Chautauqua Art Lab 2009-2013
The Chautauqua Art Lab (CQAL) was a grassroots community-focused event in St Louis City spanning several years that linked artists and DIY venues throughout the St Louis Metro area through a series of events and happenings. Though focus and scope varied, each event featured a Pecha Kucha-style talk (without a time restraint) and exhibitions. The aim of CQAL was to serve as an incubator for new projects, ideas, and relationships. Over the years it existed, it connected 100s of artists, community members, and spaces throughout the region.
The event's origin was a one-night event organized by Emily Hemeyer that was part of a 2009 exhibition featuring the works of Sarah Paulsen and Eric Repice at Fort Gondo Gallery on Cherokee Street in St Louis, MO. The exhibition was also the catalyst for the People's Joy Parade, a community parade that is still happening in the Benton Park neighborhood. Emily was the primary coordinator of CQAL, which became a week-long festival with locations throughout the city.
The initial idea was loosely based on the Chautauqua Movement, an adult education and social movement of the late 19th and 20th centuries that spread throughout rural America. Events often included speakers, presentations, and classes that were frequently hosted in large tents. Often Chautauqua events would last for a week, sometimes longer. Eventually the cultural and education system shifted, there was no longer a need for Chautauqua events- which was truly a success. CQAL had a similar trajectory. When similar events popped up and community offerings expanded, there was no longer need for CQAL. It served its intended purpose.