BY ABIGAIL ST. CLAIRE Marginalized artists are in the spotlight at Westminster Press, a storefront and gallery, new to Cherokee Street. Divided into a gallery space and retail shop curated by owners Nicholas Curry and Tucker Pierce, work is sourced from local St. Louis artists. Pieces are selected specifically because they showcase women, people of color, LGBT folks and address issues like disease and disability. Curry and Pierce are graduates of Washington University where they met as roommates. Curry studied Women, Gender, and Sexuality while at university and brings years of retail experience. Pierce studied Printmaking at the Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts and takes on the role of artistic director for the space.
BY ABIGAIL ST. CLAIRE Lindenwood Park is home to a handful of friendly local businesses, but none quite so charming as May’s Place, an antique and vintage store located on Ivanhoe Ave.
Provoked by an interest in art that intersects with gender and sexuality, Curry and Pierce started out making prints under the collective name Westminster Press. After introducing prints into the St. Louis community, they received a positive response. “People kept asking us, ‘This is so awesome where can we find this? Why is there no space for this? Where is your location?’” Curry said. A majority of the work may be considered risqué by some for the themes they explore, but the duo quickly realized the need for a space in St. Louis that was inclusive of queer art and set out to create one.
The quaint storefront welcomes those visiting with hand-drawn chalkboard signs and gold foil letters branding the windows. The store itself is filled with copious amounts of vintage treasures--bins of records, antique photos, magazines, kitchen wares, books, clothing, furniture, artwork, and accessories. May’s Place is also home to local makers; offering goods from Flowers and Weeds, Retrailer Tea Company, Hanley Fold Farm, Lonesome Traveler, and lovely handcrafted jewelry from Rebel + Ruse.
Curry and Pierce knew that Cherokee Street was a burgeoning arts district in St. Louis, with galleries like The Beverly, Fort Gondo and The Luminary establishing an arts presence. “It gave us a niche within a community that was already interested in the things that we were interested in. It was really just an ideal space,” said Curry of their decision to open the storefront/gallery on Cherokee Street.
Putting her degree in Fashion Merchandising from Fontbonne University and varied retail experience to use, Conran launched the Blacksheep brand, an online vintage clothing store founded on promoting sustainability through buying second-hand products. Her love of antiques and vintage items extends back as far as she can remember, further encouraged by her fiance, Andy May, and his enthusiasm for collectable heirlooms. In a home filled with various antiques, the thought of a brick and mortar was always in the back of her mind, but the online shop was the focus. “We weren’t actually planning on opening a store,” Conran said, “a space in our neighborhood became available, so we decided to check it out and see. After seeing it, we decided to open it then.”
In February, they opened a show, “Art. Work.” that was centered around craft mediums as a fine art. This show featured the work of four different St. Louis artists: a weaver, ceramicist, printmaker, and fiber artist. The show focused on the movement from traditional mediums to more consumer friendly mediums, and showcased artists who prioritized this in their work. In April, they hosted Metro Trans Umbrella Group’s third annual “Transcending the Spectrum” show. This annual art show is the largest LGBTQ-centered show in the St. Louis area. “It’s a huge honor and really, really humbling to see [the artists] willing to invest in such a new, unestablished business in the community,” Curry said. The exhibition displayed visual art, as well as music performances and spoken word, and featured more than twenty trans and queer artists and performers.
It’s no surprise that Conran and May enjoy the hunt for unique vintage and antique wares. Anytime the duo are on the road they keep and eye out for flea markets and estate sales, sometimes travelling to auctions in search for new treasures to stock the store with. “It is definitely something we have always done, just buying stuff for our house or on Saturday mornings we would hit the streets for yard sales. It is just fun to treasure hunt,” says Conran. You can find May’s Place at 3249 Ivanhoe Avenue, and is open Wednesday through Saturday from 12:00-7:00, and on Sunday from 11:00-4:00.
Westminster Press is located at 3156 Cherokee Street, and is open on Saturday and Sunday from 12:00-4:00, or by appointment. 07
illustrated by Abigail St. Claire
Issue 01 // Spring 2016