Neighborhood Profile: Cherokee Street Gallery

This Friday, June 29th Cherokee Street will experience, Cherokee Street Gallery’s inaugural art opening, “Messages from Mercury” from 6pm to 10pm. The show will feature artwork by the gallery’s founder, Benjamin Lowder

“It’s a continuing series where I’m using reclaimed materials and vintage metal signage to deconstruct the messages that were there originally in advertising,” Lowder said. “One thing I’m introducing is caution barricades, which is something I haven’t aesthetically done before in my work. The barricades have a warning message, which ties into the title of the show.”

“Messages from Mercury” draws from the mythological idea that the planet Mercury is the messenger between worlds, presenting itself to humans as the mythological character Hermes. Hermes is a protector of travelers that functions “as a scribe to communicate the source of creation’s will to humanity in order to guide us on the right path,” according to Cherokee Street Gallery’s website

Attendees of the show will also notice literal fence posts in Lowder’s work. The use of posts represents a double meaning for Lowder. “We post on social media and on the internet to communicate but now, given things like fake news, social media can be used to put people on the wrong path,” Lowder said. “The posts also represent signposts that are used by travelers as long as there have been roads. It’s a system to indicate the correct path.” 

Through the use of objects like the deconstructed caution barricades and fence posts, Lowder’s artwork uses the mythological narrative as an allegory to express the idea that humans are in “danger of losing touch with our guiding archetypal forces and this disconnection could cause us to go the wrong way. This message from mercury is essentially a call for us to acknowledge our hubris,” Lowder said on Cherokee Street Gallery’s website.

The show also features artwork from two other local artists, Jerald Ieans and Zack Smithey. “Both of these artists have uniquely strong voices and in considering their work, it seemed to us, that their artworks were having a dialogue with each other.” Cherokee Street Gallery’s, managing gallerist, Lisa Simani said.

Messages from Mercury” will run through July and August. 

Opening a gallery on Cherokee Street was a natural fit for Lowder. “The authenticity of social fabric along with the emerging identity of the neighborhood felt authentic and organic,” Lowder said. 

“The intent of the gallery is to show artists—not just local, but national and international artists, too—who choose to make the work they are called to make, whether or not it conforms to trends or what the art or auction market happens to be favoring this year,” according to a write-up on the gallery in St. Louis Magazine. 

Cherokee Street Gallery’s next show will feature the artwork of New York native, Al Diaz and is set to open on Sept. 8th. Diaz will “exhibit work and share his perspective on SAMO©… ‘As an end to mindwash religion, nowhere politics and bogus philosophies.'”

Lowder hopes that bringing in artists with international success will connect locals on and around Cherokee Street to artists who come from a similar environment.

Cherokee Street Gallery is located at 2617 Cherokee Street. Check out the gallery’s upcoming shows on their website.