Have a Wall Ball

Help the South City Open Studio and Gallery paint a success story

Childhood -- that too-brief time, initiated when you toddle your first hesitant steps and extinguished when age and experience throw you out into the world -- is a funny thing. So valuable and lovely, yet so often filled with negatives: Don't do that. Stop doing this. You will, of course, put your eye out. Can this possibly be the way to raise children to be successful, happy adults? What if we taught our kids by letting them do, by letting them create? For the past three years, children in the St. Louis area have experienced the joy of creating at the South City Open Studio and Gallery (SCOSAG) in Tower Grove Park (314-865-0060 or www.scosag.org). And they've been able to do so on their own terms.

"We never talk down to the children," says Jenna Bauer, SCOSAG's founding director. "We have just as much to learn from them."

This creative haven (which offers classes for kids, teens and adults in everything from pottery to songwriting, plus stellar summer arts camps) needs support from the community. That's where you -- and Wall Ball 2005 (Saturday, March 12, from 7 p.m. to midnight) -- come in. Your $25 donation ($30 at the door, but Bauer recommends buying tickets in advance at Left Bank Books, Subterranean Books, Hartford Coffee Company, Gallery Urbis Orbis or SCOSAG) allows entry into the event and supports the Open Studio and Gallery and its upcoming expansion into the Forest Park Southeast neighborhood. This new space, which Bauer plans to open in May and have in full swing by early fall, will expand upon SCOSAG's mission of giving back to the community and nurturing confident, conscientious citizens.

Celebrate SCOSAG and its positive effects on St. Louis by joining other Wall Ball revelers at the City Museum (701 North 15th Street) for a truly enchanting night of art, music, food and drink. The coolest part? All of the artwork is created right in front of you. Blank canvases line the walls of the museum's Architecture Hall, just waiting to be filled with the unique visions of 33 local artists (including Charles Houska, Beth Connolly, Justin Tolentino and Bill Christman, to name a few).

"This is a really rare opportunity," notes Bauer, who, in addition to being Wall Ball chair, is also a participating artist. "It erases the mystery of what goes into art when you can see it being made." All of the artwork is available for purchase in the silent auction that night (bidding closes at 11 p.m.).

Throughout the evening you can groove to music (courtesy of DJ and RFT scribe Randall Roberts and DJ Doug Morgan); mingle with the artists (who are more than happy to chat with you about their works-in-progress); and enjoy sweet treats from Hartford Coffee Company, savory bites from Kitchen K and cold suds from Schlafly (all of the yummy eats, plus two beers, are included in the ticket price; a cash bar is also open the entire evening). Wall Ball's sponsors all have one terrific thing in common: They're independently owned St. Louis businesses. In her tenure at SCOSAG, Bauer says, she's witnessed "the power of local sponsorship. [Businesses'] money goes back into raising conscientious children and good citizens."

For the businesses involved, Wall Ball is a great way to reach out to the community. For you, it's a fun night for an extraordinary cause. And for the children who visit SCOSAG, it's the beginning of a success story.

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