The Best Things to Do in St. Louis This Week, July 12 to 16

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The Art Hill Film Series starts this Friday with Black Panther. - COURTESY OF THE SAINT LOUIS ART MUSEUM
  • COURTESY OF THE SAINT LOUIS ART MUSEUM
  • The Art Hill Film Series starts this Friday with Black Panther.

It's July and it's hot — surely nothing is happening. Au contraire, gopher. There's a slew of interesting events this weekend, as you'll see when you read on.

1. French Maplewood
Maplewood's arts-based street festival, Let Them Eat Art, is a cheeky tip of the cap to Bastille Day, France's own national day of celebration. Maplewood's version features more than 50 local artists creating new works and discussing their inspiration and methods in the 7300 block of Manchester Road and farther east from 6 to 11 p.m. Friday, July 12. Live music is provided by the Gene Dobbs Bradford Blues Experience, Jazz in Space and headliners Dawn Weber and the Electro Funk Assembly. Kids activities take place in Sutton Loop Park from 6 to 9 p.m. Admission is free. For more information visit www.cityofmaplewood.com/fun.

2. Summer Classic
The Saint Louis Art Museum's Art Hill Film Series still feels rather new, but in fact celebrates its tenth summer this year. The first film of this summer is suitably monumental: Marvel's Black Panther. The record-smashing superhero flick has action, drama and a truly great — and different — hero, and it starts at 9 p.m. Friday, July 12. Prior to the film, there will be live music, food trucks and picnicking, if you're so inclined. Coolers and baskets are allowed, and in the event of bad weather the museum will post updates on its Facebook page. For the rest of this summer's schedule and more information, visit www.slam.org/arthillfilms. Admission is free.

3. Educational Display
Several generations of children have gained valuable hands-on experience with art at the Craft Alliance. From ceramics to hot glass to textiles to comic book creation, untold numbers of kids have taken their first serious creative steps there. It is the Craft Alliance's teachers — artists all — who have made all of that possible. The Biennial Faculty Exhibition showcases the work of those educators, and it features a wealth of items from metalsmithing to painting. The Biennial opens with a free reception from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, July 12, at the Craft Alliance in the Delmar Loop (6640 Delmar Boulevard; www.craftalliance.org). The gallery is open Tuesday through Sunday, and the exhibit continues through August 18.



Lego cityscapes and scenes fill the Greensfelder Recreation Center this weekend. - COURTESY OF BRICKUNIVERSE
  • COURTESY OF BRICKUNIVERSE
  • Lego cityscapes and scenes fill the Greensfelder Recreation Center this weekend.

4. Brick by Brick
Everything is awesome in St. Louis as the BrickUniverse Lego Convention hits Queeny Park's Greensfelder Complex (550 Weidman Road, Ballwin; www.brickuniverse.com/stlouis) this Saturday and Sunday (July 13 and 14). Thirty of artist Jonathan Lopes' creations will be on display, including his eight-foot Lego replication of New York City's Woolworth Building. Rocco Buttliere, a Chicago-based Lego modeler, will display 50 of his 1:650 scale versions of famous landmarks. Other attractions include a building arena where kids and adults can work on their own creations, and a big brick building space for those who want work in a larger scale. A Star Wars zone, Lego retail space and numerous vendors offering specialty and custom bricks, as well as other Lego-related items, will be on site both days. The only timed sessions that remain are from 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $18 to $20.
—Joshua Phelps

5. The Local Show
The St. Louis Filmmakers Showcase is the best place to see features and shorts created by locals. This year's festival takes place on two consecutive weekends (Friday through Sunday, July 12 to 21) at Brown Hall on Washington University's campus (Forsyth and Skinker boulevards; www.cinemastlouis.org). Highlights on the opening weekend include the 1 p.m. Saturday, July 13, showing of Lou Baczewski's documentary Path of the Past, which is about his namesake grandfather's WWII experience in a Sherman tank. Louis "Louch" Baczewski survived all five campaigns in the European Theater, from Normandy and into the heart of Germany and eventually back home to Pocahontas, Illinois. The always popular Comedy Shorts program screens at 6:30 p.m. Saturday as well, and includes Gary Lobstein's "Catlove," which won this year's Cat Clips film competition. Tickets for all programs are $10 to $13.

6. Ring the Bell
The St. Louis Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Pirates are about even in the standings, which is a sure sign of how this season is playing out for el Birdos. Still, there's half a season left and a lot can happen between now and September. Pirates' man-mountain Josh Bell is raking this year, tallying an unbelievable 57 extra-base hits and monster home runs (26 at the All-Star break) as well as a National League-leading 81 RBI. If you're a baseball fan, watching a player like Bell hit is as good a reason as any to buy a ticket to the Cardinals three-game series against the Buccos. First pitch is at 7:15 p.m. Monday and Tuesday and 12:15 p.m. Wednesday (July 15 to 17) at Busch Stadium (700 Clark Avenue; www.stlcardinals.com) and tickets are $10.90 to $240.90.

Conservators restore the Saint Louis Art Museum’s Panorama of the Monumental Grandeur of the Mississippi Valley. - COURTESY OF THE SAINT LOUIS ART MUSEUM
  • COURTESY OF THE SAINT LOUIS ART MUSEUM
  • Conservators restore the Saint Louis Art Museum’s Panorama of the Monumental Grandeur of the Mississippi Valley.

7. The Restoration
Before the advent of film, the only way to see the parts of America where you didn't live was through an artist's representation. Enterprising artists such as Irish immigrant John J. Egan realized that if you could recreate in a painting the feeling of traveling through the country, audiences would pay to see it. The result were the geographic panoramas of the nineteenth centuries, immense paintings mounted on pairs of rollers. Crowds purchased tickets to see these spooling paintings (some of which were hundreds of feet long) unroll to reveal the natural wonders of America. Egan's Panorama of the Monumental Grandeur of the Mississippi Valley is a 350-foot piece of fabric that features 25 individual scenes of life along the Mississippi River in the mid-1800s. The Saint Louis Art Museum in Forest Park (www.slam.org) currently owns the panorama and has it set up in Sculpture Hall on a pair of metal drums controlled by a custom-built motorized system. Unfortunately the constant unfurling of this brilliant work of art degraded its surface. Eight years of diligent work by museum art conservators have restored numerous panels to their original glory, and now only three damaged panels remain. A team of conservators is at work on those final bits even now. Visitors are able to observe their work, and ask questions of conservators, at 11 a.m. on Tuesdays in July.
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