The Luminary: Creating Groundbreaking Connections Through the Arts
Through exhibitions, dialogues, subsidized studio spaces and live performances, this arts incubator brings a mix of energy and passion to mediums ranging from visual arts to music.
With a dual focus on the beauty and business of the arts, The Luminary strengthens the entire Cherokee Street community both spiritually and economically. The nonprofit occupies a middle space between artist-run galleries and the larger arts institutions in St. Louis.
Within this space, a variety of voices coexist. For example, in 2017 it launched a six-month series of interconnected exhibits with “Off Modern: In What Time Do We Live?” In 2015, The Luminary premiered “Counterpublic,” a public arts platform through which commissioned artists work within Cherokee storefronts and parks to illustrates how art can become “a lived practice.” The 2019 version of the triennial show drew strong reviews—and large numbers of visitors.
“We have a nice mix of local artists and people across the country who are working on some of the same themes,” says co-founder Brea McAnally. “‘Counterpublic’ is a perfect example of a space that becomes an art space informed by what is not typically considered art.”
The award-winning nonprofit, now headed by James McAnally, has attracted national attention from artists and funders, including a prestigious $25,000 Art Works grant from the National Endowment for the Arts in support of its international residency program.
The Luminary’s home on Cherokee Street was built in 1909 as an odeon—a theater for musical performances—before being converted into retail space. After a complete rehab, The Luminary relocated there in 2014, attracted to the neighborhood by its vibrant, diverse residents and entrepreneurs. The community in turn has embraced its quest to create unlikely, groundbreaking connections through the arts.
Featured image courtesy of Attilio D’Agostino.
A version of this story originally appeared in Guided: Cherokee, available in a digital edition.