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St. Louis County Art Walk Supports Local Painters, Celebrates The West County Center Dove

09152020_Provided_West County Center_01
Genevieve Esson
West County Center
Eleven St. Louis artists designed their own interpretations of the West County Center dove sign for the DOVELOVE art project. The projects are displayed throughout the center's first floor.

The large white dove sign that hangs out in front of the West County Center in St. Louis County is the focus of an art walk to promote local artists.

Eleven local artists have designed their own interpretations of the dove sign for the DOVELOVE art project. Many of the pieces show colorful, abstract depictions of the dove on large canvases. The paintings are displayed on the first floor of the mall, and visitors can cast a vote for their favorite pieces.

“Many of the local art fairs have been canceled, and [we wanted] to put together a project where we could incorporate some local artists and also allow them an opportunity to earn money during the time when the art fair has been canceled,” said Sean Phillips of the West County Center.

Visitors will be able to vote for their favorite art pieces via text. The top three winners will receive gift cards of up to $250. Phillips said artists also received a stipend for paint supplies.

The center is also collaborating with the St. Louis Artists’ Guild. The nonprofit supports local art projects and exhibits and offers art classes. The guild will hold an auction of the artists’ work. Fifty percent of the proceeds will go to the guild, and the other half will go to the artists. Guild Executive Director Kathryn Nahorski said cancellations of events and shows due to the coronavirus pandemic have hurt the organization.

The DOVELOVE Art Walk is at the West County Center. The project commemorates 50 years of the large dove sign outside of the center.

“We were closed for three months and reopened June 19,” Nahorski said. “It’s been slow for the community to come back and feel safe and comfortable in gallery spaces and community spaces. And artists that we had shows scheduled with were postponed or even moved to next year.”

Artists participating in the show have worked on their pieces for weeks. Genevieve Esson is one of the artists whose work is displayed as part of the installation. She designed a colorful acrylic painting with a large white dove holding a peace symbol, surrounded by flowers. Esson said the pandemic has made a huge dent in her art career.

“All of my art events were canceled this year so it really did create a bad situation, and that’s not just me, that’s for all the artists across the board in the St. Louis area,” Esson said. “I just thought this project was so cool and unique.”

She said that although it’s been difficult for artists in the region, the art community has stuck together.

“There’s a lot of support in the St. Louis art community, and this just makes me feel really warmhearted that I’m getting the support I’m getting, and other artists are too as well.”

The DOVELOVE installation will run through September.

Follow Chad on Twitter @iamcdavis

Maps via OpenStreetMap, Mapbox.

Chad is a general assignment reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.

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