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Steven J. Davis | Shaw's Gallery

On a recent Thursday afternoon, with the sun setting and the breeze whipping about, the indoor and outdoor spaces of Shaw’s Gallery just seemed to work. There was a special feeling in the outdoor patio, and despite the cold day, those classic metal chairs were inviting. Indoors, the two gallery rooms—full of amazing woodwork; heck, let’s just give this place the “Best Woodwork in a Gallery” award—had a particularly cozy vibe. Owner Nathan Clark and associate Steven J. Davis have certainly created a great and flexible space at Shaw’s (4065 Shaw), just blocks from the Botanical Garden.

What didn’t work that afternoon was my tape deck. Instead of being able to interview the elusive co-curator Steven J. Davis in person, I had to settle for a personal tour and rather esoteric response, detailed below.

Now that I’ve seen the space, I’m embarrassed to say I’ve not been in before. I’m assuming a lot of people are still getting their first looks.

Yes, well, first looks are free, of course. We actually filed a copyright on the second look. But it’s just a donation/honor system if you look twice. So, if you look more than once, just leave some favorable currency in the tip jar. We encourage multiple looks.

What’s a general impression that you regularly hear?

My neighbor carpools to work and his ride honks early in the morning. I regularly hear this and it is impressionable. Our gallery guests talk most of the old-world woodworking. And overall attention to detail in the renovation.

How’d you get involved in the gallery?

My wife’s best friend from high school’s mother recommended my particular skill set to her second (or third) husband’s son. His ex-wife called me while I was in Chicago and set up an interview for a finish carpentry position to complete the apartments above the gallery. So I showed up with my tools, and a few sketches/models later, we had a vision.

Your artistic background seems pretty varied. What’s one format or medium that you always enjoy working in?

You had to ask this. That is like asking what my favorite spice is, when some days I taste fresh rosemary and other days I just settle for burnt, smoky popcorn. Actually, carpentry and monkey-bridges are in my bloodline. I also appreciate digital bird callers.

It sounds like a number of people showing in the gallery are neighborhood residents. They all found you, simply as a neighboring business?

We have worked with artists from Chicago, Los Angeles, Memphis, Nebraska, Iowa, Florida, Kansas City, and the ever-ripe St. Louis. Yeah, a few artists also happen to live a few blocks away.

The garden out front is a really nice touch. Who’s got the green thumb?

Nate has a thing for ferns. We all did some stone setting around the pond. The koi fish are just starters. We hope to have native toads and lizards in the habitat next spring. I do believe the garden is enchanted.

Where did all the woodwork come from? Those are some beautiful pieces, especially in the westernmost room.

Salvaged from exactly where, I know not...

There’s a chance for a cafe in the space?

Yeah, it seems ideal. Maybe a panini shop with great coffee. This place is meant to be appreciated by local inhabitants and curious passer-bys. The neighborhood has been inquisitive and supportive with every event.

And, lastly, what’s your exact title at Shaw’s Gallery?

How about anything but “jack of all trades.” I ain’t no handyman.

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