Crestwood Court's ArtSpace Wins National Award

A year ago, Crestwood Court was a moribund shopping mall, awash in vacant storefronts -- just another victim of a ruinous economy. You could almost hear an echo as you walked down its once cheery corridors of consumerism.

Now, the former Crestwood Mall is the bustling home of Crestwood Court's ArtSpace, which has attracted national and international attention for transforming itself into a vital part of St. Louis' art community. Last night, ArtSpace was notified that it had won the prestigious MAXI Award.

"This is the gold standard for the shopping-mall industry," a very happy Janet Ryan told the Daily RFT this morning. "The competition was brutal, so this is very exciting," added Ryan, whose Ryan PR handles pretty much all public relations efforts for ArtSpace.

ArtSpace, a partnership between Crestwood Court Mall and the Regional Arts Commission, was awarded the MAXI in the Public Relations Category.

Back in November 2008, recalled Ryan, Crestwood Court owner Jones Lange LaSalle began to offer space to artists, charging them modest rentals of between $100 and $500 a month. LaSalle and Leisa Son, marketing manager at Crestwood Court -- which, by the way, the RFT in its 2009 Best of St. Louis issue named Best Mall -- figured maybe 20 artists would be interested. Instead, more than 200 showed up for the first organizatioal meeting.

Today, there are 400 artists at ArtSpace.

Ryan said there is now some movement that the still-shuttered Macy's may, too, come up with a plan to turn over its cavernous space to artists.

"Yes, I can't get into the details just yet -- it's just in the early stages -- but there is a local artist's group who may be interested," said Ryan. "That would be phenomenal."