Art Installation Launches in Downtown

arts1Art Saint Louis and Downtown STL, Inc. have partnered to launch an immersive public art installation in Downtown St. Louis. The art installation, titled TransPlant, by St. Louis-based artist Leland Drexler-Russell will launch this weekend, activating 5,900 square-feet of street level retail space in the Marquette Building, located at 300 N. Broadway.

The artwork will be unveiled to the public this Saturday, October 24, 8 – 9:30 pm, with an evening of music, food and drinks. The installation launch event will serve as the official after-party to the day-long Arch 50 Fest taking place on Saturday at Kiener Plaza. The 50th anniversary of the Arch is scheduled 10:30 am – 8 pm, culminating with a world-class fireworks display.

Drexler-Russell’s TransPlant will utilize a combination of lighting, motion-activation and sound-activation technologies to activate the open retail space. The new art installation is being presented in this commercially available space through sponsorship from The Lawrence Group and will remain on display through April 30.

The artwork comes as a result of a region-wide Request for Proposals issued by Art Saint Louis this summer and juried by Nichole N. Bridges, Associate Curator, Department of the Arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas at the Saint Louis Art Museum; and Catalina Freixas, Assistant Professor at Washington University’s Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts. The new installation builds upon a series of pop-up art galleries in Downtown St. Louis begun by Art Saint Louis in 2013, now expanded and presented in partnership with Downtown STL, Inc. The program, Art in the Heart, aims to continue the revitalization of Downtown St. Louis by enhancing the engagement of visitors, residents, and workers with their surroundings through a wide array of interactive, immersive, and technology-enabled public art installations.

According to the artist, TransPlant, “…imagines a world in which interactive alien flora have invaded our daily life. The work is designed to dissociate its participants from their ordinary surroundings and absorb them into a surreal landscape where plants breathe and glow when approached.” Jurors Nichole N. Bridges and Catalina Freixas identified Drexler-Russell’s TransPlant as the winner among a strong pool of applicants. “The quality of the submissions was impressive and we were excited to see so much enthusiasm for transforming vacant spaces and the multitude of creative ideas,” said Freixas, “Drexler-Russell’s TransPlant magical world will create a colorful, attractive daylong display that animates the storefront, while engaging the individual’s curiosity, transforming the passerby into a visitor.” Said Nichole N. Bridges, “TransPlant really stood out for its multi-sensory and kinetic appeal, in which its forms will interact with visitors by responding to and encouraging visitors’ movements, drawing them further into the experience.” Artists selected by the jurors for recognition as Runners-Up in the 2015 Art in the Heart Request for Proposals include Mark Jankowski of Radiant Studio Works, and artist Gary L. Karasek of Gary Karasek Arts.

About Leland Drexler-Russell

Leland Drexler-Russell holds a BA in Environmental Design from The Evergreen State College, Olympia, WA, where he led sustainability efforts in the college’s housing facilities. Drexler-Russell has been creating large-scale interactive art since 2009. His work has appeared at True/False Film Festival, Artica, Burning Man, and Art on The Beltline Atlanta, among other venues. He spent a year gaining technical knowledge working as a monster-maker and a scene builder with Creative Visions, the animatronics company responsible for the rotating moon on The Moonrise Hotel. Currently he is the Program Director of Arts and Sustainability for City of Night, St. Louis.

About the Program

Art in the Heart aims to increase street level activity and enhance overall user experience in downtown by tapping into our region’s great creative minds to repurpose both interior and exterior spaces in downtown in visually appealing and wildly inventive ways. The program will feature first floor interior art installations, outdoor small and multi-story interactive artworks that add light, energy, excitement and fun to the downtown streetscape. The program also aims to apply mobile technologies in innovative ways to facilitate an interactive and socially driven experience, giving viewers instant feedback, allowing them to add to the conversation, and to literally color and manipulate their environment. St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay said, “This kind of street-level art effort will spark our community’s imagination and add a fun new component to our downtown streetscape.” Missouri Arts Council Executive Director, Michael Donovan, is also enthusiastic about the program’s potential to, “bring more vitality and energy to the business district and help attract innovative businesses that will thrive in St. Louis.”

More activities are planned to follow this competition as part of the Art in the Heart program and will be announced in the coming months. Program details are available online at