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North St. Louis County arts groups to unite local artists with others from across U.S.

You Are My Reflection by Erin Rachel Hudak. Installed with the help of St. Louis Community College students at Paul Artspace
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio
You Are My Reflection by Erin Rachel Hudak. Installed with the help of St. Louis Community College students at Paul Artspace

Two north St. Louis County groups are bringing together local and visiting artists.  Paul Artspace and Sculptureworks Ferguson founders said they’re united by a common cause.

“We’re looking to go into the community, use the exhibition as this kind of mechanism to create conversations, to create networks, to introduce people from outside the community to people inside the community,” said Michael Behle, founder of Paul Artspace founder.

The exhibit is just one of several collaborations in the works for Paul Artspace. The Florissant-based artist-residency program hosts artists from across the nation but this year Behle decided to reinvest in the communities around him.  He’s working with Cheeraz Gormon’s Night Writers STL program to produce a writing retreat later this year.  Behle also has sent visiting artists who reside for a time at the Paul Artspace building to work with VSA Missouri and Living Arts Studio. He aims to build relationships between these groups and visiting artists.

Sculptureworks Ferguson founder Bryce Olin Robinson joined Behle for the exhibit because he too values connecting local and outsider artists. 

“Anybody who’s committed to working in the county we’re really interested in,” he said. “It’s relatively easy to work in a hub of art activity, Cherokee Street, some of the locations downtown but it can be more challenging to work in the county.”

This is Sculptureworks' second show.  The space was developed when Robinson realized there were a number of north St. Louis County artists, and others interested in working in the area, who didn’t have a space to exhibit their work. 

“It’s an area where there’s a lot of artists  living and working and exhibiting, and thinking, and I really think that it’s under-appreciated in the region,” Robinson said. “And I hope that through our partnership with Paul [Artspace] and through the sculpture park, and through all the other things we’re involved in, we can get people to come.”

Both Behle and Robinson hope their show helps build permanent connections between artists while further establishing north St. Louis County in the St. Louis Arts community.

The exhibit is on display at Sculptureworks Ferguson through November.  

Follow Willis Ryder Arnold on Twitter @WillisRArnold