Fall Arts Preview

 In Culture, Feature

Four local arts leaders share their picks for the best arts and culture events to experience this season.


Visual Arts

This season's must-see art shows according to CAM Director Lisa Melandri.

Lisa Melandri 
Director, Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis

Having just marked her one-year anniversary as director of the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, Lisa Melandri has brought a rich curatorial experience to the museum, while continuing to ensure that CAM showcases some of the most interesting ideas happening in the contemporary art world.

CAM celebrates its own 10th anniversary this fall with the exhibition “Place is the Space,” Sept. 6-Dec. 29. Featuring commissioned, site-specific works by five carefully selected artists, the collection takes a look at the relationships between art and the architecture that creates its environment. “These will be works that make us think about the transparency of the building,” Melandri explains. “Others might make you think of volume. What we might think of as a mistake, like a crack in the floor, for example, will become part of the art and might be seen as beautiful decorations. It’s really a great way to see the building anew.”

Nicole Mauser and Kate Perryman
Fort Gondo Compund for the Arts 
Aug. 31-Oct. 5

Abstraction defines this contemporary exhibit, combining the vivid paintings of Nicole Mauser with Kate Perryman’s edgy wall sculptures. “These artists are fabulous and fit in well with the art typically found on Cherokee Street. The art at Fort Gondo delights me—it brings one more perspective to those looking at contemporary art in the city.”

Stephanie Liner
Craft Alliance Grand Center
Sept. 6-Jan. 2014

This exhibit by multimedia artist Stephanie Liner features a combination of textiles, furniture and fashion as well as some corresponding performance art. “There are so many things to think about in this exhibit. I love the idea of hard versus soft, such as clothing laid out on a couch. It's so rich in media that it's not easy to categorize. You just have to experience it.”

Message to Our Folks
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum
Sept. 20-Jan. 6, 2014

The up-and-coming Chicago-based artist Rashid Johnson displays his multimedia work, which combines painting, sculpture and other genres. “He’s such a touchstone young artist of our time. He’s really a name on everyone’s tongue right now, and we’re so lucky to have him here this fall to experience his art for ourselves.”

Museum of Contemporary Religious Art
Sept. 22-Dec. 15

As its 20th anniversary show, MOCRA presents a two-part exhibition that shows works from the first and second decades of the museum’s history. “People think they’ll see historical crucifixes or something like that, but instead, they might see ‘Silver Clouds’ by Andy Warhol or maybe a giant inflatable Buddha. It suddenly makes you think of art as transformational.”

Currents 107: Renata Shih and Frieder Schnock
Saint Louis Art Museum
Sept. 27-Jan. 5, 2014

This brand-new exhibit comes from a Berlin-based collaborative team and looks at the model of a museum as well as how it functions as a container of memories. “Not only is the exhibit fascinating by itself, but it’s such a salient time to think about these topics with the expansion of the museum and its reorganization.”

Donald Judd St. Louis Tour
Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts
Sept. 28

As part of The Pulitzer’s exhibition “Donald Judd: The Multicolored Works” (on display through Jan. 4), this event features expert Amy Pulitzer discussing Judd’s work, both in the exhibition and at numerous locations around St. Louis. “The fact that you can use this exhibition as a jumpingoff point for discussing the artist’s work around the city really speaks to what we have here in our own backyard. It makes you realize how rich St. Louis is with art history.”

Pearl Fryar
Laumeier Sculpture Park
Oct. 4-20

An indoor exhibit at the famously outdoor sculpture park, this exhibit challenges viewers’ conceptions about sculpture, gardens and what should be considered art. “It looks at traditional and decorative techniques and celebrates them. I love that there are topiaries and items like that, not just the huge monolithic structures.”

Costumes from Mary Strauss' Collection
The Sheldon Art Galleries
Oct. 4-Dec. 28
The Sheldon presents some of the famous costumes from the collection of arts philanthropist Mary Strauss. “Costumes are about storytelling. Mary Strauss's collection is simply mesmerizing, and this exhibit really ties in with the [“A Queen Within”] and Stephanie Liner fashion exhibits in St. Louis around this time.”

A Queen Within: Adorned Archetypes, Fashion and Chess
World Chess Hall of Fame
Oct. 19-April 18, 2014

The World Chess Hall of Fame explores the many faces of the queen archetype in an elaborate fashion exhibit including garments from Alexander McQueen, Hussein Chalayan, Iris Van Herpen and other internationally revered designers. “It's so exciting to think about ideas being expressed through the art of fashion. This is such a different sort of exhibit for those who love art in St. Louis.”

We Are
The Luminary Center for the Arts
Dates TBA

One of the first projects to be displayed at The Luminary's new Cherokee Street location, “We Are” brings together numerous exhibits, one after the other, created by lesser-known artists and guest curators. “You have a wide territorial perspective when you do this sort of thing, and it becomes a different world every time you go. You can take the individual exhibits as a whole and feel like you've had the whole meal!”


Can’t-miss performances as chosen by Dance St. Louis’ Michael Uthoff.

Michael Uthoff 
Artistic/Executive Director, Dance St. Louis

After coming to St. Louis seven years ago to direct Dance St. Louis, Michael Uthoff made it his goal not only to maintain the organization’s reputation for bringing some of the top dance companies in the world to perform in St. Louis, but also to lead the organization in producing its own unique performances. One such project is PNC Arts Alive “New Dance Horizons,” which connects local dance companies with talented choreographers to create four original works.

The second annual “New Dance Horizons” takes place at Touhill Performing Arts Center, Oct. 4-5. “Every dance company lives or dies by its creativity. You can’t keep on doing the same old stuff forever and ever,” Uthoff says. “We realized that many of the companies didn’t have the resources to create new works. So, we decided to bestow on them a gift of identifying a choreographer who we felt would enhance their talent.”

The Repertory Theatre
Sept. 11-Oct. 6
This well-known musical highlights a young burlesque-style performer and her relationship with a somewhat naïve writer. “‘Cabaret’ is a great musical, and it’s being presented by The Rep, so it’s going to have vibrant choreography and exciting dancing. It will be an all-encompassing theater event that everyone can enjoy.”

The Fox Theatre
Sept. 20-22

Through iconic song and dance, “Chicago” tells the story of female prisoners on death row who try to cheat the legal system with glamour, style and all that jazz. “This is a classic. It’s a well-known musical, and because it’s a Fox production, you know it will be done just splendidly.”

Dancing in the Streets
Grand Center
Sept. 21

For this festive annual event, the streets of Grand Center are shut down for professional dancers and amateurs alike to showcase their dancing styles and enjoy the freedom of performing off the traditional stage. “It’s great. There are no lights and no trimmings—it’s just the physical expression of dance.”

St. Louis International Salsa Congress/Bachata Festival
Union Station and other Downtown venues
Oct. 4-5

Performances, competitions, workshops and more make up this dance-filled event that features both classical salsa styles and those that are a bit more modern.They’re doing variations of such an important dance form: salsa. In terms of cultural dance events in St. Louis, this is a big one. You learn a lot about dance by studying other cultures’ work.”

The Butterfly Lovers
Touhill Performing Arts Center
Nov. 8-9

The Shanghai Ballet brings its signature art form, storytelling through dance, to St. Louis with a stunning production of a classic Chinese tale. “We asked them to bring a typical Chinese fairy tale and perform it exactly as they would in Shanghai. This will be beautiful both for the eye and ear.”

Peabody Opera House
Nov. 15-17

Based on a series of parables in the gospel of Matthew, “Godspell” is a musical originallycreated in the ’70s that features modern music set to church-like hymns. “There is no lack of great musical theater in St. Louis from September through the winter. If you haven’t seen [‘Godspell’] before, it’s time to go witness this production now.” 

Touhill Performing Arts Center
Nov. 15-17
The MADCO season kicks off with a piece inspired by world track and field champion Jackie Joyner Kersee, featuring highenergy hip-hop and funk styles that represent the power and grace of athleticism. “This group just continues to get better and better each year. One thing is for sure—audiences will be challenged and excited by this group’s performance.”

Che Malambo
Edison Theatre
Nov. 22-23
This culturally rich show features traditional Argentinian dances and art styles. “It won’t be a tango, but it will still have that same flair. I’d expect those who go will get to see dances with gauchos, traditional dances with knives and various props— some things that you wouldn’t see in most American or European dances.”


What to see on stage this fall according to Shakespeare fest’s Rick Dildine.

Rick Dildine
Executive/Artistic Director, Shakespeare Festival St. Louis

Since Rick Dildine was recruited from Chicago to become director of Shakespeare Festival St. Louis, he has continued to produce the organization’s signature summer festival each year, while also expanding its programming beyond Forest Park to the city’s schools, streets and communities. Dildine launched Shakespeare in the Streets in 2012 after realizing how many dead-end streets exist in St. Louis. “We wanted to shut down streets in the name of community rather than in the name of crime control,” he says.

The creative team—director Alec Wild, playwright Nancy Bell and designer Justin Barisonek—get to know a neighborhood through its people, residences and businesses, and then create an original play (based on one of Shakespeare’s classics) highlighting what’s important to that community. The result features residents acting alongside professional actors and is free for all to attend. This year’s Shakespeare in the Streets production takes place in The Grove, Sept. 19-21, and is based on Shakespeare’s “The Winter’s Tale.”

The Purpose Project: Thao’s Library
Mustard Seed Theatre
Sept. 5-15

Mustard Seed produces a unique docudrama about a Vietnamese woman born with life-threatening birth defects caused by Agent Orange. This thought-provoking work mixes both video and live performance. “I’m so excited to see what this is like. Mustard Seed is one of the most impressive theaters in town, in my opinion. They are so incredibly smart in their play selection.”

Entertaining Mr. Sloane
HotCity Theatre
Sept. 6-21

This British play about a young psychopathic man and his run-ins with a middleaged lady and her friends presents themes of psychology, morals, sexuality and more. “Joe Orton, the writer, is one of the funniest people ever to create plays. He’s a legend when it comes to stage comedy.”

My Fair Lady
Stages St. Louis
Sept. 6-Oct. 6

The classic story of an impoverished girl peddling flowers on the streets of London who gets the chance to reinvent herself as a proper lady gets a slight reworking from Stages. “The music and characters in this story are iconic. When you get a chance to see a work that’s so legendary, you shouldn’t pass it up. It’s such an important American piece in musical theater.

The Repertory Theatre
Sept. 11-Oct. 6

The Repertory Theatre puts on this well-known musical about a young burlesque-style performer and her relationship with a somewhat naïve writer. “This is a director's dream production, and I'm continually amazed at what directors do with this work. The story is particularly relevant now especially with issues like gay rights in the limelight.”

The Fox
Oct. 8-20

One of Andrew Lloyd Weber’s original musical productions, “Evita” is a masterpiece of well-loved music, bold choreography and a timeless Argentinian tale. “The glitz and glam of this production is over the top. It has always been one of my favorite musicals because of the journey of the characters. You get to watch a character go from her lowest point to her highest point and see her entire history in a matter of two and a half hours.”

The Woman in Black
Slightly Askew Theatre Ensemble
Oct. 30-Nov. 9

Recently adapted into a film starring Daniel Radcliffe, “The Woman in Black” is based on a 1980s horror novella about a specter that haunts an English town and its children. “I can’t wait to see this, because I remember reading this ghost story when I was a kid. I can’t wait to see it dramatized, and I think a lot of people will remember this particular story.”

Peabody Opera House
Nov. 15-17

Based on a series of parables in the gospel of Matthew, “Godspell” is a 1970s musical that features modern music set to church-like hymns. “Godspell never stops reinventing itself. Its structure, its writing and songs continually find an audience, no matter the generation.”


Top five concerts for classical music-lovers chosen by KWMU’s Robert Peterson.

Robert Peterson
Director of Radio Programming and Operations, St. Louis Public Radio; Co-host, “STL Symphony Live at Powell Hall”

St. Louis Public Radio’s Robert Peterson joined forces with the St. Louis Symphony’s Adam Crane four years ago to co-host the station’s “STL Symphony Live at Powell Hall” broadcast. Listeners of KWMU are likely familiar with this Saturday evening show, featuring a live broadcast of the symphony’s performances throughout its regular season.

With a background that includes a long history in broadcast, as well as extensive studies in music and musical performance, Peterson guides St. Louis listeners through the performance they’re hearing while Crane provides commentary. The two are loved by fans for their smart yet entertaining banter—adding a conversational element to classical music that’s generally frowned upon when you’re listening from the audience at Powell Hall. “With a live broadcast like this, there’s an opportunity to provide greater exposure of this real cultural gem, the St. Louis Symphony, that’s in our community,” Peterson says. “It’s such a privilege to be involved with this broadcast.”

Tribute to Maynard Ferguson
Touhill Performing Arts Center
Sept. 24

The St. Louis Jazz Orchestra pays tribute to the music of classic jazz musician and trumpet player Maynard Ferguson in this concert led by director Jim Widner. “It’s exciting that St. Louis-based musicians can study and practice the music of a legend like Maynard Ferguson and get the opportunity to perform for a crowd at the Touhill. As a young musician, I used to listen to Maynard’s music all the time. This should be a phenomenal jazz concert.”

The 442’s
The Sheldon Concert Hall
Oct. 29

This classical-meets-jazz band—comprised of musicians from the St. Louis Symphony and Erin Bode’s band—produces a truly unique sound and is slowly picking up a loyal following in the St. Louis area and beyond. “This group has really created its own sound. They came here and performed as part of the Kitchen Sink Series that St. Louis Public Radio does, and the show was completely sold out. Their song ‘The One’ was so beautiful that I actually had tears in my eyes at the end of it.”

Opening weekend with St. Louis Symphony
Powell Hall
Sept. 20-22

During the opening weekend of the St. Louis Symphony’s regular season, multiple classic works are performed, and the energy level is higher than ever among symphony members and patrons. Did we mention it’s kicked off on Sept. 19 with the Red Velvet Ball, featuring a performance by internationally renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma? “When these artists come back together for their first full-fledged weekend of concerts in town, it’s so exciting. Part of it is probably also my withdrawal from not having the symphony shows for a long period of time. In the fall, things start to come alive again at Powell Hall.”

Tim McAllister
Powell Hall
Oct. 5-6

Talented saxophonist Tim McAllister returns to Powell Hall after recording “City Noir” there with the St. Louis Symphony and David Robertson with Nonesuch Records in February 2013. “I was excited watching what the orchestra did with McAllister with that particular work earlier this year, so I can’t wait to hear what they’ll be recording this fall. There’s a reason Nonesuch Records is coming back to record with our symphony.”

Ann Hampton Callaway
Jazz at the Bistro
Nov. 6-9

Jazz singer and songwriter Ann Hampton Callaway performs live at Jazz at the Bistro for a short four-day run. “I've had the chance to be at the radio station while she was being interviewed and performing. I think so highly of her particular vocal quality.”

Choir of St. Tomas, Leipzig with Leipzig Baroque Orchestra
Cathedral Basilica
Nov. 8

This internationally recognized all-boys choir performs its traditionally Baroque music at the historic Cathedral Basilica in the Central West End. “Baroque music has its own sound, and the Cathedral truly has its own sound qualities. It's a great match. Plus, this is such a legendary boys choir. This concert should be pure joy.”

Regina Carter Quartet
Jazz at the Bistro
Nov. 20-23

Jazz violinist Regina Carter and her quartet perform at Jazz at the Bistro, showing off their signature combination of jazz themes with highly classical instruments and training. “What Regina Carter has done over her career is incredible. She’s one of the top jazz violinists in my book, and this is the chance to be exposed to a performer who truly has her own signature sound.”



Evita, The Fox

Evita, The Fox


The 442’s, The Sheldon Concert Hall

Kate Perryman, Spinster, 2012


Regina Carter Quartet, Jazz at the Bistro

Regina Carter Quartet


Kate Perryman, Spinster, 2012

Kate Perryman, Spinster, 2012


Sanctuaries: Recovering the Holy in Contemporary Art, “Thresholds”

Sanctuaries, “Thresholds,” MOCRA


Donald Judd, The Multicolored Works, Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts

Donald Judd, The Multicolored Works


Godspell, Peabody Opera House



The Butterfly Lovers, Shanghai Ballet

The Butterfly Lovers, Shanghai Ballet


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