Exhibit focuses on artist inspired by Peru

MELISSE REICHMAN is a multi-faceted artist whose work has been influenced by her experiences as a wildlife researcher. Over the years she has spent months at a time in Parque Nacional del Manu, a remote and pristine Peruvian tropical rainforest where she studied with one of the world’s’ foremost tropical biologists. On her last visit to Manu in 2007, she focused on documenting the forest as the epitome of the most beautiful and concentrated array of diverse life existing on this planet.

“Images of Manu,” the exhibit of Reichman’s art at the Bonsack Gallery at John Burroughs School, 755 South Price Road, is the product of that last journey. It opens with a reception from 5 to 7 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 20, continues through March 31, and may be viewed daily from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

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“I have included drawings I made each afternoon when the forest would quiet down,” Reichman explained. “As the animals would rest, I would sit and draw. I have also included some of my favorites of the 12,000 photos I took while exploring the forest daily. The silver jewelry and vessels are formed from texture molds that I made each evening from ‘treasures’ I found along the trails. The sculptures are interpretations of seeds and nuts I found particularly beautiful.”

Reichman has a natural affinity for nature. For many years, as the creator of natural history exhibits, she made models of animals, plants, rocks and trees for nature centers and natural history museums throughout the world including the St. Louis Zoo. The delicacy and accuracy of her work is truly beautiful. But don’t take my word for it. Go see the exhibit yourself.

HELEN WEISS was a flamboyant, brilliant mover and shaker in the St. Louis community. As a May Company executive, she was responsible for planning and promoting myriad events sponsored by one of our town’s major corporations. Every time Weiss appeared at these multitudinous happenings, people would crane their necks to see what she was wearing, from her loose and dramatic outfits to her saucer-sized earrings. When she died last September, the community mourned her passing. Of course, many local fashionistas wondered what would happen to her stylish, eclectic wardrobe.

In their infinite wisdom, Weiss’ progeny — Jean Weiss, Richard Weiss and his wife, Sally Altman — decided to donate the whole kit and caboodle to the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) Resale Shop for a special event called Helen’s Closet. Proceeds from the sale will benefit NCJW projects that provide clothing, shoes, school supplies and personal care items to underserved children throughout St. Louis on an ongoing basis

A private preview party will take place from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 26 at the NCJW Resale Shop, 8612 Olive Boulevard., where those in attendance can check out everything from jewelry to hundreds of pairs of shoes to dress outfits to the clothes that Weiss used for walking. “Helen had a huge collection of costume jewelry that she called Her Jewels collected from extensive travels – from everywhere she went, like France, Italy and China. The jewels were tucked away in every drawer and nook and cranny of her condo,” her daughter-in-law, Sally Altman, said. Weiss’ friends have been asked to search their own wardrobes for contributions to the special sale, which will run through March 1, her birthday. As a result, there will be a variety of sizes in the sale, not just Weiss’ size. To reserve a place at this special event at $50 per person and/or to help stock Helen’s Closet e-mail [email protected]

BLAST FROM THE PAST: Purim Hop with music from the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s and ’80s on Sunday, March 1 at the Hilton St. Louis Frontenac, will benefit the Solomon Schechter Day School and will honor members of the Jewish community and the school. Kitty and Hanford Gross and Sherri Frank Weintrop are this year’s honorees. The school will also recognize teachers who have been at Schechter for 10 years. They are Mimi Baden, Mali Haberer, Susan Low, Jan Fishman, Chris Polak, Debbie Garbow, Suzanne Sloan, Sue Gers and Sue Steiner. Music will be performed by the Fabulous Motown Revue and, according to event chair Rachel Persellin-Armoza, there will be delicious food. For reservations, call Susan Levko at 314-576-7149. More details about this fun evening will appear in an upcoming Jewish Light.

LIZ CALLAWAY, cabaret singer extraordinaire, appears for two nights only at 8 p.m. at the Sheldon Concert Hall in Grand Center on Feb. 5 and 6. Presented by Cabaret St. Louis, Callaway is a wonderful performer whom you may have seen here at The Muny. One of Stephen Sondheim’s favorite singers (and mine too), Callaway has appeared in great Broadway hits like Cats. She is the sister of Anne Hampton Callaway, also a cabaret singer, with whom she has performed. For tickets at $40 call MetroTix at 314-534-1111 or go to www.metrotix.com.