Local Artists


Urban Expression:

Theaster Gates

Juan Chávez-potential of artists and the power of art

May 3, 2010 | Posted in From the Organizers, Urban Expression

As an artist and cultural activist for the city of St. Louis, I believe in using art as a creative solution for stimulating and developing communities. I have been an advocate for artists and the art community in St. Louis for the past four years. I have achieved this through my involvement as a nonprofit leader and through my personal art practice. Working with the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts and my friend, Theaster, on a project inspired by the works of Gordon Matta-Clark has been a truly amazing experience and opportunity.

What really attracted me to the project was working with the Hyde Park neighborhood on the north side of St. Louis and the possibility of bringing attention to the community. Through art we were able to join their efforts to restore and develop the physical and social dimensions of their community in a manner that respects its historic, cultural, and urban character. St. Louis city means a great deal to me and anytime I can use the arts to help I’m there. We are not called “the show me state” because we sit around.  It is all about hitting the streets and taking action.

In addition to curating I was able to teach my experimental drawing workshop entitled “Experiencing the Neighborhood through Drawing.  Through abstract drawing exercises the students explored issues of their neighborhood. The students created incredible drawings accompanied by powerful stories.

I believe in the potential of artists and the power of art. Being able to teach, create art and curate projects that follows this mantra it what it is all about.

Comments (3)
  1. Mallory said on Nov 9:

    Hi! I am really inspired by this project and my all art-empowerment projects on St. Louis aimed at invigorating neighborhoods! There is so much potential in this city and so much good energy boiling underneath. It’s tidal wave time! I’m really interested in doing more projects like these. If you’re interested in continuing this type of effort, send me an email and perhaps we can jump on board!

  2. Mallory said on Nov 9:

    that email address is mnezzy@hotmail.com

  3. Hi, Mallory!

    Indeed, St. Louis has a lot of great art and community initiatives afoot, and it’s even more encouraging to hear from enthusiastic citizens like you. Though the Transformation series has concluded, the Pulitzer is still using art as a way to build community and empower people. You can find out about these programs on our blog, 2buildings1blog.org, or our main website, http://www.pulitzerarts.org.

    I’m really excited to say that Theaster Gates, along with teaching artist Dayna Kriz, are continuing Urban Expression in Hyde Park as we speak. There will be a reunion among the students and the partners, who facilitated the program, this weekend, as a way to celebrate the birth of Urban Expression as an independent organization. I’ll be posting more on that on this blog as well as 2buildings1blog.

    Juan William Chavez is also continuing his civic efforts in St. Louis. For more on what he’s up to, check out his website http://juanwilliamchavez.com.



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October 30, 2009 - June 5, 2010

The Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts