Ferguson Better Block Project Pop-Up Series

CEL Architecture & Design Center has organized a series of one day pop-up exhibitions during Ferguson’s Better Block Project in the city’s historic downtown district.

Ferguson Installation

Seven Artists—JE Baker, Lauren Cardenas, Megan Collins, Brett Kreher, Robert Long, Marie Bannerot McInerney, and Emily Squires—have shown an array of work (including drawings, paintings, sculpture, and mixed media) in a vacant building on the 100 block of South Florissant.

Originally part of the Ferguson Department Store, the building at 27 S. Florissant has had many lives. In recent years Northern Arts Council occupied parts of the space, and on Saturday, October 15th, the building was filled with art and commerce once again.

The Better Block Project, a national initiative to redevelop communities, with a focus on improving transportation options and reducing carbon emissions. Community volunteers design and install their ideally redeveloped street for one day. The event in Ferguson will include widened sidewalks with outdoor café seating, a comics store, the Creative Exchange Lab’s art show intervention, and more.

The first Pop-Up was curated by Yoko Kiyoi. (NEXT ONES?)
Pop-Up Exhibitions were installed on October 15, 22, 29, November 5, 19, 26, December 10, 17. (?)

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A Video Of The Ferguson Better Blocks Project

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Overnight, the 100 block of Florissant Road in Ferguson, just north of Saint Louis City, developed into one of the most creative, eclectic, and sustainable blocks in the Saint Louis Area. The City of Ferguson widened the sidewalks to better accommodate pedestrians and outdoor cafe seating, added a bike path, brought in new saplings to green the streets. The vacant buildings on the block suddenly filled with commerce—a cafe, a comic-book store, an antique shop. One building was brimming with arts and crafts, including our first Creative Exchange Lab Pop-Up Exhibition, but only for one day.

The Better Block Project is national initiative to redevelop communities, with a focus on improving transportation options and reducing carbon emissions. At a Better Block Event, community volunteers design and install their ideally redeveloped street for one day. The entire event is a show, a vision, and a publicity stunt for a neighborhood with viable architectural heirlooms and a vision for sustainability. Ferguson’s Better Block event popped up on Saturday, October 15th at about sunrise across from the thriving Ferguson Farmers Market. The entire scene was picturesque—a pedestrian-friendly, music-filled street with members of the community and visitors popping in and out of the new commercial, entertainment, and art spaces.

Creative Exchange Lab participated with our first Pop-Up Exhibition. Six artists from Washington University Sam Fox School—E Baker, Lauren Cardenas, Megan Collins, Robert Long, Marie Bannerot McInerney, and Emily Squires installed work in a light-filled front room of the Old Ferguson Department Store Building. Local artist Sarah Paulsen shared her work in another room of this fascinating, cavernous building. All day community members and passersby perused the artists’ work and experienced the old interior of this familiar space being reused in a new way. Creative Exchange Lab Pop-Up Exhibitions strive to create such new interfaces with architecture in order to shine light on viable vacant spaces in Saint Louis and show how art and design can be useful tools to reflect on, adapt, and innovate place and culture in our city.

The Ferguson Better Block Project having come and gone, it is now up to local developers, city government, and the public to keep pushing for sustainable redevelopment of this block. From all of the excitement on the day of the event, it seems certain that some of the ideas, enterprises, and buildings involved in the one day pop-up will have another life soon.

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