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Cross the river for a taste of culture this weekend

Edwardsville and Alton may be just across the river from our fair city, but some St. Louisans act as if the towns are a whole state away. Art EAST is inviting you to bridge that great divide and discover what lots of people "over there" already know: There's a thriving art scene to our east. Art EAST is in its fourth year and bigger than ever -- 115 artists are showing their work at a grand total of 35 venues.

Art EAST 2001 (the Edwardsville-Alton Studio Tour) allows visitors to take self-guided tours through art studios and public exhibition spaces, where artists will be on hand to demonstrate their techniques or discuss the art on display.

If you haven't been paying attention to the Southern Illinois art scene, you may be in for a surprise. Its reputation for "crafty" arts is well deserved (rumor has it that the place has more potter's wheels per capita than anywhere else in the nation). But Art EAST features more than ceramics and things made with yarn. The tour includes artists who make photography, sculpture, furniture and a variety of mixed-media works. Digital media are enjoying a greater presence this year. One of the must-see items on the tour is the (R)Evolutionary (E)Books exhibit at the Lewis and Clark Library System, 425 Goshen Rd. in Edwardsville. Curated by William Harroff and Charlotte Johnson, the exhibit includes an international array of electronic book artists, along with Harroff's humorous digital art.

EAST features well-known A-list artists such as Caroline Bottom Anderson (glass) and Arthur Towata (ceramics), as well as emerging figures like Tim Waldrop (painting) and Rebecca Eilering (prints and drawings). You'll find art everyplace from slick galleries to funky walk-ups. EAST is the place to be this weekend. It's all free, it's all good, and it's well worth the trip.

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