Abstract Expressionism exhibit comes to St. Louis

All summer I have been yearning to go to Manhattan for several reasons, among them the exhibit at the Jewish Museum called Action/Abstraction: Pollock, de Kooning and American Art, 1940-1976. Now, if you will pardon the expression, “If Muhammad won’t go to the mountain, the mountain will come to Muhammad.” And that’s what’s happening.

That fabulous show, the first major U.S. exhibition in 20 years to re-examine Abstract Expressionism and the movement that followed, will open here at the St. Louis Art Museum on Oct. 19.

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Action/Abstraction features more than 50 key works that were carefully chosen from major institutions and collections throughout the United States and abroad, including masterpieces by Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Helen Frankenthaler, Arshile Gorky, Jasper Johns, Lee Krasner and Frank Stella just to drop a few big names.

The show is focused on the ideas and impact of the two principal art critics of the era, Clement Greenberg and Harold Rosenberg — powerful personalities who were at the center of the dynamic intellectual and critical Jewish milieu of mid-century New York City.

Rosenberg, I am told, championed the concept of action — the creative act of the artist — versus the ideal purity of abstraction, a non-representational aesthetic defended by Greenberg. However, these Jewish cultural dynamos disagreed, their advocacy propelled the artists and their art to the forefront of the public imagination, and by the late 1950s Pollock and de Kooning were virtually household names.

Action/Abstraction will be on view in the museum’s Main Exhibition Galleries through Jan. 11, 2009. Admission is $6 for adults, $5 for seniors and students, free to Members every day and free to all on Fridays.

Admission includes an iPod multimedia tour which is a fabulous assist in helping to understand abstract art.

Presently, one of the exhibits at the Jewish Museum in New York is The Dead Sea Scrolls: Mysteries of the Ancient World, six scrolls complemented by objects excavated from the site near where the scrolls were found. Three have never been exhibited including a portion of one of the earliest copies of the Hebrew bible. So if you get to the Big Apple before Jan. 4, you will be able to view these ancient treasures.

‘Nite-Brite,’ a fundraiser for St. Louis ArtWorks, will light up the sky on Thursday, Oct. 16 at Lumen, 2201 Locust Street, from 6 to 9 p.m.

The event takes its name from the interactive Light Mural which is to be completed by attendees that evening. The evening will be filled with appetizers, a pasta bar, drinks and music and, in addition, will feature art created by the St. Louis ArtWorks and Boomerang Press apprentices which will be available for purchase.

Tickets are $35 and may be purchased by calling Mindy Carney at 314-289-4182 or by sending a check to St. Louis ArtWorks, 3547 Olive Street, Suite 280, St. Louis MO 63103.

St. Louis ArtWorks is a unique organization which provides meaningful work experiences and education in the arts for teens in the St. Louis Metropolitan area. Apprentices, mainly from inner city neighborhoods, benefit from developing creative thinking and employment skills and exploring and discovering interests and talents that may influence career and educational opportunities. Boomerang Press, created in 2006, focuses on producing commissioned art for greeting cards, posters and other printed materials that are designed by the paid apprentices, underserved teenagers residing in the St. Louis area. Specifically, Boomerang Press uses art and entrepreneurship to generate revenues to sustain its arts and job training program.

‘Rock the School-house with Jazz and Classics’ on Sunday evening, October 9, is a mini fundraiser for the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra. Its unique venue will be the Lucas School House in Soulard, 1220 Allen Avenue where from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. guests will enjoy “heavy hors d’oeuvres,” two drinks, valet parking and early choice of seating followed by the Musicale featuring SLSO musicians.

Susan Hoffman, Chair of a committee that coordinates three Musicales a year that usually take place in someone’s home, explained that this is a lovely and intimate evening which has proven to be a successful fundraiser on a small scale. Cost of the evening is $85 per person or $20 for young professionals who will enjoy two “classical Cosmos” but no food. For reservations call 314-621-6565. Proceeds will benefit the SLSO’s Education and Community Engagement programs.

“Light up the Night with Hope” on Tuesday, Oct. 21, is a fundraiser for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCan). It’s an evening under the stars, literally, at the St. Louis Science Center, 5050 Oakland Avenue where guests will partake of buffet, drinks, dessert, silent and live auctions, music by pianist Dave Venn and valet parking.

Proceeds will go to PanCan, a nationwide group of people working together to advance research, support patients and create hope for those affected by Pancreatic Cancer.

For more information call 1-877-272- 6226 or for reservations visit www.pancan.org/lightstlouis.