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.
The artists behind Art Monster set their sights on all sorts of blank canvases—from hoodies to sports cars to biceps—and transform them into eye-catching pieces of artwork. Owner Chris Sabatino keeps the modern studio in pristine condition all week long for his staff to decorate bodies with intricate tattoos. They also infuse wardrobes with a bit of attitude by custom airbrushing illustrations of their clients' favorite sports teams, animals, or Pantone swatches.
Fire. Hammers. A pottery wheel. Some of humanity?s most elemental and primitive tools, yet into the 21st century they remain. And Craft Alliance Program Director Susan Donahue Yates attests that they?re some of the coolest. With each season?s catalog of classes, some of the most popular, according to Yates, 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 Yates 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 backbone 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 Museum of Alaska Transportation and Industry traces its roots back to 1967, during the centennial celebration of Alaska becoming a territory of the US. At this time, it exhibited only six retired railroad cars that served as troop carriers during World War II and formed the Centennial Train, a traveling historical exhibit. Today, nearly 50 years later, the museum stays put at its 20-acre location that includes a train yard and an exhibit hall, where the staff collects, conserves, and restores artifacts relating to the state’s industrial history.
Though the Miniature Museum of Greater St. Louis is itself quite large, it houses a collection of artistic miniatures that encapsulate life inside a mansion or a replica of Bevo Mill in a few square inches. The museum's staff collect, preserve, and even sell some of the most impressive miniature works to be found, from dolls and their houses to re-creations of the St. Louis IX Basilica. They put together bustling displays featuring tiny, elegant domiciles completely outfitted with to-scale furniture, made period appropriate to match the house's design. Miniatures, dolls, and figurines with clothes to match wander the hallways, staring at their surroundings in a perpetual wide-eyed wonder that's shared by their visitors.
The Barn was built as an addition on the beautiful Sappington House property, which also includes an 1808 home, duck pond, and gift shop. Though originally intended as an honorarium to the home's renovator, Carolyn C. McDonnell, the Barn now stands as a quaint restaurant, serving breakfast and lunch Tuesday-Sunday.
Visitors can satiate their appetites with a rasher of bacon and eggs or dip into a hearty black bean burger topped with melted cheddar cheese. The farmhouse salad is a massive tribute to fresh vegetables as it comes piled with carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, and green onions.