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 friendly staff at Your Pot's Desire guides kids and adults of all experience levels to create their own usable works of art. Peruse the wide selection of premade pottery bisques, fully stocked with paintables such as a 12-ounce mug ($10), an 8-inch plate ($10), and a range of banks, boxes, and scale models of Buckingham Palace ($15–$25). Next, amateur artisans wield their choice of paints to adorn their pottery with names, drawings, or personalized messages. Patrons with painters’ block can also search out inspiration in a bevy of samples, example books, stencils, and stamps. When ceramic creations are complete, the staff applies a final glaze before setting them in the kiln, which hardens their exteriors with extreme heat and readings from stoical self-help books.
[[m:####St. Louis Photo Authority
The “authority” in St. Louis Photo Authority comes from the experienced eyes and minds of its staff. On Thursday nights at the company’s West End studio, budding photographers turn to their pedagogues, who instruct groups of 15 during Thursday-evening classes on one of seven subjects. True beginners may wish to sit in on Intro to Digital Photography, wherein apertures and eyes are opened in equal measure as shooting techniques are disclosed. The instructors also cover a class in travel photography that helps vacationers frame the cleanest shots of their visited landscapes, no matter how badly thumbs want in the picture. More advanced students may opt for one of the studio's three-hour Saturday-afternoon seminars, many of which leave the studio to secure shots of cityscapes or local nature.:m]]
Bikram yoga is a demanding series of 26 postures (asanas) that works the entire body for 90 minutes. The class is conducted in a heated room to improve circulation, help eliminate toxins, and significantly reduce the risk of injury during deep muscle stretching.
When camped out at a picturesque St. Louis spot—from an old barn to the iconic Arch—Brian K. Owens sees more than just the opportunity to take a pretty picture. The fine-art photographer and owner of STLPhotoArt grasps for stories in each of his photos, stories that he seeks to bring to his clients through commercial shoots and instill in his students during photography classes. The shutterbug guides beginning shooters through Forest Park and the St. Louis Zoo, dispensing photography know-how along the way. Owens also lends his talented eye to elegantly capture moments at weddings, engagements, and knight-christening ceremonies.
When thinking of gym equipment, most people imagine whirring treadmills and racks of free weights. The names of Pilates machines are more innocuous—chair and barrel, for example—but to the uninitiated, these tools might seem more like pieces in an art gallery. Thankfully, the certified instructors at The Pilates and Yoga Center of St. Louis help to demystify them. They guide clients through exercises that enlist the gliding platform of the Reformer, or the malleable ring that is the Magic Circle, hosting group and private classes for all skill levels.
Owner Karen Prechtl and her team ease new clients into a Pilates practice by customizing their guidance and keeping class sizes small. They emphasize the importance of breath work, proper form, and body awareness during each lesson, helping students to achieve a leaner, more bendable physique without simply telling them to "be the rubber band." For those who prefer a highly personalized approach, one-on-one training utilizes weights, kettlebells, and mat-based floor exercises in addition to the Pilates equipment.
Saint Louis Workout helps members get fit with a fleet of weightlifting equipment, high-tech cardio machines, and more than 30 weekly classes. Elliptical machines assist in bouts of calorie singeing, and free weights tone muscles more efficiently than replacing one's hands with bowling balls. A full roster of classes includes Zumba, yoga, and interval-training sessions, and the brigade of seasoned certified personal trainers customize workouts, drawing from experience in such fields as running, health science, and bodybuilding. With onsite showers and a whirlpool, the gym helps workouts and relaxation fit into busy days.