An Artists Revolution
projects+gallery aims to make St. Louis a forerunner in the new and exciting collaborative world of fashion-meets-art.
The gallery was created in conjunction with Barrett Barrera Projects, the consulting venture of Barrett, who was the former director of the World Chess Hall of Fame. It features cross-media national and international artists exploring art, culture and contemporary fashion. Dorte Probstein—a former gallerist, avid St. Louis arts community supporter and board member for organizations including Laumeier Sculpture Park and Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis—will be the gallery’s director. In addition to offering a uniquely curated point of view, Barrett plans to bring a new crop of artists to the city—many of which have never shown their work in the US—and hopes to become a jumping-off point for nontraditional artists who are looking to gain footing in respected museums and institutions all over the country. “St. Louis is fast becoming a capital in biotechnology, in business startups, in chess and in emerging fashion,” says Barrett. “We knew we’d have the support and enthusiasm of the city, especially the art and fashion communities, and thought that was a huge edge in bringing artists here. We really are right in the thick of it all.”
The catalyst of the entire projects+gallery concept goes hand-in-hand with Barrett Barrera and finds roots in the work of the late, legendary Alexander McQueen, one of the first—and arguably most prominent—fashion designers to take the plunge into the art world. Now more than ever, artists across a variety of media are taking fashion headon to twist our conventional view of “wearability” and create pieces that can be shown adjacent to superstar artists like Jeff Koons or Damien Hirst. Although both Barrett and Probstein say their personal interests have always fallen within both genres, it was the expressive creativity of McQueen—and St. Louis’ now-famous nod to the master in the Barrett-directed WCHOF “A Queen Within” exhibit—that sent the sparks flying. “So much in fashion is already art,” says Probstein. “I think that the ‘gray area’ is what’s really special.”
Although the duo has set their sights on artists from all over the world, the St. Louis-focused, local element is something that is also an important aspect of the gallery. “We really want to find people locally who are creating this type of art and give them a platform that they wouldn’t normally have in the art community,” says Probstein. “We don’t want someone to have to restrict their concept of creation because they are doing something that doesn’t fit into a specific category. We want to help give them a voice.” So far, the roster of upcoming exhibitionists consists of creatives who are breaking down boundaries within the industry: Performer and outspoken artist extraordinaire Larry Krone from New York and goth/punk duo Fantich & Young from east London have been confirmed for 2015, in addition to their current grand-opening exhibitionist, Paris-based fashion artist Hideki Seo, whose solo retrospective will be on display through June 20.
When it comes to talent, Barrett and Probstein are happily swimming in it. “There are so many people we want to feature—we may need to have more exhibits in shorter periods,” says Barrett with a smile. “And did I mention that we have an inventory of secondary market contemporary art that I’ve been working on collecting for years [from the likes of Tom Friedman, Chantal Joffe, Cindy Sherman, Hassan Hajjaj, Andy Warhol, Marilyn Minter]? We really should show those, too.”
Owners Susan Barrett and Dorte Probstein