It’s hard to miss Artmart: Pollock-esque splatters of paint cover its bright-red exterior. Inside, its just as striking. Artists of all disciplines draw from the art superstore’s wealth of supplies and skills to further their next projects. Thousands of colors of paints, pencils, and sculpting materials are in stock here, as well as brushes, easels, canvas and a vast paper selection.
As a locally owned creative marketplace, Artmart has a number of divisions in its store depending on your artistic needs: you can immortalize your pieces and prints at the Framing Center, or stock up on colorful cards, stationery, and decorative paper at the paper boutique. Children as young as three can sign up for the store’s small-group classes, which cover various media including painting, sketching, and sculpting skills. You can be inspired at their Studio which boasts a host of events from fine art adult classes to craft workshops to creative birthday parties.
Off Arsenal Gallery's precision framers preserve diplomas, sports memorabilia, and prints with custom frames, acid-free backing boards, and UV protection to prevent keepsakes from fading. Off Arsenal's veteran framer stocks myriad style offerings to conquer odd jobs and hard-to-frame knickknacks. The shop's sociable, image-focused atmosphere allows customers to feel at ease making special requests for add-ons such as elegant design accents or a custom-fitted wiper blade to protect Employee of the Month headshots.
Fire. Hammers. A pottery wheel. Some of humanity’s most elemental and primitive tools, yet into the 21st century they remain. And Craft Alliance Program Director Susan Donahue Yates attests that they’re some of the coolest. With each season’s catalog of classes, some of the most popular, according to Yates, let students play with fire, hammer metal into jewelry, or shape a lump of clay into something as fundamentally beautiful as a baby seal mimicking the Mona Lisa’s wry smirk.
At Craft Alliance, the focus is art in all its forms. Whether the tool is the raw flame fusing cut copper or a Mac loaded with Photoshop image-editing software, the intention to inspire and to create remains the same. Its two locations schedule seasonal terms with four- to six-week classes, as well as intensive workshops and children’s classes. Guiding each student along his or her adventure, skilled faculty instruct from experience. Most are working artists who exhibit their work and who have reaped their experience from the trenches of the art world.
Craft Alliance is not just empowering people with knowledge; they are also helping people make mugs, bowls, wooden spinning tops, rings, rugs, and digital photo albums. Many of these things are practical and serve a functional purpose. But many do not—they’re just beautiful things, like vestigial tails. A good number of these pieces are created by hand and are meant to remind us, as Yates remarked, that everyone can do something different from their everyday, workaday lives by adding beauty to a world that truly needs it.
The student and faculty artists backbone the Craft Alliance community, which in 2014 celebrates its 50th anniversary. The Grand Center location represents a regeneration of an arts district already pillared by the Fabulous Fox Theatre, Powell Symphony Hall, and St. Louis University.
At Pottery Hollow, kids and adults alike find inspiration to create ceramic works of art from a fanciful story about a potter in need of an apprentice to help him and his fairy friends adorn ceramic mugs, platters, and knickknacks with colorful paint. Guests enter the potter's enchanted hollow—complete with twisted tree trunks and brightly colored chairs—to work on the unpainted pieces stored deep beneath the forest. While guests create their masterpieces, staffers keep them supplied with paints and brushes and take finished pieces to be baked in the kiln.
In addition to walk-in sessions, Pottery Hollow's three locations host parties and events such as mommy-and-me sessions, bridal showers, and corporate events. And on Friday nights until 9 p.m., ladies can create beautiful works of art while sipping on their favorite BYOB drinks. Staffers also craft custom pieces in one to two weeks, which can be given as gifts, kept as future heirlooms, or offered as sacrifices to the home-decor gods.
Before looking through the camera lens, the expert photographers at Picture People spend time getting to know their subjects and establishing a strategy for conveying their personalities in print. Then, film-ready clients pose in the bright camera room, airing teeth amid colorful backdrops and creative props. Following snapshots, subjects make their way to the selection station to choose their favorite poses from their session, which may be treated with sepia tones, color accents, and decorative borders to suit any wall, wallet, wallpaper pattern, or trophy walleye.
Picture People encourages subjects to arrive 15 minutes early to the shoot and offers a variety of creative tips to help enhance mantel-dominating final results. The studio ensures satisfaction with a 100% guarantee on finished products.
The Vino Gallery—located in a renovated police substation in the Central West End—houses an impressive selection of small-production and artisan wines, beers, and other libations amid an ever-evolving collection of local art. The staff guides visitors to the tasting bar or the outdoor patio, allowing guests to sample selections and avoid pouring wines they don’t like into a roommate’s humidifier. Rachael Buehrer, wine enthusiast and educator, and coowner Alex Head, promote informed wine consumption with complimentary tastings after 5 p.m., Monday–Friday, and all day on Saturday. One-hour wine classes lend imbibers further wine expertise, and the wine-of-the-month club helps customers branch out from go-to varietals.