Establishing a cutting-edge art gallery and helping to revitalize an inner city neighborhood doesn’t leave much time for self-marketing, but St. Louis-based artist and gallery owner Julie Malone has a much broader vision. A Kansas City native with a BFA in Studio Art and Painting, Malone moved to St. Louis in the 1990s for a career as a digital designer. Since the birth of SOHA Studio & Gallery in 2011, though, she has been living her lifelong dream of owning a gallery that supports community, and a wider community than the fine arts alone. Malone’s world includes the Southampton (SoHa) neighborhood that her gallery has helped to invigorate, where SOHA Studio & Gallery sits (with its SoHa flag waving) as a proud anchor among the fine shops, gardens, drinking and dining establishments of this little oasis in the city.
Not every exhibit at SOHA leaves its visitors in a state of artistic complacency, but this is part of Malone’s agenda. Sometimes, she curates events that seem to poke and prod viewers with an intent focused on irritating them into questioning their own limits and boundaries. This Malone does with confidence and charm, secure in her role as a conduit for art rather than as a critic. And the SOHA effect isn’t just for grown-ups.
Since its inception, SOHA Studio has earned a fine reputation for its community outreach and hands-on art programs for children and youth. On Friday, January 18, SOHA will host a special exhibit by Fine Line Studios, a local art-based day program that supports people with developmental disabilities. The entire month of February is Young Artist Month at SOHA, where artists between the ages of 0 and 18 can take part in a real-life gallery experience, from creation to exhibition to reception. (Many works will be offered for sale as well.)
Because Malone is an artist as well as a gallery owner, she possesses a unique insight into the spheres of the artists and programs she supports, and she uses this insight to advocate for artists and the arts. While her promotion tends always to benefit the collective, it is refreshing when, on rare occasions, St. Louis gets a show that is all about Julie. Malone’s October solo show, “Escape Options,” hosted by Art Dimensions St. Louis, was one such affair, and if lingering crowds are any indication (and they are, especially when they are buying art), St. Louis audiences can’t get enough of Julie Malone.
Malone’s work has evolved into a style of dimensional Neo-Cubism that is strictly her own, best compared, perhaps, to the architecture of Le Corbusier, and it is no coincidence that Le Corbusier also “reinvented” himself as a Cubist of sorts. Trained in figurative painting, Malone has transformed herself into an abstract painter whose work takes on a depth and dimension that draw viewers inward, to the heart of each painting – a technique refined by the Cubists but rare among Neo-cubists. Malone not only has mastered the technique, she owns it.
A refinement to Malone’s abstractions evokes her figurative training, as if an essence of form lurks behind the layers of paint and inspiration. Her paintings deserve to be studied as well as savored, for their levels of abstraction and their depths of color. Once considered an emerging artist in the St. Louis region, Julie Malone has emerged, and has done so with distinction. In her role as a gallery owner, she has created a miniature Montmartre right in the heart of St. Louis.
Check the SOHA Event Calendar for upcoming exhibits and events at SOHA Studio & Gallery. To see new works by Julie Malone, you’ll have to catch her first! However, a number of her recent works are featured on her Artist Page at SOHA, and we look forward to future solo events with Julie Malone.
SOHA Studio & Gallery is located at 4915 Macklind Avenue in St. Louis.
© M.T.Erickson 2012