This year promises a lot of diversity on the St. Louis arts scene. From Oriental carpets and pleasure tents to vibrant multimedia portraits of our most beloved blues icons, you’ll find something fresh around every corner. Mark your calendar for these top exhibits so you won’t miss any of the exquisite artwork that will be passing through our city this year.
The Carpet And The Connoisseur
Saint Louis Art Museum
1 Fine Arts Drive
St. Louis, MO 63110
(314) 721-0072
www.slam.org

Through May 8, 2016

The St. Louis Art Museum’s collection of Oriental rugs is recognized as one of the most significant in the world, largely due to the donations of a single man. James F. Ballard was a St. Louis businessman who also enjoyed traveling the world and collecting the finest Oriental rugs. He was particularly interested in Turkish rugs, at a time when most collectors were focusing on Indian and Persian textiles, and he has helped to bring Turkish contributions to the art into the public eye. This exhibit features more than 50 carpets plus two 19th-century Persian “pleasure tents,” used for outdoor gatherings, that Ballard acquired.

Kelley Walker
Contemporary Art Museum
3750 Washington Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63108
(314) 535-4660
www.camstl.org

Dates: Sept. 16, 2016 – Dec. 31, 2016

CAM’s exhibit will be the first U.S. survey of Walker’s work, and this massive exhibit will fill all the Museum’s spaces, including the courtyard, lobby, and gallery spaces. Walker is a multidisciplinary artist whose work “leverages issues of identity politics and social constructs to unpack American pop culture.” The work, which often incorporates images from advertising and pop culture, is sometimes reminiscent of Warhol but without feeling derivative. The exhibition features works from several of Walker’s series, including Brick Paintings, Volkswagen Series, Recycling Series, and CD-ROM Works.

Blues @ Home: Mississippi’s Living Blues Legends
National Blues Museum
615 Washington Ave.
St. Louis, MO 63101
(314) 000-0000
www.nationalbluesmuseum.org

Dates: Apr. 2, 2016 – June 1, 2016

St. Louis has been buzzing for years about the National Blues Museum, and it is finally here! The first traveling exhibit to be housed in the Museum will feature interactive portraits of blues artists created by H.C. Porter. More than thirty paintings of Mississippi-based blues artists are paired with oral histories from the subjects, which include artists like Bobby Rush and the late B.B. King. Black and white photography combine with other media to create vibrant works of art that give us a glimpse of the Blues legends in their homes while we hear them tell their stories. The exhibit will be in the Scott and Diane McCuaig and Family Gallery beginning on the Museum’s opening day (April 2, 2016). It doesn’t get any more St. Louis than this.

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Conflicts Of Interest: Art And War In Modern Japan
Saint Louis Art Museum
1 Fine Arts Drive
St. Louis, MO 63110
(314) 721-0072
www.slam.org

Dates: Oct. 16, 2016 – Jan. 8, 2017

This is an exhibit that brings together both fine and commercial art to showcase the zeitgeist of a nation, illustrating Japan’s changing role in East Asia and it’s changing national identity. The story begins in the late 1800s with the Meiji Restoration and moves through the Sino-Japanese War in the mid 1890s,  the Russo-Japanese War in the early 1900s, which pitted Japan against China and Russia. Japan’s increasing confidence and rise as a military power during this period is shown through a variety of artwork, including handpainted folding screens and hanging scrolls, drawings, woodblock prints, magazine illustrations, game boards, and more.

Gigi Scaria: Time
Laumeier Sculpture Park
12580 Rott Road
St. Louis, MO 63127
(314) 615-5278
www.laumeiersculpturepark.org

Through August 14

Gigi Scaria is a New Delhi-based artist, and this exhibit is part of Laumeier’s five-year focus on artists from around the world. Scaria’s work focuses on “hurried transformation of cityscapes” such as the sprawl of New Delhi. His structures display satire and sarcasm, and explore the themes of time, permanence, and impermanence in urban architecture. The indoor gallery at Laumeier will display recent photographs, films, and sculpture and a monumental installation representing old Delhi architecture will be on display in the outdoor sculpture park.

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Lauren Haas is a nomadic freelance writer who travels the world, using St. Louis as her base. Visit her blog at http://www.thesoulofajourney.com.