Home to Roost: The Art Coop Returns from Beyond the Grave



Go to Art Coop -- Marcel'd surely be there if he could
Devotees of homegrown art may recall the Art Coop, or some version thereof. If we remember correctly (look, there was a lot of drinking done at some of these shows), the original Art Coop gallery was located on Washington Avenue and known as the Crowe T. Brooks Gallery (seven floors above the Gold's Gym at 1520 Washington Avenue, according to the RFT archives).

This initial incarnation was affiliated with Jason Wallace Triefenbach, before he was a Great Rivers Biennial winner and was just another working artist. Don Erickson next took the reins, changed the name to Art Coop, then ended up moving it to 1620 Delmar.

But in all versions of the gallery, the operating philosophy was the same: to provide a space for those working in the overlapping realms of visual and performing arts to work it on out, whatever it was. The vibe was positive, the art was sometimes inspired, sometimes blah, but never run-of-the-mill. Hydeware Theatre performed a couple of shows there, the Everywhen musical collective had at least one evening at the Art Coop (coincidentally with Hydeware) and dozens of local artists graced the walls with their work before the gallery went under.

But like Jason Vorhees, Art Coop can't be killed. An e-mail invitation for the inaugural show at the brand new Art Coop arrived yesterday afternoon, and despite the extremely short notice, we're officially psyched. Not to get all esoteric and touchy-feely on you, but a new venue for the arts is always a good thing for the soul of the city -- especially if it's the sort of venue that's going to do double duty for visual art and theater arts.

Details about the new Art Coop's plans are sketchy (read: nonexistent; a quick electronic query about plans for the future has yet to bear fruit), but Art Coop's gloriously funky past gives us cause to be optimistic.

So if you're out on the prowl between the hours of 7 and 11 p.m. on Friday, January 12, take a run by the Art Coop's new location, at 2400 South Jefferson Avenue. Thirty-three artists have work in The Gnu Show, there will be live music, video projections and free food while it lasts. The gallery has hours from noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday (January 13 and 14) if you're hungry for seconds. For information on future Art Coop events, shoot an e-mail to artcoopstl@hotmail.com with the word "subscribe" in the subject line.

And be sure to tell 'em you're glad they're back.

-Paul Friswold


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