Thursday became the "new" Friday last week, as far as CWE gallery openings are concerned. Motivated by projects + gallery's exhibition Charlie Would..., featuring Parisian artist Charlie Le Mindu, other neighborhood galleries—Duane Reed, Philip Slein, Houska, and Atrium—joined the band wagon and scheduled openings too.
The switch seemed to signal an early start to the weekend for those of us who stepped into the scene. An interesting-looking art crowd—always a given—paired with beautiful weather and the sound of musicians (underwritten by CWE North CID) playing outside Duane Reed Gallery added more to the weekend feel.
Alton, IL artist Jeffrey Vaughn (a W.U. alum) is photographed in front of Dogwood Blossoms, one of many stunning oil paintings exhibited at the gallery. Stop by and study them up close, they are amazingly real-looking. I had to ask the artist if they were photographs, which was probably not cool.
Jeffrey Vaughn's Thicket No. 42: Innsbrook.
Vaughn's Thicket No. 39: Crabapples: 2014, above.
Philip Slein Gallery, 4735 McPherson Ave., is featuring a group exhibition, Subject Lines.
Philip Slein, above, proprietor, is photographed in front of Alison Hall's Field Guide. Subject Lines runs through October 15.
Atrium Gallery was open last Thursday evening as well. Shown from left are Christopher Tanner's mixed-media Master of the Universe, John Schwarzkopf's walnut, cherry & maple Cascade, and Doug Salveson's Sawmill Creek. There are still a few days left to view the current exhibition, From the Racks, which closes September 30.
Other artists' works featured in From the Racks are Michael Marshall's mono print, #49, shown left, and Annette Morriss' For Many Reasons, shown right.
Atrium Gallery, 4814 Washington Ave., will celebrate its 30th anniversary with Presence, a group show featuring figurative works, at a champagne reception on October 7.
Next up: Charlie Le Mindu at projects + gallery.
Last fall when news surfaced that Michael and Tara Gallina, above, had left NY's famed Blue Hill at Stone Barns to open a restaurant in St. Louis (Michael's hometown), they quickly became the "it" couple in the foodie community. While they searched the city for the perfect spot, they introduced their talents through a series of pop-up dinners around town, including CWE hotspots Bowood Farms, Juniper and Brennan's, and Kansas City's Boulevard Tavern.
The Gallinas have decided on a 2500 s.f. space that will include a 1500 s.f. semi-enclosed outside dining area (see rendering below) in the Cortex District at the corner of Duncan and Boyle Avenues. They've christened their restaurant Vicia (vi' see•uh)/vetch: "a leguminous cover crop planted to replenish nutrients into the soil." Eater National, a "go to for restaurant obsessives," included Vicia as one of their "double duty" restaurants to watch, highlighting the couple's plan to "transition from a fast-casual approach at lunch, to full service at dinner."
At a recent tasting for the press, Tara Gallina offered attendees refreshing peach spritzers.
A generous array of what will be a typical lunch menu was offered at the tasting, including delicious soups, grain bowls, salads, and tartines. The menu, which will rotate frequently, will be "driven by the best of what's available at the moment and sourced from relationships we have cultivated with farmers, fishermen, and artisans in the Midwest region and beyond." When Vicia opens this November, expect a quick, healthy, energizing lunch that will have customers in and out in 30 minutes.
Vicia will be open Monday-Friday from 11:30 to 2; reopen at 3 for drinks & snacks; and transition to full dinner service each night of the week.
Tara described the menu as "vegetable forward." "We're omnivores," Tara continued, "but we plan to play with proportions so when serving meats and grains, vegetables play a starring role."
Featured at the tasting were two types of delicious tartines, tomato, above, and another topped with silvers of summer squash & zucchini. There were also two delightful soups, tomato & melon gazpacho, a chilled corn soup, and scrumptious grain salads.
Architect Sasha Malinich of Casco Architecture & Engineering based in Sunset Hills, presented plans for Vicia, above, and described his firm's desire to create a simple space that is welcoming to everyone.
Dennis Lower, President & CEO of Cortex Innovation Community, was also in attendance and said he was thrilled that Vicia, being as innovative as the community that surrounds it, will prove to be the first of what he hopes will be many restaurants up and down Duncan Avenue.
Grilling is essential to Michael Gallina's cuisine, and Vicia will feature two large wood-fired grills, one in the kitchen and the other located on the patio, above.
This Tuesday, September 20, stop in Vicia's Lunch Pop-up at Venture Cafe @4240 (Duncan Avenue) between 11:30 and 1. No reservations needed. Click here to sign up for Vicia's newsletter and receive more info about pop-up dinners that are planned during the month of October in advance of Vicia's November opening.
Vicia, 4260 Forest Park Avenue (corner of Duncan & Boyle Avenues). We can't wait!
This past spring/early summer, designer Amy Johnson hosted a 3-month pop-up for her line of clothing, KayOss, at 387 N. Euclid, lower left. If you're wondering where she is now that men's lifestyle shop East+West is occupying the space, the arrow above marks the spot.
Since closing the pop-up the end of June, Johnson, middle, has been fabric shopping on the West Coast, and getting an atelier on the 2nd floor of 393 N. Euclid ready for an early September opening.
On the morning I stopped by, two high school friends from Highland, IL were having a fabulous time visiting and trying on clothes in the light-filled showroom. Wendy Johnson, left, is shown wearing a KayOss design made from a tie-dye organic bamboo fabric, $179, and Laura Coleman, right, is wearing Johnson's "peace" dress in cotton jersey, $139.
Those of you who know Johnson are familiar with her healthy lifestyle which extends to her choice of fabrics as well. She's hoping customers will realize the benefits of wearing organic fibers which are more expensive, but need less water and are therefore better for the environment. The designer is also experimenting with using natural dyes in her fabrics, which she also hopes to produce in the near future.
The showroom is stocked with samples that can be made in your size. Choose one of KayOss' fabrics and designs, and a local seamstress will make your one-of-a-kind creation in no time, which can be picked up or mailed.
The shop is open by appointment only. Email AJ@KayOssDesigns.com or call (314) 398-9098 to set up an appointment.
Amy Johnson's KayOss, 393 N. Euclid, Suite 220A.
By the time Karen Alper, the proprietor of Enchanting Embellishments/Mary Ann's Tearoom, realized that renovations on her storefront at 4732 McPherson were not going to be completed in time for a Fall 2015 opening, she had already placed orders for a full line of merchandise to stock the 2-story building. There was no turning back, shipments arrived, but the season had passed by the time the doors opened.
Starting today that stash of never-worn (never-even-tried-on) treasures is being offered at a liquidation sale at 4742 McPherson (formerly the home of Libby's). Alper has enlisted the experienced crew from Libby's to staff the pop-up, CWEnders Jan Kasalko, Peggy Morris and Mary Ann Libbert.
All clothing, including Canadian brands Joseph Ribkoff, Frank Lyman, Cartise and Simon Chang, is 40% off.
Furniture and decor has been reduced 50%.
Pants, leggings, and handbags are also marked down 40%. A selection of comforters (not shown) is half-price.
A large selection of jewelry, shown above, is 40% off.
Baby clothes (sized up to 18 months) and accessories are marked down 50%.
In the lower level you'll find scads of artificial flowers and Christmas decorations, 75% off. A Xmas centerpiece with candleholders was originally $75 and is now $18. Some items are as low as $1.
As if this isn't enough reason to stop by, you might also win a vacation to Cancun. Seriously! Ask Jan, Peggy or Mary Ann for details. I was so overwhelmed by the sheer volume of inventory that I didn't have the capacity to grasp anything more.
Enchanting Attic, 4742 McPherson, is open everyday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
As you glance at this post you might think that all I did on a recent trip to San Francisco was eat. There was a lot more to the quick visit, including catching up with family, but If there's a city where food and restaurants are upper-most on one's mind, it's the City by the Bay. One of the absolute highlights was a surprise lunch at Chez Panisse, a gift from my sister Bobbie. This, my second visit, was as thrilling as the first, which happened to be in conjunction with a cooking class at Tante Marie's years ago.
Everything about Alice Waters' famed restaurant in Berkeley is understatedly elegant, starting with the floral arrangement at the entry.
The waiting area for the upstairs Café where lunch is served.
The narrow open kitchen is visible from the entire dining room. Subdued lighting adds to the romance of the place.
Our choices included a scrumptious roasted carrot salad, a gorgeous clam, black cod and sweet corn chowder, a simple, but delicious pasta, and a nectarine tart with raspberry ice cream. At another table I spotted an eye-catching dessert served in a gold bowl which was filled with large, beautiful grapes and a "Frog Hollow Farm Flavor King" pluot—that was it, a work of art.
At the entry there is a poster promoting Alice Waters' Edible Schoolyard program, which connects educators around the world to build and share a K-12 edible education curriculum. If you'd like to learn more, watch the video explaining the program on the website.
My sister Sandy lives across the Golden Gate Bridge in Mill Valley. Each time I visit we head to her favorite spot in Sausalito, le garage.
The chickpea fries at the French bistro are marvelous.
There were also quiet morning walks around Richardson Bay, a bird sanctuary in Sandy's front yard.
Thanks to my niece Meagan Donegan, an extremely talented artist whose drawings adorn the walls of several restaurants in the area including Pizzaiola* in Oakland, I was able to discover new fabric stores in the East Bay. I would like to have picked up one of these special shops, "A Verb for Keeping Warm" (yes, that's the name), and drop it in the CWE. Sandy and I also visited Satin Moon on Clement Street in San Francisco, where I have shopped many times over the years. I was so happy to stop in for what turned out to be a final visit, as the Miyamoto sisters are closing their shop after 40 years in business.
It's always wonderful to get away for a few days and enjoy time with my family in that magical city. At the same time, unless you live in the city of San Francisco, the car becomes your second home and schedules are built around traffic patterns. It's another reason why I love this small walkable neighborhood we live in.
*As is the case for so many Bay Area restauranteurs, Charlie Hallowell, the proprietor of Pizzaiola, worked in the kitchen at Chez Panisse before opening his own restaurants.
Now, I should say right up front that I am not a guy who can use tools. If a job requires something more than a hammer and a screwdriver, I am going to call in a professional. My father didn’t have much of a workshop, and he wasn’t tool-friendly either. We both did our best work on keyboards. But if I were tool-adept, I would be at the TechShop as often as I could.
The place has over a million dollars of machinery, including high-pressure water jet cutting beds (see photo below) that can slice through 8 inches of steel or wood, various lathes, 3-D printers, computer-controlled sewing and embroidery machines, various other woodworking tools and enough computers to fill several classrooms. There is also welding equipment where you put on your leather protective gear and dark glasses and pretty quickly can be controlling a flame that is as bright as the sun just inches from your face.
Lest you think everything in there is fancy, high-priced stuff, they have plenty of “normal” tools that can find in the average basement workroom, such as socket sets and drills, below.
What if you are like me and are a complete novice when it comes to operating heavy (or even light) machinery? No problem. There are classes galore to show you the way. Once things kick into gear (technically the place is having a “soft open” for the next month), there will be more experienced hands to guide you around and help you understand the secrets of the tools that they have. When I was at the Michigan-based TechShop, I built this thing out of what seemed like random spare parts, below.
You dream up some gizmo and then you go there to create stuff, part of the “Maker Movement” that you might have heard about. Jim McKelvey invented the Square payment reader at one TechShop so he could take credit cards at the Third Degree Glass Factory. Another person took some classes and developed a million-dollar business selling iPad covers made out of bamboo. There are lots of stories of others who didn’t make big bucks but love to tinker around with the equipment, and have lots of fun.
Things were still being put in place on the day that I visited TechShop - CWE, with construction crews working on installing various things. Honestly, it was hard to figure out what was part of their permanent collection and what was just works in progress, which I guess is part of the charm of the place.
Strom’s last post for this blog was about the construction crane at the building site on Euclid/Lindell.
Many thanks David!
It didn't take much to persuade Left Bank Books' proprietor Kris Kleindienst to launch an online book fair for the English Tutoring Project (ETP), which provides English language skills in Catholic schools to children from refugee and immigrant families at no cost. In July, I joined Sister Kathleen Koenen, a School Sister of Notre Dame who was one of the founders of ETP, as she pitched her idea, which Kleindienst readily embraced.
The English Tutoring Project is dear to my heart. I recently joined the Advisory Committee which meets quarterly at the Daughters of Charity offices at 4330 Olive Street (at Boyle) in the CWE. I was drawn by the simplicity and success of the sisters' work, which began in 1998 in the South City area where so many of the immigrant population reside.
In the early days of ETP the sisters would pull up to different Catholic grade schools in a van and teach English in their makeshift classroom. It wasn't long before they were assigned a room of their own inside the schools where they could tutor children from as many as 20 different countries, including China, Vietnam, Burma, Romania, Albania, Haiti, Ivory Coast, Mexico, Republic of Congo, and Honduras.
English Tutoring Project's goal for the online book fair is to create a “Take Home and Read Library” of dual-language, early learning books for beginning-level students. Those interested in supporting this project can purchase books the children will share with their families. Left Bank Books makes it easy. You have the option of choosing a selection of different books, or a series, Curious George, etc. Click here for LBB's ETP Book Fair page. At check out, select "ship to store," and someone from ETP will pick up the donations.
Photo courtesy of William Roth
Years ago, CWEnder William Roth was out searching for office space for a graphic arts firm he was planning, when sparkles in the newly-poured sidewalks in the 300 block of N. Boyle Ave. (just north of Lindell) caught his attention. Those glittering sidewalks drew Roth's gaze to a pair of boarded-up buildings that he thought promising. He later discovered that not only were they abandoned, they were roofless too. He reasoned he'd pay less to purchase one of the buildings and fix it up rather than pay rent for years in someone else's property. When the ambitious renovation was completed his firm, The Eleven, Inc, moved in and still occupies the 2nd floor of 360 N. Boyle (Juniper is located on the 1st floor).
Not long after completing the first building, Roth (shown in photo below) purchased the building next door at 358 N. Boyle to house a 99-seat theater and adjoining restaurant. It took a year to put the physical structure together, which gave Roth time to market the theater and build enthusiasm.
When I asked Roth how he manages the demands of his business and his role as artistic director of a successful theater, Roth replied that he "manages by proximity. I live in the neighborhood and my work and the theater are only blocks away." Roth and his wife Elisa, an art teacher at Old Bonhomme School in Ladue, live on Westminster Place.
Ten years ago STLAS (St. Louis Actors Studio) opened with Edward Albee's A Delicate Balance, part of the premier season's Family Dynamics theme. Each season since has been built around a theme, which further engages the audience.
Last spring I overheard a couple explaining to someone who was attending STLAS for the first time that, since moving to St. Louis from New York, they had happily discovered that there are multiple theater companies in town staging wonderful productions with first-rate actors. "We've seen more theater here than we ever could living in New York," she said, "where an evening on (or Off-) Broadway is much more expensive and it's harder to access."
Roth echoed the "new state of the theater" sentiment from an actor's viewpoint. A St. Louis actor is now more apt to find work in town than ever before. Years ago Actors Equity cards were a rarity, now more than ever local actors have these cards. Instead of working for 8 weeks performing for your 6 best friends, and getting paid $100, it's not unusual to make $250 a week performing before an engaged audience. STLAS became an Actors Equity House 3 years ago, and Equity Midwest recently held a meeting in St. Louis which drew 50 local actors.
William Roth, above, an actor himself, has appeared in 50 plays in the St. Louis area. His favorite role was George in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? in Season 8. Roth added: "I love acting, love actors, and providing a professional place for actors and for myself."
Photo courtesy of William Roth
Next to The Gaslight Theater, where STLAS holds its performances, Roth and partners Henry Arciniega, Neill Costello, and Benet Shaffer added the popular West End Grill & Pub (wegap). "We built this concept of theater and dining - culture, cuisine, and cocktails - on the back of Gaslight Square, which was located right here." The history of that storied entertainment district was Roth's model for eclectic theater, performance space and food. Roth mused that it struck him that in the not-too-distant future his STLAS will eclipse Gaslight's 15-20 year lifespan.
What's next for William Roth and STLAS?
Roth is planning to expand the annual LaBute New Theater Festival One-Acts beyond performances at The Gaslight Theater and more recently New York, hoping to export this popular series to Austin and LA too.
Soon Roth plans a series of 16 mm "Film on Film" events which will feature Polansky films (among others) and cartoon shorts on Saturday mornings. Tune into the website for more information on the movie series as it becomes available.
To celebrate the upcoming Season 10, William Roth and a large committee (yours truly included) are planning a 10th Anniversary event for Sunday, September 11 from 6 to 9 p.m. Actor Sam McMurray (Translations, A Soldier's Story, film credits include Raising Arizona), who attended Washington University and still has ties here will be performing. There's an opportunity for a conversation with the actor following the performance. (McMurray will be teaching a Master's Class on Monday following the event). Expect cocktails, delicious hors d'oeuvres from West End Grill and Pub, selections from 9 seasons of plays, and a great time for a stellar neighborhood theater.
Tickets are limited to the 99 seats in the theater, click here for more information.
Visit the website to see what's scheduled for Season 10, which opens on September 23 with Edward Albee's Three Tall Women.
STLAS (St. Louis Actors' Studio), 358 N. Boyle Ave.
With zero fanfare Brian Simpson, above, and his wife Lauren, a high school English teacher at Westminster Christian Academy, quietly opened East + West at 387 N. Euclid last Friday. There is such a relaxed vibe about the place, a natural fit for the bright and airy space in the historic McPherson/Euclid district.
East + West opened in Kirkwood in July 2012. Over the past 4 years the men's lifestyle shop attracted a following from all over the metro area, including many from the CWE. Customers were drawn to brands that have a cult following previously available only in places like Chicago or New York. The Simpsons, who live in the Tower Grove neighborhood, have always loved the CWE, and when they discovered that the storefront on Euclid was available, they felt the time was right to make the move. I know you'll agree.
Within the 1st hour of Friday's opening several friends started dropping in to say hello, including chef Dan Brewer from Mofu & his son Julian, above.
East + West stocks mostly American-made merchandise, 75% is manufactured here, the remainder comes from Europe and Japan. Simpson seeks brands that feature the best fabrics and construction details. His philosophy when it comes to clothing is "quality over quantity."
The shop also carries men's skincare products, accessories, and shoes including Vans and Red Wings.
Expect to find men's clothing for everyday at East + West. To round out the eclectic selection at this fabulous addition to the neighborhood, you can pick up an easy-care potted cactus too.