It was the 1960s. Without notice, old time rock & roll gave way to an unconventional, psychedelic, message of love and peace. In spite of the suddenly bold and colorful changes affecting life and art, the sixties was an era when organized art shows were unheard of. Grad-school artists hung their paintings on urban chain-link fences and hoped for an admiring public with money in their pockets to pass by.
It was in this decade of mini-skirts and a Beatles invasion that three enterprising, artists* met without fanfare in each other’s homes, displayed their art, and invited friends and neighbors to attend the show. The success of their innovation spread by word of mouth, and a marketplace for buyers and sellers of original art and fine craft soon emerged. In the parlance of the sixties, this artful “Happening” became the Artists Boutique.
Eventually, artists and customers grew to such a number, the home-show needed a larger space. The artist-group (now Boutique Members) rented fellowship halls in local churches and invited the public to attend their events by placing notices in the Post Dispatch and Globe Democrat classifieds. Bob Dylan may have sung about “the times… a changin,’” but the practice of advertising with signage and post cards (let alone social media) had not yet evolved.
When, finally, the sixties came to an end, the Cultural Revolution and the Artists
Boutique did not. Through the years—over fifty of them—the Boutique has survived weak economies and flourished in strong ones. For at least a quarter-century, this well-known and popular show still “happens” in November and March at the Kirkwood Community Center.
Over the years, the Artists Boutique has changed in numerous ways. One thing, however, has remained the same. Its venue is small, warm, and welcoming. Customers often say they love the opportunity to get to know artists in this comfortable setting— much like chatting about art in the living room of someone’s home.
Thank you, Norma, Gerri, and Lou.
* Norma Malerich, Gerri Franklin, and Lou Arnold