When Nurses for Newborns hosted a black-tie gathering at McCaughen & Burr Art Gallery in Webster Groves, the formally attired guests were surrounded by walls dressed in equally elegant fashion. Illuminated works by Joseph Vorst, T.H. Benton and other important American artists are featured throughout the 6,000-square-foot, two-story space, the oldest continuously operating art gallery west of the Mississippi River.
Gallery owner Scott Kerr says the historic building is a popular venue for nonprofit events. “This is a distinguished structure with a colorful history. It was built around 1870 and originally housed Parker Livery and Undertaking Company. In 1926 it became home to Rudolph’s Shoes and Dry Goods, and we purchased it from David Rudolph Jr. eight years ago.” After acquiring the building, Kerr gutted the entire structure, which includes another 3,000 square feet on the lower level that serves as the restoration and framing workshop. “Event planners can use any caterer and florist they choose, and there’s a full kitchen on the top floor,” he explains.
Randall Gallery in downtown St. Louis is described by owner Mark Gidmann as ‘a banquet facility with the excitement of a contemporary art gallery.’ The restored Civil War-era building offers more than 22,000 square feet for wedding receptions and other special events. It is adorned by a rotating art collection, but does not operate as an active art gallery. “This means the gallery is available for events 24 hours a day, seven days a week for private parties,” he explains. And because this is a ‘single-use’ facility, guests have complete privacy. There is never another event scheduled in an adjoining room, so everyone can enjoy all three floors of art and sculpture, while our professional staff handles the details and coordinates the flow of the party.” The gallery has a cavernous professional kitchen where food is freshly prepared to order, and even the bread is baked on site. The lower level is a popular spot for unique photos, says Gidmann, with members of the wedding party often posing with the larger-than-life ‘junkyard’ sculptures by artist Mark Coughlin. Individual wire sculptures are provided for use as table centerpieces for brides who prefer art over traditional floral arrangements.
Since the debut of the Duane Reed Gallery in 1994, owner Duane Reed has made the gallery available to a variety of St. Louis nonprofits for private events. “We hosted Pets Are Wonderful Support (PAWS) for many years, “ he says, “And also Hope Happens, which was a terrific gala. And last fall we had a benefit for Foot Outreach.” The Food Outreach event featured the work of Dale Chihuly, the master glass artist represented by Reed. Literary creativity joined artistic expression in May, when St. Louis Poetry Center presented its 51st annual Poetry Concert at the gallery.
Although event planners can choose any caterer, Reed used Bryan Young Catering Plus for a private gathering he hosted, a surprise birthday party for a friend. Reed also enlisted the services of several friends, who managed to deliver two organs for the entertainment, and tables and chairs for 125 guests. “It was a little tricky getting the guest of honor there, since the gallery is closed on Sunday, but we pulled it off!”