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St. Louis Artworks finds new home in The Loop

St. Louis Artworks is preparing its first permanent home in 20 years.

“It feels like the beginning of a new day. A dream is coming true,” said Executive Director Priscilla Block.

The 18,000 square foot space is at 5959 Delmar Blvd. and will have a painting studio, sculpture space, gallery, media lab, kitchen area and “maker’s space,” which she describes as “a giant fantasy shop.” St. Louis Artworks brings together practicing artists and 14-19 year olds to teach them creative and business skills. These apprentices receive a stipend that is often one of their first paychecks, according to the organization. Bock expects the organization will host 110 kids next summer.

St. Louis Artworks has been a nomad, finding homes in the Old North St. Louis neighborhood, Grand Center and elsewhere since it began. In addition to getting a permanent home, the organization has launched a new website and an Indigogo campaign to raise additional renovation funds.

According to Block, the space was chosen because if filled two specific requirements: It was close to public transportation, and it sits in a high visibility location. The new space will truly be a new home for the organization, she said.

“We’re going to be in a space that will have cutting edge technology and incredibly beautiful light to make art in.”

A continued interest

Twenty-four year old Stajah Curry teaches painting and graphic design at St. Louis Artworks and attends The Art Institute of St. Louis in St. Charles. In 2008, she apprenticed with the program and worked with well-known St. Louis artist Cbabi Bayoc. The experience cemented her dedication to the program.

“It was a great experience for me,” she said. “It taught me how to be a professional artist. Being able to pass down that type of skill to new apprentices is exciting for me.”

Going forward, Curry will be able to teach in the space’s new painting studios. She said a permanent home base will ensure the apprentices focus on their work without being overly concerned with working from a shared space.

“Having a studio where we can paint and not worry about clean-up -- not to say that we’ll be extremely messy, but having that freedom -- would be great,” Curry said.

The organization is currently a finalist in the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards indicating it is one of the top 50 youth arts programs in the country.