Now that the Sol LeWitt wall drawings have been painted over, and the days are slowly getting longer, Laumeier Sculpture Park (12580 Rott Road, Sunset Hills; 314-821-1209 or www.laumeier.org) is ready for a new indoor/outdoor exhibition. And this next show is a big one. Material Terrain: A Sculptural Exploration of Landscape and Place, which opens with a reception from 6 to 8 p.m. on Friday, February 11, and remains on view through May 15, brings together more than twenty works by eleven artists who all create within the concept of the natural meeting the manufactured -- as you will see in Valeska Soares' Fainting Couch. Perhaps it's no mistake that this work looks a bit like a coffin, complete with funereal flowers; according to press materials, this artist sees a garden as both a place of life and an area of decay. In fact, some of the other artists on view, like Michele Brody, Ming Fay and John Ruppert, explore the idea of decay as an inevitable part of the life cycle in their works, too. See the renewal of the sculpture park's natural space (from 8 a.m. to a half-hour past sunset daily) and its man-made space (from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday), and hear Brody and Wendy Ross talk about their work at 10 a.m. on opening day -- it'll be revitalizing for your soul, just in time for spring. -- Alison Sieloff
Hanks for the Memories
Dress to impress
It's a somewhat common misconception that Bruce Springsteen is dangling a red bandana from his back pocket on the iconic cover of Born in the U.S.A. , but he is not; that's actually a red baseball hat. Obviously, Bruce must know a thing or two about hanky codes, because that red bandana in the right pocket would have indicated the Boss' fondness for a certain sexual activity that shall not be named (the fist-pumping in the video is a clue).
However, if you know about the red hanky, the green hanky and the gold lamé hanky, you should get to Faces (132 Collinsville Avenue, East St. Louis, Illinois; 618-271-7410 or www.facesnolimits.com) for the Hanky Panky Party. You can BYO-hanky or choose one at the door; then, spend the night looking for that perfect hanky hook-up. Admission is $3, doors open at 11 p.m., and if anyone else plans on wearing a purple paisley hanky (that means "squeals like Prince"), you won't be going home alone. -- Paul Friswold
Where the chocolate flows like water
A long time ago, the Aztecs and the Mayans used cocoa beans as money. Can you imagine how much simpler life would be if we used chocolate as our main form of currency today? One chocolate cheesecake = two pairs of jeans, four brownies = one gallon of gas; change would be given in chocolate chips....yes, life would definitely be sweeter. The main epicenters of our culture no longer would be New York City, Washington, D.C., Paris or London. Instead Hershey, Pennsylvania (home of Hershey's, of course); Bournville, Birmingham, England (home of Cadbury); and Hermann, Missouri, would become the cultural hubs of our time. Hermann? Really? Yup, Hermann hosts the second annual Chocolate Extravaganza and Bake-Off from noon to 6 p.m. at the Stone Hill Winery pavilion (1110 Stone Hill Highway, Hermann, Missouri; 800-909-9463). Dozens of chocolate desserts are entered in the competition, and your ticket price ($6 to $12 -- no cocoa beans, please) includes a sample of an entry and a chance to vote for your favorite presentation! For more information on this and Hermann's other chocolate events in February, call 800-932-8687 or visit www.hermannmo.com. -- Amy Helms
If you're a hot young Shakespeare fan, you should probably become a member of the Young Friends of the Shakespeare Festival of St. Louis. The first convocation of the young friends meets at 8 p.m. at the Schlafly Bottleworks (7260 Southwest Avenue, Maplewood; 314-361-0101) for the ribaldly named "Shakespeare in Love...Or Is It Lust?" party. Your $20 to $25 admission charge garners you a commemorative pint glass, a free fill for said glass and all the joy of participating in Shakespearean antics. Huzzah! -- Paul Friswold