As our city rocked from the upheavals of 2014, a series of quieter changes was taking place in the St. Louis art world.
Several arts organizations debuted, others expanded and a few folded. Some relocated and others featured uncharacteristic fare to appeal to wider audiences. Here’s a look at eight of this year’s evolutions in the local arts scene.
- The Pulitzer Arts Foundation staged a drag show, then closed for its own makeover. In January, the launch of the Pulitzer’s new “Reset” series brought an assortment of drag queens for a packed-house runway show, a breakdancing event, bamboo fort-building and nail art. Then, in August, the institution closed its doors for a renovation of its basement that will add one-third more exhibition space. The Pulitzer will reopen May 1.
- Speaking of renovation, Jazz St. Louis’ was a doozy. The $10 million rehab of the Grand Center jazz club was announced in May. After being closed for nearly five months, the expanded space debuted as the third largest jazz institution in the country, with Wynton Marsalis as the opening act.
- Bruno David found its Grove on Vandeventer. Bruno David who founded his namesake Grand Center gallery 10 years ago, opened a second location in The Grove area in October. Called Bruno David Projects, the space focuses on exhibiting women artists.
- Gallerists found strength (and speed) in numbers. The Alliance of Black Art Galleries launched its first show in February, then in August was among the first arts organizations to respond to the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer. “St. Louis Through Artists’ Eyes” celebrated the city’s 250th birthday. The “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” exhibition explored issues around events people will still talk about 250 years from now.
- North City gallery was down and out and up again: Things looked bleak for the 14th St. Artist Community Gallery in Crown Square in mid-May. But a little over a month later, the owners opened up shop just a few steps away. Another move may be in the works in the future for the space supporting teen artists. They hope to one day own their own space for exhibiting and offering free services to young artists, including instruction, materials and help with their portfolios.
- Contemporary Art Museum said “Leave your wallet at home.” In May, CAM charged no admissions fee, thanks to support from the Gateway Foundation organization. Two months later, the group extended its offer covering the $5 a head charge for another year, something the museum says should continue indefinitely.
- The lights went out for The “Ovations” series. “Ovations” announced it will end a nearly 40-year run at The Edison Theatre at Washington University in April with its season finale by the Giordano Dance Company. The series was known for presenting quirky and emerging artists and shows, and it’s not clear who will pick up the mantle.
- HotCity Theatre went cold. Ten years after HotHouse Theatre merged with the venerable City Players to become HotCity, the curtain fell for a last time on Dec. 20 with the close of a play called “Reality.” It’s concept with which artistic director Marty Stanberry is all too familiar: “I’m at the point where the daily battles of running a theater company have just outweighed the fun,” Stanberry said.
Follow Nancy Fowler on Twitter: @NancyFowlerSTL