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Handmade

Outward signs of how CWE families are coping with the new normal

Nicki's Central West End Guide For kids Handmade  Suzanne Miller Kennedy Park CWE Families & Friends

With the stay-at-home order in effect in the St. Louis region, families are valiantly coping with the new normal. A toast to all of you multi-tasking all day, every day. Parents are now home schooling while working from home, entertaining the troops, planning meals, figuring out the grocery shopping, cooking, disinfecting, washing hands and making sure the kids do the same,  and then disinfecting some more. I so admire all who are (hopefully) keeping your spirits up and holding things together as you and yours are physically separated from grandparents, siblings, and many friends.

I recognize the level of privilege that most of us in this neighborhood enjoy.  Families here have enough computers and internet access for home schooling, enough food, and time to carve out to spend with your kids. That isn’t the case everywhere, so I hope what follows doesn’t seem cavalier. It’s just a look at what’s visible from the outside in this neighborhood, not the reality of what many are facing elsewhere in our dear city.

Out on my walks—equipped with DIY mask—I have seen families gathered on front porches and signs of activity in unusual places. Since we can only wave and loudly say ‘how are you?,” it would be wonderful to hear how your day is structured and how things are going. I’d love to post some of these ideas, anonymously if you’d like, so we might learn from each other. (nickisbuzz@gmail.com).

Kennedy Park, above, like all city playgrounds, is closed, which means that the CWE Families & Friends organization’s annual spring clean-up and Easter Egg Hunt have been cancelled. Perhaps a photo from last year’s event, below, will remind you what it was like when we could gather together when the only concern was how many jelly beans  your kids were devouring.

Nicki's Central West End Guide For kids Handmade  Suzanne Miller Kennedy Park CWE Families & Friends

Nicki's Central West End Guide For kids Handmade  Suzanne Miller Kennedy Park CWE Families & Friends

Teddy bears are peering out from windows all around the neighborhood,  as seen in the photos taken recently on Pershing Place. A recent post from Amanda Kracen on CWE Families Facebook Page mentions spotting lots of teddy bears (and spring blossoms too) on the 5000/5200 blocks of Westminster Place. Read more about “teddy bear hunts” in both the international arena here or the local effort here. Nicki's Central West End Guide For kids Handmade  Suzanne Miller Kennedy Park CWE Families & Friends

Maryland Avenue sidewalks have become blank canvases for artists of all ages to create chalk art and deliver public safety messages, above right, for the enjoyment of pedestrians out for a stroll.

And inspiration and creative ideas from a CWE parent, Suzanne Miller:

Nicki's Central West End Guide For kids Handmade  Suzanne Miller Kennedy Park CWE Families & Friends

Photo courtesy of Ladue News

At the end of March Suzanne Miller posted an interesting message on Facebook: “Hey hey hey! I’m on day 15 of isolation. As I watched events unfold, I wondered what small thing I could do to bring a little distraction to everyone in lockdown or to those who are feeling anxious and cooped up. I got out all my books on creativity and began to write, and write some more. I would tune into the news, freak out, and then turn to my books and computer and write some more. The result? I’ve created a 10 Day Creativity Challenge for anyone who would like to participate. It’s completely free.”

“Several of these activities can be done as a family, in fact, one activity was a game changer in calming one of my kids down on a particularly trying day. Sign up here.” 

You don’t have to be a young parent or have kids at all to enjoy this challenge. It has been a wonderful gift to open each morning.

Following on the success of the 10 Day Creativity Challenge, and in response to all of the bad news we’re experiencing, Miller followed up with “the Creative Courant, a newsletter that will capture journalistic stories from credible news sources that recount powerful creativity and innovation for the greater good. All you need to do is sign up with your name and e-mail address and you’ll receive several stories each week about the power of the human spirit and creativity.”

Stay healthy and stay strong. We’ll get through this.

Michael Drummond’s “Being Played” at World Chess Hall of Fame

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Events, Sightings Handmade  World Chess Hall of Fame Michael Drummond Being Played

Last evening at the opening of Being Played at World Chess Hall of Fame, designer Michael Drummond, below, commented that his year-long effort to create a narrative about the effects of the fast fashion industry on the environment “almost killed him.”

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Events, Sightings Handmade  World Chess Hall of Fame Michael Drummond Being Played

In this exhibition Drummond, a veteran of Project Runway Season 8, has connected the issues surrounding climate change with the stresses the fashion industry places on the environment, and arranged them as a chess game. To illustrate the challenges climate change poses, Drummond looked for a famous chess game as inspiration. He found it in Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 sci-fi film 2001: A Space Odyssey when Dr. Frank Poole plays against the supercomputer Hal 9000.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Events, Sightings Handmade  World Chess Hall of Fame Michael Drummond Being Played

I have to admit that I was so engrossed in how beautiful Drummond’s creations are that I was not thinking about a chess game at all.

In the handsome exhibition catalog published by WCHOF, Drummond says that “It’s a tricky predicament to simultaneously give yourself over to the glamor and fantasy of fashion and yet be repelled by the industry’s excess and its hold on the public psyche.”

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Events, Sightings Handmade  World Chess Hall of Fame Michael Drummond Being Played

Drummond used a “variety of fabrics in his creations both natural and man-made including laser-cut synthetics, clothing spun from steel, hand-crafted shoes (see Drummond’s own which I assume are handmade, below), and digitally-printed accessories.”

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Events, Sightings Handmade  World Chess Hall of Fame Michael Drummond Being Played

Being Played remains on view at World Chess Hall of Fame until March 22, 2020. I suspect you’ll want to return often (as I do) to study Drummond’s craft, it’s quite amazing. Perhaps on one of my visits I’ll figure out the game Being Played as well.

WCHOF, 4652 Maryland Ave., (314) 367-9243, Mon&Tues. 10 to 5, Weds.-Fri. 10 to 9, Sat. 10 to 5, Sun. 12-5.

Meet Dakota Grady, proprietor of Gentry’s Limited

Nicki's Central West End Guide Handmade Services Shop News Uncategorized  TechArtista Co-Working Environment Gentry's Limited Dakota Grady Central West End

In an age-old story, it was love that drew 24-year-old Dakota Grady to St. Louis from his hometown of San Antonio. Three years ago he and St. Louisan Myra Stull, a Montessori teacher and writer, were married.

Recently, he opened Gentry’s Limited, a made-to-measure men’s clothier located in the CWE’s TechArtista Co-Working Environment, 4818 Washington.

A reference to religion in a post about men’s fashion would seem rather unusual, except that Grady, a Reformed Baptist, wears his faith on his sleeve. The 2nd oldest of 7 children (his 4 brothers have Biblical surnames), the young entrepreneur said that fashion is “his calling” and that he has always had his own style and a knack for putting clothes together.

Upon arriving in St. Louis he talked his way into a job at Savile Row, a custom clothier in Clayton, despite that at the time they said they weren’t hiring. Initially he worked only 5 hours a week, but his work ethic paid off as he learned the made-to-measure menswear business and he was eventually hired full time.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Handmade Services Shop News Uncategorized  TechArtista Co-Working Environment Gentry's Limited Dakota Grady Central West End

When Grady decided to strike out on his own and offer his unique brand of service to St. Louis, he chose to locate his shop, Gentry’s Limited, in the Central West End.  He said that there were already several men’s clothing stores in Clayton. When I interjected that there are several men’s stores in the CWE as well, he countered that the neighborhood’s history attracted him, as did its edginess, and the vibe at TechArtista appealed to him and to his customers who enjoy the novelty of the location..

Grady describes his customers as busy professionals of all ages who feel presentation is extremely important, some of whom don’t have the time or even necessarily like to shop.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Handmade Services Shop News Uncategorized  TechArtista Co-Working Environment Gentry's Limited Dakota Grady Central West End

The striking suit above is an example of what Gentry’s Limited offers. Consultations can take as little as 30 minutes or more than an hour. Grady helps clients with design, fabric selection (he has an exclusive selection of fabrics to choose from), and takes measurements which are kept on file.

Grady offers two clothing lines at Gentry’s Limited. Black line suits, which are 1/2 hand-stitched and 1/2 machine-stitched and start at $1310. Black line jackets feature a softer drape. Gold line garments, which start at $1500, feature top luxury fabrics and are entirely hand-stitched. Whether Black or Gold, jackets and pants take 5 to 7 weeks to be completed.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Handmade Services Shop News Uncategorized  TechArtista Co-Working Environment Gentry's Limited Dakota Grady Central West End

Examples of handsome fabric and imaginative lining selections are shown above. Fabric choices include wools, linens, cottons, bamboo, cashmere and a few synthetics.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Handmade Services Shop News Uncategorized  TechArtista Co-Working Environment Gentry's Limited Dakota Grady Central West End

The photo above shows one of many books filled with off-beat fabrics to choose from for custom-made shirts, which start at $140 and take 3 to 4 weeks to complete.

As we wrapped up our interview Grady said the adage “less is more” can be applied to his made-to-measure clothing. Having one beautiful hand-made suit that fits perfectly is worth more than owning several less expensive suits of lesser quality.  He’s pleased that his clients have responded so favorably to his product and the service he offers, though he has never doubted his decision to venture out on his own.

Gentry’s Limited, 4818 Washington Blvd., Suite 305, is open by appointment only. For more information contact Dakota Grady at 314.239.7982 or dakota@gentryslimited.com.