Not your usual art foundation:

Story-telling, sci-fi, a grand bazaar and a potluck dinner on The Pulitzer Foundation’s summer schedule

You, hey you! Yeah, you–whoever you are. The Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts has something for you to do this summer.

Are you a hip-hop artist? An architect? A story-teller, historian, an African-American interested in your genealogy? Do you like snow cones and ball pits? Architecture on an intellectual scale? Science fiction, story-telling by stitchery, rap or classic vocal performance?

If so, check out the Pulitzer’s schedule of events for the summer.

The  Pulitzer continues to amaze me with the imaginative ways it reaches out to all segments of the St. Louis community. The Foundation has created a niche in which it speaks to both art experts and aficionados, and yet is relevant to the lives of those of us with less-exalted interests and inclinations.

Not only that, the events are always free. Though the Foundation is only open on a regular basis on Wednesdays and Saturdays, there are many events scheduled at other times. I try never to miss an opening–if for nothing else, the wine served on the Pulitzer’s terrace, overlooking the city. And do not miss the opportunity to walk through Richard Serra’s “Joe,” the spiraling courtyard sculpture, on a night when the moon is full. (Take note, folks–next month’s first Friday open house is July 4, at 5 p.m. Fireworks seen from the Pulitzer? Could it get any better than that?)

The Pulitzer–the building by Tadao Ando, as well as the foundation’s various exhibits–is a gem of an asset for St. Louis.  When it opened, writers for the New York Times called the building “a duet for stone and water, nearness and distance” and “a stark concrete temple of art.”

But they also raised the question of the Foundation’s purpose. One writer called it the “unmuseum,” the other a “quasi-museum concept.” At the time, even Emily Rauh Pulitzer was uncertain of how the Foundation would provide “a kind of alternative viewing experience” for art.

That ambiguity carried over to the public consciousness. To this day, many St. Louis residents will tell you the Pulitzer “isn’t a museum” and isn’t open to the public. Mention that you’ve been to the Pulitzer for one of its openings, or an afternoon discussion, and some people look puzzled.

But in the last few years, the Foundation has found its footing–offering exhibits that would be international blockbusters if they were staged in New York or London; intimate seminars free and understandable for those of us who don’t have art degrees; events geared for children which allow them, at times, to–gasp!–run around inside the foundation, and musical events that range from symphonic to rap. The Foundation has matured and evolved—both in the quality of its exhibits and the diversity of its audiences.

If you don’t believe me, check out this video of events during the Spring Reset. They included a break-dancing battle judged by Michael Jackson’s street-style dance teacher, yoga set to an electronica sountrack, and the U.S. premiere of John Cage’s Thirty Pieces for Five Orchestras.

This summer’s events include science-fiction reading groups, a potluck dinner discussion of St. Louis social issues expressed during an exchange of food and ideas, and a paper-making workshop.


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