This Jewish St. Louis artist delights in creating ‘little edgy mysteries’


Artist Carol Crouppen Schucard in her studio, inside a former church in St. Louis. Photo: Ellen Harris


Look at the image at top left, Untitled #1. Is he a cowboy posing with a hot-shot attitude? Is she so thrilled with her pink dress that she can’t resist showing it off by twirling? Are they a couple dancing together? Apart?

Whatever story you make up is the right one, says artist Carol Crouppen Schucard. “I like to create staged fictions. Little edgy mysteries.” She selects 1-inch plastic figurines from her stash of 1930s and 1940s flea market and garage sale finds and creates her vignettes as she goes along. 

“I make the visceral visual,” she says. Then she photographs the scenes. Nineteen of them comprise her new show at the Duane Reed Gallery in the Central West End, which runs until March 18. 

You decide what you see. My husband calls the red-headed drum majorette in sunglasses, Untitled #17, “Dangerous. The Bride of Chuckie.” A young woman stands facing a bowling ball and a set of bowling pins in Untitled #8. The image reminds Crouppen Schucard’s husband, Pat Schucard, of Wyeth’s “Christina’s World.”


Selections of Carol Crouppen Schucard’s work on display at the Duane Reed Gallery through March 18

Crouppen Schucard’s art is playful and accessible as she is. Who else set giant concrete pigs flanking the path to her old house? She transforms bad life experiences into humorous stories. 

“I’m optimistic,” she says. Lately, she beams with happiness. “I’m in a very good place now.”

Arriving there took courage. Around her 60th birthday, her long-term marriage imploded. Instead of moving to Los Angeles to be near two of her four children or to a warm climate like some of her peers, she stayed in Clayton. She continued her 25-year career as a studio artist, exhibiting her fiber art and retina prints in galleries across America and abroad. And she began post-grad studies at Washington University and Fontbonne College.

She also began hanging out with her old pal, the artist Pat Schucard. She’s petite and he’s football player size. While she was being confirmed at United Hebrew Congregation, he was taught by the nuns. But the two look at the world with the same view: search and rescue old buildings. They married the day after Valentine’s Day in 2009, and began their quest for quirky properties. In the Rocky Mountains, they bought a barn once used by a stagecoach company and developed it into the Stage Stop, a cafe, bar and dance hall where Judy Collins once sang.  

Returning to St. Louis, they’ve turned three old, unloved buildings into snazzy large event venues for corporate parties, charity fundraisers, rehearsal dinners and weddings. “Where else could we find such beauty, but in St. Louis with its old architecture,” Crouppen Schucard says. 

First came the Artists Guild building, 812 N. Union, in 2014, where Tennessee Williams once directed his plays. The Schucards turned the 1908 Arts & Crafts masterpiece into the Boo Cat Club. Its name came from the pet saying of the late philanthropist E. Desmond Lee: “You don’t know boo cat chicken.” [Schucard has been an art professor and the Des Lee Professor for Community Collaboration at Wash U. He later developed public art projects, such as the Delmar Boulevard Master Plan and the University Lofts downtown as spaces for artists.]

After the success of Boo Cat, the Schucards found an old furniture store in Maplewood now reborn as the Majorette with an open-air interior courtyard.

Crouppen Schucard’s face lights up talking about Das Bevo, formerly Gussie Busch’s Bevo Mill in south St. Louis, where she dined as a child with her family. She oversaw the aesthetics of the rehabbing as well as selecting the lighting and furnishings for the interior and the biergarten. Schucard Event Spaces couldn’t resist buying Tim’s Chrome Bar next door. On weekends, it offers oldies for those who remember Ike and Tina, and the space where they can hit the dance floor to “Proud Mary.”

The couple’s latest acquisition is the former Immaculate Conception Church on Lafayette. The architects of the St. Louis Cathedral, Barnett, Haynes & Barnett, deigned this 1908 Gothic beauty, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. Shafts of light pour through the two rose-shaped stained-glass windows like the ones in Notre Dame de Paris and Chartres Cathedral, making the huge space magical. It inspires Crouppen Schucard who claimed it as her studio.

She passed her creative gene onto her son Samson Crouppen. You can watch his comedy “Proof I Was Here,” on Amazon Prime. If the background looks familiar, it’s because his special was taped at Das Bevo.