ArtNewsThe SouthSider

Literary arts cafe to open this summer in Grand Center

GRAND CENTER – The High Low is coming to the Grand Center Arts District this summer, providing a new space dedicated to St. Louis writers. 

Funded by the Kranzberg Arts Foundation, the same foundation behind the .ZACK, the Grandel and the Marcelle, the two-story building will feature a Blueprint Coffee cafe on the first floor, along with a library and a performance space for poetry readings and other literary events. 

Resident organizations will hold regular office space on the second floor. Those organizations include River Styx, St. Louis Poetry Center, UrbArts, St. Louis Volunteer Lawyers and Accountants for the Arts and the National Conference for Community and Justice of Metropolitan St. Louis.

The groups are set to move into the High Low in August, along with Blueprint Coffee. Left Bank Books, another community partner, will offer expertise about various programs and the library within the space. 

The High Low should be open to the public by September, said Gina Grafos, director of visual infrastructure. 

She said she was happy to be able to work on a space that brought a much-needed addition for the arts community to St. Louis.

“What makes the High Low fairly unique in a couple of ways is obviously having that street-window access to a neighborhood that’s already so thriving and fulfilled by theater and music and visual arts,” she said. 

Grafos’ main concern as she works to bring the building to life is how it will function for St. Louis residents. With the cafe, event space and library, she hopes to create a space that’s, as she put it, “malleable.” And the library, which will initially heavily feature the work of St. Louis natives and legacies, is one of the biggest draws. 

Grafos is also working hard to ensure that the High Low will be a space that functions for writers individually and for the St. Louis community as a whole. To her, this means a certain fluidity in the space. 

“We need to listen to how people want to use the space,” she said, adding that with the High Low, she hoped the Kranzberg Foundation was “lending an ear to what doesn’t exist and what it can look like, rather than dictating what it should look like.”

Grafos said she felt confident that when the High Low opened to the public, the space would be ready to help nurture St. Louis writers as they worked on their craft – and hopefully found a sense of community, too.

“My dream is that those types of interactions and mentorships, that level of dialogue, is something that we don’t need to orchestrate – it will happen in a fluid way,” she said. “We all need to feel like there’s worth and value in what we’re thinking and what we’re making and what we’re doing.”

The High Low is still under construction, but work is on track. For more information about this and other Kranzberg Arts Foundation endeavors, visit

Samantha Auch

Sam Auch graduated from Knox College, where she studied Theater and Gender Studies. Outside her work with The Northsider, she works as an actor, playwright, and artist. You can found out more about her at her website

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