Luminary Center for the Arts | St. Louis Public Radio

Luminary Center for the Arts

American Artist is an interdisciplinary artist whose work considers black labor and visibility within networked life. Film still from 2015.
Courtesy of American Artist and the Queens Museum

Artists are no strangers to political activism. Through captivating installations, they’re able to visualize complex themes that resonate with movements and social causes. 

This weekend, a new exhibit at the Luminary Center for the Arts, “America’s Mythic Time,” will take it to the next level with an unusual partner — ArchCity Defenders. But the collaboration isn’t really that far out. 

The two organizations have worked together closely for years, co-sharing spaces and political expertise, such as when the Cherokee Street-based gallery hosted ArchCity’s Pro Se STL event. Their pro se guides are used to help people learn how to interact with police to represent themselves in court. 

James Bragado tests out a mobile sound monument that was designed to elevate the types of music heard in predominantely Latino neighborhoods. [6/6/19]
Jeremy D. Goodwin | St. Louis Public Radio

On a steamy recent afternoon on Cherokee Street, Chicago-based artist Josh Rios showed off his latest piece — a bicycle and attached wagon, both decorated with colored tape and fringe to vaguely resemble a large pinata.

A set of speakers, amplifiers, an MP3 player and two portable batteries were stowed on the wagon, allowing the bike to become a moving monument, complete with its own soundtrack.

Though Rios, Matt Joynt and Anthony Romero created the piece as part of the Luminary’s public-art show “Counterpublic,” it harmonized with a conversation going on at Pulitzer Arts Foundation. Monument Lab, a Philadelphia-based studio that aims to shake up traditional assumptions about city monuments, is in residence there this summer.

Local artists José Garza (left) and Miriam Ruiz (right) present their collaborative project, collectively titled Ojalá, in El Chico Bakery on Cherokee Street.
Photo courtesy of José Garza

The Luminary Arts Center is in the midst of its ongoing show “Counterpublic,” a triennial exhibition scaled to a neighborhood “set to animate the everyday spaces of Cherokee Street” with expansive artist commissions, performances, processions and more through July 13.

While the exhibit itself is only around for a few months, participants including local artists José Guadalupe Garza and Miriam Ruiz have created a series of “art interventions” in El Chico Bakery, a family owned and operated Mexican bakery in south St. Louis.

Artist Theodore Kerr mounted a series of paintings addressing the impact of HIV/AIDS on St. Louis's black residents on the outside walls of the Luminary  at 2701 Cherokee Street. 4/12/19
The Luminary

The Luminary gallery on Cherokee Street is moving beyond its walls.

Weeks after reopening their gallery space following a $500,000 rehab to the building, its leaders are launching a large exhibition of public art centered on Cherokee Street.

The three-month exhibition, called “Counterpublic,” will feature the work of 37 artists.

They’ll display work that ranges from paintings affixed to building walls with wheatpaste to immersive, sculptural installations.

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.

Gallery-goers mill about near the piece "Blake the Great."  6/20/18
File photo | The Luminary

St. Louis-based artist Damon Davis works in many forms, from visual art to hip hop records. His profile has grown steadily in recent years. He's now showing a deeply conceptual, richly realized exhibition at the Luminary, on Cherokee Street, that he calls the culmination of his years of art-making collaborations.

The show, called "Darker Gods in the Garden of the Low-Hanging Heavens," is built around a series of myths and fables Davis wrote, featuring black deities.

The word Monaco is laid out across a photo of a large 1-story brick and glass building.
Provided by Monaco

Fourteen St. Louis artists are opening a gallery that will put them directly in touch with art buyers. The space will be run by the artists and will function somewhat like a co-op.

But instead of seeking non-profit status as artist run spaces  typically do, Monaco will be a commercial gallery. Exhibiting artists keep 100 percent of their proceeds. 

(From left) Arthur Woodley as Emile Griffith, Jordan Jones as Little Emile Griffith and Denyce Graves as Eelda Griffith
Ken Howard | Opera Theatre of St. Louis

Update 4:17 PM: this piece was updated to better reflect the use of NEA/NEH funding at the Missouri History Museum.

When acclaimed trumpeter Terence Blanchard’s jazz opera opened at the Washington National Opera last month, it was heralded as new hybrid in contemporary opera that fused musical traditions and audiences. 

Event Flier for Mayoral Town Hall for Arts and Culture on February 27 depicts a mass of people and the dates.
Provided by Citizen Artist STL

As the St. Louis Mayoral Race heats up, a group of artists are insisting candidates address how policy makers will make sure that the city makes the arts a priority.

Artist and educator Pacia Anderson's life revolves around the arts — from her friends to her work life and projects with civic leaders.  “There’s so much overlap between arts and policy, just when I wake up in the morning,” she said.

And yet, Anderson thinks politicians don't address the intersection of the arts and policy enough. To make sure that happens in a new city administration, she and other members of Citizen Artist STL have organized tonight's Mayoral Town Hall on Arts and Culture, where candidates will be pressed on how their policies and administration would focus on the arts and the support creative people need.

Sarrita Hunn's Sarrita Hunn, "Art As...Library"  is a number of books attached at thier ends, spine up to the wall, was displayed at an earlier exhibit celebrating Temporary Art Review's fifth anniversary.
Provided by The Luminary

A St. Louis online arts journal that reaches local, national and international readers, is about to celebrate an important milestone.  James McAnally and Sarrita Hunn founded the Temporary Art Review in 2011. To celebrate its fifth anniversary, they’re publishing a limited edition book of writing from the site.  It may sound like esoteric art stuff, but as McAnally told Willis Ryder Arnold, there’s a lot at stake.

This piece is from Basil Kincaid's "Reclamation 2," showing at The Luminary through Feb. 27.
Willis Ryder Arnold / St. Louis Public Radio

It's no stretch to think that Basil Kincaid’s efforts to unite people of African heritage require travel. But pre-paid phone cards, vinyl sheets and a strong adhesive are also part of the process.

Eugene Redmond, Professor and Poet Laureate of East St. Louis
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

In the past year, St. Louis has been saturated by a groundswell of art related to social justice concerns, specifically issues of the region’s racial inequalities. For scholars, fans and former members of St. Louis’ Black Artists Group (BAG), the trend is remarkably familiar.

Art pushes gentrification discussion on Cherokee Street

Mar 19, 2015
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.

Bo And The Locomotive Release Album Three Years In the Making

Jan 25, 2015
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio


Local band Bo and the Locomotive is releasing its first album in three years titled It's All Down Here From Here. During that time, the group evolved from a bedroom recording project to full band, lost members, replaced them, and was locked out of their own record. 

“It's not what we were expecting to happen when we started recording it over two years ago, but now that it's all pressed on vinyl and in our hands, there is a big sense of accomplishment,” said Bulawsky.

New Luminary Takes Shape On Cherokee Street

Mar 30, 2014
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.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 9, 2013 - If you wanted to take a real-time snapshot of the St. Louis art community, who and what would you feature? The Luminary Center of the Arts focused its attention on the work of four specific local artists in a series called “We Are.”

Review: You can help see the 'Whole City'

May 3, 2013

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Colin Kloecker and Shanai Matteson are the co-directors of Works Progress, a public design studio in Minneapolis. But for the next couple of weeks they are in St. Louis as guests of The Luminary Center for the Arts as a part of The Luminary’s ongoing How to Make a World That Won’t Fall Apart series. The collaborative month-long project, Whole City, puts St. Louis under the microscope as these two Minnesota artists take a fresh, outsider look in, that allows them to ask (as they put it) “naïve” questions.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 10, 2013 - Greater Than Games' most recent Kickstarter was for a deluxe version of the comic book/game “Sentinels of the Multiverse: Shattered Timelines” and expansion-pack add-ons. In the game, three-to-five players assume superhero roles and work collaboratively to defeat a villain – which is the game. The core game lists for $40.

The Luminary Center for the Arts opened in 2007 and strives to provide a platform for the presentation of innovative art, music and cultural projects.

Its temporary exhibition space now hosts Social Security, a constellation of five galleries individually curated by area alternative spaces which have shuttered or shifted in form within the past year.

Among other things, the exhibition explores the how the arts community is evolving.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 27, 2012 - Finding a cool venue, plopping down a hefty deposit and signing a lease is one way to secure art exhibition space. But what if you have the ambition but lack the money -- or time? Or if you’re just not interested in a long-term commitment?

Temporary art galleries are popping up with more frequency in the current economy. Starting out in more expensive cities such as New York and Chicago, they’re also becoming popular with artists and art promoters in St. Louis.

Review: The Luminary offers unique vantage for viewing St. Louis

Oct 24, 2012

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 24, 2012 - Is Cherokee the pounding heart or the soul of St. Louis? Is it the clever, turning mind or the third eye gazing at our arch/navel? However you parse it, Cherokee is a vital part of our city anatomy. 

Reflection: A Form of Illumination

Oct 8, 2012

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 8, 2012 - The FORM Design Show has evolved from a fundraiser to the anchor of the St. Louis Design Week and a community builder, drawing applications from artists all over the country and providing a place for them to display, network and learn from each other. It also is a springboard for an interesting upcoming event. But more about that later.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 12, 2012 - The Luminary Center for the Arts has announced plans to move forward with its Cherokee Street relocation and expansion.

Beginning next month, renovations of the roof, facade and exterior will begin at The Luminary’s new 2701-7 Cherokee St. location, with plans to open in the spring of 2013. Luminary founders James and Brea McAnally have a lease/purchase agreement for the 13,000 square-feet facility.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, April 3, 2012 - Thursday evening, April 5, the Luminary Center for the Arts will present a very special concert in its eclectic and always interesting Elevator Music series. This month’s featured artist is Van Dyke Parks, a songwriter-arranger-producer-author - and wearer of several additional artistic hats - who is unfortunately unknown to most casual music fans.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 15, 2011 - The Luminary Center for the Arts is launching a capital campaign for a Cherokee Street project designed to support artists in St. Louis and around the globe.

Owners of The Luminary, a gallery, studio and exhibition space, operating in a leased South St. Louis City building since 2007, want to buy the former Globe Variety Store at 2700 Cherokee St. They plan to transform the 22,500 square foot, three-story space, one block west of the iconic Globe Drug Store, into a permanent arts incubator.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 15, 2011 - The Luminary Center for the Arts is launching a capital campaign for a Cherokee Street project designed to support artists in St. Louis and around the globe.

Owners of The Luminary, a gallery, studio and exhibition space, operating in a leased South St. Louis City building since 2007, want to buy the former Globe Variety Store at 2700 Cherokee St. They plan to transform the 22,500 square foot, three-story space, one block west of the iconic Globe Drug Store, into a permanent arts incubator.