You can almost smell the caramel in this photo, “Home Sweet Home.” The image is part of an exhibit at UMSL on “Faces and Places of Downtown Dutchtown,” a neighborhood in South St. Louis.

Mention the Dutchtown neighborhood to St. Louisans of a certain age and most of them could tell you where it is and how it got its name.

Once home to the city’s German immigrants in the mid 19th century, the south city neighborhood today reflects an increasingly diverse population. And it’s the mix of new residents with historic buildings that make up “Faces and Places of Downtown Dutchtown,” the newest photography exhibition from the Public Policy Research Center at the University of Missouri–St. Louis.

The exhibit will be on display at the PPRC Photography Project Gallery in 427 Social Sciences and Business Building at UMSL, One University Blvd. in St. Louis County. Gallery hours are 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. An opening reception will be held from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Nov. 16 in the gallery. The exhibition runs through March 27.

A duplicate of PPRC’s Dutchtown exhibition opens in January at the Urban Eats Café and the Urban Arts Collective, 3301 Meramec St. in St. Louis. An opening reception will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Jan. 7 in the café. Café hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday. That exhibit runs through March 30.

Chinyere Oteh, a PPRC Photography Project instructor, is rehabbing a home in the Dutchtown neighborhood. She gathered a group of young Dutchtown residents and business owners and traveled the neighborhood photographing its buildings and people. Their unique perspectives are caught in eye-catching compositions. There’s Merb’s Candies and Ted Drewes on South Grand, Caya Aufiero and John Chen’s Urban Eats Café and Winkelmann Sons Drugs established in 1913. And then there’s the concrete front steps German, often called Dutch, women would scrub methodically every Friday morning. The ritual led to the terms “scrubby Dutch” of Dutchtown.

The PPRC Photography Project was modeled after the pioneering community photography programs established by artist and teacher Wendy Ewald. Several volunteer St. Louis-area community groups participate in the PPRC Photography Project each year. They learn the basics of photography and then are asked to document efforts to improve their neighborhood’s quality of life. The Public Policy Research Center’s goal for the project is twofold: to highlight the undertakings of local organizations working toward the greater good and to inspire people to take a closer look at and get involved with their communities.

The Photography Project is co-sponsored by the Public Policy Research Center at UMSL, Missouri Arts Council, National Endowment for the Arts, Regional Arts Commission, Advertisers Printing Company, Allied Photocolor and Urban Eats Cafe. Call 314-516-5273.

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Maureen Zegel

Maureen Zegel