Artwork takes on a whole new hue when you get to talk to the people who are creating it.
Today I visited St. Charles, a town in eastern Missouri known for it historic 1800s downtown and its association with Lewis and Clark’s expedition. There’s plenty of charm on the brick-lined streets, and many historic sites to visit. But the one that interested me the most was the Foundry Arts Centre.
Created as a railroad car manufacturing facility in the 1940s, the foundry later closed and sat dormant for years. In the 1990s and early 2000s, a community effort helped to turn the facility into an arts center with gallery space for artwork exhibition and studio space where local artists can work.
Today the Foundry Arts Centre is the cultural headquarters of St. Charles, hosting concerts, art shows, lectures luncheons and other events. The permanent galleries on the bottom floor host a series of changing exhibitions of work by local and regional artists. In the upstairs section, some 25 working artists have studios, where they can be found creating paintings, sculptures, fabric art, pottery and other art forms.
My favorite part of the visit was walking through the studios and meeting the artists who work there. Two of them are retired art teachers who are pursuing their life passions now after decades in education. They explained the inspiration behind their work, and shared some of the processes and techniques they use to create painting and pottery that they love and that appeal to art buyers.
Meeting these guys helped me to put a human face on the artwork, and allowed to see the items in front of me through the perspective of their experience, creativity and passions. If you’re only a casual art liker, a visit to the foundry just might turn you in to a bona fide art lover.