Critical Mass for the Visual Arts

Critical Mass for the Visual Arts is a nonprofit, self-formed visual arts collaborative dedicated to promoting, enhancing and initiating contemporary visual art in the St. Louis region.


5 Questions Episode 17- Mel Watkin

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Join the 5 Questions crew as we interview Mel Watkin- artist, curator, lover of resurgent nature, and delightfully thoughtful and fascinating human! Mel’s solo exhibitions include shows at Franklin Furnace, New York, Illinois State Museum-Chicago, the Hyde Park Art Center in Chicago, and the Philip Slein Gallery, and the Missouri Botanical Garden, both in St. Louis. Her drawing installations, works-on-paper and artists’ books have been exhibited nationally in group exhibitions at the Sheldon Galleries, and Laumeier Sculpture Park both in St. Louis, the Grand Rapids Art Museum in Michigan, Longue Vue House in New Orleans, and the Salina Art Center and the Daum Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas. Articles about her artwork have appeared in Art in America, The Washington Post, The Baltimore Sun, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, The Atlanta Journal, Riverfront Times, St. Louis Beacon and The New Art Examiner.  Mel Watkin has been awarded residencies, fellowships and grants including the Critical Mass Creative Stimulus Grant and the Kranzberg Foundation, St. Louis, Pollock-Kranser Foundation, New York; Palazzo Rinaldi, Noepoli, Italy, the Ragdale Foundation in Lake Forest Illinois; the Illinois Arts Council, Chicago; Ucross Foundation, Wyoming, Artist’s Space; New York and Pyramid Atlantic; Maryland.  Her work has been included in the flat files at Pierogi Gallery, New York and her works-on-paper can be found in the collection of the Spencer Museum of Art in Lawrence, Kansas, Laumeier Sculpture Park and a number of private collections nationally. Her artists’ books are in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, Franklin Furnace Archive, New York, Harvard University’s Fogg Museum, the New York Public Library, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and the Joan Flasch Artists’ Book Collection at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Creative Stimulus Project Call – Due August 10, 2018


Since 2008, Critical Mass for the Visual Arts has recognized the needs of outstanding local visual artists through the Creative Stimulus Project.  Building upon the mission of Critical Mass to promote and initiate contemporary visual art in St. Louis, the Creative Stimulus Project provides up to three artists or artist collaborations with $1,500 of unrestricted operating capital, the opportunity to exhibit their work in a group exhibition, and participation in the Critical Mass “5 Questions” podcast. Recipients are also eligible to curate future Creative Stimulus exhibitions. Award recipients will receive stipends based on the outstanding nature of their work and their commitment to advancement and career development.  Submissions will be reviewed by a jury panel comprised of local artists, arts professionals, and former Creative Stimulus Award winners. Past recipients include: Jessica Baran, Martin Brief, Tate Foley, Cameron Fuller, Meghan Grubb, Emily Hemeyer, Sarrita Hunn, David Johnson, Asma Kazmi, Angela Malchionno, William Morris, Sarah Paulsen, Carlie Trosclair, Mel Watkin, Brett Williams, Ellie Balk, Addoley Dzegede, Amy Reidel, Sage Dawson, Kahlil Irving and Adrienne Outlaw.  Applications due August 10, 2018. For more information, click the link above; For a full list of past recipients check out this link:


Announcing The Public Works Project Finalists!

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Critical Mass for the Visual Arts is pleased to announce three artists as finalists for the second in a series of temporary public art installations, the Public Works Project. The Public Works Project will commission one artist to create a temporary, site-specific public art project, at a site in Downtown St. Louis, focusing on the Riverfront, Gateway Arch and Kiener Plaza. The finalists are Lizzy Martinez, Margaret Keller and Steph Zimmerman!


Critical Conversations – A Matter of Taste- Video Now Available

Thanks to all who came out for our most recent Critical Conversation- A Matter of Taste. In particular, thanks to our panel James McAnally, Jessica Baran, and Elizabeth Wolfson! These three took on critical agency, taste, canon, and dug into their own critical and organizational presuppositions with regard to supporting artists and furthering and supporting creative practice. Critical Mass would also like to thank The Luminary, and all of you who engaged with our panel either digitally or otherwise.


2018 Creative Stimulus Award Exhibition


This exhibition, curated by past Creative Stimulus Award-winner Mel Watkin, presents work by the 2018 winners of the Critical Mass Creative Stimulus Award: Kahlil Robert Irving, Adrienne Outlaw and Sage Dawson. Winning artists received an award of $1,500 to use as creative operating capital, along with the opportunity to present their work in this exhibition, which is hosted by the Sheldon Art Galleries. Creative Stimulus awards unrestricted funding to support artists to pursue special projects, experiment with new techniques and deepen their understanding of their working processes. The show opens to the public Friday June 1, from 5-7 pm and closes August 12 at The Sheldon Art Galleries- 3700 Grandel Square, St. Louis, MO 63108. For hours of operation, check out the Sheldon’s website.