The Juice and Galeria Obscura: Two One-of-a-Kind Spaces Share a Cherokee Street Location
A new art gallery opened in St. Louis, and you may have already been inside. Galeria Obscura is the space directly connected to The Juice—a fresh juice and sandwich shop on Cherokee Street. Maybe you have stopped in for a pretzel gyro sandwich or a refreshing apple, celery and ginger drink, but now you can stay for a variety of events hosted in the space just next door.
Co-owner John Randall says The Juice’s past art shows, hosted by Katryn Dierksen, were some of the venue’s best events. When Dierksen accepted a full-time job to advance her career as an artist, Randall approached Rosa Bretado about reinventing the event space. He had met Bretado several years before at a jam session, and the pair instantly hit it off. “[We] wound up singing Madonna’s ‘Borderline’ together that night. I always loved her motivation and spirit,” Randall says.
As event coordinator, Bretado brought the idea to black out the walls. Although it was contrary to Randall’s vision, after his initial protest, the walls were darkened and Galeria Obscura came to life. The name is “a nod both to the fact that the room is painted black and that Cherokee has a vibrant Hispanic and Latino population,” says Randall.
Galeria Obscura hosts a variety of events, ranging from open mic nights and album release parties to the recent “Breathless Culture: A Taxidermic Art Exhibit” by Lady Von Black, all encouraging guests to lose themselves in the midst of a dark space illuminated by soft lighting. “We want the artists and the viewers to escape into a world of imagination and inspiration,” says Bretado.
Though the room lends itself to the dark and mysterious, Bretado has been carefully engineering each installation, changing the feel of the room with subtle lighting or tailored seating arrangements. “We are looking for anything impactful and forward thinking, but we are far from snobs and welcome very traditional art as well,” Randall says.
The dark walls are not the only thing that sets this gallery apart from most. “I wouldn’t bank on us being the only one in the U.S., but I bet that there are not very many alcoholic juice bars with an active art gallery,” says Randall. That’s right—you can add your choice of booze to your fresh-squeezed juice or smoothie.
As far as the future of the gallery, the partners have big plans. “In the near future, I am working on a series of intimate, well-produced live audio and video recordings with a rotating cast of musicians, kind of like an ‘Austin City Limits’ type thing,” Randall says, while Bretado envisions creating a “gypsy-type entity.” You might find Galeria Obscuras popping up all over the city.
Images courtesy of Lisa Cichon.