By Morgan Bradley
This summer the death of Tyrell Thompson left a gaping hole in the St. Louis artist community. Since then, his sister Kayla Thompson and close friend Ashlee Johnson have taken on the task of developing and opening the Finesse Center, a co-working artist space in his memory. It will be available for an exclusive viewing on Thursday, November 10 at 1204 Washington Ave. in St. Louis.
November 10 would have been Tyrell’s 29th birthday.
“Ideally, the event is for potential members to see what the Finesse Center will eventually be and a celebration of life for Tyrell,” Thompson said. There will be a waiting list available for people who would like to sign up to be a part of the center when it opens for business.
The Finesse Center will be a co-working space specifically tailored towards artists with office spaces for entrepreneurs and freelancers.
"It's an open collaborative space and a place for artists to network in a professional atmosphere. There are several co-working spaces in St. Louis, but none are for artists and most aren't that affordable,” Thompson said.
“We want to help people like Tyrell who just wanted to paint and create all day. Our plan is to have resources for artist and we also want to help them develop the business side of their work by introducing them to resources that will help them expand and sell their pieces.”
Regular membership will be $50 a month, which provides 24-hour key access to the secure space, an office address for postal mail, Wi-Fi, conference rooms, workshops, seminars and access to event space. Members will have discounted access to the music studio located in the building. Private offices will be offered at $300 a month. Drop-in rates will also be available.
“Our goal is to make it as affordable as possible,” Johnson said.
The name of the space is derived from Tyrell’s nickname, Rell Finesse. “We took that, Finesse, as making a way out of no way,” Thompson said. "The Finesse Center is a way for artists to make a way out of no way.”
Thompson has had access to the building for years via her uncle, Tony Thompson, founder of Kwame Building Group, who owns the building. Previously she considered opening an event space on the first floor, but it never worked out.
She and Johnson came up with idea for Finesse Center while discussing what they could do after Tyrell passed away, when many people were inquiring about where they could send monetary donations. “So we developed the idea for an artist space,” Thompson said.
“At the same time I was working on a proposal for a co-working space,” Johnson said, “so we decided to turn the idea into a co-working art space.”
They hope the viewing event makes people more aware of what a co-working space and how it might benefit artists. Both ladies were inspired by Tyrell’s concept of his own home as a space where people could come together and work on their craft.
Johnson said, “This is what Tyrell dedicated his life to.”
Tickets for the Exclusive Viewing of the Finesse Center, 1204 Washington Ave., from 7-11 p.m. Thursday, November 10 are $25 and available at www.Finessecenterexclusive.Eventbrite.com. All proceeds will go towards the development of the Finesse Center.