Abandonment Art Events North St. Louis Northside Regeneration

Matta-Clark in St. Louis: Welcome to the Desert of the Real

by Michael R. Allen

This Friday, October 30, the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts (3716 Washington) opens Urban Alchemy/Gordon Matta-Clark from 5:00 – 9:00 p.m. Matta-Clark (1943-1978) trained as an architect but ended up as an artist working architecturally. That is, Matta-Clark took to buildings to create his art. Literally. Matta-Clark cut sections of buildings, cut pieces out of and into buildings and rearranged and played with existing architecture. Out of his brutal dissection emerged works that raise more questions about the contemporary urban condition than can ever be answered.

The Pulitzer’s press release contains an evocative quote from the artist, who said that his work engaged buildings “for these comprise both a miniature cultural evolution and a model of prevailing social structures. Consequently, what I do to buildings is what some do with languages and others with groups of people: I organize them in order to explain and defend the need for change.” Matta-Clark’s buildings were slated for demolition and already deemed trash to the modern capitalist economy. From their doomed bodies, Matta-Clark raised out “hope and fantasy” that challenged perceptions of the firmness and commodity of the built form.

Matta-Clark worked in the early 1970s when urban renewal’s bulldozer binge was at its peak. In this time, famously, salvager Richard Nickel in 1972 met his death saving intact pieces of Louis Sullivan’s Stock Exchange Building in Chicago. Matta-Clark’s death only six years later was due to cancer, but there is some mystic coincidence in the untimely deaths of the artifact-seeker and the playfully artistic vivisectionist. Both met the same fate as so many of their subjects did, in the period where American cities lost more historic architecture than ever before or since.

The arrival of the work of Matta-Clark in St. Louis in 2009 evokes another coincidence: the arrival of the exhibition at a great moment in the historic redevelopment of north St. Louis, when Paul J. McKee Jr. is attempting to reinvent urban renewal as a private-side endeavor, with his own company leading and government following. The old model is inverted, but historic architecture — and the social relationships its endurance enables — is as much at risk as it was when Matta-Clark was at over work thirty years ago. The image that I share above is not the result of McKee’s ongoing effort, but it could be. The NorthSide project has created more cut-through buildings than Matta-Clark made, or Nickel ever entered, through the dollars-and-cents underground economy of brick theft.

In the past two years, St. Louisans have seen — or, perhaps more commonly, seen images of — buildings gruesomely reinvented at the hands of people needing quick money to pay a bill or get a fix. The horror is unimaginable for those who live around the shells that haunt north city. Can the aesthetic counterpart found in Matta-Clark’s work draw from this region’s citizens a meaningful discussion on the future of our own historic architecture? Matta-Clark’s work has the power to provoke, inspire and motivate us to move from our own complacent disregard for the inner city. May we not sublimate what is lived as a crisis.

Art North St. Louis Northside Regeneration

Northside Community Mural Proposal

by Anna Ialeggio

Dear Friends & Neighbors,

My name is Anna, and I live in the 5th ward. I have been following the McEagle developments with skepticism and trepidation. My frustration comes from the assumption that, in the name of progress, it’s all right to deny residents the right to participate in shaping their neighborhoods. I don’t believe that enough justification can ever exist to hand over the reins of half a city to a single private developing entity. Friends, we need to be honest with each other: this isn’t a choice that North City was given. This is a corner that North City was backed into. Now we’re in that corner, and we have to address the fact that development which doesn’t flow directly from the community will ever have the impact, dignity, or longevity that it ideally could. This is what worries me (quote from the Post-Dispatch 9/5/09, my emphasis):

Last month, the CBA held a meeting of its own, in a Cass Avenue church that’s on the eminent domain list. There were about 75 people there, most from the project area, for a talk about TIF and eminent domain and how to protect their rights.

At one point, the organizers asked for a show of hands: How many people had been in a room with Paul McKee? Had heard his plans from his own mouth? HAD BEEN ABLE TO ASK QUESTIONS?

Three hands went up.

This is a challenge that we can rise to. I’d like to help my neighbors ask questions, make suggestions, tell their stories, in such a way that nobody, least of all Paul McKee, can dismiss it. This is where the idea of a mural comes in. I’ve got an awful lot of paint, and somebody out there has a big wall that could be dressed up. We’ve all got something to say, and we can work together to help each other figure out what it is and how best to say it. This might be especially great for a community center, church, or school. We can make something that will be a testimonial to the determination and creativity of our neighborhoods. Everyone has a right to be a part of the future of where they live…

Developers build DEVELOPMENTS.
Communities build COMMUNITIES!

Please get in touch if you’re interested, or have a suitable wall.

anna.ialeggio -at-

Art Events South St. Louis

Second Night of Chautauqua Art Lab

by Michael R. Allen

Tonight is the second night of the Chautauqua Art Lab, of which I am proud to be a part. Check out the details:


Map the multi-verse with controversial artists/speakers, pots and pans music makers, and film bricoleurs constellating for the temporary art and technology project co-organized by Eric Repice, Sarah Paulsen, and Emily Hemeyer. The series of nightly collaborative educational gatherings is inspired by the historical Chautauqua adult education movement in the US and features participatory panels, music soundscapes, and video screenings .

When: May 3-7th each night, 6:30 PM -10:00 PM

Where: Fort Gondo, 3151 Cherokee Street, St. Louis, MO, USA

Why: Learn, Include, Collaborate, Constellate (L.I.C.C.). “Chautauqua is the most American thing about America”– Theodore Roosevelt

Monday, May 4: “Local Go-getters and How I Started My Space.” Public Forum Q & A with Matt Strauss (White Flag), BJ Vogt (MAPS), Juan William Chavez (Boots Contemporary), Nita Turnage and Hap Phillips (Artica), David Wolk (Cranky Yellow& Crammed Organisms), Stephen Brien (All Along Press), Firecracker Press, Open Lot, Luminary Center, and APOP.

Tuesday, May 5: “Personal and Collective Practices that Investigate Notions of Space, History, and Public Goods.” Demonstrations and discussion highlighting mapping, tagging, blogging, virtual studios, and YouTube as art spaces. Featuring Eric and Michelle DeLair Repice (Wash U), Michael Allen (Ecology of Absence), Ben West (WASABINET), Jordan Hicks (Open Lot), live animation by Sarah Paulsen and music by Macro Meltdown

Wednesday, May 6 : “Artist Viewpoints: Innovations and Boundaries in Community Art Practice.” Works and commentary by Cindy Tower, Lyndsey Scott, Keith Bucholdz, Peat Wollager, and Maya Escobar.

Thursday, May 7:“Exploratory Film Night:Time based art/video shorts exploring the use of found/appropriated images, collage and archives.” Including films by Jodie Mack (Chicago) Yard Work is Hard Work, Ken Brown and Tom Bussmann (Germany and Stl) Beyond the Crisis in Art, Emily Foster (San Francisco) Snowfakes, Mike Pagano (Stl), Jeremy Kannappell (Stl), Emily Hemeyer and more. Music by Kevin Butterfield. Opening Music, Flowers. All donated proceeds benefit CAMP (Community Arts and Media Project).

Contact : Press- Emily Hemeyer

Sarah Paulsen

Eric Repice

Art Events

Houska Benefit for ReVitalize St. Louis

From Gayle Van Dyke of ReVitalize St. Louis:

Local artist Charlie Houska recently created and donated a unique painting of a St. Louis cityscape to a local non-profit. To benefit that non-profit [ReVitalize St. Louis], he is going to be signing limited edition giclée prints this evening. Details are below. These high-quality prints are $40 each and can be pre-ordered online or purchased and picked up at the Reception. There will be very cool $10
t-shirts available too.

Charlie Houska Artist Reception and Signing
Friday, March 13th
5:00 to 8:00 PM
at Blu CitySpaces
210 N. 17th Street, 63103

RSVPs to 314-495-2681 are appreciated.

Anyone wanting to purchase online, visit
for details.

By the way, if you haven’t had an opportunity to see the hip, contemporary condos at Blu CitySpaces, the 12th floor will be open for viewing during the reception.

I’ll be there and hope to see many of you there too!

Architecture Art Downtown Events

Architecture St. Louis’ First Exhibit Opens on Friday

Following the launch of educational programs at its new downtown home, Architecture St. Louis, Landmarks Association of St. Louis hosts its first public exhibit opening at the new space this Friday, October 10.

In conjunction with the American Institute of Architects – St. Louis Chapter and the chapter’s Young Architects Forum, Landmarks presents After Hours, a juried student drawing competition shown alongside assorted work (furniture, photography, collage, painting) produced by young architects either unlicensed or within ten years of licensure. Subjects range from St. Louis architecture to nature to modern furniture.

Opening: Friday, October 10 from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. (Work will be on display 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Monday – Friday for the subsequent two weeks.)

Where: Architecture St. Louis, 911 Washington Avenue #170 (located in the arcade of the Lammert Building)

Art Events

Rust Belt Readings Inaugural is September 26

Rust Belt Readings is pleased to present:

An evening of poetry with

winner of the 2008 T.S. Eliot Prize
(Buffalo, NY)

(St. Louis, MO)

When: Friday, September 26 at 7:00 p.m.
Where: Fort Gondo Compound for the Arts, 3151 Cherokee Street (http://www.fortgondo/. com)

About the readers:

Missouri native Victoria Brockmeier‘s first book, my maiden cowboy names, won the 2008 T.S. Eliot Prize. This is the latest accomplishment for someone who has worked as a waitress, a web designer, a drive-thru girl, an artist’s model, an Air Force marketing specialist, & a palmist. Her poetry has appeared in LIT, Boston Review, Natural Bridge, The Texas Review, & Inkwell. Brockmeier currently is a candidate for a PhD in poetics at the University at Buffalo, where she teaches. She earned her MFA in poetry at Louisiana State University in 2004. She believes that poetry can save the world.

Best known as an architectural writer, Michael R. Allen edits Ecology of Absence. Allen also has published poetry, drama and prose in journals including flim, Can we have our ball back?, The Adirondack Review and The Implosion. Additionally, he co-edited MPRSND: A Journal of Experimental Writing from 2001-2005 and has read at venues ranging from the River Styx Hungry Young Poets series to anachist book fairs to a morning television news program.

More information: Email or call 314-920-5680.
Art Midtown

Get Rid of a Lamp, Support a Cool Project

Find out more here.

Art Events

Obscure Postcards

Obscure Postcards presents local photographers Brett Beckemeyer and Alan Palmer with photographs from around the world. Themes focusing on urban formation, urban decay, and the built environment unite a variety of photographic vantage points ranging from the photojournalistic to the abstract. Bangkok, Chicago, Montreal, Tokyo, and Quebec are among the cities represented in the respective works.

Opening reception will be held Friday, March 14th from 7-10 p.m. at the Fort Gondo Compound for the Arts @ 3151 Cherokee Street.

Art Events South St. Louis

The Prohibition Revue Next Sunday at the DeMenil House

Ever wanted to see Craig Schmid perform in a play about prohibition of alcohol?

Next Sunday, you’ll get your chance when the Chatillon-DeMenil House Foundation presents a radio-style reading of The Prohibition Revue written by sisters NiNi Harris and Sheila Harris. Alderman Schmid, Bill Hart, Lois Waninger, Bob Officer, this blog’s Michael Allen and others will be reading the parts of the people who shaped the prohibition episode, from early temperance days to ultimate repeal. The story combines the words of citizens, businessmen and officials with the lyrics of both “dry” and “wet” songs. Expect singing!

When: Sunday, March 16 at 2:30 p.m.

Where: Chatillon-DeMenil House, 3352 DeMenil Place

The play reading is free and open to the public. For more information, call 314-771-5828.

Art Demolition Salvage St. Louis County

Name Made from Place

by Michael R. Allen

Janet Zweig’s If You Lived Here You Would Be Home, a new public art project in Maplewood funded by Arts in Transit, rewards repeated viewings — even at high speeds. The work consists of two sculptures that spell “Maplewood” on each side of the MetroLink overpass bridge on Manchester Road. On the west side, which people face heading into Maplewood, the word is spelled forwards, but on the other side it’s spelled backwards. Motorists leaving Maplewood might catch a glimpse of the word spelled forwards in their rear-view mirror. In her project description (which includes many excellent photographs), Zweig announces her intention regarding this effect: “hey can read the word on the other side of the overpass in their rear-view mirrors, as if seeing an illusionistic image of Maplewood’s past.”

There are other ways that the art work conjures Maplewood’s past. The typeface used is borrowed from the long-shuttered Maplewood Theater’s sign. Like a theater marquee, the letters of the sign are outlined in light at night, a great decision. The materials used to comprise each sign, not especially evident on a drive-by visit, are bits from two historic homes demolished in 2006. The idea of having the place name literally created by pieces of the lost past is profound, and need not be smothered by my analysis. Go drive, walk and stand by Zweig’s work, and then think about it.