cherney, which was acquired for the museum's permanent collection in 2016 and will be presented for the first time in this exhibit. In the Realm of Trees opens on Friday, March 10, and remains up through Sunday, September 3, in gallery 225. The gallery is open Tuesday through Sunday, and admission is free. free admission

Learning to See: Renaissance and Baroque Masterworks

Fridays, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. and Tuesdays-Thursdays, Saturdays, Sundays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Continues through July 30

Phoebe Dent Weil created the field of sculpture conservation in the early 1970s right here in St. Louis. As you might imagine, her personal collection of art is deep and full of treasures. Her husband Mark Weil was an art historian, and his collection is also heavy with the hits of the Baroque and Renaissance. They have promised their joint art holding to the Saint Louis Art Museum, where the public will be able to enjoy for years to come the fruits of their very fruitful collecting years. Learning to See: Renaissance Baroque Masterworks from the Phoebe Dent Weil and Mark S. Weil Collection features etchings by Rembrandt van Rijn and Albrecht Dürer and sixteenth-century Italian terracotta sculptures and busts, each work a miracle of craftsmanship and artistic vision. free admission

Jennifer Colten: Higher Ground

Wednesdays-Fridays, 12-5 p.m., Saturdays, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. and Tuesdays, 12-8 p.m. Continues through Aug. 26

Back in the old days, the insanities of racism and segregation kept black people and white people out of the same graveyards. Washington Park Cemetery was for many years the largest final resting place for black St. Louis. Its proximity to Lambert St. Louis International Airport doomed it, however. Highway 70 ran through the middle of the cemetery in the 1950s, and more bodies were moved in the '90s when MetroLink tracks were laid and the airport expanded. Photographer Jennifer Colten documented the current state of the cemetery for the new multimedia exhibition Higher Ground: Honoring Washington Park Cemetery, Its People and Place. Her large-scale, color photographs are supported by historical documentation, video and oral histories (by Denise Ward-Brown) and an art installation by Dail Chambers, all toward the goal of illuminating the racial politics and tangled history behind a black cemetery’s sacrifice in the name of progress. free admission

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The Sheldon (map)
3648 Washington Blvd.
St. Louis - Grand Center
phone 314-533-9900
Jennifer Colten:  Higher Ground

Tennessee Williams: The Playwright and the Painter

Wednesdays-Sundays, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Continues through July 23

In addition to his work as a playwright, Tennessee Williams painted. The subject of his expressionist paintings varies; often he painted close friends, but some of his creations reference scenes from his plays, or reveal his personal feelings. David Wolkowsky, a close friend of Williams, has graciously loaned seventeen paintings from his personal collection to the Saint Louis University Museum of Art as part of this year's Tennessee Williams Festival St. Louis. This is only the second time they’ve been exhibited outside of Key West, so fans should take advantage of this rare viewing. The show is supplemented by an audio recording of Williams reading his poetry and a short video of Wolkowsky discussing his friend. free admission

Erica Iman: Formation

Wednesdays, Saturdays, 1-4 p.m. Continues through May 31

The steppes of Mongolia are an austere landscape broken by mountains and the encroaching Gobi desert. The starkness of the region reshaped ceramicist Erica Iman's work during her stint in the Peace Corps. Her functional, hand-built vessels mimic the primordial nature of Mongolia's open terrain, appearing more as geological eruptions of rock and hard-packed soil with their raw edges and weathered finishes. Erica Iman: Formation, the new exhibit at the Reese Gallery (3410 Wisconsin Avenue; www.thereesegallery.com), offers a selection of Iman's recent work. The show opens with a free reception from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, April 28. The gallery is open from 1 to 4 p.m. on Wednesday and Saturday, and Formation remains up through Wednesday, May 31. Admission is free. free admission

Urban Planning: Art and the City 1967-2017

Wednesdays-Sundays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Thursdays, Fridays, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Continues through Aug. 13

Agnes Denes' photograph Wheatfield -- A Confrontation: Battery Park Landfill, Downtown Manhattan is one of the more incongruous images you're likely to see. The artist stands holding a staff in a hip-deep golden field of wheat; rising up from the other side of the street is a battalion of skyscrapers. You don't think of Manhattan as agriculturally active, but wheat grew wild near the landfill in 1982. The image is part of the Contemporary's summer exhibition, Urban Planning: Art and the City 1967-2017, which takes a contemplative approach to documenting the ebb and flow of city life. Urban Planning comprises photographs, sculptures and installations that address gentrification, white flight and the decay that follows -- and the occasional rebirth of a city. free admission

#1 in Civil Rights

Mondays, Wednesdays-Sundays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Tuesdays, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Continues through April 15, 2018

St. Louis' history as a wellspring of civil rights activism is deep and impressive. Dred and Harriet Scott's legal fight to be free, Mary Meachum's bold actions leading slaves to freedom across the Mississippi River, the Jefferson Bank protesters organizing to get access to better jobs, Percy Green and the daring VP Ball invaders who challenged St. Louis' powerful elite and the exclusionary nature of their private party — all of these people fought the good fight in St. Louis. #1 in Civil Rights, the new exhibition at the Missouri History Museum (Lindell Boulevard and DeBaliviere Avenue; www.mohistory.org) chronicles the history of the civil rights movement in the metro area through artifacts, historical photos, oral histories, art work and actors' performances. Every key moment in the black struggle for equality is covered up to the present day, with artifacts collected by the museum staff following the killing of Michael Brown and the resulting civil unrest in Ferguson playing a major role in the exhibit. #1 in Civil Rights opens on Saturday, March 11, and continues through April 15, 2018. Admission is free. free admission

Missouri History Museum (map)
Lindell Blvd. & DeBaliviere Ave.
St. Louis - Forest Park
phone 314-746-4599
#1 in Civil Rights

Route 66: Main Street Through St. Louis

Mondays, Wednesdays-Sundays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Continues through July 16

Before the interstate highway system was developed, Route 66 was the safest, fastest way to cross the western half of the country. Starting in Chicago and ending Santa Monica, the "Main Street of America" came right though St. Louis, but not in the mostly straight lines we're accustomed to now. At various points in time, Route 66 traversed Watson Road, Manchester Road, the Martin Luther King Bridge and the Poplar Street Bridge. That shifting route helped spur the growth of cities and businesses along the way, as travelers stopped overnight at the Coral Court Motel or grabbed a bit to eat at the Parkmoor Restaurant. Route 66: Main Street Through St. Louis, the new exhibition at the Missouri History Museum (Lindell Boulevard and DeBaliviere Avenue; 314-746-4599 or www.mohistory.org), tells the story of the byway through roadside signs and gas pumps, historic vehicles, bus tours and photographs. Route 66 opens Saturday, June 25, and remains open through July 16, 2017. Admission is free. free admission

Missouri History Museum (map)
Lindell Blvd. & DeBaliviere Ave.
St. Louis - Forest Park
phone 314-746-4599
Route 66: Main Street Through St. Louis

Shimon Attie: Lost in Space (After Huck)

Tuesdays-Thursdays, Saturdays, Sundays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Fridays, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Continues through June 25

American artist Shimon Attie is interested in making people aware of the historical import of public spaces that appear common. In New York he projected the written memories of long-time residents of Manhattan's Lower East Side onto former tenement buildings. For Portraits of Exile, his exhibition in Copenhagen, he submerged light boxes in a canal so that the portraits of Jewish refugees whom the government shipped to safety during World War II would remind Denmark of its heroic actions to save refugees in need, and underline the current administration's malign ambivalence to refugees. Lost in Space (After Huck), his new installation for the Saint Louis Art Museum, uses sculpture, video and audio to evoke the memories of St. Louis mytho-poetic past. A cast epoxy resin raft is the center of the piece; a corn-cob pipe, an oar and a bindle wait for their absent owners in the menacing glow of a police light. Digitally projected constellations of light appear and then wink out in the darkness surrounding the raft, while streaks of lighting race through the artificial night. free admission

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