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A-List Winners 2013

The top restaurants, shopping, night life, sports and more of the year

(page 3 of 10)



Photo by Wesley Law

Arts addition: Lisa Melandri, Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis

3750 Washington, 314-535-4660,
Since arriving from the Santa Monica Museum of Art last August, the new director of the Contemporary has worked to put art into every inch of Brad Cloepfil’s iconic building, which turns 10 this year. (That includes the exterior: As Melandri told virtual auction house Paddle8, the staff will “turn the museum inside out” this fall with video projections on the building’s facade.) She is joie de vivre incarnate, understands that “serious” and “fun” aren’t mutually exclusive, and most important, is making sure that the museum is accessible to all.




Arts Building: East Wing, Saint Louis Art Museum

1 Fine Arts, Forest Park, 314-721-0072,
The facts and figures are impressive: The museum’s expansion was designed by noted British architect Sir David Chipperfield, who worked in tandem with local architecture firm HOK. The building expands the museum’s space by 30 percent, with 300 new parking spaces, a café, a restaurant, and an education center. It’s allowed curators to reinstall whole collections in the old building, while providing a perfect environment for the museum’s modern and contemporary collections, especially its important holdings in postwar German art. It’s a technical marvel, an aesthetic delight, and it has attracted attention from the national and international press. But for St. Louis, it’s also, perhaps, symbolically important: It’s a reminder that we don’t have to daydream about 1904 anymore, and we don’t have to settle for anything less than world-class.


Live Theater: Shakespeare in the Streets

Last spring, Shakespeare Festival St. Louis undertook one of the most genius approaches to creative place-making that the city has ever seen, with its Cherokee-flavored version of The Tempest. The script alluded to nearby landmarks like the Casa Loma Ballroom and the American Indian statue that faces Jefferson Avenue. Residents and business owners starred alongside professional actors. The free play drew 350 audience members, despite the cold April weather. The organization begins rehearsals for its next In the Streets production next month, this time in The Grove—though we’ll have to wait till September to see what play was chosen and how it weaves into the neighborhood’s inspiring whos and whats.


New Gallery: The Hinge

We’ve had apartment galleries in St. Louis for several years, but none like The Hinge. It’s housed in a venerable Central West End building with units that feature an unusual French “spinal” floor plan that’s perfect for showing art—and part of its genius is how it takes the domestic meme full tilt. Curator Lauren Pressler’s thoughtful shows happen in a space that’s reimagined each time with help from fine-art furniture and antiques expert Bryan Laughlin, who swaps out not only the furnishings, but also things like the light fixtures. Writer Eileen G’Sell organizes literary events that dovetail thematically with exhibits, with the audience in motley, often unusual chairs. The atmosphere is magical and out-of-time, and so events here always feel exciting and special.


Classical Station: Radio Arts Foundation–St. Louis

If you wept when KFUO-FM broadcast Beethoven’s Ninth before its signal went dark in 2010, you probably cried tears of relief when RAF began broadcasting at 107.3 FM in early April. Though the signal is limited for analog, that number on the dial isn’t as important as it used to be: You can now buy an HD radio for a paltry $40, get a receiver installed in your car, or stream the broadcast digitally. Even if Beethoven’s being beamed though a smartphone, he sounds brilliant as ever. And RAF has plans for jazz, blues, and local arts programming, too.


Photo Courtesy of Random House

Novel: Middle C, William Gass
Gass spent nearly 30 years writing his dark masterpiece, The Tunnel. This one took him, oh, only 18. The Los Angeles Review of Books described it as a “caustic delight.” Its protagonist, music professor Joseph Skizzen, lies about pretty much everything; curates an “Inhumanity Museum” in his attic; and manages to keep his tenure by claiming that he’s a scholar of Arnold Schoenberg’s 12-tone scale, an area of study that’s Greek to everyone else at the small Ohio college where he teaches. Though it takes a dim view of humans, the book is deeply funny, and as Bookslut observed, it’s a novel by an 88-year-old writer with powers fully intact, who has ushered in the 21st century “with as much complexity and astonishment as can be tolerated these days.”


Arts Innovation: Artists Support Grants, Regional Arts Commission

6128 Delmar, 314-863-5811,
Last year, the commission launched the ambitious Artists Count Survey to discover what St. Louis’ artists—be they painters, dancers, designers, puppeteers, poets, or sopranos—needed. More than 3,000 individuals responded, making it the largest study of its kind ever conducted in the U.S. The findings? Many artists have been working two or three jobs to get by and have had to patchwork together hours to pursue their arts. The solution: RAC’s Artists Support Grants program, giving individual local artists grants—something that’s not been done in St. Louis—buying them the time and resources needed to finish creative projects.


Graphic Novel: Red Handed: The Fine Art of Strange Crimes
It’s set in a town called Red Wheelbarrow, and though William Carlos Williams doesn’t make a cameo, the story’s pretty darn poetic. Our hero, Detective Gould, is an unstoppable crime-fighter, thanks to an arsenal of whiz-bang, high-tech tools. But when a surrealist crime wave hits town—there’s a man who compulsively steals chairs, a woman writing a novel with stolen street signs, and a true evildoer who sneaks photos of people during their saddest moments—Gould is stymied. Novelist Junot Díaz once said, “Matt Kindt is the man.” We wholeheartedly agree. And if you don’t believe Diaz or us, Kindt’s got four Eisner Awards to prove his badassery.


Party Band: Push the Limit
Jazz drummer Jon Spindler’s 21st-century big band can contract or expand from an octet to a 13-piece. Outfitted with a brass section and anywhere from three to five vocalists, its members hit swinging classics like “Take the ‘A’ Train” on the dime. But they’re versatile in other ways, too. Just request Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” or PSY’s “Gangnam Style,” and you’ll see what we mean.

Photography courtesy of Jodi Schlosser Photography


Cutting-Edge Arts Organization: New Music Circle
With shows salted at venues all over the city—including The Luminary Center for the Arts, the William Kerr Foundation, Webster University, and White Flag Projects—New Music Circle has curated an extra-exciting year. Shows have included Danish improv sax player Lotte Anker and her trio; a film program curated by Los Angeles’ Center for Visual Music; and St. Louis’ own Trinity Piano Trio, performing the music of late jazz legend Sun Ra.


Highly Anticipated Photo Addition: International Photography Hall of Fame and Museum

3415 Olive, 314-535-1999,
In February, the organization trucked its entire collection—6,000 cameras and 30,000 photographs by such masters as Ansel Adams, Diane Arbus, and Alfred Stieglitz—from Oklahoma City to Grand Center. Founded in 1965, the Hall of Fame has never had its own accessible storefront space—until now. When its newly rehabbed space opens in September, the museum will bring together world-class photography and rare artifacts, from Edison Kinetoscopes to 19th-century magic lanterns.


Pick 5: Local Albums of the Year

  1. Finches, Née (
  2. The Hero Killer, Tef Poe (
  3. Honky Tonk, Son Volt (
  4. Take Me to Your Leader, Rockwell Knuckles (
  5. Tower Groove Records Volume 1, Various Artists (


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