“Citizen” defined for 2015 Community Visuals collaboration

December 17, 2014

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What does “Citizen” mean?  Ten Washington University in St. Louis students made art proposals out of their individual definitions this past semester, vying to be one of the four chosen for the 29th annual sculpture collaboration project between the Municipal Commission on Arts & Letters of University City and the university’s Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts.  The selected students receive funding to build their pieces in parks and public places in the University City area.

The theme was chosen because of a desire by collaboration professors Noah Kirby and Buzz Spector that their students be more engaged as citizens within the community.  They pointed out that it also fits well with the collaboration program founder Marvin Levy’s hope that the annual project would continue to explore “ways to involve the citizens of a community in the processes and conversations of public art.”

Chosen for 2015:

Jonathan Berger’s “Golden in Silver”  utilizes a photographic art tool from the past, the tintype, to bring together people of the present.  Events are planned where citizens can tell their stories about University City and have their picture taken with a tintype camera.  These pictures and stories will then be shared in exhibitions and through the mail.  Berger hopes that through this process “we can begin to recognize the gold of University City, its citizens.”

Sarah Hull’s project, “Hands of Change,” celebrates the activist role of citizens, “when people recognized their duty to their community and lifted their voices.”  She feels that “activism requires a sense of ownership of one’s community that goes far beyond the role of a resident and forces a community to come together to respond to an issue.”  Concrete hands will come up from the ground along Ackert Walkway near the Delmar Loop, holding large semi-transparent historical photographs of activist moments in University City.

A sense of ownership is also reflected in Madeline Marak’s sculpture, “Have A Seat:  Say, What’s Good?” which is scheduled for construction in Millar Park.  The piece will consist of a colorful outdoor living room space, couch and chairs and artificial flowers, where she said “the community can come together and interact in a comfortable setting.”  Marak believes “as citizens, we don’t always get to choose where we live, but we can choose how we live in that place.”  Her research into the use of public spaces also brought to  light the responsibility citizens can come to feel about the public spaces they frequent.  The unexpected nature of her piece, she hopes, will encourage even more of a responsibility to the space as well as foster questions and enjoyment.

Jared Stein’s “Stockade” reflects the artist’s belief that “To be a citizen is to enter into a social contract with a given community.”  It looks at what happens when the community feels this contract has been broken, through a monument consisting of a large transparent Plexiglass stockade.    Scheduled for installation on the area west of the Craft Alliance in the Delmar Loop, it matches the traditional placement of the stockade – a central and heavily-trafficked public space – and, according to Stein, should represent “the transparency of the modern judicial system and as a symbol of the social contract between citizens and the agents of the judiciary.”

“This was a tough call,” said the commission’s chair of the Community Visuals committee, Garrie Burr, who said that the commissioners went through several rounds of voting to select the four.  He said they were “very proud of the efforts made by all of the students this year, from the initial proposals, to the presentation before the Parks commission to the finale.  He also noted that, as well as the specific work on the projects, the students went out to the community this semester and worked with visitors to the first Better Blocks project on November 1.  “Their work this year exemplified what being a good citizen is all about,” said Burr.

Other students participating in the project were Caitlin Aasen, Andrew Catanese, Sophia Keskey, Moya Shpuntoff, Austin Wolf and Cherry Xie.

The collaboration contains two components:  as well as the sculpture project taught by Professor Kirby, there is also a gallery showing curated by the university and Professor Spector.  The gallery presentation opens the second week in January in the University City Public Library, followed by a reception at 2 p.m. on January 24 in the library auditorium.  The sculpture project opens Saturday, April 11 with a reception at 2 p.m., also in the library auditorium.

This will be the 29th  year of the sculpture project and the third year for the gallery component.  Some of the project’s past sculptures, like Rain Man by the Post Office, have become icons of the University City landscape.   Funding for the project is made possible in part by the generosity of the Marvin Levy Family, as well as the Regional Arts Council and the City of University City.

Send questions on the program to the commission by email, to ucityartsandletters@gmail.com.

Get your sights ready for 2015 Photo Show!

December 17, 2014

photolion1The New Year is almost here, which means it’s time for local amateur photographers to start thinking about their entries to the annual University City Photo Show. Sponsored by the Municipal Commission on Arts & Letters, the show is open to amateur adult and youth (twelfth grade and younger) photographers in the St. Louis metropolitan area.

Entries for this year’s show will be accepted only from March 28 to April 3. Winners will be announced and prizes awarded at a special reception on Sunday, April 19, 2015 at the University City Centennial Commons, 7210 Olive Boulevard.

This year’s show is entitled “Stop Me in My Tracks.” The Photo Show committee asks photographers to figure what they are trying to express and when to press the button, to awaken their vision to create stunning images. They ask that photographers look for the unexpected, be it in the city streets, local parks or their own front lawn.  Entries will also be shown at two separate dates in April at the Green Center and Royal Bank.

Complete rules and registration form coming here soon!  Questions may be sent to ucityartsandletters@gmail.com.

2015 Returning Artist DuEwa Frazier scheduled for February workshops and reception

December 17, 2014

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The Municipal Commission on Arts & Letters for University City (MCALUC) has named writer, educator, and award-nominated poet DuEwa Frazier as its 2015 Returning Artist. This year will be the 21st anniversary of the Returning Artist Program, which brings artistically renowned University City High School (UCHS) graduates back to work with current students. The Commission’s two goals with the program are to encourage students to investigate careers in the arts and to enrich the school’s art programs.

Frazier graduated from UCHS in 1992. Frazier is an award nominated poet and educator who not only has several volumes of poetry published — including “Deanne in the Middle,” “Goddess Under the Bridge: Poems,” and “Ten Marbles and a Bag to Put Them In:  Poems for Children” but is also the editor and publisher of the NAACP Image Award nominated book, “Check the Rhyme: An Anthology of Female Poets & Emcees.”

Past returning artists have included visual artists, glassblowers, photographers, writers, filmmakers, graphic designers, videographers, animators, instrumental musicians, composers, actors, singers, and dancers.  Workshops with students will take place during the first week in February, at several of the city’s schools. A public reception in celebration of this year’s program is scheduled for February 5, at 7 pm, in the UCHS library.

Questions on the program can be sent to the commission by email, to ucityartsandletters@gmail.com.

William Gass chosen for first annual Tradition of Literary Excellence Award

September 29, 2014

From the St. Louis Literary Consortium:  Writer William Gass has been chosen as the recipient of the first annual Tradition of Literary Excellence Award. The award, which was created and is funded by the Municipal Commission of Arts & Letters in University City, is given “to honor the work of a living local author whose literary achievement has won national and international acclaim and, in so doing, has contributed to the distinction of the St. Louis area, upholding its tradition as a center of literary excellence.”

Gass, who turns 90 this year, is a prolific and influential writer of short stories, novels, essays, and literary criticism who is admired by readers around the world. Currently, he is the David May Distinguished Professor Emeritus in the Humanities at Washington University. He joined the philosophy department at Washington University in 1969 and founded the International Writers Center in 1990, which he directed until his retirement in 2000. He was the first recipient of the PEN/Nabokov Award for Lifetime Achievement, and he won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism an unprecedented three times.

Gass will receive the Tradition of Literary Excellence Award on Friday evening, October 10, 2014, at a party celebrating the launch of Lit in the Lou, a new book festival set in the heart of University City. The event will take place on the fifth floor of University City’s historic city hall at 7:30 p.m. and will mark the opening of the three-day festival. The award will be conferred by Mayor Shelley Welsch of University City, after which Gass is expected to read from his work. In addition to honoring Gass, the literary community will also recognize two local student winners of the Library of Congress Letters About Literature contest.

The public is invited to attend the launch party/awards ceremony and may purchase tickets ($25/person) at Brown Paper Tickets and through the website (stllit.blogspot.com) of the St. Louis Literary Consortium, organizers of Lit in the Lou. All other festival activities, scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 11 and Sunday, October 12, are free and open to the public. Outdoor activities are slated for Saturday in U. City’s Ackert Park and along Ackert Walkway, with more readings and book signings to be held in Loop shops and restaurants and at the University City Public Library. The event will conclude with additional workshops and panel discussions on Sunday. Lit in the Lou is an STL250 event.

To find out more about the Lit in the Lou Book Festival, visit stllit.blogspot.com, or contact Kristina Blank Makansi at kbmakansi@blankslatepress.com, 314.363.4546. And to support Lit in the Lou with a financial donation, check out: www.indiegogo.com/projects/lit-in-the-lou-a-new-book-
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Book festival opens in the Loop, October 10-12

September 21, 2014

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The Saint Louis Literary Consortium (SLLC) is delighted to announce that planning is underway for LIT IN THE LOU—a book festival celebrating “all things literary” in the St. Louis region. The event is set for October 10–12, 2014, and will take place in the heart of the Delmar Loop, in University City. With author readings, book signings, writing workshops, vendor displays, family activities, music, and food, LIT IN THE LOU promises a fun time for readers and writers of all ages.

“Each year, cities big and small across the U.S. host wonderful book festivals, celebrating books and showcas- ing the literary contributions of their native sons and daughters. With this city’s strong representation on the contemporary literary scene and its rich literary heritage, there’s no reason St. Louis should not have its own festival,” Winnie Sullivan, SLLC member said.

Festivities will open with a gala kickoff Friday evening, during which the Tradition of Literary Excellence Award (funded by the U. City Arts & Letters Commission) will be given to a prominent St. Louis area writer and the two student winners of the Library of Congress Letters About Literature contest will be recognized. Outdoor festival activities are slated for Saturday in U. City’s Ackert Park, with more readings and book sign- ings to be held in Loop restaurants and bookstores. The event will conclude with additional workshops and panel discussions on Sunday.

The Saint Louis Literary Consortium was formed by five local literary organizations—the St. Louis Poetry Center, the St. Louis Writers Guild, PenUltimate Press, Blank Slate Press, and Walrus Publishing—to celebrate and promote the literary arts in the Saint Louis area. The consortium expects to open its membership soon to literary organizations and book-related businesses around the St. Louis area.

To find out more about the LIT IN THE LOU Book Festival, including details on how you can be involved, visit http://stllit.blogspot.com, or contact Kristina Blank Makansi at kbmakansi@blankslatepress.com, 314.363.4546.

Public sculptures get extended stay in U City

September 21, 2014
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“Eden” by Michael Aaron Williams

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“Recollection” by Caitlin Penny

The 2014 Sculpture collaborations between University City and Washington University in St. Louis were given approval to stay at their sites till March, 2015.  Approval was given by the University City Parks Commission at their July meeting, and the Municipal Commission on Arts & Letters of University City voted their approval at their September meeting.  Originally the sculptures were scheduled to come down on September 1. “Recollection” by Caitlin Penny is at Kaufman Park,  near the Green Center.  “Eden” by Michael Aaron Williams is on Wilson Avenue (near Shaftesbury).  A digital map to both sculptures is available here.


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