Art Mavens

 In Culture, Interviews

These local art powerhouses give girl power a whole new meaning.


Lost and Found

Mel Trad

Sculpture Artist

On any given day of the week, Mel Trad might be found exploring abandoned buildings or poking around architectural salvage yards. The resourceful artist searches for inspiration and interesting materials wherever she can find or buy them, then manipulates those materials into one-of-a-kind sculptures that connect us to our past. A “big turning point” came this year when she achieved a major financial and career milestone as a 2012 winner in the Contemporary Art Museum’s prestigious Great Rivers Biennial. But, it’s the process that motivates her more than the finished work. For Trad, it’s about the journey of discovery, where her finished work exists not only as an art object, but as a window into ideas and the perception of meaning. Although she has demonstrated artistic skill since she was young, it’s only in the last four years that she has concentrated on sculpture, much of which addresses gender and the human body—the push and pull of masculine and feminine combined in the same piece. In addition to CAM, her works have been shown locally at Pig Slop Studios and Fort Gondo Compound for the Arts, as well as in California at the Under the Bridge and Helen Lindhurst Fine Arts Galleries. Trad is currently busy developing her own STL gallery, Lemp308, where she’ll serve in a loose curatorial role and as an artist. Until then, Trad hopes to keep on her current path: working in her Lemp Brewery studio creating art that explores how we express ideas and value objects. She acknowledges that there will always be new chapters, new developments and new avenues that she’ll find herself on, but one thing is certain: She’ll “always, always, continue to make art.”win



Mel Trad & Gina Alvarez

Heavy Mettle

Gina Alvarez

Fiber Artist, VSA Executive Director

& “I feel like I’m still in a trajectory,” says Gina Alvarez, a well-established St. Louis fiber artist, arts administrator and teacher. To top it off, she was just named the Executive Director of VSA Missouri, the statewide organization on arts and disability, where she’ll organize art exhibitions throughout the state to create opportunities for artists with disabilities. As a person who’s accustomed to jumping right in and getting her hands dirty, Alvarez tested her mettle by taking an arts administrator position in Italy right after college without even knowing the language. The international position left her well-equipped to take over as the education and gallery director at St. Louis Artists’ Guild, and now VSA, where she’ll use her knowledge of contemporary art to help others. Then there’s her own art, seen in galleries from New York to Chicago and locally at Fontbonne, SLU, UMSL, Fort Gondo, The Sheldon, Art Saint Louis and Craft Alliance, where she was the first fiber artist-in-residence‰ÛÓnot to mention a recipient of a 2012 Grand Center Visionary Award. Most recently, Alvarez received a grant from Critical Mass, along with two collaborators, to produce a book titled “366 Skies,” featuring a picture of the sky taken by Alvarez every day of the leap year, accompanied by an original poem produced by Jessica Baran and printed by Amy Thompson of Paper Boat Studios. Meanwhile, she’s adding to her already full palette by opening a studio this October in South City to teach classes, hold exhibitions and provide opportunities for other artists. That’s what she loves about being an administrator, and it’s exactly where she sees herself in the future‰ÛÓgiving others a chance to create and show their art.

String Theory

Celeste Golden Boyer


How do you get to Carnegie Hall? First Violinist Celeste Golden Boyer says it takes more than practice. It takes dedication, heart, an indescribable love for music and even a little serendipity‰ÛÓthe very same qualities that landed her the position of Second Associate Concertmaster with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, a position she calls her dream job. Boyer’s yellow brick road began when she first picked up a violin at age 3. As luck would have it, a violinist from the Dallas Symphony moved in across the street and became her teacher at age 11, just when she was thinking about giving up the hobby. From that point on, Boyer never looked back‰ÛÓshe went on to serve as a member of the Fort Worth Symphony; appear as a soloist with the Indianapolis, Dallas and Riga, Latvia symphonies; and receive several fellowships. Her first appearance at Carnegie Hallcame at age 15 as a member of the New York String Orchestra Seminar, an opportunity Boyer says informed her future through the people she met. When she got the call for the St. Louis Symphony job, she was so overwhelmed that she broke down into tears. “It was the feeling that I was finally doing what I was supposed to be doing,” she says. Now, she’s cherishing the hours of home preparation, the intense, focused rehearsals and the joy the orchestra has playing together. Although you might not be able to see her perform with the symphony during its ground-breaking four-city European tour this month, be sure to stop by Powell Hall later this year and look for the violinist wearing the expression of pure joy on her face.


Celeste Golden Boyer, Shanara Gabrielle & Ashley Tate


Photo credit: Jennifer Silverberg

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