Cherokee Street

Cherokee Street Reach participants collaborate on a painting
Provided by Cherokee Street Reach

Last year a group of artists got together to form an arts camp. Initially they wanted to provide a place for kids to spend time between the end of traditional summer camps and the start of the new school year. 

“We just really wanted to find something, or find a way to help children utilize their potential for something productive, and since we’re all artists, that’s what we know,” said founding member Pacia Anderson, 36.  

Katelyn Mae Petrin / St. Louis Public Radio

A group of skaters screeched, weaving circles around the rink. Dozens of booths sat in the rink’s center. Artists sat at the booths, selling their work to the crowd that milled through the rink. The skaters flew past T-shirts printed with crass but clever jokes, collages of old pinups, fanarts of popular comics.

Alex Heuer

Independent filmmaker Bill Streeter joined “Cityscape” guest host Don Marsh to discuss “Lo-Fi Cherokee,” an outgrowth of his award winning music and culture web video series, “Lo-Fi Saint Louis.”

“Lo-Fi Cherokee” is a yearly celebration of the St. Louis music scene featuring 18 live performance videos all produced in a single day in 18 different locations on Cherokee Street. The bands range from veteran national acts to up-and-coming local musical groups.

Gigante puppets pulled by bike in the People's Joy Parade during Cherokee Street's Cinco de Mayo festival Saturday,May 2, 2015.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Glittery sombreros big and small. The occasional plastic mustache dangling from sunglasses. Regatón blasting from one speaker, pop tunes blaring on another. Tacos, piña coladas and colorful margaritas in fish bowls.

Wrestling, live music and the eccentric, playful People’s Joy Parade. This is Cherokee Street during  Cinco de Mayo.

A lot of fun for sure, but was Saturday's festival all in good fun or was there an element of cultural appropriation going on?

First row: The owners of Earthbound Beer, Los Punk; Second row: Tacos at La Vallesana, ArtBar
(Courtesy: Sauce Magazine)

In South St. Louis, Cherokee Street is booming.

That’s according to Kristin Dennis, co-owner of the Fortune Teller Bar and a member of the Cherokee Station Business Association’s board of directors.

The foundation of the street is Mexican fare and antique shopping but just within the last few years, more than 20 new food and drink establishments have opened.

“Every few months we have new businesses opening,” Dennis told “Cityscape” host Steve Potter on Friday.

Artist Alberto Aguilar unrolls signs at El Torito grocey
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

The Luminary Center for the Arts casts a wide net with the current show Counterpublic. It addresses issues of gentrification on Cherokee Street and in the surrounding neighborhood.

Printing press from 1927 at Firecracker Press's Old North location
Willis Ryder Arnold/St. Louis Public Radio

Legos aren’t just for building anymore. 

Local letter press Firecracker Press is developing an unusual way to use the children’s building blocks as raw material to create patterns for stationary, cards, and wall art like posters. The company runs the plastic blocks through a press that was built in the 1920s.

“You hear Legos and you think maybe childish toys or something like but I think we’re able to come up with some pretty sophisticated stuff,” said press founder Eric Woods.

Part of Adria and Her Treasures record "Unde Dragoste (Where Love)?" for The Texas Room
Willis Ryder Arnold/St. Louis Public Radio

Local music producer and sound engineer Louis Wall thinks challenging area international and local musicians to produce a collaborative album will help push artists beyond their social boundaries. 

“I kind of like that element of putting people out in their own place - if you stick with someone else’s culture then you might realize ‘I’ve got one too and I need to discover what that is and where I come from,’” said Wall.

Adult Fur ii, Album Cover
Adult Fur | Courtesy of the Artist

Local music collective FarFetched is a loose association of musicians from various genres and age groups. The group celebrates its fourth anniversary with a compilation album, "Prologue IV," and a release concert at 2720 Cherokee arts space on Jan. 9. The group is united by a will to experiment with genres, use digital means for music creation, and push boundaries lyrically and stylistically. In four years, it has grown to encompass 14 acts that range from hip-hop to progressive pop music.

David Rhoads' show I Want To Believe can be seen through Fort Gondo Front door
Willis Ryder Arnold/St. Louis Public Radio

The Fort Gondo Compound for the Arts on Cherokee Street will triple its operating budget next year thanks to a new grant from The Warhol Foundation. Director Jessica Baran says the award points to the strength of Fort Gondo’s programming.

“I think that we’ve built up over this long period of time ... is recognized at this point as deserving of some kind of funding along these lines,” she said.

Ready for a purr-fect night
Provided by Tenth Life

If your idea of a purr-fect evening (sorry, it was just too tempting) involves sipping steaming beverages and stroking cats, Thursday night is your cup of tea. Or coffee. Or hot chocolate.

James and Brea McAnally in the work in progress at the new Luminary Center for the Arts.
Nora Ibrahim | St. Louis Public Radio Intern

This fall the National Endowment for the Arts awarded nine St. Louis-based arts organizations a total of $250,000 in grants. But in the visual arts category, only The Luminary Arts Center on Cherokee Street got funding. Thanks to the new NEA grant the space will expand its international artist residency program. Brea McAnally runs the space with her husband, James. They say the award is a national spotlight for the space.

“Primarily we’re just grateful that the organization has been seen and validated on a national level,” said Brea McAnally.

Kim Massie Live at The Beale on Broadway, Nov. 19, 2014
Willis Ryder Arnold/St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis is a music town. Luminaries like Chuck Berry and Tina Turner honed their craft here before hitting international stages. For music to thrive it needs a home, it needs live venues. This month, local venue the Gramophone announced it was closing as a concert space and reopening this spring as a bar. Although they’ll still occasionally have live acts, the venue’s shift is away from high-energy music and toward a relaxed food and drink emphasis.

Undercurrent 9 tapes featuring Frances With Wolves, Hylidae, Contrails and spoken word by Brett Underwood at Undercurrent 10 event
Willis Ryder Arnold/St. Louis Public Radio

Ask someone younger than 10 if he's ever heard a cassette and you may be met with a blank stare. Before CDs or the ubiquitous MP3, tapes were the go-to method for album releases. Major record labels stopped releasing cassettes years ago, but St. Louis is home to a dedicated tape community. Musicians turn to tape for artistic, creative and practical reasons.

An Affordable Method

Musician, curator, and artist Damon Davis
Jen Everett/Courtesy of the Artist

Voodoo and Twitter, Christianity and Facebook. The new visual art exhibit ALTrs draws inspiration from them all.

Damon Davis, participating artist, musician and curator, said he hopes to highlight the relationship between daily rituals and the tradition of grand ritual in religious practices.

“The basic idea is blending technology and social media, things of that nature, all the rituals we have now with older, for lack of a better word, archaic rituals,” said Davis.

Tiffany Minx
File photo | St. Louis Beacon

Early this month Tiffany Minx announced on Facebook the closing of her independent music shop Apop Records. The store will close this Monday. Although Minx has stressed a desire to look to the future, some fans are mourning the loss of an integral part of the St. Louis music scene.

“It’s just a major loss,” said Matthew Stuttler, who runs a cassette tape music label distributed online and at Apop.

Morgan Nusbaum of bruiser queen
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

Bruiser Queen is a pair of St. Louis residents that play catchy, scuzzy, rock music that lands somewhere between 1960s girl groups and 1990s riot grrrl punk. Morgan Nusbaum fronts the band, commanding both microphone and guitar.

She’s backed by Jason Potter on the drums. The duo practices in an old doctor’s office off Cherokee street. The walls are a faded bubble-gum pink and plastic bins for charts are still screwed to the wall near every exam room. The duo rehearsed for Friday’s record release show promoting their newest album Sweet Static.

Jessica Baran and Galen Gondolfi
Stephanie Zimmerman | St. Louis Public Radio | File photo

Making art transforms artists. It can also revolutionize the world around them. St.

Detail from Sam Washburn poster Cherokee Street
Sam Washburn | St. Louis Beacon

Cinco de Mayo is one festival that can be counted on NOT to leave St. Louis, let alone the Cherokee Street neighborhood. Every year, St. Louisans have been adding new dimensions to this festival. In 2008, local artists began what’s become Cinco de Mayo’s official parade, the People’s Joy Parade.

James and Brea McAnally in the work in progress at the new Luminary Center for the Arts.
Nora Ibrahim | St. Louis Public Radio Intern

In the heart of Cherokee Street, 2701 to be exact, The Luminary's new building is rapidly transforming.

The art gallery, incubator and performance venue (formerly the Luminary Center for the Arts) is moving from Reber Place into a 17,000 square-foot space that takes three different properties and melds the historic with the modern.

In only two weeks, a stage, office spaces and wall frames were erected. Over the next two weeks, the construction crew will install drywall and paint. And while its new location undergoes swift changes, The Luminary itself is rebranding.