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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

St. Louis Filmmakers Showcase

Fridays-Sundays. Continues through July 22

Musical duo Rusty and Clark Fairwood are a flashy act on the rise. With their smart suits (complete with bedazzled crosses and American flags) and massive coifs, they're entertainers in the Grand Ole Opry style. When they audition to be hosts on the talk show East Plains: Get Out, the Fairwood boys are faced with a dilemma. The TV station that broadcasts the show pretty much runs the town of East Plains, but the owners are immoral sinners. Will the Fairwood Brothers be stained by filthy lucre, or will they fight for justice? The feature film exploring that question, East Plains: Get Out (directed by Renior Fairwood), screens at 9:15 p.m. Friday, July 13, the opening night of this year's St. Louis Filmmakers Showcase. In addition to twelve different programs of short subject films (including "Lingua Francas," a documentary about fine dining in Springfield, Missouri, which is featured in the RFT's Short Orders section this week), the festival also squeezes in eight feature films. Among them are the documentaries Gateway Sound and The Best of Us: 100 Seasons of Muny Magic. The former is an in-depth look at how a local recording studio has adapted to survive the transformation of the music industry. The Best of Us is an interview-intensive film about a more stable musical industry, the Muny. And then there’s writer/director Catherine Dudley-Rose's film Parallel Chords, which began as a short subject featured in the 2015 edition of the showcase. Dudley-Rose has expanded the story into a full-length film about a young female violinist struggling to maintain her individuality under constant pressure from her father (a pianist) and the industry's expectations for young women with talent. The director is a successful violinist in her own right, which no doubt informs the story. The St. Louis Filmmakers Showcase continues Friday through Sunday for two weeks (July 13 to July 22). All screenings take place at Washington University's Brown Hall (Forsyth Boulevard and Chaplin Drive; www.cinemastlouis.org). Tickets are $10 to $13. $10-$13

Washington University-Brown Hall (map)
Forsyth Blvd & Chaplin Dr
University City
phone 314-935-5000
St. Louis Filmmakers Showcase

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

Panoramas of the City

Through Aug. 12

In a year in which the Missouri History Museum exhibition team has given us the stories of St. Louis' greatest civil rights freedom fighters and returned us to the glory days of Route 66, it would take something truly spectacular for the museum to outdo itself — and yet somehow it's done just that. The museum's new exhibition, Panoramas of the City, is as close to time travel as you can get without involving Morlocks. The show comprises seven floor-to-ceiling-size images of scenes such as Charles Lindbergh speaking to a crowd of 100,000 people on Art Hill at his "welcome home" party and a 1920 march on Olive Street by the League of Women Voters. These massive photographs are joined by props and interactive media displays that give viewers a better understanding of the historical context of each scene. More than 60 panoramas of various sizes round out the exhibit, which will be on display from September 2 to August 12, 2018, at the Missouri History Museum (Lindell Boulevard and DeBaliviere Avenue; www.mohistory.org). Admission is free. free admission

Missouri History Museum (map)
Lindell Blvd. & DeBaliviere Ave.
St. Louis - Forest Park
phone 314-746-4599
Panoramas of the City

Muny Memories: 100 Years on Stage

Through June 2, 2019

The Muny is just about to open its landmark 100th season, and its neighbor, the Missouri History Museum (Lindell Boulevard and DeBalivere Avenue; www.mohistory.org), celebrates the occasion with an exhibit dedicated to the history of America's largest outdoor theater. Muny Memories: 100 Years on Stage features exhibits that explain the founding of the theater, display favorite memories from stars and staff, and give a look back stage to see how the dedicated technical crew creates and rigs all those sets and lights. You can also take a look at programs from the Muny's long, storied past. Muny Memories opens on Saturday, June 9, and remains on display daily through June 2, 2019. Admission is free. free admission

Missouri History Museum (map)
Lindell Blvd. & DeBaliviere Ave.
St. Louis - Forest Park
phone 314-746-4599
Muny Memories: 100 Years on Stage

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

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

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

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

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

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

LaBute New Theater Fest, Part 2

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

The second half of the LaBute New Theater Festival kicks off this weekend. In recent years, this has been the half of the fest that contains the gems. Neil LaBute's disturbing one-man short "The Fourth Reich" once again opens the show; it stars Eric Dean White as a pleasantly evil man out to convince you he's a rational human being. White is so good that he almost pulls it off. Three more one-acts follow: "The Gettier Problem," "Unabridged" and "The Process." Performances take place at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday (July 20 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. 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

Mama Mia!

Tuesdays-Sundays. Continues through Aug. 19

Sophie's impending marriage to Sky will be perfect, except for the fact that she's never met her father and has no one to walk her down the aisle. So she does what any adult would do — she reads her mother's old diary in search of her father's name. Sophie discovers three possible candidates, and promptly sends each potential dad an invitation to the wedding in the belief that she’ll know her father when she sees him. What could possibly go wrong? It's not like she could embarrass her mother and spoil her own party, right? Mamma Mia!, the wildly popular musical built around the songs of ABBA, is presented by Stages St. Louis Tuesday through Sunday (July 20 to August 19) at the Robert G. Reim Theatre (111 South Geyer Road, Kirkwood; www.stagesstlouis.org). Tickets are $50 to $66. $50-$66

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