Ever since I learned last week of the closing of Globe Drugs on Cherokee Street, I have had the hardest time formulating words to go with my thoughts. My feelings about this are so visceral that I really don't have any coherent words for them.
But since the timing of my show at Urban Eats of photos from Globe Drugs happens to coincide so terribly with the closing of the store, I feel like I should say something. The elephant in the room and all that.
Earlier this spring when I was planning out my rotation at Urban Eats I had no idea what was in store for Globe. I've loved that place for ages, and was really excited when Sandy Cohen, whose family has owned and operated Globe Drugs in St. Louis since the 1930s, invited me to come take photos in the store.
I have taken numerous photos of the outside of the store over the years, so getting a chance to get in and document some of the eye candy inside was just too good to pass up. One day in March I took Sandy up on his invitation and snapped photos for hours.* The folks working there could not have been more gracious and helpful. I bought some adorable little Easter purses for my nieces (and perhaps a bottle of wine or two). This did not feel like a last hurrah.
But things got busy over these last few months of actually getting my Urban Eats shows together and I haven't made it back to the store since.
At the beginning of June I hung up the Globe Drugs show at Urban Eats, and as it's the biggest single project I've done thus far, I was** pretty nervous about it. I really wanted it to be good. Not really for me, exactly, but because Globe has been such an important part of the community for so long that I wanted to be sure that what I was presenting was an adequate tribute to it.
I just love that place.
So when I read last week of the closing of the Cherokee Street store, I felt like I'd been socked in the gut. I have this thing about buildings—they are frequently interesting to look at and often beautifully crafted; more important, they generally have had many people pass through them, been shelter to so many people's histories and dreams.
Even more than homes, buildings that housed institutions—schools, hospitals, houses of worship, stores—are especially fascinating to me. So many people have passed through them, so many people have memories—good and bad, happy and sad—associated with them. They are like repositories of the ghosts of our collective histories. There is something even more poignant and gut wrenching to me when these institutions are lost.
John Donne said "any man's death diminishes me." For me this is in some ways felt a hundred fold for the demise of places like Globe on Cherokee. It will be so so missed.***
I never in a million years would have dreamed this show would be a goodbye to the store, and can't say how sad I am that it is.
*including some of the storage/warehouse/office space above and below the store, hence my cumbersome title for the show, "Upstairs, Downstairs, Inside and Out: A Visit to Globe Drugs".
**okay, am nervous. Present tense.
***the last remaining Globe Drugs is on Broadway in south St. Louis, near Soulard. This was my go-to place for affordable whatnots when I used to work in Soulard. I plan to visit as soon as I can. I hope you will too.
I'm so sad about this. I had no idea anything was amiss, and just got finished posting announcements and press releases about my show tonight when somebody on Facebook noted that it would be a "eulogy".
Crap. Really heartbroken for Globe, for Cherokee Street, for St. Louis.
A mainstay on Cherokee Street -- since forever -- is Globe Drugs. It's way more than a pharmacy. It's what I would consider to be a classic variety store. You need a needle and thread? You will find it here. Have to pick up some wine on the way to a party? It's here (and cheap!) How about a board game for the kids? A box of pudding mix? A dream catcher? Check, check, check.
There are all kinds of seasonal goods, too -- shelves full of stuffed toy bunnies at Easter, rockin' Santas at Christmas, etc.
It's super colorful, just like Cherokee Street itself. Most of the signs announcing sales are hand-written on construction paper and -- at this particular point in time, when we're all eThis and iThat, I just find that so charming.
Several months ago the folks at Globe Drugs were kind enough to let me come in their store and take some photos. It took a little bit of nerve for me to screw up the courage to ask to do it, and they could not have been nicer about it. I tried to come at an off-peak time, so I wouldn't get in the way, so most of the photos I shot do not feature people, although Globe does a brisk business.
Also, because I have a bit of a fixation on (to paraphrase my artist's statement) things that are rarely seen or are disappearing, my eye was particularly drawn to those elements of the store that have a yesteryear sort of feel. Signs that just look so fantastic and so then. I'm so glad that Globe has preserved these fixtures* -- it's trite to say they don't make them like they used to but it's trite and true.
Also also, it has been noted by others in the past that my photos often have a vintage feel. That's intentional, in some cases, and in some cases that's just how things turned out, given lighting, etc. With these photos I have emphasized the vintage color palette -- with some washed-out colors, black and whites, etc. I want to assure you that much like Kansas is in color -- not black and white, as The Wizard of Oz would have you believe -- in person, Globe Drugs is vibrant and bright. Go take a look!
On Tuesday I finished hanging the last show of my Urban Eats rotation, called (deep breath) "Upstairs, Downstairs, Inside and Out: A Visit to Globe Drugs". This is I think the first time that I've really set out to do a cohesive project like this, and I've got a few butterflies in my tummy about it. I hope I did the place justice.
The show will be up throughout the month of June. The come-see-the-artist event for it is Saturday, June 19, from 4:30 - 7:30 p.m. Urban Eats will have food and drink for sale. Please come see me!
*and some fixtures of other places that used to occupy the same building, like a 905 liquor store and a bowling alley!
I especially like documenting things that are rarely seen or are disappearing. The design sensibility of days gone by tends to make me swoon, as do rural Midwestern landscapes. I primarily use digital cameras, although I do have a great fondness for toy cameras and Polaroids, and use those as well. Thank you for taking the time to look at my work!