Counterpublic spans 6-miles across St. Louis, drawing visitors and awareness to public art

Counterpublic is an ambitious 6-mile public art exhibition garnering national attention across the City of St. Louis.
Published: May. 17, 2023 at 10:21 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - Counterpublic is an ambitious 6-mile public art exhibition garnering national attention across the City of St. Louis.

“It’s meant to be an invitation to come out and experience your city,” said James McAnally, the creative director of Counterpublic.

Counterpublic began in 2019 on Cherokee Street. The art exhibition happens every three years and last for three months. This rendition started April 15 and goes through July 15, featuring 30 artists and installations that span the length of Jefferson Avenue from South City to North City.

But some of the installations will be permanent. The most prominent is “Pillars of the Valley,” a sculpture by East St. Louis native Damon Davis. It’s located outside CityPark Stadium ensuring a steady stream of viewers. The sculpture is a tribute to Mill Creek Valley, a thriving Black neighborhood demolished in 1959.

Throughout Counterpublic are stories, tributes and pieces of art meant to spark a conversation.

“Counterpublic commissions dozens of artists, collectives, and community organizers to make and present works in St. Louis that engage the city’s histories and imagine new futures,” reads their website.

A prime example is the sculpture underway at The Griot Museum of Black History in North St. Louis. The museum has been a cultural institution for decades in St. Louis. Outside, a permanent sculpture is being created by world-renowned artist David Adjaye.

It involves a series of earthen sculptures and will be Adjaye’s first permanent public sculpture. According to Counterpublic, “Asaase III is conceived as a contribution to the cultural infrastructure of the city of St. Louis and The Griot Museum of Black History borne from Adjaye’s ongoing reflections on the origins of Black architecture.”

“Right here at St. Louis Avenue and 25th Street. Just a major coup that he found the work we do, aligns in a special way with the work he does,” said Lois Conley, the founder of The Griot.

Down the street is another piece of Counterpublic, Rudio Studios, the workplace of local artist Robert Green. His studio is open by appointment, but outside, you can view his sculpture called “Holding Up The World.”

“St. Louis Avenue is a busy street, and before that sculpture went up, people would fly through the stop sign. But now they’re starting to slow down and take a look,” said Green.

You can experience Counterpublic by stopping at an individual spot or you can start from one end and travel along Jefferson to experience it all.

McAnally says they created it with the idea of starting at the southern end at Sugarloaf Mound. Located at 4420 Ohio Ave, Sugarloaf Mound is the oldest human-made structure in St. Louis and the last intact Native American mound in what was once known as “Mound City.” On the site is a billboard and 40 wooden platforms painted and embellished with ribbons and tile, by artists Anita + Nokosee Fields.

To learn more about each site and the artists, go to

You can hear a more in-depth conversation with founders James McAnally and Lee Broughton on the Meet St. Louis Podcast.