Prints Charming

Outlaw printmakers ransack town

The art of printmaking, the novice is quick to learn, does not just live in conversations about Johann Gutenberg and the art of the frontispiece (although a good frontispiece can really create a sense of wonder before the book is even begun). Printmaking encompasses a wealth of methods and styles, from the ancient craft of woodblock printing to metal etchings to offset-press poster prints to modern digital prints. Despite its status as (arguably) the first technological and mass-marketable art form, printmaking retains a protean force; the hands-on element is always evident in the mark-making, revealed in slight variances within individual prints of a series or in the blunting of an image through repeated pressings. These minor distortions make prints that much more alive, a uniquely expressive art form that subverts the industrial promise of uniform control over the image.

The Philip Slein Gallery (1520 Washington Avenue; 314-621-4634) celebrates the subversive nature of printmaking with pieces like Chef's Fist by Don Colley (pictured) the traveling exhibition The Outlaw Printmakers. The "outlaw" in the show's title refers more to the "most wanted" status of the artists involved than criminal activity, but much of the work displays a strong emphasis on the subversive. Jenny Schmid's lithograph, Fast Girl Knocked Up, is part of a series that takes on the seedier elements of life often faced by young girls; Sue Coe's Xenotransplantation comments on the grim reality of animal experimentation; Lisa Bulawsky's Dick and Ed Venerated by Its Own Image is a wry commentary on celebrity and fame starring Dick Clark and Ed McMahon. These works exhibit the social commentary that has long been a lynchpin of the printmaker's role.

The Outlaw Printmakers opens with a 6 to 9 p.m. reception on Friday, October 1, and remains on display through November 6. -- Paul Friswold

Carey On

FRI 10/1

In one of those great cosmic coincidences, Drew Carey's Improv All-Stars visit the Fox Theatre (527 North Grand Boulevard; 314-534-1111) just as the Presidents of the United States of America are reuniting. Sadly, PUSA (who performed Carey's eponymous sitcom's "Cleveland Rocks" theme song) won't accompany the All-Stars, but you get Carey, Kathy Kinney (better known as Carey's TV nemesis, the makeup-encrusted Mimi) and most of the cast of the American version of Whose Line Is It Anyway? There's no telling what might occur onstage, because the show's completely improvised. Other than the 8 p.m. start time and the $50 to $60 ticket price, everything else is left to chance. -- Niles Baranowski

Templar of Knowledge

FRI 10/1

Dan Brown's thriller The Da Vinci Code has dominated best-seller lists, thanks to its ripping plot and historical detail. But just how detailed and historically accurate was Mr. Brown? The Archaeological Institute of America, St. Louis Society, presents a lecture by Professor Michael J. Fuller that seeks to answer this question. Fuller's lecture, "The Da Vinci Code: Templars and Archaeology," features slides taken by the professor on his field expeditions to sites mentioned in Brown's novel. Templar castles, archaeology and the pursuit of a good story versus the pursuit of good research collide at 7 p.m. in the auditorium of the Saint Louis Art Museum. Admission is free; for more info call 314-432-3900. -- Paul Friswold

Ride Wit Me

If there's one thing cities are known for, it's their varied transportation. You've got your cars, buses, bikes, trains, scooters, the occasional handsome cab and the even-more-seldom rickshaw. All this variety notwithstanding, slow-moving tractors just aren't part of the fast-paced city life -- except during fall in St. Louis. Grab twenty of your friends and catch a tractor-pulled Urban Hayride through Forest Park Friday and Saturday nights from October 1 through December 11. After the 45-minute ride, which leaves from Faulkner Drive and Clayton Avenue (near the Science Center), warm up and eat up at the waiting bonfire, and remember that it's B.Y.O.F(ood). The jaunt costs $100 per wagon, and rides can be reserved by calling the city's parks department at 314-289-5330. -- Alison Sieloff