The Best Things to Do in St. Louis This Week, June 29 to July 4

click to enlarge Budweiser is throwin' a backyard party, so no need to BYOB. - COURTESY OF AB-INBEV
Budweiser is throwin' a backyard party, so no need to BYOB.

Independence Day arrives on a Wednesday this year, which is a very uncool thing for a major holiday to do. A day off in the middle of the week is almost more hassle than it's worth — almost. But before we get to the Fiery Fourth, we still have to get through another weekend (two whole days, big whoop) and then two days of work. We can do it, probably.

1. See a familiar story from a new perspective
For more than twenty years Italian-Senegalese artist Maïmouna Guerresi has created art that depicts strong women. For Guerresi's new exhibition, Aisha in Wonderland, she photographs women draped in the rich and vibrant fabrics worn by Muslim women and then sets those figures against backgrounds in shades of gray. Inspired by the changes that Lewis Carroll's Alice experiences as she travels through another world, particularly her expanding and shrinking form, Guerrisi manipulates her images so that our perception of their dimensions change. An impossibly tall woman hidden inside a crimson robe stands on a plank high above a mysteriously closed door; a diminutive figure wearing a patterned robe in hues of green and blue strides past a cluster of plastic jugs and containers, the minarets and domes of an Islamic city hugging the horizon. Aisha in Wonderland: Maïmouna Guerresi opens with a free reception from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, June 29, at Projects + Gallery (4733 McPherson Avenue; The exhibit remains on display through July 28, and the gallery is open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. Admission is free.

click to enlarge Maimouna Guerresi's Aisha's Story II, part of Guerresi's exhibition at Projects + Gallery. - COURTESY OF MARIANE IBRAHIM GALLERY
Maimouna Guerresi's Aisha's Story II, part of Guerresi's exhibition at Projects + Gallery.

2. Check out a new gallery on old Cherokee
Strongly influenced by the ideas of semiotics and sacred geometry, artist Benjamin Lowder creates works of deconstructed text that convey ideas about the hidden world that exists all around us. For his new show, Messages from Mercury, Lowder paints street signs, then breaks them apart and reassembles them so the familiar words become glyphs that bear a cautionary tale to our inner voices. Just as Mercury was the messenger from the gods in Roman theology, so Lowder's art carries a warning from the gods that we're on the wrong path. Benjamin Lowder: Messages from Mercury opens with a reception from 6 to 10 p.m. Friday, June 29, at the artist’s brand-new Cherokee Street Gallery (2617 Cherokee Street; It remains up through the end of August. Also on display are new works by Jerald Ieans and Zack Smithey in conversation with one another. Admission is free.

3. Party at Budweiser's house!
'Tis the season for backyard cook-outs and other summer delights, and even old-school brewing powerhouse Anheuser-Busch is getting in on the act. Budweiser's Backyard is a burgers, beer and country music celebration that has the added appeal of the famous Clydesdales. From 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, June 30, the parking lot of the Budweiser tour center (South Twelfth and Lynch streets; will host food trucks, a "Beer and Bites Bar," musicians Kassi Ashton and Clare Dunn, tastings of the new Freedom Reserve Red Lager (brewed by Budweiser's veterans for America's veterans and the folks who support them) and the Big Sizzle. The Big Sizzle is an attempt to break the world record for the most burgers grilled at one time. (Visit the website to find out how you can register to be one of the necessary 800 grillers who will bring their own grills and skills to compete for the honor of their city.) Admission is free, but bring money for the food trucks and other purchases.

click to enlarge Midnight Company previews the new play Audition at this year's Grand Center Theatre Crawl. - COURTESY OF MIDNIGHT COMPANY
Midnight Company previews the new play Audition at this year's Grand Center Theatre Crawl.

4. Tonight's menu: An amuse-bouche of theater
St. Louis has a thriving local theater scene; you can see pretty much anything from experimental works to classics to entirely new musicals on any given weekend in St. Louis. Whether you're a veteran audience member or someone who's wanted to check out some plays but wasn’t sure where to start, the Grand Center Theatre Crawl is the perfect introduction. More than 30 local companies will perform short works and excerpts from full productions this Friday and Saturday (June 29 and 30) from 6 to 11 p.m. throughout Grand Center (North Grand and Lindell boulevards; Admission is free; all you need to do is register to attend and you're set. Newish group Theatre Macabre presents The Statement of Randolph Carter, a slice of weird horror drawn from the short story of the same name by H.P. Lovecraft, while the even newer STL Opera Collective performs an excerpt from Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer's Three Decembers, a chamber opera about a distant mother trying to get to know her children. Old pros the Midnight Company offer the new drama Audition, which is about an actress with an unusual résumé trying out for a part at a company that professes to be very accepting.

5. See one of the great spaghetti Westerns
The man known as Silence hates bounty hunters. When he was a child, they slashed his throat to keep him from testifying about their crimes, and he was rendered mute as a result. Now he's the guardian of a group of settlers in the Utah mountains who are being terrorized by man hunters. These hired killers are led by Loco (Klaus Kinski), a thoroughly polite and deadly man. Silence and Loco both know it will come down to a duel, if the fearsome Utah winter doesn't get them first. Sergio Corbucci's spaghetti Western The Great Silence is the cultest of cult films, a bleak and violent political commentary on the fate of a moral man fighting an immoral government. The Webster Film Series presents The Great Silence at 7:30 p.m. Friday through Sunday (June 29 through July 1) at Webster University's Moore Auditorium (470 East Lockwood Avenue; Tickets are $5 to $7.

6. Go all out for the holiday with the Grizzlies
The Fourth of July means America, baseball and fireworks, which is what you'll get when the Gateway Grizzlies host a three-game series against the Windy City ThunderBolts at GCS Credit Union Ballpark (2301 Grizzlie Bear Boulevard, Sauget, Illinois; Monday through Wednesday (July 2 to 4). The Grizzlies always celebrate the holiday with All-American Week, which includes a salute to the troops, post-game fireworks and Frontier League baseball prices (lawn and bleacher seats are just $6 to $11). And don't forget the concessions, which are insane. The hamburgers use donuts for buns, the hot dogs come with two kinds of bacon, sauerkraut, onions and nacho cheese, and the infamous cheesesteak nachos are just like the Founding Fathers used to eat.

7. At long last, Fair St. Louis returns to its new home
It's been a few years since Fair St. Louis has set up on the Arch grounds, but in 2018 America's birthday festivities return to their rightful home. This Fourth of July Wednesday (and on Friday and Saturday, the sixth and the seventh of July) Fair St. Louis takes over the Gateway Arch National Park (200 Washington Avenue; You can do some hands-on learning in the STEAM expo area, buy anything in the fairway from clothing to custom jewelry to a small wooden flag carved with a chainsaw, have fun with the kids in the festival zone and enjoy music by the St. Louis Symphony (Wednesday), Jason Derulo (Friday) and Martina McBride (Saturday). And of course, a massive fireworks display over the Mississippi finishes off every evening. Fair St. Louis takes place from noon to 10 p.m. on Wednesday and Saturday and from 4 to 10 p.m. on Friday. Admission is free.
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