I don't know how I feel about urban billboards. Usually, they're ugly and dwarf the buildings they're superimposed upon. Sometimes, at their best, they add color and life to barren streetscapes. The venerable Skyscraper Page forums have a great thread dedicated to urban neighborhoods that take billboards to an awe-inspiring extreme--lighting them and allowing them to consume entire facades of buildings, a la Times Square in New York City. Check that out here.
Here in St. Louis, we don't have a Times Square. We just have some rusty billboards often attached to turn of the century commercial buildings--such as on Gravois Avenue.
Well, one art gallery in McKinley Heights (on Gravois) has taken a billboard and made it a true urban asset. According to an excellent Post-Dispatch article highlighting unconventional art galleries, Good Citizen owner Andrew James chose a spot on high-speed Gravois due to the billboard that came packaged with the building. Now the south side of the billboard is handed over to artists who wish to promote their shows, while the north-facing side is open for arts organizations to rent. The vacated billboard used to advertise Casino Queen slots. Below is a shot of artist Jennifer Flores' work on the Good Citizen billboard. To see others, click here to visit their Facebook page.
While the following discussion deserves its own post, I recently had a brief Twitter back-'n'-forth on whether/what parts of St. Louis constitute a "real city"--and what that terms means. To me, a real city is surprising and interesting around every corner. St. Louis's architecture--and often its people--pull these requirements off already. But one thing under-represented in St. Louis's landscape is both informal and formal art--murals, thoughtful graffiti, and other random and possibly unsanctioned bursts of color and ideas on city objects. Don't get me wrong--I know some of this is here already. We just need more. Artists reclaiming billboards is a great step in the right direction! This reads "real city" to me--whatever that means!
5 hours ago