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Tag Archives: artists

01 Dec 2020
US of A Drone Carpet by Margaret Keller
By Margaret Keller

The Beginning

It all started when I pulled into one of the giant concrete parking garages at the University of Missouri-STL, where I was headed to Gallery 210 to view the current art exhibit.  After maneuvering my Mini Cooper into a tiny spot, I happened to look up and saw a surveillance camera with a bird’s nest built into it.  Twigs and nesting materials were woven together with the camera’s cables to make an integrated and bizarre object.  This strange, shocking, and thought-provoking juxtaposition of man-made technology with nature happened about 14 years ago.  At that time, the proliferation of surveillance cameras hadn’t reached huge numbers.  Or so I thought because I really hadn’t paid attention to them before.  Right after that I started looking and was surprised to find them at every traffic intersection, on top of Walgreens, at the bank, and Quick Trip; everywhere.  Cameras were recording virtually every moment of our lives in public.  Since then, their numbers have only exploded (Proliferate) to the point that we are ‘on camera’ over 75 times per day.  

Still Growing

I had no idea my newest art series had just been born or that it would still be expanding right up through 2020, with Eyes Wide Open: Surveillance Series at The Kranzberg Gallery.  I realized that digital surveillance was seriously threatening our civil rights and liberties online too, in our most private activities, and that most of this was through government and corporate entities.  In the time since I saw that bird’s nest, research has uncovered an overwhelming invasion of our privacy occurring with nearly every online activity including email, phone calls, texting, personal finances, photo posts, social media, business communications, political action, and location/movement (Off The Record).

Multi-faceted, Concerned, and Hyperactively Creative

Many artists focus on one style while specializing in a single medium; I often embrace a wide range of different looks and materials or learn a brand-new technique (such as laser cutting or 3-D design/printing) as I create each new piece.  For the floor installation USofA Drone Carpet, I taught myself 3-D design software in order to print 109 tiny drone sculptures (based on the Black Hornet military surveillance drone) using selective laser sintering and nylon powder.

Arranged in the pattern of the American flag, but in grayscale color camouflage, the drones offer a somber critique of the United States.  Juggling five or six different series simultaneously, my art deals with things that matter right now:  surveillance, natural disasters, climate change, species extinction, our separation from nature, the Anthropocene, and gender issues.  I look at connections between our contemporary culture, technology, and nature and try to understand our lives.  These series don’t usually come to an end although sometimes I will focus on just one, letting the others hibernate until a new concept reactivates them.  Infusing my art with the passion of my ideas is a challenge I love. 

A Realization

Infrared was the first work in my surveillance series; it was directly inspired by the parking garage encounter.  Noticing nature and surveillance cameras were intertwined in the real world, I started picturing them in drawings, paintings, and mixed media artworks.  I hid cams in plain sight, assimilated into the natural landscape (Darkwoods I, Darkwoods II, Darkwoods IIIand Surge).    

Why It Matters

Someone asked me why they should care about surveillance.  Right here in St. Louis, government/police surveillance with no oversight is an ongoing concern, threatening the civil liberties of all, but especially those of people of color, immigrant and refugee communities, and local activists.  In July, a member of the Board of Aldermen made a resolution for St. Louis to contract for limitless aerial ‘spy plane’ surveillance. The Missouri ACLU websites states that when mass surveillance systems are deployed by local police, they are frequently used to target communities of color.  “While the nation is discussing the demilitarization of police, St. Louis is considering turning wartime specific technology on its own citizens. This is a threat to liberty. This summer, Americans have taken to the streets to protest police brutality and demand change. During the protest surrounding the death of Freddie Gray, officials in Baltimore quietly and secretly turned to the very surveillance technology now before the (St. Louis) Board of Aldermen to track protestors.”*  After working with the citizens’ group Privacy Watch STL, I know that since at least 2017, our Board of Aldermen has failed to pass a bill requiring oversight, accountability, and transparency of surveillance practices by the St. Louis police.  I think this matters.  Earlier, our current federal administration overturned the FCC regulation that banned internet service providers from selling our private information without our permission.**  Not long ago, my husband and I were sitting at our kitchen table talking about cats even though we didn’t have one yet; only a short time later ads for cat food appeared on our digital devices because our conversation was not private inside our own home.  That conversation’s content wasn’t important, but I am concerned that our privacy is seriously impacted by warrantless and unconstitutional surveillance, even when our devices are switched off.  Just last week, the news warned of Zoom hacks into email accounts.  Events like these are what feed Eyes Wide Open: Surveillance Series.

My Hope

My goal is to raise awareness of these issues, in the hope that viewers will be moved to support our right to privacy and even to advocate for it.  My art looks back at government, corporate, and personal cameras — especially at the vast insertion of surveillance cameras into the natural world — and focuses on the secretive relationship between subject and spectator.

Click here to explore the gallery exhibition virtually.

Click here to schedule a private appointment to view the exhibition.

Footnotes:
*The River Front Times, Luz María Henríquez, 7/13/2020

** NPR, March 28, 2017


As an artist, I make things that explore concern about our place as humans living on planet earth.  Over fifty galleries, museums and collections have exhibited my work;  in 2018, my sculpture Riverbend was installed at the Gateway Arch National Park as Critical Mass for the Visual Arts’ Public Works Project.  Botanica absentia – a memorial to future lost species- was at The Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis in 2019, when I was also the recipient of The Regional Arts Commission’s $20,000 Fellowship Award.  As the Nicholas Aitken Artist-in-Residence at The Forsyth School, my project became a permanent campus installation in 2020.  This year, my solo exhibition Leaning on Nature was featured at The Mitchell Museum while more work is online at Wayfarers Gallery, BrooklynMy multi-faceted career has included being a college art professor, historic preservation consultant, Fiscal Analyst for the Missouri State Legislature, self-employed cake decorator, box factory worker, writer, wife, and mother of three.

09 Oct 2020
Filmmaker in residence Josh Guffey

“It’s up to independent filmmakers to show what filmmaking could be here.”

That’s what filmmaker Josh Guffey believes when it comes to producing for the silver screen out of the Gateway City.

“I think this community is ready. The talent is here … There’s great infrastructure and the Kranzberg Arts Foundation is a big part of that now.”

From gaining access to tools and training to pitching to investors and more, Guffey, says filmmaking is “hard as hell,” but he wants to help up-and-coming film artists better navigate the scene through the Kranzberg Arts Foundation filmmaking residency.

An Iowa native and filmmaker who launched his career in Los Angeles, Guffey relocated to St. Louis in 2014 with his family in the middle of researching and developing the movie “All Gone Wrong.” Inspired by films that portrayed cops and robbers, Guffey tells a realistic story about narcotics policing with Tony Todd in a leading role, who is well-known for his unnerving performance in the 1992 film “Candyman.”

“What really encouraged me to get going and to shoot the movie in St. Louis was a movie called ‘The Ghost Who Walks,’ shot in 2018 and released 2019,” Guffey said. “The filmmakers — producer Dan Gartner, David Johnson, and the writer/director Cody Stokes — they were super encouraging and instrumental and just really open with their time. I peppered them with questions … and it really gave me the ability to believe in myself to try to make it here.”

In 2019, Guffey was awarded the residency through the In Motion Filmmaking Conference and granted access to a wide array of resources provided by the Foundation including vital infrastructure for planning and production. 

Filmmaker in residence Josh Guffey
Filmmaker in residence Josh Guffey

“For us, we were in the middle of making the movie, so we held an investor event at the .ZACK Theatre and had a reception where people could see the business plan and just kind of hang out and meet us. That got us money to go into post-production,” Guffey said. “It can be very expensive to get locations, and if you don’t have the money, it can be a barrier.”

With his film now “in the can,” Guffey plans to host a workshop for producers and aspiring filmmakers, “to help people and show that it’s a step-by-step thing.”

“Everybody has a voice, but if you can’t express that voice in the way that you desire … And then you see other people who have advantages and the path to expressing their voice through filmmaking is much easier and much shorter, it can be very frustrating,” Guffey said.

From access to venues for planning and production to theatre space for hosting investor screenings and premieres, Guffey mentioned that “you really see the benefit through all the stages as a filmmaker,” in the Kranzberg Arts Foundation residency program.

“I think so many people who are filmmakers still struggle with these parts of the whole process,” Guffey said. “It’s like, ‘here’s one less thing to worry about,’ and then all of a sudden you have more energy to think of how to make it better, rather than just how to make it.”

In addition to infrastructure, the residency also connects the filmmaker to a network of other local artists and entrepreneurs. Guffey recalled a situation in which he needed the help of a music producer to bring a song in the movie to life.

“It just so happened that Owen Ragland, who’s a former musician in residence, was our guy, so it was nice to keep it within the resident family,” Guffey added. “Just amplifying who these artists are … it creates connections. It’s really cool how that went down.”

Despite the hurdle that has been COVID-19, “All Gone Wrong” is in the final stages before it premieres. Guffey said he feels a responsibility to be a good steward of filmmaking in St. Louis, to help others along the way, and the Kranzberg Arts Foundation filmmaking residency feels like a good place for that.

“We need to support filmmakers and give them a platform to create. It’s just like all arts; there are some mechanisms in place to help artists create, and the more we can do that for filmmakers, the better the movies will be.”

02 Oct 2020

“Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll” will open Oct. 29, with full COVID-19 mitigation policies in place.

The popular adage that is often tossed around in show business, “the show must go on,” met its match this year as COVID-19 has practically shut down the arts and entertainment industries for months.

Since we made the decision to close our venues to the public starting March 13, 2020, we’ve been strategically preparing for the moment in which we are able to safely welcome guests back through our doors. 

With cautious optimism, starting Oct. 29, 2020, we look forward to hosting The Midnight Company’s production of Eric Bogosian’s “Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll,” at The Kranzberg.

We do not take the decision to host a production lightly, and we have spent hundreds of hours staying up to date with the latest information from public health officials. We recognize the gravity of the current public health situation and acknowledge our responsibility in maintaining the utmost standards when it comes to keeping guests, artists, and our staff safe.

In order for the show to be approved for our stages, The Midnight Company has gone through an exhaustive process including being vetted through our own greenlight plan, receiving certification from Missouri ArtSafe, and finally, approved by the City of St. Louis.

The Midnight Company presents Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll, Oct. 29 - Nov. 14, 2020, at The Kranzberg
The Midnight Company presents Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll, Oct. 29 – Nov. 14, 2020, at The Kranzberg

The nature of the production has also been taken into consideration. This one-act, one-person production eliminates potential complications with intermission and social distancing on stage.

The Midnight Company’s COVID plan, which was developed alongside the Kranzberg Arts Foundation and approved by the City of St. Louis, is publicly available on their website so that guests know what to expect when they walk through our doors. 

“We’ve taken steps to help everyone — cast, crew, and guests — stay as safe as possible through extensive vetting and work alongside our public health officials,” Executive Director Chris Hansen said. “The Midnight Company is committed to ensuring best practices are in place including staging a one-act, one-actor production.” 

Additionally, venue capacity will be limited to ensure proper social distancing of six feet or more between guests. 

For organizations and artists interested in producing a show in one of our venues, you must be able to effectively take care of your cast and crew. A plan outlining your COVID procedures must be submitted and approved by the Foundation and the City of St. Louis.

“We look forward to welcoming the show to our stage, and will continue working to support the safe creation and presentation of art,” Hansen said.

As we enter the seventh consecutive month of venue closures, we are methodically working through ways in which we can continue to steward the vital infrastructure for artists and arts organizations so that we can once again say without hesitation, “the show must go on.”

28 Sep 2020

Kranzberg Arts Foundation partners with Open Highway Music Festival for month-long brunch and live music series

By Caitlin Lally

Sundays in October are about to get a little louder in Grand Center.

The sound of banjos strumming and voices harmonizing will fill the air outside The Grandel as the community gathers, safely, for brunch and live performances by local Americana and bluegrass musicians.

Blue Sky Brunch, presented by Kranzberg Arts Foundation and Open Highway Music Festival, features a lineup of four acts that will take place over the course of the month with brunch catered by Mayo Ketchup from Plantain Girl

On the artist lineup for Oct. 18, and also the founder of Open Highway Music Festival is John Henry, (pictured above), who said he is very grateful for the opportunity to work with Kranzberg Arts Foundation to produce the October concert series.

“It was nice to be able to do something a little different from what we do. It’s strange putting on a show during daylight. And while the [music] industry is shut down in a lot of ways, I feel there is a need for music,” Henry said.

“It’s nice to be able to present these shows in a way that supports the artists and gives the fans something to look forward to … it gives people a sense of normalcy in these really unnormal times.”

Click here to see the lineup and learn more about Blue Sky Brunch.

Like countless events this year, Open Highway Music Festival delayed their ninth annual festival that was scheduled for late July and into August at Off-Broadway due to health and safety concerns caused by COVID-19. 

“We saw the industry shut down, so we’ve had to abide by the guidelines set forth by the city, but most importantly we want to put the safety of the patrons and bands at the forefront of everything,” Henry said, who also books talent for the South City venue Off-Broadway.

However, Henry acknowledged that the support for and among the local music scene has grown amid the pandemic.

“In a time of uncertainty and struggle, it’s good to see that many local artists have grown tighter and embraced a sense of community because, without that, things just fall away.”

While the state of the music industry is open-ended as it currently stands, Henry said it’s nice to see the local support for artists.

“I appreciate the efforts of everyone involved to give local artists an opportunity to present their music to people,” Henry said. “It’s been a rough year, obviously, and any little bit helps.”

For more information about Blue Sky Brunch including the full lineup and ticketing details, click here.

08 Sep 2020

In an effort to build sustainable infrastructure and feed artists, The Dark Room and Urban Harvest STL have been collaborating to donate pantry items including fresh produce to local families in need.

From radishes and collard greens to oregano and thyme, Sally’s Rooftop Garden — which is located above .ZACK and maintained by Urban Harvest — has produced over 550 pounds of organic produce so far this year, according to Drew Hundelt, Urban Harvest’s Director of Urban Agriculture.

“Urban Harvest strives for building stronger communities around food, so like making every process of food available to the surrounding communities, from growing it to eating it,” Hundelt said. 

Food and beverage director for Kranzberg Arts Foundation, Gene Bailey explained that the vegetables and herbs were originally destined for the menu at The Dark Room. However, when the pandemic hit, he started thinking about how the food could still be put to use.

“We wanted to be able to donate it in a way that it would still carry its mission. We intended to sell it at this restaurant that showcases local artists, so we were looking for a way to use it that might still focus on benefiting artist communities. Me and [Executive Director Chris Hansen] went back and forth on it,” Bailey said. “We didn’t want to dictate who it’s for, but we wanted to put it through a channel for a community that was artist-rich.”

By tapping into the Foundation’s network of resources in South City through the Art Place Initiative, Bailey got in touch with Amanda Colón-Smith of Dutchtown South Community Corporation, who then connected him to a local business for distribution.

Gooseberries, a restaurant in Dutchtown South, has now been doing weekly food pantry donations every Saturday since May to people in that community, which includes a lot of artists, as well as families in need,” Bailey said estimating that about 15 families per week have benefited from the donation bags.

In the earlier months of summer, leafy greens and herbs from Sally’s filled the donation bags. Hundelt said the later summer harvests produce larger crops including tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and corn. After Hundelt and his team gather the food, Bailey divides it among bags consisting of hand sanitizer from local brewing company, 4 Hands, and pantry staples such as crackers, peanut butter from Performance Food Group.

“We plan on continuing this project … It’s something I want to make sure that we can carry on,” Bailey said. “It’s been good to tangibly do something with those resources.”

28 Aug 2020

Create Safely. Present Safely. Attend Safely.

When it comes to the arts, it’s as our trustee Nancy Kranzberg says: “There ain’t nothin’ like the real thing.” Here at the Kranzberg Arts Foundation, we have always loved gathering people to experience the best of our thriving arts community. And while we’re amazed at the new and exciting ways that arts organizations have been able to present their work digitally, we can’t wait to bring people back to our spaces while still respecting the current public health emergency.

Since early May, we’ve been working with the Missouri Arts Council, ArtsKC, Regional Arts Commission – St. Louis  and twenty other organizations from across the state as part of the Missouri Arts Safety Alliance to help arts organizations prepare to reopen. Together, we’ve launched Missouri ArtSafe, a certification program promoting best practices for arts and cultural organizations designed to protect the health and safety of artists, staff, volunteers, and guests. Based on eight universal measures and a commitment to publically share their plan, organizations of all sizes will receive support to develop their reopening plans including a free training video to use with frontline staff and volunteers. We know from our experience how much time and effort it takes to create a safety plan. Our hope is that Missouri ArtSafe will help other arts organizations learn from our work, and when the time is right, be able to safely share their work with the public.

Organizations that become Missouri ArtSafe-certified demonstrate that they’ve strategically planned how to reopen safely. And guests will benefit from a centralized location to learn more about an organization’s safety policies before they walk through their doors.

Organizations looking to develop their own plans and become ArtSafe-certified can learn more at missouriartsafe.org. Volunteer Lawyers and Accountants for the Arts has put together a list of resources on developing your plan. And the Missouri Arts Safety Alliance will be hosting a series of webinars to help organizations create their plans, work through HR issues, develop strategies for de-escalation, and public relations.

It’s important to note that Missouri ArtSafe is not an endorsement to reopen, but a call to be prepared to reopen safely. Art is critical to our lives and well-being, but we all need to do our part to keep our community healthy and safe.

Visit missouriartsafe.org to learn more.

Photo credit: Ian Burt

22 Jul 2020

Videos and process behind the artmaking for “It Hits Home”

By Christine A. Holtz and Jessica Witte

In March 2020, this New York Times headline grabbed readers’ attention: ‘I Feel Like I Have Five Jobs’: Moms Navigate the Pandemic. Simultaneously, artists Jessica Witte and Christine A. Holtz were responding to these exact same sentiments through artmaking.

Prior to the pandemic, the two artists were scheduled to hang their show centered around caregiving and parenthood at the end of May. As everything began to shut down, Jessica and Christine were given the option to reschedule for the following year or follow through with their show as the first physical show scheduled since the shutdowns occurred. The second of these two options would pose several unknown challenges for public viewing and the logistics of creating a collaborative show while social distancing. Both mentally and physically exhausted from homeschooling their children and working remotely from home, the artists had to make a decision. Christine called Jessica that evening and said, “I think we should do it. When has our subject matter of caregiving and parenthood been more amplified than in this current situation?” Both of them decided to sleep on it and make their decision the next day. Ultimately the two friends motivated each other to take on the unknown along with making new works, and the exhibition “It Hits Home” was born.

Artist Christine A. Holtz shares her creative process making new artworks for “It Hits Home”

I make all my artwork in my living room — which transforms into a studio once everyone else is in bed. When the pandemic started, I began furiously jotting down inspiration and conceptual ideas in my notebook/sketchbook. My emotions about the pandemic needed an outlet. My dining room table, now a schoolhouse and home office, caused stress just looking at it. To add insult to injury, I would step on Legos at the base of our stairs almost daily (which inspired “One Step from (in)Sanity”).  A huge part of my artistic practice is a reflection of the absurdities endured during my everyday life. The pandemic provided an abundance of absurdities. In the evenings, my husband and I would work out in our living room after the kids were in bed as a way to relieve stress. We often elbowed or kicked each other due to lack of space, but it made us laugh. It helped us stay connected. Exhausted and feeling defeated from the day, my living room transformed from family space to workout room to studio, where working on art provided me with a release for my flood of emotions.

Covid-19 Work Blazer” is a work uniform for the pandemic. The blazer has three sets of sleeves to show the extra arms needed to take on the additional job of homeschooling while also transitioning my job of teaching to a remote format. I plan to wear it this fall while teaching on campus.

https://www.katebackdrop.de/
Daughters of artist Christine Holtz sit inside “Up a Creek Without a Paddle”

Up a Creek Without A Paddle” filled up my entire living room floor during construction. It is made from an old set of bed sheets out of necessity and to symbolize the home. Due to tight quarters and the size of the piece, I had to actually sit on the floor and move my sewing machine instead of the fabric to make each of the seams. I needed to make this boat. I needed to do whatever it took to keep my family safe. I know it is absurd — so is the situation. It is also a very raw display of how helpless the pandemic has made me feel.

More people being confined to the domestic environment due to the stay-at-home orders has amplified the uneven division of labor in the home. I wanted to follow through with this exhibition in hopes that the work would resonate with more people right now. I can’t help but wonder if our show would have been received the same way without a pandemic.

Artist Jessica Witte shares her creative process making new artworks for “It Hits Home”

As soon as we made our decision and connected again to talk strategy, Christine shared her idea for a huge mask/boat titled “Up a Creek Without a Paddle.” Her idea was inspiring and could be an anchor for the show’s new direction. Christine added, “I know it will be hard, but I think we will both feel better if we can process this while it is happening.”

With the baseline anxiety of everyone being so high, I definitely felt the stress on my students, myself, and my family. I began hard training again with running to exhaust myself physically as well as emotionally and help me sleep. Even though I have resources and support, every so often the stress of the situation would leak out and emotions would run high at home. “Smoke and Mirrors: everything is fine” captured those moments when small accumulations of stress exploded into outbursts. To create these little bombs, I inserted wicks into wool and laundry lint felt balls. Stabbing the felting needle repeatedly to form the ball and seeing the works take shape was cathartic, (Christine was right, again).

Witte: Thinking of the viewer at the window

Many people would see the show from the windows on Grand Boulevard, so how could we arrange “It Hits Home” to make the artwork most visible from the street? We placed Christine’s embroidery artworks close to the windows so her intricately detailed drawings would not be lost. “Up a Creek Without a Paddle” and her “Covid-19 Work Blazer” were timely, personal, and still humorous so they were close to the title and window. My new artworks needed to attract the eye with contrast and size but be light enough to be handled by myself alone (due to social distancing during install). Once I had spatial parameters in place, I could start sketching ideas.

What did I most want to say about the pandemic? I worried about my Grandma Rose isolated in her nursing home and my sister-in-law undergoing radiation therapy being at high risk for the disease. Encouraging others to realize how their behavior affects some of the most vulnerable (and to see their value) was my aim for the floor works in “It Hits Home.”

I decided to convey the bright, sunny colorful spirit of Grandma Rose — and make her comfortable and safe during this health crisis. I brought out her pile of quilts to inspire me. How could I also convey her vulnerability? Grandma Rose could have visitors through the glass of the lobby but was too fragile to have close contact in the same room. A drawing on the floor would be similar — easily destroyed by a misstep in the room, but safe when viewed from the window. How could I make the patterns as bright as the colorful quilts and clothes my grandma made for my children? Drawing in sidewalk chalk with my kids between teaching, furiously cleaning, and home-schooling helped answer the question.

Witte: Selecting and learning a new medium

I made lap-blanket-sized powdered chalk drawings into bold quilt patterns. The chalk came in vibrant colors and with the thick application could catch a viewer’s eye from the street. I had a tight timeline to learn how to use this new material, as my previous floor drawings were in seed, with a limited color range. I tested various chalk brands and how to grind and apply a consistent dusting. I made small laminated paper and foam-core templates to quickly stencil and layer the colors.

I dedicated “Targeted Treatment” to my sister-in-law Lori and her fight with breast cancer. I interviewed friends and family who had battled cancer about symbols that best represent their treatment. Caretakers and patients mentioned a new sense of time after a cancer diagnosis. The pattern has seven columns and four rows like a calendar page. A ring of cancer-awareness ribbons surrounds crosshairs in each block. Bullseye targets are peppered throughout the “calendar page” of the pattern to make one think about being an easy mark for the virus.

You Are My Sunshine” is patterned in bold blue and yellow sunburst shapes centered around archery target centers. I left every other square bare except for the center target highlighting the isolation of the residents of nursing homes.

Please wear a mask in public, reach out to your neighbors and loved ones, work out, get sunshine every day, and be kind.

Related: “It Hits Home” virtual exhibition

07 Jul 2020
All About Love: New Visions by Bell Hooks
All About Love: New Visions by Bell Hooks

For this edition of High Low’s “Caffeinated Curation” series, we’re featuring an Iced Chai Latte from Blueprint Coffee and “All About Love: New Visions” by bell hooks.

This pairing was recommended by artist Hayveyah McGowan ahead of her virtual opening reception for the exhibition “Feelings of Home: A need to simplify,” on Friday, July 10, at 7 pm on Instagram Live.

McGowan writes:

“In this context ‘maternal surroundings’ are not bound to the idea of a certain sex rather its the qualities of birthing receptivity, nurture, and sensuality, all expressed through the subtle realm and reinforced in the physical. Through this alchemical process I want to call attention to, not only, the unique ways that the black maternal lineage creates safety but also the synchronicity and rooted need for safety that we share.”

The exhibition will be on display at High Low Gallery by appointment only through Aug. 14, 2020. Click here for more information.

Blueprint Coffee at High Low is now open for curbside pick-up and patio service, Monday through Friday, 8 am – 3 pm. Order online here.

Read more from the Caffeinated Curation series here.

29 Jun 2020

Pride Month as we know it spawned from the violent riots at Stonewall Inn, in New York City, in 1969. Black queer folks including Stormé DeLarverie and Marsha P. Johnson were instrumental in this demonstration for LGBTQ rights. 

“No pride for some of us without liberation for all of us.” This quote by artist Michah Bazant who included it on a portrait of Johnson resonates boldly today as we continue to work toward dismantling systematic oppression in all its forms.

We asked our Kranzberg Arts Foundation family, “What does Pride mean to you this year?” Here are some of the responses we gathered.


Matthew Kerns of St Lou Fringe and his husband with marriage license
Matthew Kerns of St Lou Fringe and his husband with their marriage license

“I came out of the closet in my early 20’s during the mid-’90s. When I came out I vowed to never go back in; not for a relationship, job, or any reason whatsoever. It has been a long road filled with daily battles for equality… every battle has been totally worth it.

“I live in a state that hates me. It fought against my right to live as an out and proud homosexual man, marry my husband, adopt a child, and even still to this day allowed others to discriminate against me in my workplace. 

“If there is a right for a straight man in Missouri the state government will actively and openly work to keep that same right away from a gay man.

“Missouri may hate the LGBTQIA+ community, but Lady Liberty loves us and she proved again [this month] that love always conquers hate.”

#LoveWins

 -Matthew Kerns, Executive Producing Director for St Lou Fringe


“Pride is canceled.

“I’m thinking about Rem’mie Fells, Riah Milton, Nina Pop, Tony McDade, Kiwi Herring, & way too many other Black trans folx murdered at the hands of state-sponsored violence, white supremacy, transphobia, & other systemic oppression. I’m thinking about all of the Indigenous trans & two-spirit folx who are murdered and missing, whose stories are usually erased and unheard under the same violent systems of power that are taking their lives. And how none of them get to live to celebrate their queerness, their joy, their magic, their fierceness, their aliveness.

“As a queer mixed-race east Asian femme artist, this time for me is another reminder of how acutely I (& we, but to speak for myself) need to continue to examine and use my roles, my art, and my relationships to power, privilege, and oppression to co-shape the reality many of us want to see. One that centers Black and Indigenous liberation & life & pleasure & creativity & wellness & leadership — especially that of Black & Indigenous trans womxn & two-spirit folx & non-binary folx & queer folx.

“To me, that’s a kind of pride to celebrate.” 

-Erika Harano, company artist + educator for Consuming Kinetics Dance Company


“These are celebrations [Juneteeth and Pride] of our human rights. What we do now and from now on will contribute to the changes we need for our future, for equal rights, and for equal treatment as a human race.” 

-Dawn Karlovsky, Founder and Artistic Director, Karlovsky & Company Dance


“For me, PRIDE is about celebrating diversity, inclusion, and the LGBTQIA+ community. It is a time to actively promote one’s self-affirmation and for everyone to reflect on the true meaning of acceptance and love for all of humanity.”  

-Ashley Tate, Artistic and Executive Director, Ashleyliane Dance Company


“I salute Pride Month. I honor my LGBTQ colleagues in the Arts. And I’m so happy about this [month’s] landmark Supreme Court decision, making this month, perhaps, the most significant Pride Month ever.

“And I salute all my fellow humans, of whatever stripe, who are carrying on through the challenges of our time to lead us to a brighter future for all.”

-Joe Hanrahan, Co-founder and Artistic Director, The Midnight Company 


“It’s fitting then that Juneteenth and Pride are celebrated in the same month. Both groups have endured struggle, hardship, and inequality, fighting tooth and nail for every inch of acceptance within the majority culture. Black and LGBTQIA communities have much to celebrate, but their celebration is bittersweet, not just this year but every year. The fact that these two groups share celebratory space isn’t all that weird when we consider how inequality and injustice found in American society are often interconnected by systems, institutions, and individuals. 

Quote by James Baldwin, Art by Megan Kenyon
Quote by James Baldwin, Art by Megan Kenyon

“One of my favorite Black authors also happened to be a Gay man; James Baldwin. He is the originator of the quote in the illustration. He reminds us that our character, integrity, leadership, love, is determined by how we treat those who have been pushed to the bottom, denied their full expression of humanity, left to be forgotten. 

“Celebration, with its twin sides of lamentation and joy, helps us to combat this desire to forget people not like us. It helps us see the other as just as human as us, full of the same emotions of joy and sorrow, fear and courage, hope, and despair. I hope [this] month gives you an opportunity to learn about the many beautiful aspects of Black and LGBTQIA culture, why they are worth celebrating, and that you not shy away from the sorrowful bits, but instead learn to sit with others in both their grief and their joy. 

“We can never be the America we say we want to be if we do not learn how to love our neighbor as fully human, worth of dignity and justice, and worthy of our care and concern, regardless of color, nationality, orientation, gender, age, ability, religion, political affiliation, class, and any other distinction we could put out there. “

 -Megan Kenyon, 2020 visual art exhibitor

*This is an excerpt from a longer essay on the topic of Juneteenth and Pride written by Kenyon. Read the full essay here.*


“It’s so important to celebrate and support each other – all of us, no matter how we look or identify, are loved and important. One Love.” 

-Janet Evra, 2019-20 music artist in residence

19 Jun 2020

This year, Juneteeth comes amid a global pandemic and an invigorated movement against police brutality and racism. While the day commemorates the emancipation of the last enslaved people in the Confederacy, specifically in Texas, the ancestors of those who were enslaved are still fighting for liberation as systematic oppression has not disappeared, but merely transformed and has become more insidious.

With this in mind, we tapped into the powerful and transformative capacity of the arts to share the voices of our resident artists and organizations. 

We asked our Kranzberg Arts Foundation family, “What does Juneteenth mean to you this year?” Here are some responses we gathered …


“Juneteenth is the celebration of the liberation of Blackness.

“To me, it represents disembodying white supremacy in all forms so that Black people have the freedom to just be.

“I hope one day Black lives and bodies gain true, tangible freedom, reparations, and justice in this country and in this city. And I hope for it soon.”

-Katarra Parson, 2019-20 music artist in residence


Ashreale McDowell, photo by David Moore, edit by Sonja Petermann
Ashreale McDowell, photo by David Moore, edit by Sonja Petermann

“As a Black woman, I am ashamed to say that I never truly understood the importance of Juneteenth and what it means for my community. It wasn’t something that was taught in the schools I attended, and it really wasn’t mentioned amongst conversations where I grew up. 

“My entire life I celebrated the fourth of July. I loved the fireworks and all of the festivities that take place during that time. In the midst of all the excitement and glamour of celebrating the fourth, I never really stopped to think about what I was truly celebrating. 

“July Fourth, America’s independence day, America’s “freedom” day. How could I have been celebrating a national holiday of independence and freedom, when in reality it wasn’t meant for me. 

“My people were not free, there was no independence for us. We are still not free. We are still living in a world of racism and social injustice. We are fighting to have the right to LIVE! I made a vow to myself and to my people, that I will no longer celebrate and participate in a holiday that was not meant for us. 

“For me this year, Juneteenth means awakening!” 

-Ashreale McDowell, Assistant Artistic and Executive Director, Consuming Kinetics Dance Company


“Juneteenth is a time to celebrate how far we as a society have come while assessing how far we still have to go. This important day still receives little attention, but I am hopeful that because of recent events that will change. 

“Juneteenth, to me, means that while this marked the end of slavery in the United States, it represents the greatness that is the African-American legacy. It represents breaking chains and breaking barriers literally and figuratively…something that I hope continues with greater acceleration.”

-Ashley Tate, Artistic and Executive Director, Ashleyliane Dance Company


Saint Louis Story Stitchers commemorated Juneteenth with the release of a new podcast episode. In Episode VII, from the StitchCast Studio, St. Louis youth discuss “Compounding Issues” during the pandemic such as health disparities, mental health, economy and unemployment, education facing St. Louis’ economically-challenged minority neighborhoods. The episode was recorded on May 26, 2020. Listen here. 

StitchCast Studio Drop June 19 from Saint Louis Story Stitchers on Vimeo.


“Growing up in Texas, I remember when Juneteenth became a state holiday in 1980. That was a long time coming. Just like the 1865 event it celebrates — the announcement in Galveston made two and a half years after Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. I want to celebrate progress, but why does it always take so long to get here?” 

-Philip Boehm, Artistic Director, Upstream Theater


“I salute Juneteenth. I honor my Black colleagues in the Arts. And I’m proud of those who have taken to the streets in the last several weeks, making this Friday, perhaps, the most significant Juneteenth ever.”

-Joe Hanrahan, Co-founder and Artistic Director, The Midnight Company 

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