Cindy Sherman has been a housewife, a prostitute, a buxom librarian with a vacuous come-hither gaze. She's been a resort-dwelling starlet, a grotesque clown, a woman in distress, a secretary (pictured). The world-renowned photographer is very often the subject of her own photos, but Sherman's work is far from self-portraiture. Instead, she assumes archetypal roles, and the results are at once funny, disturbing and unforgettable. While many of Sherman's mid-career pieces can be viewed everywhere from the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago to the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan, our own Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis (3750 Washington Boulevard; 314-535-4660) offers the excellent, rare opportunity to see work from her early career.
The exhibit Cindy Sherman: Working Girl includes photographs from the mid-1970s, when the artist was just beginning to develop her inimitable style. Working Girl is the first entry in the Contemporary's new "Inaugural Decade Series," a yearly exhibition that invites renowned mid-career artists to choose works from their most influential, most aesthetic-shaping decade.
The free 7-to-9 p.m. public reception (with cash bar) on Friday, September 16, also serves as the kickoff celebration for Girls' Night Out, a traveling exhibition featuring the photography and video installations of women from different cultures, ethnic backgrounds and generations. Artists Daniela Rossell, Kelly Nipper, Katy Grannan, Dorit Cypis and Shirana Shahbazi, among others, participate in this visual dialogue; like so much of Cindy Sherman's oeuvre, the pieces in Girls' Night Out offer unflinching yet lyrical insight into questions surrounding female identity, gender equity and modern culture at large.
Working Girl was curated by CAMStL director Paul Ha; his keen aesthetic sensibility always makes for striking shows. And with Sherman, Nipper, Grannan and Cypis in attendance, this just might be the art opening of the year -- not to mention a major coup for the already-extraordinary Contemporary. Both exhibits remain up through December 31; visit www.contemporarystl.org for more information. -- Brooke Foster
Get Your Fiber
Art, that is
It'll be a high-fiber old time soon for St. Louisans interested in "contemporary fiber art," as Innovations in Textiles 6 involves sixteen area galleries and arts institutions in a display of the work of more than 125 American and Canadian artists (many of whom are local). On Friday, September 16, the biennial event has coordinated openings at all the participating venues; call the Regional Arts Commission at 314-863-5811 for a full list. One such opening is at the Craft Alliance Exhibition Gallery (6640 Delmar Boulevard, University City), during which you can see works like Coat for Icarus by Jon Eric Riis (pictured). On Saturday, September 17, eleven galleries (including Xen Gallery and the Fontbonne University Gallery of Art) host artist/curator lectures from 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. (call venues for specific times). All exhibits and lectures this weekend are free; Innovations runs through mid-November. -- Alex Weir
Full of Fests
If any neighborhood in St. Louis can play host to two festivals in one day, it's Soulard. First of all, there's the free Urban Bluegrass Festival & Bohemian Artist Fair from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Soulard Park (South Eighth Street and Lafayette Avenue). The live bluegrass begins at noon (courtesy of bands like Pik'n Lik'n, pictured), and the art and artists -- including a candle-maker, a woman with her spinning wheel and even actors -- will be out until 4 p.m.; call 314-771-1905 for more information. Then, at 5:30 p.m., the second party starts up: Garden Fest, which is held at the Soulard Community Garden (South Ninth Street between Lami and Barton streets). There's music and food there -- and a $20 price tag. But hey, it's all for beautification! -- Alison Sieloff
Katsuhiro Otomo's Akira set the standard for anime in 1988, and almost twenty years later, the film's originality and brilliance are still undeniable. A sprawling, intelligent sci-fi epic, Akira follows two teenage would-be toughs as they battle biker gangs, a paranoid military industrial complex and a secret government experiment in psionics gone awry. Oh yeah, and it's set in post-WWIII Tokyo. Star Clipper Comics sponsors a special Otaku Night screening of Akira at the Tivoli Theatre (6350 Delmar Boulevard, University City; 314-995-6270), with pre-show festivities including games, contests and prize giveaways. Tickets are $6.50, and the movie plays at midnight Friday and Saturday through September 24 (no Otaku-fun at the other three screenings, though). -- Paul Friswold