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The RFT's Fall Arts Guide: St. Louis Shows, Performances and Exhibits

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After a seemingly endless period of COVID-induced artistic stasis, a time during which creators were forced to suspend the sharing of their works with the public (or, at best, find new and innovative ways to put themselves out there), 2021 has finally seen the reintroduction of the arts into our public lives. As vaccinations have rolled out across the country and people attempt in earnest to regain a sense of normalcy, we're finding that the artists we love haven't been just sitting on their hands throughout the pandemic — they've been honing their crafts, channeling difficult feelings into their work and re-emerging with a renewed sense of purpose.

It's not to say anything about whether any of this was worth it, but it is inspiring to see what St. Louis' creative community is capable of doing under the most trying of circumstances. In keeping, our Fall Arts Guide celebrates some of the artistic endeavors we're most excited about in this decidedly different year. Of course, no attempt to fully catalog all of these efforts would ever be complete; instead, we tasked several members of our staff with highlighting the stage productions, concerts, gallery showings and other forms of artistic expression that have most piqued their interest for this fall season.

We're crossing all of our fingers and toes that all these events are still able to go on as planned, but of course, with the delta variant bringing yet more uncertainty into our lives again, we're all too aware that anything can happen. That is to say: Make sure you check with the venues and organizations behind these events before you leave your home, and make sure that you're following all of the safety guidelines asked of you — chief among them, please get your shots! We're ready for next year to be a full-blown and unmitigated arts extravaganza, but that's going to take everyone pitching in to do their part. —Daniel Hill

St. Louis Sound

August 28, 2021 to January 22, 2023. Missouri History Museum, 5700 Lindell Boulevard. Free. 314-746-4599.

There's no question that music runs through the veins of St. Louis. From Scott Joplin to Chuck Berry to Jay Farrar to Nelly, there are St. Louis legends across almost every genre. To celebrate this fact, for the rest of this year through 2022, the Missouri History Museum's St. Louis Sound exhibit will be free to the public at the Missouri History Museum. Nearly 200 artifacts will be displayed from national acts, local legends and essential venues in the St. Louis music scene, including the stage floor from Mississippi Nights. Check out cool outfits worn by the all-female punk band the Welders, in addition to those worn by Willie Mae Ford Smith and Tina Turner. Guitar lovers will be drooling at the ones owned by Chuck Berry, Jeff Tweedy, Albert King and Mel Bay. There's even a section of pieces from Gaslight Square during the jazz scene of the 1920s. There's an exciting range of items to see, and not just from the places in STL music history you're so used to seeing highlighted. And for your listening pleasure, bring your headphones to enjoy a curated playlist of St. Louis musicians while you browse the exhibit. —Jack Probst

Texts from My Family: A Comedy Show

8 p.m. Thursday, September 2. The Heavy Anchor, 5226 Gravois Avenue. $10. 314-352-5226.

Families can be embarrassing. Luckily, parents and grandparents have learned to text, so everything doesn't have to be a long-winded call about what your more successful siblings are doing or why you didn't pick up the previous three times they called. Instead, dads can text dad jokes and grandmas can text asking why in the world you would dye your hair pink, and it all stays safely in your phone. Texts From My Family is a show where the performers enter their passcodes to show off just how funny their interactions with their families genuinely are. Comedians Emily Hickner and Alexis Winford host an evening full of stories and texts from people like you. The evening features family stories from Matt Barnes, Danielle Howard, Aaron Brooks, Angela Smith, Michelle Kidwell and Mandy Bouckaert. It's an excellent opportunity to see that your family isn't the weirdest one in St. Louis (or to recoil in horror when you realize they are.)

—Jack Probst

The Works of Farah Al Qasimi

September 3 through February 13. Contemporary Art Museum, 3750 Washington Boulevard. Free. 314-535-4660.

The time of the COVID-19 quarantine was productive for artist Farah Al Qasimi. Featured in the Contemporary Art Museum beginning on September 3, her upcoming work spans a 60-foot wall. Titled "Everywhere there is splendor," her exhibit has photography, video and performances.

The multi-media work explores themes of culture, domesticity, labor and escapism. Several pieces feature family photographs or other pieces of her family's history. A press release from the Contemporary Art Museum says Al Qasimi "found it ever more urgent to deepen her connection with her family's past" after reflecting on the uncertainty of the future, along with the tumultuous past year.

Additionally, four more exhibitions will debut at CAM alongside Al Qasimi's exhibition, running from September 3 to February 13, 2022:

"Shara Hughes: On Edge" includes more than 30 vibrant paintings and is the first major solo museum exhibition from the artist.

"Summer Brooks: The New Garden Variety" is scultpor Summer Brooks challenging beauty standards for African American women. A press release says the artist hopes "to engage viewers in conversations about stereotypes placed onto people of color by colorism and racism."

"Lorna Simpson: Heads" is an exhibition of two digital animation videos by Simpson herself. The videos detail Simpson's process of working with collage and photo manipulation.

"Kathy Butterly: Out of one, many / Headscapes" is a ceramic sculpture exhibit. Butterly combines two different projects of hers, one set from 1996 to 2018 and one set mostly made just for the CAM exhibit. "Out of one, many" is based off pint glasses and explores female figures, while "Headscapes" surveys the mind.

The Contemporary Art Museum is free and open to the public Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. beginning on September 3.

—Jenna Jones

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