Art Hustlers

The good people at ArtDimensions help artists and businesses form happy relationships

Nov 5, 2003 at 4:00 am
ArtDimensions has virtually no capital. The founders have no office, no payroll and they definitely do not have a treasure chest of money to throw at the artists of St. Louis.

And yet furthering the careers of artists and supporting the local arts scene is what they do -- and do well -- on a shoestring. For two years now, ArtDimensions has been matching businesses and restaurants who welcome original art on their walls with starving artists who need exposure and patrons. The matching program is free for the businesses and a whopping twenty bucks per annum for the artists.

Currently, you can spot compelling work by 300 ArtDimensions members on the walls of places such as Farrago, Rue 13, Vito's, Union Station, Miso and even Delta Spinal Care, a group of chiropractors. "We send the tranquil pieces over there [to Delta]," laughs ArtDimensions co-founder Davide (pronounced "Dah-vee-day") Weaver. (The last thing someone in back pain needs is an angst-filled charcoal drawing.)

In the midst of a growth spurt, ArtDimensions is celebrating a new home of sorts at the Kastle nightclub (3207 Washington Avenue in midtown). The arts collaborative now fills a gallery space at the club with work by 45 different artists, and that art is the centerpiece of two weekly get-togethers.

On Friday nights the art sells drinks and the club sells art from 5 to 10 p.m. Clubgoers enjoy two-for-one happy-hour drink specials and hors d'oeuvres while they check out the work. On Saturday afternoons from noon-4 p.m., the ArtDimensions gallery at the Kastle transforms into a genteel space, thanks to complimentary cake and coffee and occasional live poetry and music. Admission is free to both weekly events.

Weaver says that he, along with fellow ArtDimensions co-founders Mike Landau and Heather Hawk, need to trade out the art in the various spaces to keep things fresh, and so the weekend of Friday and Saturday, November 14 and 15, brings the next in a series of two-day (7 p.m.-midnight) openings to the Kastle space. The new show includes works by the likes of glassblower Jim McKelvey, painters C'Babi Bayoc and Justin Tolentino, and photographer Jim Trotter. The festivities include DJs and demonstrations by aikido masters and an incense maker.

Then there's the ArtDimensions Street Gallery Program, which provides art for the windows of empty storefronts. Having art instead of dead space, says Weaver, is good for the tourists, the artists and the property owners alike. "One hand washes the other," he says. "There's only so far the artistic community can go without help from the community at large, and vice versa."

Other ArtDimensions activities include their first-Wednesday monthly artist confabs, upcoming classes on art-making techniques, plans for a magazine and curating the gallery space at white-hot bar/restaurant Monarch in Maplewood in '04. Don't forget their sponsorship of courses on the business of art. Weaver jokes that he encourages artists to "think of themselves as a small business instead of a lost cause.

"Personally, I'm tired of my friends leaving St. Louis once they reach a certain point, professionally and artistically," he adds. "We'd like to not just stop losing people but to draw more people to St. Louis because of the arts scene. None of that can happen without a renaissance."