Sunday, September 30, 2007

Proud Photographers and Media Savvy Youth Show Off Their Finest Work to Friends and Family

The Urban Studio held a photography show/music video premiere so that family and friends could see the amazing work produced by our summer participants. These kids thorougly impressed us all with their skill and talent exhibited through the photos and videos. Thanks to everyone who came and supported our young artists and summer programs!

Students (and siblings) reunited with their adoring photography teacher:

Family and friends enjoying the event:

Monday, September 10, 2007

Adventures in Media Music Videos

Trailnet, KDHX, and The Urban Studio came together to create a teen summer program that explored media, nutrition, food access, and how they all relate. The Adventures in Media program ran for two weeks, June 18 - 29. The program was team taught by a film instructor, an actress, and a photographer. The camp was a very hands-on 2 weeks in which teen participants learned all about media and how it affects their decisions. They visited the KDHX TV and radio stations to see media behind the scenes. They visited the New Roots Urban Farm to learn how food is grown and what constitutes healthy eating. Ultimately, the teens wrote, produced, and acted in their own YouTube videos.

To highlight disparities in access to healthy foods, the teens learned how to read nutrition labels and then went on two scavenger hunts: a local convenience store and a supermarket in an affluent part of town. They found very few healthy foods in the convenience store, compared to an entire section brimming with fruits, vegetables, and health food at the store in Clayton.

The teens watched and discussed "Super Size Me". They were active every day and ate healthy, fresh lunches every day, sometimes to their chagrin.

Since this was a media camp, we asked the teens to maintain The Urban Studio blog throughout the program. Skim through our archives for great photos and daily logs.

Special thanks to The United Way of Greater St. Louis, Trailnet, and KDHX for their hard work and support of this program!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

The Urban Studio Hops Aboard The Art Outside Bandwagon Armed With Thrilling Art Projects for All!!!

Join The Urban Studio at the 4th Annual Art Outside Art Fair and get pumped to break out that inner artist/architect. Draw a creative rendition of your house to help us create a gigantic art piece representing the entire St. Louis community. Bring the kiddos too! It's one of our favorite events of the year.

Where: Schlafly Bottleworks
When: September 7, 5pm-10pm
September 8, 10am-10pm
Why: You love The Urban Studio and alternative art

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Picture the Future Photography Show on August 30!!

Photo by Charlotte Holden, age 16

The Urban Studio is proud to present a very special photography show featuring the photos of our youth and teen participants from the Picture the Future summer program. Drop by The Urban Studio any time between 7pm and 9pm on Thursday, August 30, meet the budding photographers, and marvel at their stellar black and white masterpieces! These photographs reflect the process of learning to taking pictures, develop film, and print photographs in a darkroom- all in a whirlwhind two-week period. Yup, we're impressed.

Photo (above) by Yuseff Randle, age 12

Photo (Above) by Rachel Mann, age 15

After the photography show, stick around for a fab fundraiser party from 9pm until 12am. Enjoy live music and drink oddities. We'll be selling brilliant posters with images from the summer.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Urban Studio on!

When the fine folks at took a minute to ask The Urban Studio's Phil Valko about his favorite St. Louis sound, we had no idea that he would be featured on the podcast.

Check it out HERE.

The Urban Studio Summer Programs End with a Bang- Or in This Case, a Flash!

Session 2 of the Picture the Future rounded out a summer of creativity and excitement at the studio. Our talented 11-13 year old photographers produced amazing pictures! Daily adventures allowed us to explore St. Louis on bikes, in water, down slides and most importantly, through the lens.

Making posters about our community at the studio:

Yuseff snaps a photo at the zoo:

Teombi and photo instructor Matt enjoy the sculptures at Laumeier:

Braving St. Louis construction and heat waves for that perfect photograph:

Our crew and Jose the trailranger at the Mary Meachum Freedom crossing.

We want to thank all of the following folks & institutions for their support and involvement with Picture the Future. Without them, this program would not have been possible:
-Grace Hill
-The Linus Foundation
-The City Museum
-The Contemporary Art Museum
-Washington University
-Cbabi Bayoc
-Chinyere Oteh

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Urban Studio Director Recognized as one of St. Louis' "30 under 30" by the St. Louis Business Journal!!

We take our work very seriously around here. The Urban Studio Founder and Director, Phil Valko, was honored in the July 13th issue of the St. Louis Business Journal as one of the young professionals under 30 who are making a difference in the community and business world of St. Louis. Congratulations, Phil! To read the article in full, visit:

"Healthy living, the environment and the arts are important to Phil Valko -- and he works hard to promote them."

Below, Phil bowling a perfect game wearing Prada jeans ($1500), Gucci Hipster glasses ($950), and a vintage western shirt ($1250). ...kidding, just kidding. Work hard, play hard, right?

Tutoring Nights at The Urban Studio!

Fall brings many glorious things. Apples at Eckerds. Sweaters. Art Outside. Leaf piles. The Urban Studio tutoring nights.

Itching to volunteer with the The Urban Studio? We are looking for people interested in spending an hour each Wednesday evening tutoring a neighborhood child at the studio. If this strikes your fancy, please e-mail Phil Valko at and we will match you with a child. If you have a preference with age range or school subject, please include this information in the email as well.

Tutoring program participant Arthur, dilligently typing up his vocab words:

Arthur, not so dilligently goofing around with his tutor, Claire:

Sunday, July 29, 2007

The Urban Studio Wraps Up Session 1 of Picture the Future Photography Program!

The Urban Studio just completed session 1 of Picture the Future, a two-week, Intro to Black-and-White photography program for teens. The program revolved around the four central themes of self, family, community, and dreams, and the teen's experiences in PTF as well as their resulting photographs reflect these concepts. To find inspiration and subject matter for photographs, Picture the Future took field trips to places like the City Museum, Laumeier sculpture garden, and the Mary Meachum Freedom Crossing, and also had professional artists and photographers visit to talk about their work. Taking the picture is only a sliver of the process in Black and White photography; the participants also spent every day in the Wash U. darkroom developing their own film and printing their black-and-white masterpieces. Check back soon for student photographs!

Our group hangs out under an awning during the rain delay of our Delmar Loop field trip:

The Laumeier Sculpture garden provides incredible inspiration:

Nehamiah enjoys the bike ride to the Mary Meachum Freedom Crossing:

Charlotte takes time out from the ball pit at City Museum to snap some photos.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Adventures in Media Day 9: KDHX

(All the contents of this post were created by the Adventures in Media teen participants including the title, all photographs, and the text. Due to technical difficulties, we do not have photographs for Day 9.)

Today we took a field trip to KDHX TV station. We made 3 talk-show style shows which we made up on the spot. Each person played a different role in the production crew. We switched off roles as actors, directors, camera crew, light engineer, and sound engineer. It required a lot of teamwork, and everyone worked very well together.

Then we went to KDHX radio. The tour was short but interesting. We saw behind the scenes of a live radio broadcast. We learned the importance of isolating sound and talked about how musicians can get their music played on the radio.

Everyone learned something new and enjoyed different parts of the day:
Kalin learned that he used to live by the radio station, but he never knew it was there.
Rachel learned how to use the switchboard at the TV station.
Constance was a good director.
Tyler learned that it took many lights and cameras to get a shot.
Terrell's favorite part of the day was "The Whitney Houston Show."
Kanazia liked acting in front of the camera.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Adventures in Media Day 8: That's a wrap!

(All the contents of this post were created by the Adventures in Media teen participants including the title, all photographs, and the text. Day 8 photographer: Dylan. Witty title: Rachel)

Today we finished shooting the commercial for Crunk Bars. Then we played prisoner's ball (a game similar to dodge ball) that Tim especially liked. We watched an educational movie on teen media and "cool." Then while we ate lunch, Robert and Tim played chess:

The acting game we played was fun! We created scenes where we had to decide Who, What, Where, When, and Why.
Our last activity was to make a newscast on the pros and cons of soda machines in schools. Dylan and Rachel gave an exhilirating and heartbraking performance as newscasters.
Rachel and Dylan doing action news:

Our group:

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Adventures in Media Day 7: Movie Stars

(All the contents of this post were created by the Adventures in Media teen participants including the title, all photographs, and the text. Day 7 photographer: Tim. Witty title: Rachel)

Today, we worked on our commercials and music videos. We practiced, produced, and directed. We also played Freeze.

Hot Mama Kalin:

Getting Crunk (editor's note: although "crunk" was originally derived from "crazy drunk", our teens and their peers associate crunk with being hyped and in a good mood, and not with alcohol. Language is always evolving.):

Monday, June 25, 2007

Adventures in Media Day 6: Let's start acting! Sponsored by Fresh Image Productions and Mineral Productions

(All the contents of this post were created by the Adventures in Media teen participants including the title, all photographs, and the text. Day 6 photographer: Connie. Witty title: group effort)

We did a lot of things today. First of all, we had two new teachers, Aurelie and Robert. They were nice and cool. In the morning, we made our very own production companies. Kalin, Rachel, Connie, and Kenazia's production company is called Fresh Image, and their slogan is, "Get Fresh, Get Crunk (hyped up)." They are producing a commercial for Crunk bars starring rapper "Killa Kale."

Dylan, Jelenda, Kierra, Chelsea, and Tim's production company is called Mineral Productions, and their message is "Get up n' get out!" They are producing a music video with rapping, singing, and dancing.

We took a break from producing to play kickball, eat lunch, and watch Supersize Me.

The group playing kickball and having fun:

Then we played acting games to learn how to become different characters so we are more comfortable in front of the camera.

For the rest of the afternoon, we worked on storyboarding for our videos. Kenazia is excited that we are finally getting into media more. Kalin's favorite part was making the production companies.

Playing an acting game:

A group working very hard on their storyboard:

Adventures in Media Day 5: Fun in the Sun

(All the contents of this post were created by the Adventures in Media teen participants including the title, all photographs, and the text. Day 5 photographer: Kalin. Witty title: Rachel)

Today we took a field trip to the Clayton Schnucks and did another scavenger hunt. We found over 100 fruits and vegetables, compared to 4 fruits and vegetables yesterday at the convenience store. Then we went to Forest park. It was hot! In the afternoon, we made posters to hang at the North City Farmer's Market.

In Forest Park:

It was hot in the sun. We needed some Shiznit water:

In our bonding time, we remade a video:

Friday, June 22, 2007

Adventures in Media Day 4: Quick Quesadillas

(All the contents of this post were created by the Adventures in Media teen participants including the title, all photographs, and the text. Day 4 photographer: Terrell. Witty title: Chelsea)

Today, we went to New Roots in the morning. We learned all about vitamins, minerals, cholesterol, fats, sugars, proteins, and carbohydrates. We learned how many serving of various foods are recommended each day. You should avoid too much cholesterol, fats, and too much protein, but it is important to eat some...just not too much.

Tim helped make fruit smoothies. We each made our own quesadilla for lunch. Cuttin' up collared greens:

Cookin' the quesadilla:
The quesadillas were great:
Relaxing after a full stomach:
After we left New Roots, we went on a scavenger hunt at a local market/convenience store. This is the main market in this part of town. They only had one fresh fruit: gross tomatoes. They had much more unhealthy foods than healthy foods. Dylan found cereals that were all sugar and fat.

After the scavenger hunt, we walked back to The Urban Studio and watched some more of Super Size Me. In the movie, they showed that some marketing images like Ronald McDonald are more easily recognized than images of George Bush or Jesus. After that, we played 3-line improv to learn better ways of acting. At the end of the day, we chose photos and molded the blog:

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Adventures in Media Day 3: The Program Begins to Sprout

(All the contents of this post were created by the Adventures in Media teen participants including the title, all photographs, and the text. Day 3 photographer: Rachel & Constance. Witty title: Tyler)

This morning, we watched a DVD of the commercials we made yesterday. Some were better than others. The best commercials were the ones where the actors had the best relationships off camera. The best commercials also had better scripts.

We watched part of Super Size Me which made us think more about what we eat at McDonalds and other fast food restaurants. It was nasty.

We then walked down the street to a park to play kickball. After kickball, we walked back to The Urban Studio to eat lunch.

After lunch, we walked to New Roots Urban Farm where we planted melon seeds and harvested sprouts. We had a good conversation at New Roots about what we would do if we had a lot of money. Kierra said that she would give it back to her community. Tim said that he would make sure to share it with his family because his family has already shared so much with him.

Snipping the fresh sunflower sprouts:

Herbert Hoover counselor Erica and Kanazia separating the shells from the sprouts:

Teen geniuses help harvest broccoli:

Adventures in Media Day 2: Acting it Out

(All the contents of this post were created by The Adventures in Media teen participants including the title, all photographs, and the text. Day 2 photographer: Kierra)

We started the day with acting exercises to loosen up and get more comfortable acting in front of each other. We played a game called The Blob where we practiced portraying scenes and relationships between characters (example: coach and team member, teacher and student) with body language along--no speaking. Below, Rachel and Jelenda laughing as they play The Blob.

Miss Bev Hacker from KDHX came and showed us videos about food and how it's portrayed in the media. We then split into groups and wrote and acted in commercials where we were selling healthy drinks. As we were filming each commercial, the others groups waited patiently outside the studio (below).

We took a break from acting to play 4-square on the 14th Street Mall.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Adventures in Media Teen Camp Begins!

Today we kicked off the 2-week Adventures in Media Teen Program sponsored by Trailnet, KDHX, and The Urban Studio. Over the course of the next 2 weeks, these teens are going to be learning all about media, how it is produced, and how it affects their lives. In particular, the program focuses on how media affects the foods that we eat. By the end of the camp, the teens will produce videos that we will post to this blog and to YouTube, they will create print media, and they will have had an opportunity to visit the KDHX radio and TV stations.

Since this is a media camp, we are going to be asking our teen participants to create a blog entry each day. They will be responsible for all parts of the process: taking the pictures throughout the day, selecting which pictures to post, and writing the text. For the next 2 weeks, this blog will be almost exclusively dedicated to the teens in this program. Check back daily for new entries and new pictures. Additionally, we are making it a goal to increase the readership of this blog over the course of the next 2 weeks. Afterall, what is media without an audience?! Our blog currently has just over 4200 page visits. Our goal will be to reach 5200 page visits by the end of the camp--an additional 1000 visits in 2 weeks. We need your help: pass this link along to friends, family, and co-workers. Each time someone visits this site, the hit counter will add a number.

OK, back to the first day: the teens spent the morning doing a variety of activities to get to know each other, creating a class agreement for what they expect from each other and from their teachers, and learning about the very basics of media. After lunch, they headed to the New Roots Urban Farm to see food growing straight up out of the ground. They had an opportunity to harvest some produce and start their own bed of sprouts. (See the pictures below)

And from here, we're going to turn it over to the teens.

(The following photos were taken by Tyler)
Preparing healthy lunches:

Planting sprout at New Roots Urban Farm: