Smith Elliot

The gallery looks in the mirror for its 20th

If Elliot Smith Contemporary Art resided on Sesame Street, gallery staffers would say, "This exhibit has been brought to you by the number twenty." Because this Friday, September 17, the gallery commemorates its 20th anniversary with the opening-night reception for 1984-2004: 20th Anniversary Celebration, a specially commissioned show featuring works that somehow reference or incorporate the number twenty.

There's the collage work constructed out of pieces of found signage, which has cutouts of the digits two and zero [Cheryl Wassenaar's 12 (5th + Main)]; an abstract painting showing twenty rectangles of different colors; a landscape with twenty trees; and another painting whose canvas measures a perfect twenty inches by twenty inches. Each of the more than 80 artists who produced work for the exhibit has previously shown at ESCA. Gallery director Bruno L. David chose them from more than 450 artists who have shown in the gallery's 150-plus exhibits over the past two decades.

While about half of the artists currently live and work locally, others whose works are coming in from Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Florida and more all have a past St. Louis connection: They've either attended school here or are former residents. David, who joined the gallery less than a year ago, says he wanted the exhibit to reflect the gallery's commitment to the St. Louis art scene -- as well as the great strides that art scene has taken in recent years.

"With the Contemporary Art Museum and the Pulitzer both opening here, I think there's going to be a great revival of contemporary art here in St. Louis," says David, "just like the scene in Kansas City has flourished in recent years."

The opening-night reception at 4729 McPherson Avenue runs from 6 to 8 p.m., but the exhibit is up until October 16. Call 314-361-4800, or visit for more information. -- Rose Martelli

Design Language

TUES 9/21

Nicely styled furnishings are becoming almost essential in these post-post modern times. With people like Philippe Starck, who's almost a household name now, designing for stores like Target, the masses are getting a healthy dose of style-meets-function. Starck also works with the Italian manufacturer Kartell and designers like Piero Lissoni (pictured). Lissoni's cool, low-slung polyurethane armchair, Form, which doesn't have arms, mind you, exemplifies simple furnishings at their best. Hear Lissoni spin some "Design Stories" during his free lecture at Washington University's Steinberg Auditorium (Forsyth and Skinker boulevards) from 6 to 7:30 p.m. After that, traipse on down to Centro Modern Furnishings (4727 McPherson Avenue; 314-454-0111) to see just what the plastic designers at Kartell offer. Apparently, it's affordable. -- Alison Sieloff

Love Them Divas

SAT 9/18

If you've always dreamed of a career in show biz but you have no discernible talents other than your ample laugh, this is the chance you've been waiting for: Comediennes Leah Jewel, Ms. Yolanda and Diva-Licious are performing their Divas of Comedy show at Legacy Books and Café (5249 Delmar Boulevard; 314-862-4226), and the show is being taped for a national DVD/VHS release. You and your effervescent laugh will be immortalized on film and appreciated by home viewers for years to come. Tickets for the 8 p.m. show are only $10, and light hors d'oeuvres will be served. So go, laugh loudly and with gusto and become a part of comedy history. -- Paul Friswold

Oktober Comes Early

SUN 9/19

Apropos of a St. Louis establishment hosting its own afternoon celebration of Oktoberfest -- Munich's annual two-week beer-a-thon -- the special all-you-can-eat menu at Iron Barley (5510 Virginia Avenue) includes both Deutschland delicacies and Midwest munchies. There's schnitzel and spaetzle, hocks and greens, smoked pork chops, braised red cabbage, baby backs, etc. The six or seven beers on tap come from local suds house Schlafly, but Iron Barley chef/owner Tom Coghill reports that German brews are included in the mix. The party runs from 1 to 6 p.m. and includes live local music; all-inclusive tickets cost $35 and are available at the restaurant. Call 314-351-4500, or visit for more information. -- Rose Martelli

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