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.
The bright-red door outside Three Kings Public House acts as a beacon, summoning guests into the tavern—which was named the Best New Bar in 2011 by the Riverfront Times—for a brew and a bite. Once past the vibrant port, though, diners enter an old-school world dominated by brick and wood decor. Though this aesthetic choice gives the Delmar Loop bar a time-honored vibe, the menu reveals that the kitchen’s vision is focused firmly on the here and now. In fact, to keep their dishes as fresh as possible, chefs use only locally sourced ingredients from nearby Missouri and Illinois farms including Twin County, Heil, and Thies Farms. This conscientious culinary choice adds to the bar's effort to keep its carbon footprint smaller, but it also ensures that each handcrafted pub-style entree—from third-pound burgers to traditional fish 'n' chips and barbecue pulled-pork sliders—arrives at tables bursting with flavor. Chefs also toss out a culinary curveball in the form of their not-so-traditional bar eats, including a soy-protein burger and a filet mignon cut into the shape of each diner’s silhouette.
To further enliven Three Kings' eats, meals can be accompanied by a fresh cocktail or any of the "20 craft and locally brewed beers on tap" mentioned by the Riverfront Times. During the warmer months, diners are invited to recline on the outdoor patio; no matter the season, Tuesday and Wednesday nights are dedicated to live musical acts performing on the bar’s built-in stage.
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.