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Tag Archives: High Low

10 Aug 2020

“Caffeinated Curation” is a routine book and beverage pairing that highlights Blueprint Coffee and relevant reading recommendations from High Low resident artists and community members. Our latest chapter of the series comes from High Low barista Josie.

Sometimes a book just calls to you. One day working at High Low, “Leo the Late Bloomer” by Robert Kraus just jumped out and intrigued me deeply. After picking it up, the art touched something in me even more. Upon reading, it still surprised me.

Leo can’t write, draw, read, or talk … yet all of the other kids can. In some aspect of our lives, all of us have felt “slow” or “behind,” or that we didn’t live up to the expectations of others. Every time we see Leo, he looks uncomfortable, frustrated, or defeated. His watchful father is constantly looking for signs of progress. “What’s wrong with Leo?” We learn after a while that bloomers can’t bloom while being watched. Even when not being watched, the seasons pass. Still no blooming. Still no blooming! Until finally out of nowhere, he does. The first time he speaks, he says a whole sentence. Turning to his mother and father with elation in his eyes, he says … “I made it!”

The drink I’ve chosen to pair with this book … Let’s just call it Josie’s Special. Really, it’s my guilty pleasure. This book made me cry a lot, so I do need it. I also find it fitting because I make this drink in a very individualized way. I cater myself in the way I would for someone I really want to feel loved. To make it extra special, just for that person exactly the way they like it. Which is my favorite way to prepare any beverage.

First, I add just a tiny bit of water to the bottom of a 12 oz cup and completely fill the rest of the cup with ice. I brew a double shot of espresso and pour that over top, in an even swirl to melt the ice. I then agitate the beverage and swirl the cup for as long as it takes to fog up the glass and bring everything to its coldest possible temperature. And then I fill the rest up with even more ice. Lots of raw sugar, to taste. I usually go back and add more. A lot of ice, because I savor it and want to drink it slowly (probably over the course of a couple of hours) without the flavor diluting too much while the ice melts. It has to have a straw so that I can texturally enjoy the crunchiness and the more complex molasses-y flavor of raw sugar as a chaser. When the coffee stays separate from the sweetener, each shot retains its individuality and I remain an active listener to the flavor and present in my sensory experience.

This drink has been with me — and there for me — for a long time. To this day, I have a soft spot for the burnt-toast flavor of the over-roasted and unevenly extracted shots I tasted in some of my favorite community-oriented spaces over the years. A lil’ bit of sugar can take the edge off of anything.

Place an order online for your favorite Blueprint Coffee beverage from High Low in Grand Center, Monday through Friday from 8 am until 3 pm.

Read more from the Caffeinated Curation series here.

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.

08 May 2020

High Low‘s “Caffeinated Curation” series of books paired with beverages from Blueprint Coffee is back for another work-from-home edition, this time from the general manager of The Dark Room, Abbie Finley.

“I’m pairing  Norikori, Papua New Guinea single-origin coffee with Hard Travel to Sacred Places by Rudolph Wurlitzer. They both tell stories of places preserved in isolation and places filled with culture, diversity, and life. 

“My mornings now as they always have, start with coffee. The Norikori is something unexpected. I eyeballed the pour-over at first, causing it to be under-extracted and sour. Then, with intention and patience, I repoured for the sweetness and balance. 

“I bought this book as a means of escapism — the story that Rudy tells is a travel guide of Southeast Asia, as he and his wife try to cope with the immeasurable weight of loss. He is trying to find truth in the Buddhist scripture as they remove themselves from their own chaos, mourning through Thailand, Burma, and Cambodia. 

“More than ever, I find solace in the thought of patience right now. The world is changing; my world is changing. It is easy to want to rush and to push forward out of the unknown. I think of the sour pour-over, that held the tropical notes back, and one of the Buddhist quotes:

Be stirred by things which may well move the heart, And being stirred, strive wisely and fight on!  – Nyanaponika Thera

Read more from the Caffeinated Curation series here.

05 Mar 2020

Paired with an unassuming latte by @blueprintcoffee, the latest issue of River Styx Literary Magazine is the next feature in the “Caffeinated Curation” series. 📖☕

Recommended by @riverstyxmag Managing Editor Shanie Latham, lattes were her go-to when it came to fueling up during the final production stages of issue 102.

Since 1975, River Styx has published an international, award-winning journal of poetry, fiction, essays, interviews, and art. The non-profit organization recently joined the literary arts community that works out of High Low‘s office suites on the second floor.

Get your hands on a copy here.

17 Feb 2020

The next “Caffeinated Curation” — a routine pairing of books and beverages by @blueprintcoffee — features selections from @kranzbergarts Visual Experience Coordinator Alexis Rivierre (@alexisrivierre_art).

“for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf” by Ntozake Shange, a renowned poet, novelist, and playwright, is a commentary on what it means to be a woman of color in the twentieth century.

“Shange’s characters invite you to experience a timeless layered composition, through written song, and dance, amidst her poems that intertwine seven colorful narratives revealing all at once a beautiful tension between obstacles, trauma, and unity through a shared Black female experience,” Rivierre said.

Find this literary work among others by Shange on the shelves at High Low. And while you’re browsing, order this oat milk latte with vanilla & chocolate syrup, recommended by Rivierre.

01 Feb 2020
By Jen Roberts

It began with a simple but brilliant premise. 

“The idea was that artists were well-equipped to run the artistic part of their careers but needed expert advice when it came to legal and accounting matters,” says Sue Greenberg, executive director of Volunteer Lawyers and Accountants for the Arts (VLAA), founded in 1982 by the city’s Arts and Humanities Commission and Saint Louis University School of Law.

VLAA and similar organizations throughout the country were modeled after Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts in New York City, the first program of its kind. St. Louis is one of three national organizations that decided to include accountants in the program. “I cannot imagine not having the accountants,” says Greenberg. “About a third of what we do is on the accounting side. It just makes sense if you’re trying to help people think about their businesses — that’s a key part.”

VLAA’s board and a law student ran the organization for its first few years. Then the Regional Arts Commission (RAC) saw the nonprofit’s potential and provided office space and funding, so VLAA could hire its first employee. Today, more than 300 volunteer accountants and lawyers provide counsel to artists and administrators in the greater St. Louis metropolitan area. Through the organization’s referral service, clients contact VLAA with a specific question and then are paired with a volunteer who has relevant experience. The questions they receive vary from bookkeeping and taxes to copyrights and trademarks. VLAA also offers assistance about how to set up an LLC and a nonprofit. “In the last 10 days, we’ve had three immigration cases,” Greenberg said in early December. “That’s an indication that what we’re asked to do is sometimes all over the place.”

Educational programming makes up the second part of VLAA’s work, and sessions have included QuickBooks training for nonprofits, how to sign up for health insurance, relevant accounting and legal topics, and a college outreach program called Upstart. There’s a 10-session series for individual artists that includes such topics as copyright, contracts, and taxes. Resources are also available online. “Part of our thinking behind providing information online was that if a filmmaker has a question or was looking for some sort of information, they might find our site when they didn’t know we existed,” says Greenberg.

VLAA has more than 200 new referrals each year. They don’t capture the continued relationships between clients and volunteers but have heard about “people who have been matched with a volunteer and keep going back to them, sometimes for 10 or 15 years, when they have a question,” says Greenberg. 

In November, VLAA moved from its longtime home with RAC on Delmar Boulevard to High Low, the Kranzberg Arts Foundation’s new literary arts venue on Washington Avenue in Grand Center.

The move seemed like a natural fit. “Kranzberg Arts Foundation has dedicated the building to freedom of expression through spoken and written word, and we’ve always been very committed to freedom of expression issues throughout our history,” says Greenberg.

In addition to VLAA, the second-floor offices at High Low houses River Styx, UrbArts, Tennessee Williams Festival St. Louis, Poetry Center, St. Louis poet laureate Jane Ellen Ibur, Shirley Bradley LeFlore Foundation, and a forthcoming writers-in-residence program. Though VLAA just recently moved, Greenberg says, “there’s already synergy with the people on the floor.” 

VLAA hopes this synergy and proximity to other arts organizations will help expand support. “We are looking forward to the writers-in-residence program and think there’s a place for us to support what those writers are doing. I’ve also met with some of the Foundation’s music artists-in-residence,” says Greenberg. “It’s just opening up more possibilities for us to collaborate.”

Greenberg also hopes to find ways to support the St. Louis Art Place Initiative, an effort to renovate vacant houses near Cherokee Street and make them available for low-income artists. “It’s a really great concept,” says Greenberg. “There is a place for us to help them get their finances together.”

High Low also offers event space, which VLAA is using for educational programs and its library. 

Artists and arts organizations often thank VLAA for its free services, Greenberg says, though the volunteers also frequently express their gratitude to be part of the nonprofit’s mission. “The volunteers are constantly thanking us for the opportunity,” Greenberg says. “It’s a really happy place here.”

For more information visit www.vlaa.org.

24 Jan 2020

Kicking off a series of literary works paired with beverages by @blueprintcoffee, this week’s “Caffeinated Curation” features “Little Man Little Man” by James Baldwin and Yoran Cazac, and San Lorenzo filtered coffee from Guatemala, which offers sweet, nutty, citrusy notes, and earthy qualities. 📚☕

Born in 1924, “Uncle Jimmy” as he is sometimes referred, was a Harlem-born openly gay black novelist who addressed issues that were often left untouched. This book, recommended by Gina Grafos of @kranzbergarts, depicts oppression through the lens of a child. “His words are like butter,” Grafos said.

Find this book among High Low‘s shelves of noteworthy literature. Have a recommendation for the next “Caffeinated Curation”? Let us know.

01 Aug 2019
High Low Literary Arts Cafe in Grand Center, St. Louis
By Jen Roberts

A long list of accomplished writers, poets, and playwrights have called St. Louis home: Maya Angelou, William S. Burroughs, Kate Chopin, T.S. Eliot, A.E. Hotchner, Jonathan Franzen, Curtis Sittenfeld, Justin Phillip Reed … Never before, though, has St. Louis’ literary community had a dedicated creative space to gather under the same roof — until now. 

The Kranzberg Arts Foundation recently transformed a formerly vacant building in Midtown into a hub for the literary arts scene: High Low. Located at 3301 Washington Avenue, the two-story space houses dedicated space for local writers, a library, a 200-seat performance space to host author readings and other literary events and a gallery features rotating exhibits. Locally-owned Blueprint Coffee also operates a café inside the space featuring food from James Beard-Nominated Chef Rob Connoley and Squatter’s Cafe. There are also plans for a writers-in-residence program.

People from outside the area are often surprised when they learn how lively the literary community in St. Louis actually is, but I think part of that may be that we aren’t currently home to one large hub that draws national attention,” says Shanie Latham, managing editor of River Styx, St. Louis’ oldest literary magazine, which is moving its own offices to the space.

For more than 40 years, the award-winning publication has been publishing fiction, essays, poetry, art, and interviews. The organization also hosts writing workshops for adults and offers several youth programs, including a partnership with Grand Center Arts Academy to publish a digital journal created by high school students. The longtime River Styx Reading Series, which is currently held at Rooster on South Grand, plans to relocate to High Low.

“When the opportunity came to join the art center, we decided what better way to get involved with other groups, as well as the community,” says River Styx board president Pat Magee. “From my perspective, this is a really good step in the right direction.”

“There are a lot of ways that the space will help us,” adds Latham. “Pragmatically, it’s low-cost and good facilities. Creatively, just being with other organizations — you can’t plan ahead of time to know how it will help. Just having organic opportunities to chat with organizations and see what they are doing and if you have projects in common.” 

It’s a notion that UrbArts founder MK Stallings appreciates as well. “Creating a brick and mortar and taking these disparate efforts and putting them under the same roof creates energy and opportunity,” says Stallings, whose nonprofit will also reside in the space. The grassroots nonprofit was created in 2001 to “create platforms and platform creatives for youth and community development.” It supports poets, writers, actors, musicians, and visual artists who often contribute to the “social arts,” which respond and reflect the community from which it is being produced. During a poetry open-mic night, for example, a gentleman who worked at a juvenile detention center approached Stallings about starting a poetry workshop for the kids at the center. The result: a nonprofit that pays teaching artists to engage with the community.

“I see High Low supporting the work that we do because there is a clear alignment for civic service that we need to engage around arts, particularly literary arts in the city,” says Stallings. 

One other way he sees the center supporting the arts: It will be home to St. Louis’ Poet Laureate — a significant distinction. “This person will be a cultural ambassador,” says Stallings. “All of a sudden, you create a center of gravity for the literary arts scene.” The city’s first poet laureate, Dr. Michael Castro, helped launch the Brick City Poetry Festival, which brings together St. Louisans from various backgrounds to present literary art forms.

Already, the region boasts world-class MFA programs, award-winning literary journals, and small presses. “Not to mention fabulous libraries and independent bookstores that offer diverse programming,” says Latham. “I think the fact that our city hosts all this programming through numerous smaller organizations is a good thing — it helps to promote diversity of voices, genres, aesthetics, and so forth in a way that might be harder for a single organization to do. But what we lose out on is the sort of national recognition that a larger organization can garner through a preponderance of programs with consistent branding.” 

“Having this space makes it easier for groups to foster opportunities for collaboration,” says Stallings. “You create a way of taking these lofty helium-filled dreams and you tie them down, and you make it as real and as concrete as possible. I think that’s what the Kranzberg Arts Foundation is facilitating: They’re making it possible for the literary arts to be found.”

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