Luminary renovation will expand the gallery's reach into the community | St. Louis Public Radio

Luminary renovation will expand the gallery's reach into the community

Dec 7, 2018

The Luminary gallery on Cherokee Street has raised more than 80 percent of the $500,000 it needs to expand both its building and its reach into the community.

When complete, the enhanced facilities and additional programming will boost the Luminary’s presence as a kid-friendly, neighborhood spot where visitors are invited to drop by — and are not expected to buy anything. Its leaders say that is a much-needed feature on Cherokee Street, a bustling commercial area rife with restaurants and shops.

“There aren’t that many places in this neighborhood for [kids] to hang out,” the Luminary co-founder James McAnally said of children who live nearby. “There’s a lot of retail space, a lot of bars and restaurants, and we’re free and open so over the years have become this other type of community space.”

Some of those children will help create a youth-led publication backed by the gallery next summer that will exist in both printed and digital forms.

The Luminary’s gallery space is now a wide-open room, with a stage in the rear for performances. Studios at the basement level are available to artists at below-market rates. The building’s second floor is dormant.

The renovations will add a mezzanine level with a library, plus other smaller spaces where the public is invited to work on projects or simply ponder the artwork on the walls. The plans also include bedrooms on the second floor for artists-in-residence.

James and Brea McAnally founded the gallery at a location by Tower Grove Park in 2007. The couple opened the Cherokee Street location in 2014, after performing two years of renovations on the 17,000-square-foot building.

Another new program funded by the $500,000 capital campaign will commission public art for the gallery’s Cherokee Street neighborhood, Brea McAnally said.

“We’re taking art outside of the walls of the Luminary into our surrounding neighborhoods in a way that we’ve never done before,” she said. “I grew up in a poor household in rural Missouri,” McAnally added, “and art was not accessible. It was not for people like me in places like that.

“I don’t think that’s what art should be. I think of art as a tool to help us share understanding and connection. It being contained to gallery walls is really lessening the power and impact of what art can do.”

Follow Jeremy on Twitter @jeremydgoodwin.