As summer turns to fall, we usually start thinking about the days getting colder and shorter and feel some sadness. But then we remember something correspondingly delightful: Arts events slay in the fall.
Whether that's because everyone is back on a schedule due to school or crisp air makes openings and performances even better is hard to say. Arts events this fall are set to be even sweeter as the coronavirus moves from pandemic to endemic and relaxed restrictions mean a return to something that looks a lot like normal.
So grab a sweater and start planning out a fall full of some of the arts events most anticipated by the RFT. —Jessica Rogen
First Fridays Old North Art Walk
First Friday of every month, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. UrbArts Gallery, 2600 North 14th Street. Free. No phone.
On the first Friday of every month, the streets of St. Louis' Old North neighborhood are filled with artwork: live music, DJs, gallery walks, spoken-word poetry — almost all produced by artists with local ties. This is First Fridays Old North Art Walk, organized by arts nonprofit UrbArts. Each art walk features a different group of emerging local artists — painters, musicians or poets. Though the artists change, the location never does. Set in the heart of Old North, visitors can enjoy a historic neighborhood known for its St. Louis-red-brick homes, its restored main street and Crown Candy Kitchen. During the First Friday events, visitors can sample the neighborhood's delights while listening to music, walking around Crown Square, trying treats from local restaurants, admiring the classic architecture and touring venues such as UrbArts, Zuka Arts Guild and the Old North St. Louis Restoration Group. —Benjamin Simon
St. Louis World's Fare Heritage Festival
September 2 to 4, times vary by date. Upper Muny Lot at Forest Park, 1 Theatre Drive. Free, VIP passes available for $50 to $500. No phone.
Some 118 years after the event that gave it its name, the St. Louis World's Fare Heritage Festival (yes "Fare," as its organizers would never be so presumptuous as to spell it the 1904 way) returns to Forest Park to celebrate the spirit of the original with three days of food, music, art and dance. This Labor Day weekend, the party takes over the Upper Muny Lot with main-stage performances from the likes of Beastie Boys DJ Mix Master Mike, psychedelic rock/electronica duo BoomBox and ska-punk-funk-rockers Fishbone, all supported by some of St. Louis' finest local acts. But, as the "Fare" in the name might indicate, it's not only your ears that will be nourished at this event. Filling the bellies of attendees will be a cavalcade of St. Louis' top food trucks, with a diversity of flavors and cultures. It's a whole weekend of great food, killer music, outstanding art and more — and best of all, general admission is absolutely free.
Saint Louis Art Fair
September 9 to 11, times vary by date. Downtown Clayton. Free. 314-863-0278.
You're going to want to swipe right on this one: Saint Louis Art Fair is back for its 29th year with the theme "love is in the art." At this year's fair, art lovers can enjoy browsing work from 180 vendors, who come from 33 states and three countries. Sculptures, mixed media, paintings and more will be on display and for sale. In addition, the art fair treats its attendees to food samplings and live music. Plenty of local musicians are on the roster, including the Steve Ewing Duo and Meredith Shaw. The fair also has space for spoken word and dance performances, chalk-art creations and chef-inspired food demonstrations. As far as bites go, attendees will be able to enjoy samplings from Clementine's Naughty & Nice Creamery, Pappy's Smokehouse, Juniper and more. It's an art fair that combines all five senses, and it's yours for the taking this September. —Jenna Jones
Great Rivers Biennial
September 9 to February 12, 2023, times vary by date. Contemporary Art Museum, 3750 Washington Boulevard. Free. 314-535-4660.
St. Louis has some of the finest art museums in the land, which bring astonishing talent from across eras and schools for the city's viewing. But what about the talent that hails from within this region? That's where the Contemporary Art Museum's Great Rivers Biennial comes in. Established in 2003 by CAM and the Gateway Foundation, the biennial identifies three early or mid-career artists living here, grants the winners $20,000 and features them in a group exhibition. This year's recipients are Yowshien Kuo, a Taiwanese American painter whose work features and humanizes "those relegated by recent histories"; Yvonne Osei, a German-born Ghanaian multimedia artist, educator and advocate whose work explores beauty, racism and colorism; and Jon Young, a citizen of the Catawba Indian Nation whose sculptures consider language and signage in the American West. The biennial only comes around every other year, making it not only a not-to-be-missed event but also an essential way to uncover some top visual-arts talent before the rest of the world wises up. —Jessica Rogen
Music at the Intersection
September 10 and 11, times vary by date. Grand Center Arts District, Grand Boulevard and Washington Avenue. $79 to $650. No phone.
Music at the Intersection returns for its second year with another strong bill buoyed by a stacked lineup of some of St. Louis' finest artists alongside a killer set of celebrated national acts. The two-day festival will take over Grand Center with a roster of 50-plus artists peddling a diversity of sounds, including soul, jazz, blues, hip-hop, rock and everything in between. Neo-soul legend Erykah Badu and blues-rock guitar virtuoso Gary Clark Jr. top this year's lineup, with support from Hiatus Kaiyote, Kamasi Washington, Buddy Guy and Robert Glasper, as well as a slew of St. Louis-based artists including the Urge, Foxing, NandoSTL and more. It's easily St. Louis' most ambitious music festival, and the fact that it takes place in the middle of September, on the same weekend that the now-bygone LouFest was traditionally held, makes clear that its organizers hope to grab the baton dropped by that event and carry it to the finish line and beyond. —Daniel Hill
St. Louis Record Show
September 11, 10 a.m. American Czech Center, 4690 Lansdowne Avenue. $3 to $5. 314-550-1814.
Nowadays, thanks to the magic of the internet and the myriad streaming services it provides, all of the music in the known universe is easily accessible with nothing more than the touch of a cellphone screen. While that's all well and good in the car, or when otherwise on the move, it's no substitute for the joys of a vinyl record. The ritual of unsealing a new slab of wax and examining the liner notes, placing your prize carefully on a turntable and watching the needle fall into the groove — the sheer tangibility of it all! — simply cannot be matched by any app or web address. Thankfully, those of us dedicated to the old ways have the St. Louis Record Show. Now in its 43rd year, the vinyl-forward celebration of music is still going strong, bringing row after row of crates for the discerning customer to dig through. The event takes place at the Czech Center every couple of months, with September 11 and November 6 as the last on the slate for 2022. General admission is only $3, but morning types might want to consider paying $5 for early admission — you don't want those vinyl treasures walking away with someone else before you're able to find them. —Daniel Hill
Left Bank Books presents SarAh Kendzior's They Knew
September 13, 7 p.m. The Ethical Society of St. Louis, 9001 Clayton Road, Ladue. Free. 314-367-6731.
Oft viewed as the Midwestern oracle of the modern times, journalist and academic Sarah Kendzior rose to national prominence for being one of the first — if not the first — to predict Donald Trump's 2016 presidential win and unpack Middle America's discontents through her 2015 self-published collection of essays The View from Flyover Country, republished by Flatirons Book in 2018. Since then, Kendzior has launched a popular podcast, Gaslit Nation, published on authoritarianism and written more books: Hidden in Plain Sight: The Invention of Donald Trump and the Erosion of America and They Knew: How a Culture of Conspiracy Keeps America Complacent, which delves into the dangers of U.S. conspiracy-theory culture across the political spectrum. The latter tome goes on sale on September 13, and Left Bank Books will present a book launch at the Ethical Society featuring a conversation between Kendzior and St. Louis Public Radio reporter Jason Rosenbaum. St. Louisans should attend not only to better understand the dark underbelly of America but also to support a fellow St. Louisan who spends almost as much Twitter real estate on pics of Missouri's wilderness beauty as she does making dire predictions. —Jessica Rogen
Within the Golden Hour
October 1 and 2, times vary by date. Touhill Performing Arts Center, 1 Touhill Circle, Bellerive. $31 to $79. 314-516-4949.
Christopher Wheeldon gained a following for his Tony Award-winning choreography for MJ The Musical, a jukebox musical about Michael Jackson. But before he veered into narrative dance and musicals, Wheeldon was known for well-crafted, one-act ballets. Within the Golden Hour is one such example, created for the 2008 San Francisco Ballet New Works Festival. "It is Wheeldon at his best in effective corps patterns and attractively quirky duets," writes Jann Parry in a review of the Royal Ballet's performance. Composed by the late Ezio Bosso, the music draws on Vivaldi and the opulent beauty of Gustav Klimt's paintings. With repeating rhythms and stirring melodies, the music is the perfect backdrop for the series of stirring and "quirky" pas de deux that make up the core of the piece. Saint Louis Ballet will be performing Within the Golden Hour with the Chamber Music Society of St. Louis, which will add to the energy and verve of the piece. The evening also includes Romantique, a ballet by Gen Horiuchi, artistic director of Saint Louis Ballet, that's performed with the Chamber Music Society's jazz trio and a classical cellist. —Rosalind Early
October 11 to 23, times vary by date. The Fabulous Fox Theatre, 527 North Grand Boulevard. $29 to $110, 314-534-1111.
Raise hell at the Fox this fall with Hadestown, a Tony Award-winning musical that follows intertwined love stories from four characters in Greek mythology. You'll hear the tunes of young dreamers Orpheus and Eurydice as well as listen in on King of the Underworld Hades and his wife Persephone as they work through relationship woes. It's all narrated by an engaging and knowledgeable Hermes, the messenger god, famously played on Broadway by André De Shields. To add to the mix, there's the overarching threat of climate change, poverty and the lure of an empty promise. The characters will have to figure out if one song can change their fates. It's Greek mythology in its most enjoyable form: set to tap-your-foot good music. —Jenna Jones
Punk Rock Art Show
October 15, 3 to 9 p.m. 31art Gallery, 3520 Hampton Avenue. Free. No phone.
Art opening meets record launch meets that party you can't ever stop talking about at 31art Gallery's Punk Rock Art Show. Going up for its fourth year, the group show features live performances from — you guessed it — punk rock acts. This year will be the first that's also a record launch — for California's "rockabilly surfer punk band" Bent Duo — from gallery owners Jared and Amy Minnick's label, 31art Music. In addition to performances from Bent Duo, Bruiser Queen and Darling Skye, the show will feature artwork from 16 local artists including Jared Minnick, Maxine Thirteen, Andy Dykeman and more. 4 Hands Brewing Co. will sponsor the event, so delicious brews will be on offer. If that all isn't enough, 31art Gallery has the fanciest, mirror-festooned bathroom this side of the Mississippi set up for selfie perfection. —Jessica Rogen
The Good Ship St. Louis
November 3 to 20, times vary by date. The Marcelle, 3310 Samuel Shepard Drive. $25 to $35. 314-533-0367.
Upstream Theater's show The Good Ship St. Louis is named after the MS St. Louis, a diesel-powered ship that left Germany in 1939 with Jewish passengers on board who hoped to escape Nazi persecution. The ensuing trip became known as the "Voyage of the Damned" as port after port in North America refused to let the passengers disembark. The ship was ultimately turned back to Europe, where many of the passengers died in the Holocaust. Upstream Theater's artistic director, Philip Boehm, says that The Good Ship St. Louis takes that story as a springboard for "a broader exploration of refuge and asylum." Including both original and period music, Upstream's production opens in 1939 but moves forward in time to tell stories of people from Central America, Bosnia and Ukraine who have sought refuge away from their homelands. "It will be a little bit kaleidoscopic," Boehm says, adding that much of the script is taken from primary accounts written by refugees. —Ryan Krull
St. Louis International Film Festival
November 3 to 13, multiple times and locations. $10 to $50. 314-289-4150.
Is there a better escape from reality than watching a film? Whether you're immersing yourself in the characters' foibles or a plot line that rivals your own problems, it's a perfect, enjoyable distraction. Locally, there's no better source of genre-encompassing, life-distracting movie marathons than the St. Louis International Film Festival, which is celebrating its 31st year and bills itself as being "the largest and highest-profile international film festival in the Midwest." Last year, the fest showed over 400 films in a hybrid format; attendees could stream films or visit a theater for viewings. Films vary in genre — documentaries, shorts and narratives, and more. While the lineup had yet to be announced at press time, SLIFF is guaranteed to have great flicks on offer. —Jenna Jones