Grand Center Arts District

Monday July 31, 2017

Recognized as the cultural hub of the region, Grand Center Arts District offers art for everyone — no matter one’s taste. An electrifying deluge of culinary, visual, and performing arts will stimulate all who venture within the one-mile, 175-acre radius, chocked full of sensory delights. With more than 12,000 theater seats representing 50 arts organizations, 20 restaurants and bars, a dozen art museums, two hotels, two performing arts parks, and two universities, the area is a vibrant epicenter of action.

Whether you’re into traditional, eclectic or experimental food, art or theater, Grand Center Arts District caters to all. Every hour. Every day. All year long.

Nearly two million patrons filter through the area annually, whether as a patron of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra at Powell Hall, The Fabulous Fox Theatre, the Sheldon Concert Hall and Art Galleries, the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts, the Kranzberg Arts Center, and the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, or many other stops.

But that’s just the beginning. Think total immersion — walking architectural tours every Saturday morning; daily performances, classes, happy hours, and concerts in Strauss Park; gallery hopping and dinner at The Best Steak House, serving steaks, sandwiches and sides in relaxed cafeteria style digs since 1964; lunch at a food truck every Tuesday during summer; followed by a visit to Miss M’s Candy Boutique Sweet Shop, filled with a colorful array of sweet delectables. For a complete list of events and entertainment hotspots, visit grandcenter.org.

The distance between the north-south boundary of the neighborhood on Grand Avenue – from Lindell to Martin Luther King Drive — is nicknamed “steeple to steeple,” in reference to the two churches that anchor either end, St. Alphonses Ligouri Catholic Church and St. Francis Xavier College Church. The east-west boundaries are from Compton to Vandeventer. From downtown, take the Metro Link to the Grand station stop; public bus service is available as well. Two garages, a number of surface lots and streetside spots provide ample parking for visitors who prefer to drive.

The district hosts more than 1,500 arts and festival events each year, including National Dance Week in Grand Center (April); the Tennessee Williams Festival (April); Strauss Park Alive (summer); Arts & Faith St. Louis (September), which began on the 10th anniversary of 9/11 and includes an interfaith commemoration in music; and the KDHX Folk and Roots Festival (September), which includes old-time, bluegrass, country and blues, as well as workshops, a square dance, Folk School Fiddle contest and a Murder Ballad Ball.

Theater buff? The Grand Theater Crawl (July) showcases 22 local theater groups in free, short performances over two days, a great way to sample some of the city’s theatrical offerings. And there are many – The .ZACK, The Grandel Theatre, the Marcelle Theater, and the Kranzberg Arts Center provide a wealth of thought-provoking theatrical experiences, all at affordable prices. See the latest touring Broadway show at the Fabulous Fox Theatre. In August, the St. Lou Fringe Festival offers drama, dance, comedy, slam/spoken word, fashion, vaudeville, and circus arts, all concentrated within several city blocks in an explosive pressure cooker of artistic expression. On any given night, there are a half-dozen Fringe shows with street performers roaming the festival grounds.

Music lover? Enjoy the best of live jazz – the living legends as well as the rising stars — emanating from Jazz at the Bistro, the intimate performance space that offers cabaret seating, dinner and drinks. Saxophonist David Sanborn, pianist Peter Martin, Freddy Cole and the Wynton Marsalis Jazz Band are just a few of the jazz greats who grace the stage. Additional music venues that cater to every genre, including the Dark Room, Curtain Call Lounge and the Stage at KDHX, are just a short walk away. Not sure which one to choose? Join the free Wednesday Night Jazz Crawl, a walking tour of three different locations each week.

Prefer the quiet space of a gallery? In a one-block area on Washington Avenue, art lovers can peruse the vastly contrasting exhibits displayed at four museums and galleries right across the street from each other. Others, including the McNamee Gallery at SLU and the Moto Museum, are located just a short walk in either direction. The International Photography Hall of Fame provides a unique look into the minds of famous photographers such as Ansel Adams, Diane Arbus, Margaret Bourke and Mathew Brady. Interactive digital displays provide a different lens from which to appreciate the work.

Food aficionado? If you’re hungry, Grand Center can stimulate your taste buds. Brunch at Turn Restaurant, lunch from a food truck at Strauss Park, dessert at Miss M’s, beer flights at Urban Chestnut Brewing Co., loaded nachos at the Field House Pub and Grill. Still hungry? Frequent the art cafes, rooftop bars, a sushi lounge, and outdoor cafes.

Beyond arts and entertainment, Grand Center also serves as a St. Louis public media hub for KDHX Radio, Nine Network and St. Louis Public Broadcasting; includes schools and universities for nearly 12,000 students; and provides space for up and coming artists in various incubator and arts spaces.

So, what are you waiting for? Get your art on at Grand Center.

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