The Angad Arts Hotel in St. Louis’ Covenant Blu Grand Center neighborhood continues to reign as perhaps the metro area’s most idiosyncratic showcase for visual art with “Black Nonpareil.”
Vanessa Rudloff, the Angad’s art relations manager, describes “Black Nonpareil,” which opened on Nov. 1, as an “exhibition of talented local Black artists, established and emerging, that are part of shaping our city’s future.” It runs till April 25.
By way of explaining the conception and execution of “Black Nonpareil,” which comprises 29 pieces by 17 artists, Rudloff relates that the 146-room venue “exhibits the work of local and regional artists from within 200 miles of the hotel. We, historically, take submissions two times a year from which we curate the public spaces.”
The COVID-19 pandemic, Rudloff continues, predictably disrupted the hotel’s regular rotation – but that disruption led the Angad to a classic pivot and “the opportunity to do something special.”
“The nation’s unrest at this time had our thoughts with our community,” she says. “We made the statement on social media that ‘we cannot appreciate the arts and culture of our Black neighbors without first celebrating and protecting Black lives.’”
In lieu of regular submissions, Rudloff notes that she “reached out to the artists of our Black community to create an exhibition to amplify their voices and celebrate the importance of their work. The work was without an overarching theme but, rather, based on supporting the individual artists.”
Rudloff then “curated the public spaces from the works of established artists like Cbabi Bayoc and Lola Ogbara, as well as emerging talents like the photographer Tiffany Sutton and poet Blakk. The usual 30 percent commission was altered to give more back to these artists and the Black community. All of the work is for sale; 10 percent of those sales supports All Black Creatives, which provides free classes, networking opportunities and job referrals to emerging Black leaders in creative and tech fields, while 80 percent of the sale goes to the artist.”
Rudloff also extols the Angad’s unique status as a venue for viewing visual art distinct from area galleries and museums.
“The hotel lends itself to a sense of exploration, with so many different spaces in which to discover new work,” she says. “We wish visitors to stop and take a moment to read about each of our artists in the statements accompanying their artwork on display. We hope the viewer walks away with a further appreciation of the depth of the talent in our city and the community that lives here. The pieces are always for sale to encourage further growth of that community.”
Finally, since the exhibition’s opening – with “Imperfect Pixels,” a nine-image interactive solo exhibition from local artist Travis Sheridan – “Black Nonpareil” has garnered quite favorable attention from viewers and other visitors to the Angad, Rudloff relates.
“The support has been almost palpable, with encouraging comments reflecting the importance of seeing so many Black artists featured together in one place,” she says. “With emerging and established [artists] displayed side by side, no viewers had seen all the artists on display, which added a breadth to the local viewers’ experience.
“One artist that has been exhibited several times alongside many of the other big names commented that she had anticipated the exhibition to be similar to those that she had been in before but was pleasantly surprised to see the work brought together in a fresh, new way.
“We had six artworks sold in the first week, two pieces from the [concurrent] ‘Imperfect Pixels’ exhibition by Travis Sheridan on the first floor. We are nearly two months into the six months they are on display and have already raised nearly $1,000 for the All Black Creatives foundation.”
Angad Arts Hotel, 3550 Samuel Shepard Drive, St. Louis, 314-561-0033, angadartshotel.com