The art of winter -- with slate skies and sculpturally bald trees -- gives way to the splash of spring and the season for outdoor art shows. Two superior events take place this week: the Tilles Arts and Crafts Festival, May 17 and 18 at Tilles Park (near the intersection of McKnight and Litzsinger roads in Ladue); and Art on the Square, May 16-18 at the Public Square in Belleville, Illinois.
The Tilles festival welcomes 180 artists and crafters. Enjoy the Clothesline Art Exhibit, created by more than 2,000 area children who fashioned art on sheets of fabric to be strung on clotheslines. Kids can also visit the Children's Craft Area to make their own art projects.
Admission to the festival is $1 for ages thirteen and older. Hours are 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m. daily. Parking is free. Call 314-638-2100 for more info.
Belleville's pride, Art on the Square, features 100 artists from 26 states (and England) in a juried exhibition.
The event's $27,000 in prize money and more than $40,000 in prepurchase money lured more than 500 artists to apply for this year's show. You'll see a variety of media: watercolors, oils, photography, glass, jewelry, clay, metal, fine crafts, ceramics, mixed media and wood. And visit the Secret Garden of Art, which allows children the chance to create a sculpture for display in Belleville. Art on the Square's hours are 5-9 p.m. Friday, May 16; 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, May 17; and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday, May 18. All events are free. Call 618-397-6481 or visit www.artonthesquare.com to learn more. -- Thomas R. Raber
Otaku! (You're Welcome)
A vast and diverse assemblage will congregate at 11:15 p.m. at the Tivoli Theatre (6350 Delmar Boulevard; 314-725-9110 or www.starclipper.com) for the third annual Otaku Night, sponsored by Star Clipper Comics & Games. Otaku is a Japanese term for a serious animation geek, and Otaku Night features sushi (courtesy of Olivette restaurateur Mr. Sushi), Pocky brand candy, green tea, a raffle, a costume contest and the chance to mingle with like-minded freaks.
Hayao Miyazaki has singlehandedly changed Japanese animation. His latest film, the Academy Award-winning Spirited Away, screens at midnight. Spirited is a richly textured film, with ambrosial animation and a pervasive sense of wonder, that transformed Miyazaki from an indie icon into a lionized pioneer. -- Rob Levy
Eye of the Tiger
Doug Stanton's book In Harm's Way redefines "disaster story." His account of the unbelievable final days of the World War II naval cruiser USS Indianapolis is grim and terrifying, yet uplifting. Stanton (left) avoids mythologizing the men as one-dimensional heroes or as members of Tom Brokaw's "greatest generation," instead revealing their frailty and humanity. The survivors share the fear, anger, guilt, helplessness and despair they felt as they drifted for almost five days in the Pacific; in doing so, they become heroic not because they survived but because they re-emerged into the world as whole human beings. Stanton gives a free reading from In Harm's Way at 7 p.m. at Left Bank Books (399 North Euclid Avenue, 314-367-6731). -- Paul Friswold
BWI (Basketball While Intoxicated)
Some of the greatest pickup soccer games take place around a cooler of beer, and some of the most satisfying games of alley basketball involve a few pints of Mad Dog in discreet brown-paper bags. In the spirit of tipsy athletics, the folks at Vetta Sports Club-Concord inaugurate Open Play Saturdays at 12320 Old Tesson Road (314-842-3111). On most Saturdays through June, $5 at the door gets you unlimited indoor soccer, basketball and volleyball from 8 p.m.-midnight. There's a full bar, too (open till 1:30 a.m.), so you can be the weekend warrior, then drink like the weekend lush and then, if you like, stumble back to the field of honor for more. -- Byron Kerman