Rachel Whiteread emerged on the London art scene in the "cool Britannia" era of the late '80s and early '90s. The country was doing well financially and culturally, and people were ready to buy contemporary art made by contemporary British artists. Whiteread established herself as a leading light with her casts of everyday objects, which solidified the negative space in, under and/or around them in materials such as wax, plaster, concrete and resin. House, Whiteread's massive, freestanding concrete cast of the interior of an entire three-story Victorian house, earned her the prestigious Turner Prize in 1993, making her the first woman to win. Rachel Whiteread, the new exhibition at the Saint Louis Art Museum, is a retrospective of the artist's career that showcases 96 objects. They range from the small Untitled (Pink Torso), a voluptuous form of the inside of a hot water bottle cast in pink dental plaster, to the expansive Untitled (Twenty-Five Spaces), translucent resin casts of the underside of various chairs and stools arrayed on a game-board-like grid. The exhibit is on display Tuesday through Sunday (March 17 to June 9) at the Saint Louis Arts Museum (1 Fine Arts Drive; www.slam.org), and tickets are $6 to $12 (but free on Friday). $6-$12
Portable cameras democratized photography. Once anybody could carry a camera with them, photography became a hobby as well as an art. Poetics of the Everyday: Amateur Photography 1890-1970, the new exhibition at the Saint Louis Art Museum (1 Fine Arts Drive; www.slam.org), features 110 works by unknown moms and dads. They show children, landscapes, family gatherings and of course the family dog, with often unintentional effects such as the dreaded double exposure. Despite being made by strangers, the images of family vacations and candid shots have a familiarity that makes them universal. Poetics of the Everyday is on display in galleries 234 and 235 from Friday, April 26, to August 25. Admission is free. free admission
Austrian-born artist Oliver Laric creates work that explores image creation and repetition, which he displays on both the museum and gallery circuit and the online realm. For his new exhibition, Currents 116: Oliver Laric, he presents his video animation Betweenness, which features repurposed mushrooms, people, anime characters and some snippets of the CT scan of the Saint Louis Art Museum's mummy, Amen-Nestawy-Nakht, all morphing into animals. The cycle of looped video blurs all of these borrowed images together, which reveals their shared shapes and forms. Laric also sculpted his own version of Reclining Pan (long on display in the museum's gallery 236) using 3D scans of the original. He used the digital files to "print" sections of the sculpture in various materials on a 3D printer, which he then assembled. Currents 116: Oliver Laric is on display in galleries 249 and 250 from February 22 to May 27 at the Saint Louis Art Museum (1 Fine Arts Drive; www.slam.org). The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday, and admission is free. free admission
Humans can perceive a wide palette of colors, but we don't see as many hues as nature contains. The limitations of human vision are stretched in the Laumeier Sculpture Park's new exhibition How We See: Materiality and Color. Six artists who combine modern art practices with a keen observation of the natural world explore the possibilities of color manipulation and perception. Claire Ashley's specially commissioned, large-scale inflatable Ruddy Udder Dance is painted in neon colors. Volunteers will get inside it and perform a series of choreographed routines that allow you to see how its various shades change with movement and daylight. Ann Lindberg's graphite-and-colored-pencil piece as though air could turn to honey features a closely packed array of thin lines of pure pigment that become subtly darker toward the bottom. From a distance those tints blend and fade, and the piece appears to have a more uniform golden hue. How We See opens with a free reception at 11 a.m. Saturday, March 2, at Laumeier's Aronson Fine Arts Center (12580 Rott Road, Sunset Hill; www.laumeier.org). The exhibit continues through June 29, and admission is free. free admission
12580 Rott Rd
Crestwood/ Sunset Hills/ Sappington/ South Lindbergh
Tennessee Williams' plays have been credited with many innovations, from that meme-worthy "Stelllllaa!!!" to the lyrical cannibalism in Suddenly Last Summer. But did a play Williams wrote about St. Louis actually inspire The Golden Girls?
That's the legend, anyway.
"I've been to many Tennessee Williams seminars and panels, and that is what the scholars contend," says Carrie Houk, the founder and artistic director of the Tennessee Williams Festival St. Louis. With the unspoken acknowledgment that such evidence is far from definitive, Houk continues, "But if Golden Girls was based on the play, it's very loosely based."
The 1979 play, which Houk tapped for this year's festival, is called "A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur," and its Depression-era setting is inspired by Williams' early life in St. Louis. In it four women who live in the same building dream of romance, family and escaping their dreary situation, but will settle for a nice Sunday afternoon in Creve Coeur Park.
There are some superficial similarities between Williams' play and the NBC sitcom, which premiered six years after the play's debut. Williams' play has an immigrant named Sophie; Golden Girls has a Sophia. The play has a woman named Dorothea (she goes by Dottie), while Golden Girls has Dorothy. Williams has Bodey; Golden Girls has Betty. Much of the action in "A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur" takes place around the kitchen table in Dottie and Bodey's apartment, while the Golden Girls' kitchen table was essentially the fifth member of the cast.
The accepted show biz story for the creation of The Golden Girls is that NBC president Brandon Tartikoff wanted a show for an older audience. Golden Girls' creator Susan Harris was inspired by her very active grandmother's social life. (Harris also created the soap opera parody Soap, which focused on two sisters — one practical, one wealthy and moderately delusional about her own life — who regularly sat around the kitchen table discussing their new problems every week.)
Still, references to Williams' plays run through many of Golden Girls' 177 episodes, from the names of the main characters to Blanche Deveraux's mannerisms and her father, whom she calls "Big Daddy," echoing the name of the patriarch in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. And Rue McClanahan said her portrayal of Blanche was directly inspired by Williams' famous heroine in A Streetcar Named Desire.
For Houk, the magic of "A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur" is not any real or perceived connection to a beloved sitcom, but the play itself. "It's about loneliness and the need for human connections," she explains. "It's a comedy, but it has a lot of vulnerability. It could just be wisecrack, wisecrack, wisecrack, but there's this other element, of the characters needing love. All four women are different, but they need each other."
Like many of Williams' short plays, the condensed nature of the one-act format heightens the impact of his poetic flourishes, and also allows him the luxury of a happy ending. "Here are these women on a flat on Enright Avenue, and they dream about flying away," marvels Houk. "Even if there's just one afternoon at Creve Coeur Park, there's a respite."
"A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur" will be directed by Kari Ely and star Maggie Wininger, Kelley Weber, Julie Layton and Ellie Schwetye, which experienced theatergoers will recognize as quite a potent lineup. It will be performed at 1 and 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday (May 11 to 19) in the Grand Hall at the Grandel Theatre (3610 Grandel Square; www.twstl.org), and tickets are $25 to $45.
The festival's main stage production, The Night of the Iguana, is performed at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday (May 9 to 19) in the Grandel; tickets are $25 to $45. Additionally, New Orleans native Bryan Batt will star in his one-man show "Dear Mr. Williams," which is a coming-of-age story about a gay artist, spiced by sex and alcohol; the piece is inspired by some of Williams' lesser-known stories and love for his adopted hometown (not St. Louis). Batt will perform his show 8:30 p.m. Friday and 3:30 and 8:30 p.m. Saturday (May 10 and 11) at the Curtain Call Lounge (527 North Grand Boulevard). Tickets are $25 to $55.$25-$55
Museum Exhibits and Events
The Muny is just about to open its landmark 100th season, and its neighbor, the Missouri History Museum (Lindell Boulevard and DeBalivere Avenue; www.mohistory.org), celebrates the occasion with an exhibit dedicated to the history of America's largest outdoor theater. Muny Memories: 100 Years on Stage features exhibits that explain the founding of the theater, display favorite memories from stars and staff, and give a look back stage to see how the dedicated technical crew creates and rigs all those sets and lights. You can also take a look at programs from the Muny's long, storied past. Muny Memories opens on Saturday, June 9, and remains on display daily through June 2, 2019. Admission is free. free admission
In his sonnet "Ozymandias," Percy Bysshe Shelley describes the legs of an epic statue in the desert wastelands, its ruined face lying "half sunk" in the sand. The inscription on the pedestal reads, "My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings; Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!" The poem is a meditation on time wearing away the memory of even the mightiest, and a reminder that death means forgetfulness. In truth, it may have been Ozymandias' successor who destroyed the statue upon assuming the title of pharaoh. Statues and memorial inscriptions held ritual power for the Egyptians, and it behooved the new ruler to sweep away all remnant of his or her predecessor. In the Pulitzer Arts Foundation's (3716 Washington Boulevard; www.pulitzerarts.org) new exhibition, Striking Power: Iconoclasm in Ancient Egypt, the legacies of the pharaohs Hatshepsut and Akhenaten are examined through almost 40 historical objects that are both defaced and whole. Memory and visual culture are intertwined, and the destruction of the latter can easily erase the former. Striking Power opens with a free reception from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, March 22. The work remains on display through August 11. free admission
The Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis' summer exhibitions open at 7 p.m. Friday, May 17, and there are some heavy hitters involved. Lawrence Abu Hamdan is a finalist for this year's Turner Prize for his exhibition Earwitness Theatre (which CAM co-commissioned with several other institutions), which incorporates the artist's audio analysis of Saydnaya prison in Syria, site of numerous humanitarian abuses, a soundbooth and groups of objects Abu Hamdan uses as mnemonic devices to facilitate reenactments of crimes. Photographer Paul Mgapi Sepuya receives his first major museum survey thanks to CAM. Sepuya's images jumble and reorder the human body, while also revealing the mechanics of photography. Cameras are often a central figure in his work, while tripods, backdrops and lighting show up in his collages. Avoiding digital manipulation, Sepuya's work is about the importance of touch and contact, both between his subjects and his materials. Both shows remain on display at CAM (3750 Washington Boulevard; www.camstl.org) through August 18, and admission is free. free admission
Sergei Bondarchuk's ambitious film adaptation of Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace gets another showing courtesy of the Webster Film Series. Bondarchuk spent six years making the four installments of his film adaptation and suffered two heart attacks during the process. He emerged with a truly monumental seven-hour film that employed thousands of actors (12,000 alone in the epic Battle of Borodino set piece), as well as valuable artifacts and props loaned by Russian museums, all of which give the film a sweep and verisimilitude worthy of the source material. War and Peace, Part I, is shown at 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 17, in Webster University's Moore Auditorium (470 East Lockwood Avenue; www.webster.edu/film-series). Parts II through IV will be shown on successive nights through Monday, May 20. Tickets are $5 to $7 per film, and a $15 punch pass good for all four installments is also available. $5-$15
Nicole and Adam are finally taking the matrimonial plunge, but it seems like fate – and a friend or two – is against them. When a key member of the wedding party keels over dead, the ceremony is halted before completion. Adam's groomsman Dave uses this respite to convince Adam that monogamy and marriage is a trap that's not worth the trouble. Nicole's bridesmaid Michelle, who's going stag, figures this would be a good time to find a date before the end of the night, while the other bridesmaid tries to get this trainwreck back on schedule. Tasha Gordon-Solmon's I Now Pronounce is a good old-fashioned farce. New Jewish Theatre ends its current season with the comedy. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday (May 18 to June 1) in the Jewish Community Center's Wool Studio Theatre (2 Millstone Campus Drive, Creve Coeur; www.newjewishtheatre.org). Tickets are $42 to $45. $42-$45
Maxine sits in her nursing home, waiting for the moment when her daughter will spring her trap and order the nurse to kill her. She's certain it's coming — the new tax laws that go into effect on January 1 will cut into her daughter's inheritance, and if Maxine croaks before then, her daughter gets a bigger score. The only answer is a counter-scheme: If Maxine can offer her nurse a larger payday to keep her alive, the daughter loses. But is that what's really going on, or is all the drama in the fearful mind of an unwell, elderly woman? Lucas Hnath's play Death Tax is a darkly comic look at the end of life and family squabbles. Mustard Seed Theatre closes its season with the St. Louis premiere of Death Tax. Performances are at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday (May 9 to 19) at the Fontbonne University Fine Arts Theatre (6800 Wydown Boulevard; www.mustardseedtheatre.com). Tickets are $15 to $35. $15-$35
In recent years, the mainstream media began reassessing the career and impact of musician Nina Simone, with documentaries exploring her personal life and rereleases of her works. Playwright Christina Ham knew there was more to Simone than her musicianship – after the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church and the assassination of Medgar Evers, Simone gave voice to the shared anger and outrage of the black community in her surprisingly jaunty song "Mississippi Goddamn." Ham's play Nina Simone: Four Women (inspired by Simone's namesake song about the plight of black women in a racist society) explores how the arts helped drive and inspire the civil rights moment, as well as the ways women were shunted to the side of that same movement. The Black Rep closes its season with Nina Simone: Four Women. Performances are at 7 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday (May 17 to June 2) at Washington University's Edison Theatre (6465 Forsyth Boulevard; www.theblackrep.org). Tickets are $15 to $45. $15-$45
Expos & Special Exhibitions
Grab your bae and wedding posse for a fun afternoon of wedding planning among classic cars on display. You’ll enjoy Sunday Funday with top area Wedding Professionals, see the latest Bridal Fashions, snap pics in Photo Booths, sample Cake & Catering options, gather Decor Inspiration and so much more! Receive a free copy of the Perfect Wedding Guide magazine along with Swag Bags for the first 100 couples. Couples receive exclusive Show Discounts for wedding savings and are entered for Grand Prize Giveaways including a honeymoon stay! $7 online | $10 at the doorhttps://www.perfectweddingguide.com/events/perfect-wedding-guide-wedding-show-17875/
Performing Arts, Lectures
Bach’s most monumental work is the cornerstone and grand finale of the 2019 St. Louis Bach Festival presented by Centene Charitable Foundation. Composed over a span of 35 years, the Mass in B minor reveals the depth and breadth of the master’s creativity and spiritual conviction. Guest soloists: soprano Sherezade Panthaki, mezzo-soprano Meg Bragle, tenor Lawrence Jones and baritone Tyler Duncan. This performance is underwritten by a gift from Robert H. Duesenberg in loving memory of his wife, Lori, a former member of the Bach Society Chorus. Free lecture at1:30pm. Lecture: Free; Sec I- $45; Sec II- $35; Sec III- $25; Stdnt Rush-$10https://www.bachsociety.org/mass-in-b-minor