What We Do

Arts Initiatives

Old North St. Louis is a community that has put out the welcome mat for creative individuals seeking a neighborhood with character for their home, studio, or gallery. Already home to poets, sculptors, painters, musicians, and graphic designers, ONSL also embraces opportunities to showcase and celebrate artistic expression.

Old North Gallery
When Old North St. Louis Restoration Group moved our offices down 14th Street into the rehabbed space at 2700 N. 14th Street, the intention was to create more of neighborhood information and community gathering center.  Having enough room for a gallery that could bring art to the heart of Crown Square was a key part of that vision.  With financial support from the Regional Arts Commission and the Greater St. Louis Regional Empowerment Zone, the idea was to establish a gallery that would be free of charge, that would feature rotating exhibits of work by new and emerging artists, and that would provide space for events, such as poetry readings, artist lectures, and small concerts.  With a broad range of exhibits and events in that space over the past few years, the gallery has lived up to the initial vision.  


We Are of the Same Essence

Photography by Sylvester Jacobs portraying "the everyday lives of those who live in the Old North neighborhood"


Growing up in a small, rural town in the countryside of Oklahoma, Sylvester Jacobs came to realize that the only way that he could escape the injustices of the Jim Crow era was to leave. He spent much of his life in Europe, married an English woman, and honed his skills as a photographer.  It was only upon his retirment that he felt ready to return to his roots and begin a process of exploration, and what he found surprised him.
Sylvester discovered that he is now a part of a community that is virtually invisible or ignored. The images of the black community shown in the media are of the superstars, the victims, and the criminals.  There is little representation of the people who are the backbone of their communities, who go to work, who provide for their children, who strive toward better lives for their families, against the backdrop of a failing education system, a housing crisis, and the continual everyday bias against "all things Black."  Through his photography, Sylvester is searching to portray the dignity, the humanity, the essence of what makes us all connected, no matter the differences of our backgrounds.
Through the assistance of the Regional Arts Commission, Sylvester feels privileged to have an opportunity to portray the everyday lives of those who live in the Old North neighborhood.  He is striving to create a narrative that is not defined by the stories that outsiders have given this community, but one that is told by the community, about themselves.
It is a story of celebration; it is a story of everyday heroes; it is an American story of survival against the odds.
"With this project, I want to produce a moment of reconciliation with ourselves, where we are no longer defined by our problems, but we talk about where we came from, where we are now, and how we are all of the same essence."   - Sylvester Jacobs 
The gallery also is available for rent as a venue for receptions, meetings, or other events.  Contact the ONSLRG office (info@onsl.org or 314-241-5031) for details.

Partnerships & co-sponsorship
Arts-focused groups from within and outside ONSL have found ONSLRG to be a welcoming partner or host for various art exhibits or programming. Past collaborations have involved KDHX Community Media to bring live music to ONSL’s Annual House & Community Tour; Missouri Immigrant & Refugee Advocates' annual art exhibit and auction; a monthly film series with Cinema St. Louis, as well as screenings of films for area schools during the Cinema St. Louis International Film Festival; performances by Metro Theater Company and Upstream Theater; various bands performing live music at North City Farmers’ Market; the “Word Up” poetry project; and Grace Hill’s Whitaker Urban Concerts series in nearby St. Louis Place Park. If you’d like to explore possible new activities, events, or initiatives, contact us at 314-241-5031 or info@onsl.org.

Northside Workshop at 1306 St. Louis Avenue

In 2012, we celebrated the completion of the full rehab of the historic but long vacant building at 1306 St. Louis Avenue and the opening of Northside Workshop.  The building had initially been purchased from the City's Land Reutilization Authority by ONSLRG, who then invested the funds to stabilize the high profile St. Louis Avenue building so that it would survive long enough for an eventual re-development and re-use.  Thankfully, Ken and Nancy Kranzberg stepped forward with a commitment to fund the full rehab as the new home for Juan William Chavez's Northside Workshop.  For more information about Northside Workshop and its programming, click HERE for their Facebook page.



If you think you might be interested in learning more about Old North St. Louis, please contact us.