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Third Degree Glass Factory

Theaster Gates, world-renowned artist & innovative urban planner, recommits to St. Louis

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Events, Sightings  Third Degree Glass Factory Theaster Gates The Magic House at M.A.D.E. Mayor Lyda Krewson M.A.D.E. Kevin Bryant Jim McKelvey Emily Rauh Pulitzer Doug Auer Baredu Ahmed

Several weeks ago Kingsway Development’s Kevin Bryant, far right (see earlier post here), brought an eclectic group of people together at Third Degree Glass Factory to meet Chicago-based, world-renowned artist* and urban planner Theaster Gates, 2nd from right. Gates is reviving his plan to turn the former Euclid Elementary School just north of Fountain Park into a hub of mixed-income artists lofts and creative spaces called the Fountain Park Arts Block.

Among the 30 or so guests was former Alvin Ailey Dance Company member Baredu Ahmed, left, and Mayor Lyda Krewson.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Events, Sightings  Third Degree Glass Factory Theaster Gates The Magic House at M.A.D.E. Mayor Lyda Krewson M.A.D.E. Kevin Bryant Jim McKelvey Emily Rauh Pulitzer Doug Auer Baredu Ahmed

Other attendees included Brian Phillips, executive director of Washington University Medical Center Redevelopment Corporation, Dr. Lisa Small, principal of Washington Montessori School, Abdul-Kaba Abdullah, executive director of Park Central Development, architect Chip Crawford of Clayco, Pamela McLucas, interim president of Park Place Housing & Urban Development, and Lisa Potts, project director of the Community Mental Health Fund.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Events, Sightings  Third Degree Glass Factory Theaster Gates The Magic House at M.A.D.E. Mayor Lyda Krewson M.A.D.E. Kevin Bryant Jim McKelvey Emily Rauh Pulitzer Doug Auer Baredu Ahmed

Pictured with Gates and Bryant are Emily Rauh Pulitzer, chair of the Pulitzer Arts Foundation, who has just announced plans to create new housing on Olive Street in Grand Center (read St. Louis Public Radio report here), and Laura Costello, director of real estate for the LRA (Land Reutilization Authority). Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Events, Sightings  Third Degree Glass Factory Theaster Gates The Magic House at M.A.D.E. Mayor Lyda Krewson M.A.D.E. Kevin Bryant Jim McKelvey Emily Rauh Pulitzer Doug Auer Baredu Ahmed

18th Ward Alderman Jesse Todd was there, center, as well as 26th Ward Alderwoman Shameem Clark Hubbard.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Events, Sightings  Third Degree Glass Factory Theaster Gates The Magic House at M.A.D.E. Mayor Lyda Krewson M.A.D.E. Kevin Bryant Jim McKelvey Emily Rauh Pulitzer Doug Auer Baredu Ahmed

When I interviewed Kevin Bryant in 2018 (see earlier post here) I learned that Theaster Gates was interested in renovating the Euclid Elementary School, just north of Fountain Park, but funding was an issue. Now that several development projects are in the works for the 154-acre redevelopment area (just 2 blocks north of the CWE), Bryant was able to woo Gates back to St. Louis to take a second look.

Plans for the Fountain Park Arts Block include 32 loft apartments, 21 new housing units, and a fully-equipped arts center. The site is directly across from Washington Montessori School on Euclid.

Gates believes that “culture can be a catalyst for social transformation in any city, anywhere.” He has transformed an area of Chicago’s South Side by repurposing 50-60 buildings, Examples include the Dorchester Art and Housing Collaborative, and the renovation of the Stony Island Arts Bank. (For more on how Gates’ got started, listen to his 2015 Ted Talk.)

Another St. Louis project that has been dormant is The Pink House, a music program that will be housed in three buildings in north St. Louis, two on Mallinkrodt, and one on Blair near Salisbury.  Baredu Ahmed (in first photograph) will be moving here from New York to get the project up and running soon.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Events, Sightings  Third Degree Glass Factory Theaster Gates The Magic House at M.A.D.E. Mayor Lyda Krewson M.A.D.E. Kevin Bryant Jim McKelvey Emily Rauh Pulitzer Doug Auer Baredu Ahmed  While Nick Dunne, above, communications director of Third Degree Glass Factory, led the group on a tour of the glass-blowing studi0s, he mentioned that founders Doug Auer and Jim McKelvey purchased the building in 2002 for $20,000. They are currently in the process of renovating the entry adding a courtyard and more event space. Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Events, Sightings  Third Degree Glass Factory Theaster Gates The Magic House at M.A.D.E. Mayor Lyda Krewson M.A.D.E. Kevin Bryant Jim McKelvey Emily Rauh Pulitzer Doug Auer Baredu Ahmed

The group then walked across Delmar to see more of what has been designated the Delmar Maker District, including  M.A.D.E., an impressive “maker space” that opened in 2018 at 5127 Delmar, and The Magic House at M.A.D.E. upstairs, which opened this summer.Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Events, Sightings  Third Degree Glass Factory Theaster Gates The Magic House at M.A.D.E. Mayor Lyda Krewson M.A.D.E. Kevin Bryant Jim McKelvey Emily Rauh Pulitzer Doug Auer Baredu Ahmed

Auer and McKelvey have acquired additional properties in the Delmar Maker District including two buildings immediately east of Third Degree Glass, above, and two structures just west of M.A.D.E., shown below.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Events, Sightings  Third Degree Glass Factory Theaster Gates The Magic House at M.A.D.E. Mayor Lyda Krewson M.A.D.E. Kevin Bryant Jim McKelvey Emily Rauh Pulitzer Doug Auer Baredu Ahmed  Dunne said they haven’t decided what they are going to do with the two buildings above. They are seeking input from the Delmar Maker District community to determine what’s needed. If you listen to Gates’ Ted Talk you’ll hear the same philosophy about involving the community in decision-making.

In a press release following the get-together, Kevin Bryant says: “Fountain Park’s mix of large, stately brick homes, vacant lots and dilapidated structures are ripe for redefinition and rehabilitation…We have already begun construction on the first three homes around Fountain Park circle and we are working with one of the local housing organizations to assist existing homeowners with basic repairs this fall so that they keep pace with development.”

As that meeting wrapped up, I had a chance to ask Theaster Gates what prompted him to refocus on St. Louis again.

“I started work in St. Louis 12 years ago,” he said, “and then fell asleep. There’s never been a better time to restart than now.”

*After posting this article I received an email from Emily Rauh Pulitzer expanding on what I already knew about Theaster Gates.

“He started as a potter,” Pulitzer said, “but he has gone way beyond that making sculpture, paintings, and mixed-media objects which have been shown in important galleries and museums in this country and in Europe.

He won the Nasher Sculpture Prize and has often done performances with the musical group, ‘The Blind Monks of Mississippi.’ The Whitney (Museum) describes him as a sculptor, urban planner and performance artist. He is not only charismatic but accomplishes an unbelievable amount of work.”

M.A.D.E., a “maker space” opens on Delmar

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Education For Children Services Shop News  Wiley Price IV Third Degree Glass Factory St. Louis Public Radio Melody Walker Mayor Lyda Krewson Maker Space Magic House M.A.D.E. Jim McKelvey Doug Auer Dennis Lower Cortex Innovation Community

On November 16 entrepreneurs Jim McKelvey and Doug Auer (top photo), along with Cortex’s President and CEO Dennis Lower (bottom photo: middle), hosted a ribbon cutting for M.A.D.E. (Makers, Artists, Designers, Entrepreneurs), a new 33,000 s.f. maker space at 5127 Delmar.

The grand opening marked the one year anniversary since the abrupt closure of all 10 TechShops across the country, including one located in the CWE’s Cortex Innovation District where there were 500 members. As soon as the news broke, McKelvey contacted both Auer, his partner in Third Degree Glass Factory, and Lower and together “we vowed we would be the city that saved our maker space.”

They acquired TechShop’s equipment, purchased the vacant building directly across from the The Glass Factory that formerly housed a Vespa dealership, and immediately got to work renovating the space. Amazingly, the total gut rehab project was accomplished in less than one year!

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Education For Children Services Shop News  Wiley Price IV Third Degree Glass Factory St. Louis Public Radio Melody Walker Mayor Lyda Krewson Maker Space Magic House M.A.D.E. Jim McKelvey Doug Auer Dennis Lower Cortex Innovation Community

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Education For Children Services Shop News  Wiley Price IV Third Degree Glass Factory St. Louis Public Radio Melody Walker Mayor Lyda Krewson Maker Space Magic House M.A.D.E. Jim McKelvey Doug Auer Dennis Lower Cortex Innovation Community

In his welcoming remarks Jim McKelvey, above left, the co-founder of the Square payment device, said the camaraderie and inspiration of makers at TechShop in San Francisco was very important to him when he was developing the Square prototype.

He added that Mayor Lyda Krewson and the City of St. Louis were extremely helpful in facilitating the quick opening of M.A.D.E. “Getting it up and running within a year wouldn’t have been possible without their cooperation. This is Phase 1,” he continued, “Phase 2 will house The Magic House for children on the second floor, which is set to open this summer. (More on this exciting news follows.)

In time, McKelvey, Auer and Lower plan to transform the entire area on and around Delmar into a “maker zone.”

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Education For Children Services Shop News  Wiley Price IV Third Degree Glass Factory St. Louis Public Radio Melody Walker Mayor Lyda Krewson Maker Space Magic House M.A.D.E. Jim McKelvey Doug Auer Dennis Lower Cortex Innovation Community

Mayor Krewson drew a laugh when she recalled a phone call from Doug Auer and Jim McKelvey 15 years ago when she was 28th Ward Alderman: “We’re interested in a vacant building on Delmar…a few people will be blowing glass…” The wildly successful Third Degree Glass Factory opened in 2002 and Krewson said she has learned over time that “Doug can build anything, and Jim can do anything.”

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Education For Children Services Shop News  Wiley Price IV Third Degree Glass Factory St. Louis Public Radio Melody Walker Mayor Lyda Krewson Maker Space Magic House M.A.D.E. Jim McKelvey Doug Auer Dennis Lower Cortex Innovation Community

Beth Fitzgerald, president of Magic House said her board wanted to expand its reach into north city and they contacted Cortex’s Dennis Lower for ideas. When Magic House opens this summer at M.A.D.E., the board’s vision will be realized. This summer is also the 40th anniversary of the opening of Magic House in Kirkwood. Magic House at M.A.D.E., which will offer classes and camps with a focus on STEAM education, is geared toward elementary and middle school children.

In his final remarks McKelvey said, “Come here and play. If you don’t know how to use the equipment, ask us. There are no rules—well,” he laughed, “there is a waiver.”

The photos below show a small sampling of what is available at M.A.D.E.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Education For Children Services Shop News  Wiley Price IV Third Degree Glass Factory St. Louis Public Radio Melody Walker Mayor Lyda Krewson Maker Space Magic House M.A.D.E. Jim McKelvey Doug Auer Dennis Lower Cortex Innovation Community

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Education For Children Services Shop News  Wiley Price IV Third Degree Glass Factory St. Louis Public Radio Melody Walker Mayor Lyda Krewson Maker Space Magic House M.A.D.E. Jim McKelvey Doug Auer Dennis Lower Cortex Innovation Community

Top photo: Textiles teacher Sheila Lenkman also works part time for The Repertory Theater. She explained that, for beginners, the first step is to sign up to learn how to use the equipment, which includes a long-arm quilter.  There will be classes based on the needs of the community whether that is pattern making, installing zippers, etc.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Education For Children Services Shop News  Wiley Price IV Third Degree Glass Factory St. Louis Public Radio Melody Walker Mayor Lyda Krewson Maker Space Magic House M.A.D.E. Jim McKelvey Doug Auer Dennis Lower Cortex Innovation Community

It was fun to see CWEnder Melody Walker in her new role as Economic Development Editor at St. Louis Public Radio. Follow her on Twitter here.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Education For Children Services Shop News  Wiley Price IV Third Degree Glass Factory St. Louis Public Radio Melody Walker Mayor Lyda Krewson Maker Space Magic House M.A.D.E. Jim McKelvey Doug Auer Dennis Lower Cortex Innovation Community

Left: Wiley Price IV, newly elected to represent District 84 in the Missouri House of Representatives, and right: Price with Justin Idelburg, left, community leader in Ward 26, and Doug Auer.Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Education For Children Services Shop News  Wiley Price IV Third Degree Glass Factory St. Louis Public Radio Melody Walker Mayor Lyda Krewson Maker Space Magic House M.A.D.E. Jim McKelvey Doug Auer Dennis Lower Cortex Innovation Community

M.A.D.E., 5127 Delmar, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Membership is $50 per month plus a small hourly fee to use the equipment. For more information, visit the website.

CWEnder Carla Dawson’s paintings at Third Degree Glass Factory

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Education Events, Sightings  Third Degree Glass Factory Central West End Carla Dawson

Third Fridays of each month Third Degree Glass Factory, 5900 Delmar Blvd., has become a popular entertainment option for people of all ages. It’s a magnet for young families, couples, and groups of friends looking for an interactive experience. You can watch a glass making demonstration, listen to live music, and perhaps take a glass blowing class. There is always a food truck parked out front and on the Friday I visited, June 15, a couple from Ices Plain & Fancy was working their magic creating fabulous nitro-churned ice cream in the front room.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Education Events, Sightings  Third Degree Glass Factory Central West End Carla Dawson

Each Third Friday also marks the introduction of a new artist invited to display art in the main room.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Education Events, Sightings  Third Degree Glass Factory Central West End Carla Dawson

On the 15th, CWEnder Carla Dawson, June’s “artist of the month,” presented All About Color. She’s photographed in front of her oil paintings It’s All Connected, left and  Maui Sunset, right.

Several years ago Dawson and her husband Denny moved to the Central West End from Chesterfield. She said they wanted a more urban, diverse environment. “Plus, the amenities in the CWE are awesome,” she added. The artist can often be spotted walking with her greyhound Pearl from her condo to her art studio in the neighborhood.

As a single mom Dawson chose a career in the banking industry. In 1992 she left banking and took up art studying at Washington University, and then with local artist and teacher Robert Ketchens before striking out on her own.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Education Events, Sightings  Third Degree Glass Factory Central West End Carla Dawson

All About Color is inspired by nature and the artist’s love of travel. Shown from top,  Quiet, middle, Time Lapse, and bottom photo, Pier.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Education Events, Sightings  Third Degree Glass Factory Central West End Carla Dawson

Above, An example of the artist’s collage on glass called Metallic Sunrise.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Education Events, Sightings  Third Degree Glass Factory Central West End Carla Dawson

Dawson’s After the Rain, 42″ x 34″ oil on linen.

It’s All About Color will remain on view at Third Degree Glass Factory until July 18.  The next Third Friday event is scheduled for July 20. Doors open at 6 p.m., admission is free.

To contact Carla Dawson, or to learn more about her vibrant art, visit her website.