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Act Your Pants Off

Thu., July 19, 7 p.m.

The St. Lou Fringe is still about a month away (August 15 to 25 in Grand Center; don't miss it), but you can get a taste of the action this week at the Monocle (4510 Manchester Avenue; www.themonoclestl.com). At 7 p.m. Thursday, July 19, St. Lou Fringe presents Act Your Pants Off, a form of competitive theatrical stripping. Local actors Suki Peters, Katy Keating, Paul Cereghino, Michelle Hand and more will go head-to-head with short monologues and improvised scenes that involve disrobing. Desiree Declyne and Lola Van Ella co-host and also participate in the grand finale, which apparently must be seen to be believed. Tickets are $15. $15

The Monocle (map)
4510 Manchester Ave
St. Louis - The Grove
phone 314-935-7003
Act Your Pants Off

Chinese Buddhist Art, 10th-15th Centuries

Fridays, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. and Tuesdays-Thursdays, Saturdays, Sundays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Continues through Aug. 30

Very rarely does an art exhibition include the actual wall an artist worked on, but the Saint Louis Art Museum does so for Chinese Buddhist Art, 10th-15th Centuries. A six-foot-by-four-foot section of a temple wall that has a painting of the Bodhisattva Akalokiteśvara (Guanyin) on one side is the focal point of the exhibition, and an exceptionally rare object. The show also includes four hanging scrolls, and a never-before-displayed painted, wooden sculpture of a seated arhat, the Buddhist term for a person who has achieved enlightenment. Chinese Buddhist Art, 10th-15th Centuries is open Tuesday through Sunday (March 30 to August 30) in gallery 225 of the Saint Louis Art Museum (1 Fine Arts Drive; www.slam.org). Admission is free. free admission

Sunken Cities: Egypt's Lost World

Tuesdays-Sundays. Continues through Sept. 9

The ancient city of Thonis-Heracleion was Egypt's main Mediterranean port from 664 to 332 BC, or roughly 100 years longer than the country of America has existed. It was a thriving, international metropolis — and then a string of natural disasters wiped it off the map. Archeologist Franck Goddio and his team of underwater archeologists rediscoverd Thonis-Heracleion 1,000 years later, four miles off the coast of present-day Egypt. It was more than 30 feet below the surface of the sea, its colossal statues of gods, pharaohs and ritual animals resting in the ruins of a world long gone. Three of these massive statues comprise the heart of the new exhibition Sunken Cities: Egypt's Lost Worlds, which will be on display at the Saint Louis Art Museum (1 Fine Arts Drive; www.slam.org) Tuesday through Sunday (March 25 to September 9). Alongside the trio of statues are more than 200 ceremonial and commercial artifacts (bronze vessels, coins, jewelry) found both on the sea floor and on loan from museums in Cairo and Alexandria. Admission to the exhibit is $8 to $20, and free on Friday. $8-$20

Aisha in Wonderland: Maïmouna Guerresi

Wednesdays-Saturdays, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Continues through July 28

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; www.projects-gallery.com). 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. free admission

Projects + Gallery (map)
4733 McPherson Ave
St. Louis - Central West End
phone 314-696-8678
Aisha in Wonderland: Maïmouna Guerresi

Works from the Studios

Mondays-Saturdays, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and Sundays, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Continues through Aug. 13

The Craft Alliance Center of Art + Design (6640 Delmar Boulevard, University City; www.craftalliance.org) serves as both a teaching institution and a gallery. Both facets are on display at Works from the Studios, a juried exhibition. The show features works by students and faculty in ceramics, metals, fiber and wood, among other media. Works from the Studios opens with a free reception from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, July 13. The work remains up through August 13, and the gallery is open daily. free admission

Golf the Galleries

Saturdays, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. and Tuesdays-Fridays, 12-8 p.m. Continues through Aug. 12

Miniature golf courses are part sport, part pop-art installation, with an emphasis on big, colorful distractions and obstacles surrounding the final hole. The galleries at the Sheldon (3648 Washington Boulevard; www.thesheldon.org) embrace the art portion of the set-up with their summer exhibition, Golf the Galleries. Local artists and institutions were given the chance to design their own creative hole on a nine-hole course that fills the galleries. B.J. Vogt crafted a volcano-themed hole; sink your ball and it erupts in a cloud of packing peanuts. Justin King's Serengeti Park hole mimics an urban park, but with beautifully detailed, anthropomorphic cardboard animals sitting on the benches and strolling the paths. There's an Alice in Wonderland hole courtesy of Natalie Pinson, and design firm Arcturis used lighting and mirrors to create a simple-looking green that will bedevil duffers with optic distortions and tricky slopes. Golf the Galleries officially opens with a public viewing from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday, June 1, but tee times start at 11 a.m. Sunday, June 3. The course is open noon to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday through August 12. Greens fees are $6 to $12. $6-$12

Buy Tickets
The Sheldon (map)
3648 Washington Blvd.
St. Louis - Grand Center
phone 314-533-9900
Golf the Galleries

Painted Pieces: Art Chess from Purling London

Mondays, Tuesdays, Saturdays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sundays, 12-5 p.m. and Wednesdays-Fridays, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Continues through Sept. 16

The standard chess set has been reimagined in multiple formats, using everything from Simpsons characters to loaded shot glasses. The new exhibition at the World Chess Hall of Fame sees regulation Staunton sets done up with a fresh coat of paint, which doesn't sound all that impressive. But when it's artists such as Caio Locke, Sophie Matisse and Thierry Noir wielding the brushes, the results are dazzling. Painted Pieces: Art Chess from Purling London features vibrant, hand-painted chess sets exploding with color and invention. Painted Pieces opens with a free reception from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 12, at the World Chess Hall of Fame (4652 Maryland Avenue; www.worldchesshof.org). The show remains up through September 16. free admission

Mona Hatoum: Terra Infirma

Fridays, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. and Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Continues through Aug. 11

Palestinian-born installation artist Mona Hatoum brings together more than 30 of her works for Terra Infirma, her first exhibition in America in more than two decades. Hatoum's sculptures and installations often evoke domestic settings, but subvert the attendant ideas of comfort and safety into something more menacing. Dormiente takes the shape of a seven-foot-long cot, but one made from an upsized cheese grater. Misbah appears to be the sort of high-end light projector you might install in a nursery so that bears and bunnies dance on the walls at night; instead armed figures stalk each other through the darkness. The vocabulary of her work is minimalism and surrealism, but it's filtered through her feminist perspective, further shaped by her own sense of dislocation in a world that doesn’t recognize her native country. Hatoum discusses her work at the museum at 2 p.m. Saturday, April 7. free admission

Pulitzer Arts Foundation (map)
3716 Washington Blvd.
St. Louis - Grand Center
phone 314-754-1850
Mona Hatoum: Terra Infirma

Messages from Mercury

Through Aug. 31

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; www.cherokeestreetgallery.com). 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. free admission

Great Rivers Biennial

Wednesdays, Saturdays, Sundays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Thursdays, Fridays, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Continues through Aug. 19

As part of its mission to present work by modern artists, the Contemporary Art Museum supports local artists through the Great Rivers Biennial. A team of esteemed jurors from the art world work through more than 150 applications to select three artists who live in the metro area for a high-profile exhibition at the museum. Addoley Dzegede, Sarah Paulsen and Jacob Stanley are the recipients of the eighth installment, and all three should be well-known to gallery habitues. In Ballast, Dzegede uses patterned textiles, sculpture and video to explore the hidden and forgotten history that creates a sense of "unified" identity. Paulsen combines consumer campaigns, immigrant narratives and stop-motion animation in an installation of single-channel videos to create a multi-part story about the invisible framework that supports and reinforces racial oppression. Stanley's sculptures are constructed to explore the nature and passage of time. His piece Accretion is a quarter-inch thick steel sheet; visitors can each place one sheet on top of it. As time passes and the weight increases, the steel will bend. The Great Rivers Biennial opens with a free reception from 7 to 9 p.m. Friday, May 11, at Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis (3750 Washington Boulevard; www.camstl.org). The artists and jurors will hold a panel discussion at 11 a.m. Saturday, May 12. The show continues through Sunday, August 19, and admission is free. free admission

Amy Sherald

Wednesdays, Saturdays, Sundays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Thursdays, Fridays, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Continues through Aug. 19

If you think you aren't familiar with Amy Sherald's work, you're wrong. Sherald painted Michelle Obama's official portrait, and that image was broadcast around the world and back. Sherald's portraits are of everyday black people (Mrs. Obama excepted, of course) with serene expression standing against featureless monotone backgrounds, and done in the large-size format once reserved for royalty and the wealthy elite. By portraying her subjects realistically and in vibrant color, Sherald liberates the black image from the traditional narrative; there are no sociological clues that hint at the status of her people. They are their own context, their eyes taking in the viewer with majestic calm. Amy Sherald, an exhibition of the artist's paintings, opens with a free reception from 7 to 9 p.m. Friday, May 11, at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis (3750 Washington Boulevard); www.camstl.org). The exhibit remains up through August 19, and admission is free. free admission

Annie

July 18-25, 8:15 p.m.

Annie, the musical story of a spunky, Depression-era orphan who awakens the paternal instinct of a millionaire industrialist just in time for Christmas, is a perennial favorite. It has two knock-out songs ("Hard Knock Life" and the relentlessly optimistic "Tomorrow"), a well-defined heroine and a charmingly retro setting. There's also a role for a dog, and that never hurts a show. The Muny in Forest Park (www.muny.org) continues its 100th season with the heartwarming Annie. Performances are at 8:15 p.m. Wednesday, July 18, through Wednesday, July 25. Tickets are $15 to $100. $15-$100

The Muny (map)
Forest Park
St. Louis - Forest Park
phone 314-361-1900
Annie

Flora Borealis

Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays-Sundays, 7 p.m. and Through Aug. 26, 7 p.m. Continues through July 31
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Summers in St. Louis are no picnic, what with the brutal heat and oppressive humidity. At night conditions improve a bit, and that's the time to get outside and experience the city. The Missouri Botanical Garden (4344 Shaw Boulevard; www.mobot.org) takes full advantage of the nocturnal respite with Flora Borealis, a nighttime-only special exhibition. Thanks to the artistic and technical brilliance of AVI Systems Inc., a section of the garden is temporarily transformed into a new experience with active lights, moving images and sounds that alter and enhance the familiar landscape. Tickets for Flora Borealis are $10 to $25 and are sold for specific time slots each night (Thursday through Tuesday through August 26). While you're waiting for your scheduled time you can take advantage of MoBOT’s new tented biergarten, which features live entertainment on select nights. $10-$25

LaBute New Theater Festival

Sundays, 3 p.m. and Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m. Continues through July 29

Now in its sixth year, St. Louis Actors' Studio's LaBute New Theater Festival is a win-win situation for the local theater scene. Seven new one-act plays will debut at the festival, which is win number one; win two is the fact that all seven productions will be performed, crewed, directed and costumed by local theater artists. As is tradition, namesake patron Neil LaBute always has a new work of his own in the show, which this year is entitled "4th Reich." There's a lesser-known third win hidden in here as well. The festival includes a special category for young playwrights who are still in high school, and these emerging artists get to see their work performed by professionals for an audience. This year's edition takes place at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday (July 6 to 29) at the Gaslight Theater (358 North Boyle Avenue; www.stlas.org). Tickets are $30 to $35. $30-$35

The Importance of Being Earnest

Sundays, 2 p.m. and Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m. Continues through July 22

Algernon Moncrief is a member of London society at the end of the nineteenth century, which means his job is mainly dressing well and maintaining an air of sophisticated boredom at all times. His friend Jack leads a similar life, only he does it from his country estate. Jack’s young female ward, Cecily, lives with him at the estate, and as an instructive measure he tells her stories of his "brother" Ernest's debauchery. But Ernest doesn't exist, and the exploits are actually Jack's, who in truth is as idle as Algernon. When Algernon learns of Jack's ploy, he sees an opportunity to get his foot in the door at the country estate. Oscar Wilde's 1895 play The Importance of Being Earnest is a comedy of manners and language at the expense of that rarest of breeds, the upper-crust ninny. Insight Theatre Company commences with the drollery at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday (July 12 to 22) at the Grandel Theatre (3610 Grandel Square; www.insighttheatrecompany.com). Tickets are $15 to $35. $15-$35

Grandel Theatre (map)
3610 Grandel Square
St. Louis - Grand Center
phone 314-533-0367
The Importance of Being Earnest
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