Commentary
3:33 pm
Fri April 4, 2014

Grand Center Arts District Widens Its Horizons

Nancy Kranzberg

It's time for my yearly update on Grand Center. What a happening and hopping place it has become. There have been dozens of additions to the arts district and still more are about to open.

KDHX has recently opened the Larry J. Weir Center for Independent Media and what a beautiful facility it is with beautiful new broadcast booths and a technologically efficient performance space. The Media Plaza between The Nine Network and St. Louis Public Radio  should be up and running by late spring or early summer. And of course St. Louis Public Radio has recently merged with The Beacon, our on line news server.

The Grand Center Arts Academy is anxiously awaiting the opening of the former Sun Theater which will be the academy's performing arts space.

Jasmine Aber, the creative one, has recently opened CEL (the Creative Exchange Lab) which encourages young people, and some old ones too, to share ideas in creative design and architecture. On that same block, Folk which gives lessons in playing folk instruments and the offices of Metro Theater Company, the prestigious children's theater, have recently opened their space which also includes rehearsal areas.

The Metropolitan Building now offers low income housing for working artists in all artistic disciplines and is currently fully occupied.

The International Photography Hall of Fame located above Triumph Restaurant has been open for several months and also has monthly photography exhibits in the recently opened Dark Room Wine Bar and Restaurant. Chris Hanson, who does innovative and varied programming for The Kranzberg Art Center has created this space next to Dooley's Restaurant in the old University Club Building. Of course the Kranzberg houses Craft Alliance's satellite space, a black box theater where several theater groups perform and a cabaret theater which features jazz every Saturday night as well as a wonderful variety of artistic programs. And let’s not forget Duet, a new gallery which pairs combinations of local and national artists.

CAM, The Contemporary Art Museum St Louis has Lisa Melandri at the head and has recently hired Jeffrey Uslip as chief curator to continue planning cutting edge exhibitions and is next to two top of the line arts institutions. The Sheldon continues to present everything from folk to classical to jazz, etc. in the acoustically perfect performing arts auditorium and The Sheldon Art Galleries is currently featuring "250--Imagining the Founding of St. Louis" and "Walking Grand Center" as two of its exhibitions. Next door is The Pulitzer which features not only visual art exhibitions but surprises us all the time with innovative performances such as break dancing, nail art,drag and you name it!!

Jazz St. Louis will soon open The Harold and Dorothy Steward Center for Jazz which will increase the listening room size considerably and will include a lot of space for jazz education.

Em Piro, the young founder and director of St. Lou Fringe is preparing for the Fringe Festival in June which features all sorts of off-beat and sometimes right on the beat performing arts in Grand Center as well as other areas of mid-town. And Plush Night Club and Restaurant has always got some groovy musical presentation and good food to boot.

Our tried but true Fox Theatre and St. Louis Symphony have already announced their next season productions and we still have time to catch a few more productions before the end of the season.

The best part of it all is how the leaders of all the arts institutions in Grand Center meet regularly to put their heads together and produce and present all of this wonderful art for all of us in our great St. Louis.

To the artists, artistic directors, and all involved, please keep cranking out those great productions and exhibitions and thank you.

Nancy Kranzberg has been involved in the arts community for some thirty years on numerous arts related boards.

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