Over the past year, a number of apartment galleries, alternative exhibition spaces and new curatorial platforms have emerged out of the active St. Louis arts community. One of the most consistently lauded of these has been Los Caminos, a small but significant apartment gallery overlooking Cherokee Street. The co-directors, Cole Root and Francesca Wilmott, bring a strong background from the more formal end of the art world to bear in this uniquely personal, but critically inventive space. Balancing a commitment to local artists with an eye to increasing exchange with other cities, Los Caminos has quickly become one of the most influential local spaces to engage with contemporary work.
Address: 2649 Cherokee St., St. Louis, MO 63118
Open Hours: By appointment only
Contact Person: Cole Root and Francesca Wilmott
How is the project operated? (For-profit, nonprofit, artist-run, etc.)
Los Caminos is an alternative art space located in a second floor apartment in Saint Louis’s Cherokee Street neighborhood. Though neither of the directors are artists, Los Caminos most closely aligns with the idea of an “artist-run-space” as we’re neither formally a commercial or non-profit gallery.
How long has it been in existence?
Los Caminos opened its first exhibition in October 2010.
Number of organizers/responsible persons of the project:
Cole Root and Francesca Wilmott co-direct the space. Graphic designer Caitlin Bauler developed the logo and web design. We have additionally partnered with other artists and curators on programming and hope to continue to collaborate with organizations both within and outside St. Louis in the future.
How are programs funded? (ie membership fees, public funding, sponsors, etc.)
Los Caminos is funded entirely by the directors and artists. Schlafly also generously donates beer for our openings.
Who is responsible for the programming? (Curators, Directors, etc)
We both routinely visit artist’s studios and attend exhibition openings on the look out for work that we find relevant and exciting. Sometimes Cole takes the lead on an exhibition and sometimes Francesca does. We are both involved with each exhibition in one way or another.
How is your programming determined? Do you accept proposals/submissions?
There’s no rhyme or reason to how we program exhibitions. We decide what to exhibit based on the quality of the work that we have seen. All artist and curatorial submissions are accepted and reviewed for consideration.
What was your motivation?
Initially we just wanted a place to curate exhibitions and for artists to work out their ideas. More and more our mission is tied to the growth of Cherokee Street and we’re excited to be part of such a vibrant community. It’s also important for us to spotlight artists working within St. Louis, but more importantly, to place them in dialogue with artists working in other cities.
Number and average duration of exhibitions/events per year:
By the end of our first year Los Caminos will have held ten exhibitions. On average, each exhibition is up for six weeks. We have also held a number of one-night events.
What kind of events are usually organized?
We organize exhibition openings and closing receptions for each show. In February we hosted Sloup, which was a great way to engage many people who hadn’t visited our space before. In August we will host our first artist’s talk and in September our first performance.
What is your artistic/curatorial approach?
Our curatorial approach is based around the freedom and flexibility of the space. It’s important for us to give artists the opportunity to explore and take risks.
What’s working? What’s not working?
What we have established so far seems to be working out. We’ve been really pleased with how receptive the St. Louis press has been to covering shows that aren’t in a traditional exhibition setting. The foot-traffic within the gallery can be sparse after our opening nights, so we’d love for more people to see our shows outside of the openings. We are also starting to think about developing other programs that will bring more people into the space.
What kind of role do you hope to play in your local art scene or community?
One of our major ambitions is to encourage others to open their own spaces. St. Louis has an abundance of artists, curators, and affordable space, and it would be great to see more apartment galleries open up!
What idea are you most excited about for the future?
We have a really busy summer planned with shows in July and August, and two shows in September. We look forward to exhibiting two video projects and a performance piece as we’ve never exhibited these mediums before and are excited to adapt the space to their unique demands. Fall will open with a group show that has been in the works for a while. We are also excited about the idea of going mobile and curating exhibitions outside of our space. Los Caminos is in the process of curating its first off-site exhibition and we are exploring other approaches to expanding our programming.
Images courtesy of Los Caminos.