Jenna Bauer, founder of SCOSAG (a.k.a. the South City Open Studio and Gallery), is stepping down as executive director.
Carolyn Simon, a graduate of Washington U., takes over. Simon has worked with the south St. Louis nonprofit since early last year, teaching and serving as operations director.
If you haven't heard of Jenna Bauer, or heard of SCOSAG, it's high time you did. Fresh out of Webster University with a bachelor's degree in painting, Bauer birthed SCOSAG in a small stone house
in the middle of Tower Grove Park in 2002. She was 25, and she had a vision of using the creative arts to bring kids together -- especially kids who wouldn't otherwise get such an opportunity. Within a few years, the program's summer camps and year-round workshops were thriving, and in 2005 SCOSAG opened a ceramics studio in the nearby Forest Park Southeast neighborhood. The nonprofit's annual Wall Ball bash, which features local artists making art while partygoers bid on it via silent auction, took honors in this week in RFT
's "Best of St. Louis
" issue as "Best Fundraiser
As Webster faculty member Gary Passanise told Ivy Cooper when Cooper wrote about Bauer for RFT in 2004: ""She took a BFA, a degree that is pretty useless except as a way to go to grad school, and she invented this thing to do. She's an incredible force."
(A disclaimer: My daughter has attended SCOSAG's summer camps in Tower Grove Park almost since their inception. My wife and I have supported the group for as long as we've lived in St. Louis. And on a few fortunate occasions, we've managed to wheedle a babysitting commitment out of Bauer.)
Now, after five years spent creating and running an art workshop/studio/camp for the kids of St. Louis, Bauer says she's ready to move on.
"My original plan was to create something for the community and then at the right time step back," she says. "One person can't be the sole focus of an organization forever."
So what's next? "I'm focusing on my painting, getting my Web site
going, putting together a jazz group and working on my [singing] repertoire." She also plans to apply to art schools for admission next fall, probably on the east coast. And, not surprisingly, to stay close to SCOSAG by signing on for some sessions as a counselor.
"Regardless of what happens, we're committed to having SCOSAG continue to exist, continue to serve underserved populations," Bauer adds, likening the program to water -- an element that fills in whatever gaps it encounters.