Fire. Hammers. A pottery wheel. Some of humanity?s most elemental and primitive tools, yet into the 21st century they remain. And Craft Alliance Center of Art + Design Director Of Education Programs, Luanne Rimel, attests that they?re some of the coolest. With each season?s catalog of classes, some of the most popular, according to Rimel, let students play with fire, hammer metal into jewelry, or shape a lump of clay into something as fundamentally beautiful as a baby seal mimicking the Mona Lisa?s wry smirk.
At Craft Alliance, the focus is art in all its forms. Whether the tool is the raw flame fusing cut copper or a Mac loaded with Photoshop image-editing software, the intention to inspire and to create remains the same. Its two locations schedule seasonal terms with four- to six-week classes, as well as intensive workshops and children?s classes. Guiding each student along his or her adventure, skilled faculty instruct from experience. Most are working artists who exhibit their work and who have reaped their experience from the trenches of the art world.
Craft Alliance is not just empowering people with knowledge; they are also helping people make mugs, bowls, wooden spinning tops, rings, rugs, and digital photo albums. Many of these things are practical and serve a functional purpose. But many do not?they?re just beautiful things, like vestigial tails. A good number of these pieces are created by hand and are meant to remind us, as Rimel remarked, that everyone can do something different from their everyday, workaday lives by adding beauty to a world that truly needs it.
The student and faculty artists are the backbone of the Craft Alliance community, which in 2014 celebrates its 50th anniversary. The Grand Center location represents a regeneration of an arts district already pillared by the Fabulous Fox Theatre, Powell Symphony Hall, and St. Louis University.
The Vino Gallery—located in a renovated police substation in the Central West End—houses an impressive selection of small-production and artisan wines, beers, and other libations amid an ever-evolving collection of local art. The staff guides visitors to the tasting bar or the outdoor patio, allowing guests to sample selections and avoid pouring wines they don’t like into a roommate’s humidifier. Rachael Buehrer, wine enthusiast and educator, and coowner Alex Head, promote informed wine consumption with complimentary tastings after 5 p.m., Monday–Friday, and all day on Saturday. One-hour wine classes lend imbibers further wine expertise, and the wine-of-the-month club helps customers branch out from go-to varietals.
With thousands of frame and mat samples, The Great Frame Up can satisfy any framing fantasies. The expert framespeople can make diplomas radiate (most diplomas can be framed for under $100), personalized jerseys glisten (most for under $300), and dorm-room movie posters sparkle (most 24x36 pieces for under $60). The design wizards can also find a home for any prized possession, like shoebox photos, baby booties, ticket stubs, medals, and really good pot roasts. The Great Frame Up’s no-hassle guarantee and assurance that all work is done on-site means your frameables won't be subject to mistreatment at underground commercial framing facilities.
Founded in 1840, McCaughen & Burr is one of the oldest continuously operating galleries west of the Mississippi River, and it specializes in the framing, restoration, and sale of artwork. The gallery’s expert framers work primarily in presenting fine art but can also tastefully imprison diplomas, wedding invitations, and whichever family mementos you’ve decided to hide in acquaintances' attics to confuse their descendants. Fees depend on the size of the piece and the type of frame, generally ranging from under $100 for small pieces of artwork and diplomas to around $300 for larger items such as sports memorabilia.
Located in one of the new art spaces at Crestwood Court, award-winning artist Jeane Vogel's 4,000-square-foot gallery and studio showcases both her traditional and alternative-process photography. Black-and-white and color photographs of haunting, foggy morns and vibrantly hued beaches are displayed alongside dreamlike infrared photographs that capture a spectrum of light invisible to the eye of man, woman, or Sauron. Hand-altered Polaroid paintings (from $45) lend an impressionistic quality to a vintage medium generally employed in snapping covert shots of ghosts, whereas mixed-media paintings (from $245) use soft pastels to extend Polaroid images beyond their confining white borders. For beautiful images that tickle your earlobes as much as your brain lobes, Vogel's Art to Wear jewelry collection displays her Polaroid paintings in miniature as dangle-able glass or porcelain pendants (earrings from $44, necklaces from $25).
Laumeier Sculpture Park transports contemporary sculpture and its attendant acolytes from the traditional confines of the museum gallery to an outdoor art sanctuary. Casting Circle members traipse through 105 acres of sculpture by artists such as Tony Tasset, Ernest Trova, and Mark di Suvero before wielding their 10% discount during celebratory sprees at the museum shop. Members also enjoy discounts on iPod-guided audio tours, which fill noggins with tidbits of information during strolls through the park or confuse burglars when played through roof-mounted loudspeakers. Educational events, workshops, and classes dot the park’s schedule, and art camp nurtures the artistic pursuits of children as old as 15 during summertime sessions.