Alongside live art demonstration, Founder and CEO of ‘The Finesse Center’ promotes art gallery founded in her brother’s memory

by Chelsea Jenkins
ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) Kayla Thompson is the Founder and the CEO of The Finesse Center. It is an Art gallery in memory of her late brother, Tyrell Thompson, who was also known as “Rell Finesse”. The young man was shot and killed in the Central West End in June of 2016.

Tyrell is remembered as a great friend and a well-accomplished artist whose home was also a sanctuary for other artists who were his friends from both the St. Louis and Chicago area.

People would often meet at his loft to network and collaborate with one another. Oftentimes, the work of these photographers, digital artists, and painters, would contribute to Tyrell’s grand wall in his home displaying some of his own most prized work.

Kayla brought along artist and friend of the Thompson family, Maxine Dumaine, to do a live art demonstration for the 9AM Morning Show, as well.


Finesse Center honors memory of the late Tyrell Thompson

Finesse Center honors memory of the late Tyrell Thompson

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 All proceeds will go towards the development of the Finesse Center.

Memory of slain St. Louis artist preserved with gallery opening

ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) - An accomplished artist shot and killed in the Central West End last month is being honored, through what he loved, art. Tyrell Thompson's friends and family hope the community stands with them this weekend.

Organizers of the Vibes Grand Showcase say the positive event is about giving local artists a chance to showcase their talents. Every year a portion of their proceeds to a different charity. This year the money will go to the Finesse Center in honor of Tyrell Thompson.

"This was his passion like Tyrell refused to do anything other than art. I think it is important to keep his legacy alive through his art because that was his life's work." said Kayla Thompson.

Tyrell Thompson was known to his friends as Rell Finesse. Family members started the Finesse Center located in Downtown St. Louis after his death. The center will be a place for artists to work together to create just like Tyrell did.

Thompson, 28, was killed during an attempted robbery in June in the Central West End. His death came just days after the anniversary of the death of his father Tyrone Thompson. He died under similar circumstances six years ago.

This weekend his fellow artists are gearing up for the big art showcase to raise funds to help keep his memory alive. The Vibes STL Grand Art Showcase will be held Saturday from 6pm-1am at the Performing Arts Center located 2720 Cherokee street in south St. Louis. Admission is $20.

A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Finesse Center in honor of Tyrell Thompson.