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United Artists 

Explore the oh-so-fine arts at the United Arts Festival 2004

We have a problem here at Night & Day. You see, we dabble in all kinds of art: writing, music, acting, filmmaking. Often, thanks to our surgically grafted third arms, we dabble in them all at once. But what do we call ourselves? We can't call ourselves collaborative artists. The cool kids in Unreal would mock our pretension, and one of the speed-metal dudes from Music might beat us up after school. Crossing Concerts and the Fox Associates Foundation might not have a better term for us, but they do inspire us with the United Arts Festival 2004, which combines the disciplines of literature, drama, music and film in a four-day-long collaborative celebration.

The festival kicks off Friday, October 1, at 8 p.m. at the Contemporary Art Museum (3750 Washington Boulevard; 314-535-4660) with "Seeing Things Anew." World-renowned clarinetist David Krakauer (pictured) and a string quartet from the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra perform The Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind, and then saxophonist Hamiet Bluiett, guitarist Dan Rubright and percussionist Ted Rubright premiere new music to accompany images of urban St. Louis. Tickets are $12 to $27.

The afternoon of Saturday, October 2, features "A Short Tribute to Thomas Jefferson" at the Missouri History Museum (Lindell Boulevard and DeBaliviere Avenue; 314-746-4599). At 2 p.m. violinist Alison Harney performs music by Archangelo Corelli, one of Jefferson's favorite composers, and the folk-singing family of Becky Boyer Hall, Janet Boyer and Jerome Hall performs nineteenth-century folk songs. Then, at 3:30 p.m., Christopher Merrill, director of the University of Iowa's International Writing Program, leads a free panel discussion on Lewis & Clark and what a "life of discovery" is today.

At 7 p.m. Saturday, in the auditorium of the Saint Louis Art Museum (314-721-0072), local actors stage an excerpted reading of the winning entry in the 2004 Cinema St. Louis Screenwriting Contest; a live musical ensemble provides an in-house soundtrack. Also, Cine16, the Webster Film Series and screenwriters from the University of Iowa host a screening of short international films. Admission is $5.

The venue shifts to Forest Park Community College Theater (5600 Oakland Avenue; 314-614-9100) on Sunday, October 3. At 1 p.m., in "Words and Music," David Clewell reads poetry on the themes of "jazz" and "bebop" backed by Webster University's jazz faculty. This performance is balanced out at 3 p.m. by "Words Without Music," a selection of short works by visiting international playwrights performed under the direction of Agnes Wilcox, founder of Prison Performing Arts. Admission is $5.

On Monday, October 4, writers from Iowa's International Writing Program host a free panel discussion at 2 p.m. entitled "Why We Write" in the Century Room on the University of Missouri-St. Louis campus (1 University Boulevard; 314-516-5000). The festival concludes at 7 p.m. Monday in Blueberry Hill's Duck Room (6504 Delmar Boulevard; 314-727-0880) with "Experimental Designs," a performance by bassist Jim Mayer and special guest artists from River Styx literary magazine that combines music, storytelling and poetry. Tickets are $10.

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