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Carson Monetti

RASA Easels: created at MADE, available at St. Louis Art Supply

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Shop News  St. Louis Art Supply RASA easel MADE Joshua Falconer Jacob Lewis Carson Monetti

Earlier this year while touring MADE, 5197 Delmar, at a Central West End Association Happy Hour, I met Joshua Falconer, above, who along with his business partner and co-inventor Jacob Lewis, was in the process of rolling out a limited edition of RASA Easels—”the nomadic artist’s best friend.”

Falconer, an artist and PhD Candidate in Semitic Languages at Catholic University, and Lewis, an art teacher, have conceived of many ideas individually and as a team, but the RASA easel is the first invention for which they have developed a working prototype and submitted a provisional patent application.

The idea was born of frustration when Lewis realized his drawings were skewed and out of proportion as he drew on a flat surface using a traditional sketchpad. He came up with the notion of combining a tabletop easel with a sketchpad, and Falconer helped engineer, test, and refine the prototype. Falconer said the biggest design challenge was how to make the easel refillable.

They named their invention RASA, alluding to the Latin phrase “tabula rasa” or “blank slate.” Falconer said that the name is “a tribute to the way that every blank page presents new possibilities for artists to explore.”

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Shop News  St. Louis Art Supply RASA easel MADE Joshua Falconer Jacob Lewis Carson Monetti

After approximately 2 years developing the rough-working prototype and refining the design, the inventors produced a small batch of their maple RASA easels and took the finished product about 10 blocks east to St. Louis Art Supply, where they are being sold on consignment. The CWE’s art shop is the exclusive retailer of this pre-release version.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Shop News  St. Louis Art Supply RASA easel MADE Joshua Falconer Jacob Lewis Carson Monetti

A RASA easel starter set with mixed-media pad is $55, an easel with a drawing paper pad is $49. Refill pads are $16.

Recently Falconer emailed that they have come up with a less expensive RASA easel made of tempered hardboard, a sustainable and durable material that resists warping. This new version can be primed and painted so an artist can customize the cover. It is also refillable. The price has not yet been determined, but they’ll be available at St. Louis Art Supply in a couple of weeks.

In the meantime, Falconer and Lewis are planning a crowdfunding campaign to help scale up production and bring down the price point to make the RASA easel even more accessible, so all sorts of creative types—illustrators, comic book artists, tattoo artists, etc.—can take their studio with them wherever they go.

St. Louis Art Supply’s Carson Monetti keeps a supply of watercolor pencils by the display, so you can play with the RASA easel.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Shop News  St. Louis Art Supply RASA easel MADE Joshua Falconer Jacob Lewis Carson Monetti

When I stopped in the store recently, I asked Monetti whose lovely drawing graced the sample easel. “I don’t have a clue,” he said. “I always find anonymous drawings around here.”

Finding an outlet for a locally-made item in the same neighborhood as it was invented is pretty special. So are the local artists who test products at St. Louis Art Supply and leave their art behind for the rest of us to enjoy.

RASA Easels at St. Louis Art Supply, 4532 Olive Street, Tues-Fri. 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Sat. & Sun. 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Closed Monday.

Opening Wednesday, 9/19: St. Louis Art Supply

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Food and Drink Shop News  Zena Colby St. Louis Art Supply Central West End Carson Monetti

St. Louis Art Supply proprietors Carson Monetti and Zena Colby were kind enough to let me take an advance tour of their new shop at 4432 Olive St. this morning. You are going to LOVE it!

Depending on the issuance of permits there is a 50% chance they will be open by Friday, otherwise it will be early next week. The best way to get the opening day news is to sign up for updates on their website here, or check Facebook or Instagram.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Food and Drink Shop News  Zena Colby St. Louis Art Supply Central West End Carson Monetti

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Food and Drink Shop News  Zena Colby St. Louis Art Supply Central West End Carson Monetti

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Food and Drink Shop News  Zena Colby St. Louis Art Supply Central West End Carson Monetti

A view of Cornflower Coffee & Tea which will be open for breakfast and lunch. The store will be stocking coffee-making supplies too.

As I walked out the door, I was handed a delicious homemade chocolate chip cookie that will be on the menu when they open. I was smitten even before I ate every last crumb of that delicious cookie—with just the right hint of salt. What a fabulous addition to the neighborhood!

St. Louis Art Supply and Cornflower Coffee & Tea, 4532 Olive St., will be open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day but Monday.

St. Louis Art Supply, formerly South City Art Supply, moving to the CWE

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Food and Drink Shop News  Xena Colby St. Louis Art Supply South City Art Supply Cornflower Coffee and Tea Central West End Carson Monetti

photos courtesy of Carson Monetti

For someone who loves poking around art supply stores and who knows so many artists in the neighborhood, this news has been extremely hard for me to keep under wraps, until today…

I am thrilled to announce that South City Art Supply is changing its name to St. Louis Art Supply and moving from Cherokee Street to 4530-32 Olive Street in The Milton (west of Taylor and east of Bowood Farms).  To add to this overwhelmingly fabulous news, St. Louis Art Supply is opening Cornflower Coffee & Tea where you can, according to the press release, “watercolor over breakfast or take a latte into the shop’s book department.”

Carson Monetti and his wife Xena Colby, proprietors of St. Louis Art Supply, are planning to open the doors to St. Louis Art Supply in late August.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Food and Drink Shop News  Xena Colby St. Louis Art Supply South City Art Supply Cornflower Coffee and Tea Central West End Carson Monetti

Three years ago when the couple opened South City Art Supply on Cherokee they purposely stocked the best-made items at each price-point, items people might otherwise have to purchase online or on a weekend trip to Chicago. The well-curated inventory drew a “large following of artists, activists, and intellectuals.”

By moving to the centrally-located Central West End, situated between three universities (SLU, W.U. and Fontbonne), Monetti and Colby will be able to bring an expanded inventory to a much broader group of people.

“Moving to the Central West End also corrects a mistake we made when we first arrived,” they said. “Without knowing much about the city’s history and culture, and out of affection for Cherokee Street, we named ourselves after one part of the city. We still love Cherokee, and we’ve made friends with many wonderful people from South City. But if we had it to do all over again, knowing what we now know about the neighborhood-level fragmentation that runs through St. Louis history, we wouldn’t define ourselves with the name of any one neighborhood.”

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Food and Drink Shop News  Xena Colby St. Louis Art Supply South City Art Supply Cornflower Coffee and Tea Central West End Carson Monetti

The new store will carry everything the shop on Cherokee stocks—the best selection of notebooks and stationery in town, a huge collection of Japanese imports, vintage calligraphy pens, etc.  But the CWE store will be larger, so they will be adding stretched canvas, water-soluble oils, every size and color of paint marker, and many more books.

Years ago as we saw neighborhood retail establishments dwindle, some CWEnders came up with a list of retail businesses they wished we had in the neighborhood. I don’t remember now exactly what was on that list, but I am quite certain an art supply store wasn’t. For in our wildest dreams we never thought it could possibly happen. Now it has…..the perfect fit for the evolving commercial/residential strip on Olive from Walton east to Boyle.

A big welcome to St. Louis Art Supply, 4530-32 Olive Street. I can’t wait!