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.
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.
Set in Purina's spacious Visitor Center and surrounding premises, the five-day event lets fall-fanatic families usher in seasonal scares and crunchy leaves with autumnal activities such as tractor-drawn hayrides, storytelling, meet-and-greets with friendly witches, and magic shows by performers from the International Brotherhood of Magicians. In keeping with Purina's roots as a purveyor of kinship between people and pets, youngsters can feast their primary head orbs on live farmyard animals, duck herding demonstrations, cow-milking displays, and costumed canines competing in a series of flying disc, agility, and diving contests. Bring the entire family or the gaggle of mischievous, otherworldly imps living in your basement for refreshing fall fun.
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.
Studio Altius’s owner, photographer David J. Cerven, drew on his background in theater to create a new approach to portraiture. Like directors and actors, or producers and theater critics who owe them a favor, Cerven’s photographers and clients work collaboratively to create defining moments. Along with fellow photographer Shawna Ventimiglia's background in fashion design, Cerven creates personal, compelling images of children and families, high-school seniors, brides, and couples, as well as professional headshots and sexy boudoir images. Clients can pose in either his 3,000-square-foot studio or outside the studio in a picturesque outdoor setting. In addition to working with clients, Cerven teaches his methods to other photographers in portraiture workshops and classes, and maintains an on-site art gallery.