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wearable art: a look at Grace Kubilius’ work

November 14, 2014

Grace Kubilius 2

New to St. Louis by way of Chicago, Grace Kubilius is the current fiber artist-in-residence at Craft Alliance Center for Art +Design, which is where I first stumbled upon her work back in September. It was love at first sight. Made mostly from found and up-cycled materials, and inspired by poems written by summer camp students, Grace’s collection “Oh How I Love You” blurs the lines between art and fashion. In an effort to push the work a little further into the wearable category, Grace and I styled her pieces for everyday wear. Beyond a love of her work (especially those wood block + rope necklaces!), i’m lucky to call Grace a friend. With OUTKAST blaring in the studio and Jeff behind the camera, we managed to capture exactly what we set out to (complete with dance moves that would put Elaine to shame).


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Do you have a favorite piece in the collection? I’m pretty partial to the canvas tops, and will forever covet the “Oh How I Love You” wool piece. You can check out Grace’s work at Craft Alliance Center for Art + Design, located in the Kranzberg Arts Center.

[All photos + video by Jeff Daniels.]

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a studio tour with Joan Hall.

November 13, 2014

Joan Hall

A conversation with Joan Hall, and a look inside her studio. 

Hailing from Ohio, Joan landed in St. Louis after school to teach at Washington University. Through her art, she speaks to her passion for sailing and opens up a social discussion on the amount of plastic in the ocean. A look inside Joan’s studio in downtown St. Louis inspires – from the handmade paper hanging from the ceiling to the large scale works covering the walls.

Joan Hall 1

When did you decide you wanted to be an artist? 

I was always interested in the arts. I danced, I did ballet when I was pretty young. I played an instrument, and then in high school I decided I wanted to concentrate on art. When it was time for college, I decided I either wanted to go to school for languages or for art. And it’s a good thing I went to school for art – I’m not sure I have an aptitude for languages. I was always sort of more interested in humanities, I guess. I got a scholarship, that’s the way I ended up in art school. I thought, “well I must be good enough to go to art school.”

What work were you doing when you first started?

I had an interest in things that were sculptural, but I love paper, so I ended up actually focusing on printmaking and ceramics. In graduate school I met a guy named Garner Tullis who was running an experimental paper studio out in California at the time. I’ve always liked making paper, but when the people at Twinrocker were telling me how much money you need to build a beater in order to make paper, I scoffed. I thought, “I can’t afford that for a long time.” Tullis said, “do you have a sheet of paper?” and I handed one to him. He throws it in his mouth, chews it up, throws in on the chair in front of him, looks at me and said “I just made paper”. My first thought was “who are you?” And then I learned how to make paper from him. That’s where it started in 1977.

I always thought of paper as more than just something you worked on, but I realized over time that there was something about ceramics and something being more sculptural. So I blended this sort of way of printing to me that was a sculptural mark with making my own paper, which I could then do anything I wanted to with.

Tell me about the inspiration behind your work.

I’ve been sailing boats since I was 16 and was interested in water. It’s been sort of the underlying theme of my work all of my life – something to do with water. Whether it was drawings I made when I was out on the ocean sailing, or things that I documented like the motion or the colors.

I love things like printing and paper making. Paper making, because you don’t know what you really did until it dries, and printing because you don’t really know what it looks like until it comes out of the press. There’s this part of art that I like that is indirect, and I also like not being totally in control. I love to sail, but I don’t like motorboats. When you’re out in the water you really don’t have complete control. That’s the part of it to me that’s exciting, that I enjoy.

When did you decide to start doing work that had a social commentary?

In the early 90’s I did a few pieces that had to do with an oil spill that I saw off the coast of Rhode Island. I had some pieces I had done here and there where I sort of brought that [social commentary] into it. It wasn’t really a huge focus. I did a whole series of things that had to do with Cuban rafts and people migrating to the United States. Now, in my current work I’m really interested in making people interested in the amount of plastic in the ocean.

How has your work progressed over your career? 

In 2005 I got sick, and I didn’t work in the studio for 4 months. It was an odd thing because I’ve always worked all the time. I started thinking about how I felt like a fish caught in a net and had no control. A friend of mine had given me a net years before and it was sitting in a box. I started thinking about the net as a metaphor. I was caught in the net and it was really personal. My work kind of does this thing where it sort of slowly morphs. The piece that is at the Contemporary Art Museum for Art:314 is called The Soul Sails. There was a second piece called The Body Anchors. It was a metaphor that on the water I always felt free, and so those pieces have to do with travel and the navigation elements.

Most of my work is really large. I always like people to be in my work, not looking at my work. I think it’s sort of this sense that when I was in the ocean – when you’re out of sight of land, it’s this horizon and you feel really, really tiny. That’s a sensation I love. The bigger I can make a piece of art, the better. Give me a wall and I can fill it. It might take me a while, but I can fill it.

Tell me more about people being “in” your work.

There are lots of layers and lots of materials. When you navigate on a boat, you log your journey, so I thought of the idea of a notebook and logging my journey through the piece. There are things hidden in it that you can’t see.

I like people to be overwhelmed by scale. There’s so much going on in the piece, and also the process is sort of foreign for people. There’s detail, so people will walk up to the piece and stare at it. Sometimes there are little hints in them and they’ll get a sense of what the work is about. If you look close enough, on that piece [the first image] there is a little yellow rubber duck. You have to look really hard.

Tell me about people who influenced your career.

Early on, there was a woman by the name of Eva Hesse. She worked with latex and unusual materials. I always loved her work because it was very ethereal. It wasn’t traditional sculpture. When I went to school, I think I moved into printmaking because I didn’t like the idea of what sculpture was or what painting was. I wanted to do something that was more free-form and wasn’t very popular at that time. I started making paper, because you could mold thick paper into shapes to create instillations and things. Printmaking as a flat medium never interested me that much. I took the materials I liked and made them do what I wanted them to do. The paper being the underlying source of that.

What tools do you work with most?

A press, a scalpel, and printing ink.

Any parting words? 

Beauty. For a long time in the arts, I think that was something that was left out. I also wanted to take something like paper and elevate it beyond craft and making paper, I wanted to make art with paper.

Beauty is really powerful, and if you make really beautiful art, you can maybe get people to see the message. You also have to understand that I was a young artist in the 80′s when they thought unless your work is brown and black and dismal and had really serious messages, it wasn’t real work. I was anti that. I wanted to make things that are beautiful and I didn’t care. I’m going to do things that I want to do.

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You can see Joan’s piece, The Soul Sails, at the Contemporary Art Museum this Friday during Art:314. Join me for the silent auction (featuring The Soul Sails) and a raging party! Use the code CIAJ1975 here for $10 off tickets. Peek at the list of all the works being auctioned off that evening.

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I was invited by the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis to explore their Young Friends Program. I received complimentary access to events, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.

shop St. Louis: local gift guide

November 10, 2014

Shop St. Louis Local Gift Guide

I’ve rounded up a few of my favorite products from some of my favorite local makers in St. Louis (mom and dad, if you’re reading this, it will also double as my wish list this year). Things to wear, things to drink, things to write in, things to frame – essentially, all of the things. Anything on this list would make an excellent gift for anyone on your list this season, from the coffee lover to the constant doodler. Take a peek at the picks below.

Full Gift Guide

1/ Leather Luggage Tag. The Foundrie. | 2/ Southwestern Brass Cuff. Fable + Lore. | 3/ Knit Scarf. Michael Drummond. Available at Skif. | 4/ Block Necklace. Grace Kubilius. Available at Craft Alliance Center of Art + Design, located in the Kranzberg Arts Center. | 5/ Quote Print. Love Leesie. | 6/ Single Speed Session. 4 Hands Brewery. | 7/ Incline and Topo Notebook + Wallet. JAWNS Brand. | 8/ The Original Snake Bite: Forked Church Key & Bottle Opener. Snake Bite Co. | 9/ The Kate Clutch. Made Supply Co. | 10/ Ethiopia Africa. Sump Coffee.

JAWNS Brand Notebook Wallet

Grace Kubilius + August Abroad

Snake Bite

Fable + Lore and Michael Drummond


[All photos by Abby Gillardi.]

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desktop wallpaper // november edition

November 3, 2014


I had a weekend i’ve been calling “fall as fuq”. Activities included a family bonfire, soup, flannel, apple pie baking, red wine, thick socks, endless amounts of coffee, a little sawdust, and a bunny costume. Oh, and we set the clocks back an hour. So, hi darker evenings. With the changing of our clocks, it seemed fitting to change the desktop wallpaper too. Mercedes Armstrong has provided another stellar design to (pumpkin) spice up your screen. Keep scrolling for the download.

Mercedes Armstrong November 2014 Desktop

Click to download the NOVEMBER WALLPAPER by Mercedes Armstrong.

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Boheme Atelier

October 30, 2014

Boheme Atelier 1

Located on Cherokee Street, Boheme Atelier is a shop full of intoxicating scents and painted furniture. Sitting on top of the refinished dressers you will find a mix of vintage handbags, antique mirrors, and the latest line of Rifle Paper Co. notebooks. An eclectic mix of old, new, and restored items fill every inch of the shop. Candle holders, clocks, wrapping paper, necklaces, and the most wonderful smelling honeycomb soap are just a few of the treasures you’ll find if you peek around. A sweet spot to pick up a gift, or treat yourself to a that horse painting you never knew you needed.

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[All photos by Abby Gillardi.]

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a good laugh (+ a Dave Chappelle ticket giveaway)

October 28, 2014

dad jokes

I’ve always favored my fathers dry, sarcastic, distinctly british sense of humor. But sometimes i fear he’s lost all that and just given into dad jokes (see above image for proof). I’m a terrible joke teller. Absolutely awful. I can never remember the punchlines, i get the order jumbled, and sometimes i just lose my train of thought mid joke. Lucky for me, i’ve got a lot of funny people in my life to keep me laughing. Like the force behind Comedy in the Lou, who wants one lucky City in a Jar reader to be laughing Thursday night at Dave Chappelle at the Pageant. Win two tickets to the Dave Chappelle late show (10:00pm) on Thursday, October 30th at the Pageant thanks to Comedy in the Lou.

Here’s how to win…

First, follow @comedyinthelou on twitter.

Then, leave a comment below telling me your favorite joke (of the good, bad, or dad variety).

One winner will be chosen on Wednesday, October 29th at 6pm CST. Good luck – can’t wait to read all your jokes. The giveaway will be open until Wednesday, October 29th at 5pm. You must be 21+ to win tickets. UPDATE: Congrats to Aaron Speropoulos, who thanks to and Comedy in the Lou will be enjoying the Dave Chappelle show tomorrow evening! Email to claim the tickets. 

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delivering your shit, one bike ride at a time.

October 27, 2014

Spoked Couriers 2

The dudes behind Spoked Couriers chat about life (and work) on a bike. 

Seven days a week, rain or shine, Chris Vela and Matt Hartman (the brains behind Spoked Couriers) spend their time delivering everything from breakfast burritos to flowers. And they do it all on a bike. With a list of rad clients in the STL area, these guys are offering a greener way to order dinner (or flowers, or diapers, or anything really). The idea that if they can strap it to their backs or bike racks, they can deliver it, leaves the options pretty open. You guys know what this means? BREAKFAST DELIVERY IS A THING IN ST. LOUIS.

Spoked Couriers 6

How did Spoked Couriers come to be?

Chris: There was only one other company doing bicycle delivery – that was Griffin Delivery at the time – and it was kind of like a startup that the owner sold. It became a different company called Bike Waiter. I think all the riders didn’t really jive with the idea of an out-of-state owner, especially an out of state owner that didn’t really ride or have an interest in personal interaction with the riders or the businesses. There was a lot of ribble-rabble about what to do about it. Matt was like “why don’t we just do it ourselves?” That’s where the ball started rolling.

What’s your favorite part about Spoked Couriers?

Matt: Making your living on a bicycle. Being your own boss, working when you want to, and making your own schedule. Personally, I would say my favorite part is working with local businesses, local restaurants, local start ups, and being part of the community.

Chris: Taking anything, whether it be food or dry packages, whatever it is, to people when the weather is complete crap. I love it when people are like “Man, you rule. I did not want to leave the house, because its stormy or hailing or snowing.” And every time that happens, it seems to be like a challenge for us.

What are some of your favorite partnerships?

Chris: Melt gives us free coffee. And they are just super rad anyway. Handlebar is pretty rad because we are all friends with them.

Matt: Wei Hong is the busiest.

Chris: They are all great. I don’t think we’d want to work with anyone that we just didn’t get along with.

Matt: We dialogue a lot about working with people who have a great product, who we like. All our partners are a good representation of that.

You obviously both biked before Spoked Couriers, but why did you decide to become a courier?

Chris: I thought we could do it better than anyone else. I delivered pizzas when I was 17, and I enjoyed that. I pretty much took that, took all the negatives out of it, and it’s worked out so far.

Matt: I like it because you don’t have a place you have to go to clock in and sit in a room for eight hours, you are outside, moving around, having fun, seeing shit.

What’s the most challenging thing about Spoked Couriers?  

Chris: The weather. And getting to people who are not familiar with bicycle delivery. Getting people used to the fact that we can do it. It’s hard to get people on board with bike delivery – it’s better, more green, just a better service and definitely more personal.

Matt: I think the other piece of that is that people don’t want to order in when it’s shitty out. People feel really bad because you’re out riding in the bad weather to deliver them things.

Chris: The best and worst part about it is the weather. It changes fast, but when you know what it is, you can dress for it.

What is the best thing you’ve ever delivered?

Chris: On Valentines Day we all got to take flowers and chocolates to peoples sweethearts. That was probably one of the most fun days. It was fulfilling too.

Whats the hardest thing you’ve ever had to deliver?

Chris: Probably Deweys Pizza – 12 extra larges with a salad on top. Made it from Clayton to University City and it all got there.

Matt: A large catering order from Fozzies. I had to go to Half and Half and pick up another catering order mid Fozzies delivery. That was a lot of food.

What do you deliver most?

Chris: Food.

What do you wish people knew you could deliver?

Chris: Beer. Legally. We can totally legally deliver booze.

Matt: You just have to order it through one of our clients. It’s not like we can go get you a bottle from the liquor store. But you can order from Handlebar, Fortune Teller, Sashas and Yakis. You call ‘em up and place an order and we will deliver it.

Who would you love to deliver for?

Chris: I’m going to have to fall back on what I love to eat in St. Louis, John Donut and Blues City Deli. Any and every locally owned and operated small restaurant bar in our South City zone would be great too.

Matt: I’d like to get more into the packages and parcels, the traditional bike courier stuff.

Who are some people in other cities doing this that you guys think are pretty rad?

Chris: TCB, our friendly San Fransisco based courier friends. TCB just celebrated their 5th year of doing this.

Matt: When we started out, we reached out to TCB because they knew what they were doing and asked for help. They’ve been doing it for years and years and are really successful. They coached us through the whole thing, and basically got us going.

What’s the Spoked Couriers motto?

Chris: We don’t have one. It’s one of those things that if you asked us when we first started, we would’ve tried to come up with something clever. Looking back, we’ve never had anything that we’ve repeated. Anything we have to say that would be a slogan, we just draw little pictures like children. Like the logo. That’s our slogan right there. A cow (midwest), brass knuckles (grimy St. Louis), a lightning bolt (fast), 3 rivers (the 3 rivers).

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[All photos by Adrian O. Walker.]

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