It’s safe to say that St. Louis is a haven for visual artists. Though the most famous are definitely the prestigious Saint Louis Art Museum or the Contemporary Art Museum, it’s also important to remember that there is much more to the city’s art scene. The streets of many neighborhoods – particularly the Central West End – are dotted with galleries of all kinds that proudly exhibit pieces from both international, national, and local artists. There are too many galleries to count, but here are 6 of the coolest and most unique in the Gateway City.
Built inside a rehabbed department store, 2720 Cherokee isn’t just your average art gallery – it’s also one of the hottest underground music venues in the city. Downstairs is the music venue area, which boasts a huge dance floor, a bar, and a row of antique pinball machines (feed them quarters at your own risk). The venue is known for hosting some awesome acts, though their holding capacity is only around 200 people. This makes for some really intimate shows spanning a wide variety of music genres. Upstairs you’ll find a more traditional gallery space, with wide open spaces, wooden floors, and walls adorned in indie art pieces for sale. There is also a nod to its Department Store past with the huge windows and other vintage decorative details. As you can imagine, this hybrid space is particularly friendly to performance art.
Bruno David Gallery
If you dig contemporary art but are getting sick of the exhibitions at The Contemporary Art Museum, then march right across the street to the Bruno David Gallery. In many ways, Bruno David and The Contemporary Art Museum parallel each other in concept as much as they do literally. However, the renovated industrial setting is the perfect background for the singular works that are on display here In addition, they are much smaller and tend to host more local artists, making it a great place for appreciating some local color and engaging in some networking. The gallery’s owner tends to stick around during exhibitions, meaning you can easily engage him in conversation about the art being show at the time
Crafting is not just for girly girls and soccer moms. Despite being located right in the arts district among numerous other galleries, The Craft Alliance Center of Art + Design still manages to stand out among the rest. Perhaps this is because it’s not just a place for people to show off their crafty works, but is also a non-profit center that offers numerous classes and art programs to the public. Crafts are an often overlooked but emerging genre in the art world, and this gallery places them right in the spotlight. Numerous exhibitions are regularly shown here, varying from surprising installations to breathtaking new looks at everyday objects (like the teapot below). Of course, if you want to participate in the some of the classes here, you can also apply one of the 150 scholarships offered at the Craft Alliance for their art education programs. Happy crafting!
Dogtown Gallery & Framing
As the name suggests, Dogtown Gallery & Framing offers custom framing services in addition to their gallery. Most locals prefer to get their framing done here rather than some larger chain because of the quality of service and sincere love of art that seems to exude from this place. If you’re not content with simply browsing through the hundreds of prints they have available, then check out their numerous unique gifts and trinkets that they sell. Most of them are artworks in and of themselves. Aesthetically the Dogtown Gallery takes after an old Irish pub, reveling in the vocal Irish pride of their neighborhood. Is this your typical indie gallery? No. Is it a fantastic business worth patronizing? Most definitely.
Tavern of Fine Arts
St. Louis goes outside the box yet again when it comes to their art galleries. Not only does the Tavern of Fine Arts show off the spectacular work of local artists, but it also serves as a cozy wine bar, eatery, and venue for St. Louis’ finest classical musicians. Located right by Forest Park, this unique space is a favorite hangout for artistic locals in the area thanks to its exceptional atmosphere, generous wine selection, and delicious menu. Aside from continually promoting local artists both visual and musical, the Tavern of Fine Arts also hosts cool events at least twice a month. This place is even great for getting some work done during the day.
White Flag Projects
If you love risk and variation, then this Central West End gallery has your name written all over it! White Flag Projects is a non-profit gallery with a relatively high turnover – exhibiting new artists every 2-3 months – making it a joy for those who frequent galleries often and tire of seeing the same work over and over again. Though their focus is on contemporary art, they have no common thread thematically or regionally. Instead, the art featured here tends to push boundaries both aesthetically and conceptually. This seems to be the only set criteria (aside from quality of course) that’s in place to appear in White Flag Projects’ art space. Like many other galleries listed here, the space itself is created from a gutted industrial building. For all of these reasons, White Flag Project is a must-visit for those that enjoy being exposed to innovative contemporary art on a regular basis.
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