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The University News

The Grand Boulevard Community Art Exhibit

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(Jenova Roetto/ The University News)

 

This year’s Community Art Exhibit was held on Nov. 17 in the McNamee Gallery on the lower level of Saint Louis University’s Samuel Cupples House. The exhibit, “The Grand Boulevard Community Art Exhibit” features a collection of student art, mostly from SLU’s studio art program, and is the first ever juried community exhibit at SLU, meaning the pieces had to meet particular criteria that judges selected and evaluated. Walking into the exhibition, spectators are greeted by a large quilt hanging from the wall, a deep blue with red, yellow and white accents. Although the quilt may seem like a random collection of rectangles and squares, up close, it is a map of St. Louis. Around the perimeter of the rectangular gallery hang various student creations, ranging from charcoal drawings and oil paintings to collages and sculptures. During the event, the space filled with students, faculty and others gathered in the center of the room, conversing.

A brief loop around the exhibition shows how many of the creations responded to Grand Boulevard, its place in the city and/or their lives as many pieces appear to be related to SLU or St. Louis in general. Grand Boulevard is a major north to south street spanding from Carondelet Park to the Mississippi River. Aside from the quilt, the entryway holds a portrait of a woman and a series of paintings centered around Grand Boulevard, most of which are street signs and the Fox Theatre sign. 

The gallery features Cole Davis’s “A Walk on Grand Blvd. To My Favorite Spot On Campus,” a collage centering around a map with red string outlining the route that Davis takes to their favorite spot on campus, a bench hidden between the Lewis Annex and Verhaegen Hall. Scattered around the map are images, little notes and sketches taken during their walk. This is not the only collage on display, but it is one of the most personal pieces, showcasing the thoughts and focuses of Davis as they made their way through the city and campus. No one else in the exhibit shares such a look into their habitual lives.

Another spectacular piece is “Grand Boulevard: A Journey Through the Heart of St. Louis,” a graphite drawing by Dasari Yaswanth of the St. Louis skyline. The drawing showcases a portion of the city’s downtown area from the perspective of the river towards Grand Boulevard. However, the drawing is not all high rises and cement streets; rather, the Mississippi River sits in the foreground of the image, creating a contrast between the old architecture of the city and the industrial buildings that tower in the background, showing the diversity of St. Louis’ architecture. The Arch sits in the focal point of the drawing as the identifying image of St. Louis, catching the observer’s eye and moving them into the piece.

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A painting by Neha Patil of the cobalt blue Metrolink bus emerged as a representation of St. Louis. The painting features five people standing in front of five blackened windows with neighborhood names scrawled across them. Each person represents a different neighborhood in St. Louis, such as Jeff-Vander-Lou, Compton Heights, Tower Grove South, Midtown and Dutchtown. The diversity of the five people and their different aesthetics reflects the diversity of the city’s neighborhoods and their people.

Another major part of the Grand Boulevard community is Tower Grove Park. “Aerial Map of Tower Grove Park,” created by MC Pavlick highlights the beautiful nature of St. Louis with visual identifiers of Tower Grove, such as the Fountain Pond and Ruins and the Turkish Pavilion. 

The importance and meaning of Saint Louis University’s location on Grand Boulevard and the community surrounding it is integral to students’ experiences at SLU. In this exhibit, each artist displays their experiences at SLU and the greater community in their own unique ways. 

This exhibition will be on display until Dec. 8, 2023, in the lower level of the Samuel Cupples House. In addition to the exhibition, McNamee Gallery offers a virtual exhibit for viewers to browse.

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