Best Gallery to Die in the Past Year - 2009
Maps Contemporary Art Space
The little storefront gallery that existed for only a little more than a year made such a significant impact on the local arts community that its name deserves mention, once again, if only in memoriam. Co-run by brothers B.j. and Chris Vogt, the Belleville alternative art space offered something truly alternative: just enough room for a single artist to freely and fully create an immersive world for all the unwitting passersby in this small, otherwise un-galleried Illinois town, as well as for those from the city who felt adventurous enough to briefly leave its cozy confines. Area artists Cameron Fuller, Mike Schuh, Brett Williams, Angela Malchionno, Courtney Henson, Peter Pranschke — the list goes on — all produced notable art experiments there, from an installation-as-snow-globe (Fuller's Out in the Cold) to an interactive project demonstrating artists' inability to communicate with one another (Schuh's I See What You're Saying). Perhaps a similar venture will re-emerge in St. Louis, providing Maps' well-calibrated mix of DIY freedom, intimacy of venue and total devotion to high-quality, local contemporary art.