An Art Space in Old North Focused on Community
Since 2001, the Urban Artist Alliance has centered its mission of challenging, disrupting and telling the “truth about society from the artist’s perspective.” In 2014, it opened a brick-and-mortar location, which is housed among the many premiere businesses in St. Louis’ historic Old North neighborhood. The space, UrbArts, functions as a community-centered social arts space offering a variety of events and programming.
UrbArts is notably inspired by the Black Artists Group (BAG), which created local community-based arts programming in the late 1960s and early 1970s, propelling the careers of prominent black artists such as Dr. Shirley LeFlore, who was recently given the title of St. Louis Poet Laureate in November 2018. BAG worked out of a space not too far from UrbArts at 2665 Washington Blvd., offering classes to youth and creating experimental performances together. Both the proximity and the emergence of UrbArts is reflective the rich historical roots of arts-based initiatives with a social-justice focus that is particular to the St. Louis community.
Supporting emerging artists is UrbArts greatest focus. They have hosted a variety of exhibitions, such as the recent show “Journeys of the African Spirit,” featuring artwork by MwazaCarol, as well as shows focused on artworks by women artists of color, such as “Queen’s Pleasure” curated by visual artist Lola Ogbara in 2017. In 2018, through its gallery program, the alliance supported artists in selling, collectively, a total of $5,000 in original artwork, according to its website. Some of its recurring programming includes yoga classes every first Saturday; its open-mic night, Lyrical Therapy, held every Sunday night; and its youth-poetry slam, VerbQuake.
With an active group of locals working to revitalize the Old North community, UrbArts is a staple, inviting creative ways to better the city through the arts.
2600 N. 14th St.
Featured image courtesy of Carmen Troesser.