Taking it to the streets at the St. Louis Art Fair

The St. Louis Art Fair returns for the sixth time to downtown Clayton this weekend, Friday-Sunday, Sept. 17-19. Even though the fair is only 6 years old, it has become the defining art event of the year for many local artists and galleries and has begun to attract international attention. Of the more than 1,400 professional artists from around the U.S. and Great Britain who sent in applications, just 165 were chosen to display their works. The artwork ranges from the avant-garde and eclectic to the mainstream, including photography, painting, sculpture, ceramics, jewelry, clothing and two- and three-dimensional mixed-media presentations.

The exhibits will be surrounded by local restaurants' booths, offering samples of their fare while competing in the Bank of America "Pleasures of the Palate" juried food awards. Planned dishes include everything from C.J. Muggs' griddled crawfish to the Ritz- Carlton's Jack Daniels ice cream.

The fair will also feature three stages of entertainment, located around the Clayton business district. This weekend features all different kinds of bands and music, from the jazz and blues of Hudson and the Hoo Doo Cats to the country-swing sound of the Bobby Caldwell Band. Several storytelling acts will grace the children's stage, and the Tesseract acrobats are scheduled to perform on Saturday afternoon.

The fair's organizers expect more than 120,000 visitors over the course of the weekend. Suggested parking locations are the Washington University West Campus (the old Clayton Famous-Barr) garage and surface lot; shuttles will be running to the fair every few minutes.

Anyone who says that the event shouldn't be called the "St. Louis" Art Fair because it's in Clayton ought to try breaking down the walls and find him- or herself in a greater community. There are plenty of other things to split hairs over.

The St. Louis Art Fair runs from 5-10 p.m. Fri., 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Sat. and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sun. For more information, call 863-0278.

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