Aug 04, 2023

'Art of the Arcade' exhibition opens at Foundry Art Centre

Photo courtesy of the Foundry Art Centre

Galleries are often in a state of metamorphosis as exhibitions change from one season to the next, but the Foundry Art Centre in St. Charles took it to a whole new level with its exhibition “Art of the Arcade.” This exhibition effectively transformed the Foundry’s main galleries into an interactive arcade space, complete with everything from pinball machines to Pac-Man. “By doing this, we’re showcasing the history and artistry of arcades and home gaming systems,” says director of art and exhibitions Jessica Mannisi.

You don’t have to be a gaming fanatic to enjoy “Art of the Arcade” – even Mannisi herself isn’t a gamer. She first had the idea for the exhibition while talking with someone who participated in pinball tournaments, an activity she didn’t even know existed. Speaking with them reminded her of conversations with her dad, who loved pinball.

“He would explain to me the intricacy of how pinball machines are made [and] all the circuitry in video games and other arcades, and there really is an artistry to that,” Mannisi says. “I thought that would be an amazing thing to bring to the community and let the region appreciate something that we all love in some way or another. We all have memories of it, but [now we can focus] on the artwork of it.”

Photo courtesy of the Foundry Art Centre

Another piece of the puzzle clicked into place when Mannisi connected with Two Plumbers Brewery and Arcade in St. Charles, which has been an integral part of making this exhibition come to life. Owner Robert Schowengerdt has helped by loaning the bulk of the games and memorabilia for the exhibition. “[Given] the passion that he has for it and the fact that he can bring that to the wider region, he was totally down for it,” Mannisi says.

Guests can expect to see the classic games of their childhood as well as games they’ve never seen before. For example, the Foundry Art Centre has procured a Japanese Neo Geo game system, which was never released in the United States. It also showcases artwork based on certain games, like local artist Tracey Snyder’s hyperrealistic, close-up depictions of pinball machines. There’s also the design of the gaming machines themselves to think about, which the Foundry has paid homage to by displaying more than 40 game marquees (the art that’s placed right above the arcade game’s screen).

A gem of the exhibition is a custom-built pinball machine called a pinball painter: By playing a game of pinball on it, visitors will create one-of-a-kind pieces of artwork. “The ball is dipped in ink,” Mannisi explains. “As guests play the pinball game, the ink drags across the paper and creates the paintings.” Eventually, these paintings will be put up as an installation in the gallery. Interactive wall projections, home gaming systems and gaming memorabilia will also be on display.

Photo courtesy of the Foundry Art Centre

Transforming the gallery space into an arcade was no easy task, according to Mannisi. Aside from bringing in cabinet arcade games and the custom pinball machine – which took six people total to carry into the gallery – Mannisi focused on making the space feel like an arcade, down to doing vinyl treatments on the floor and putting gels over the lights. “Everything is going to be blues, purples, greens – really transforming the atmosphere of the gallery itself,” she says.

“Art of the Arcade” is a true deep dive into each and every artful aspect of gaming. Although it’s not a traditional exhibition, Mannisi says the games themselves are art all on their own. “Everything around us is art – everything. I think that another neat thing about this show is bringing to light that art isn’t just a static painting on a wall or a sculpture. Games are very much art.”

“Art of the Arcade” runs from July 7 to Sept. 23, with an opening reception on July 7 from 5 to 8 p.m. The Foundry Art Centre will also host weekly game competitions with special prizes. For more information, visit

Foundry Art Centre, 520 N. Main Center, St. Charles, 636-255-0270,

Get local news delivered to your inbox!

The historic corner space on Lockwood Avenue will be home to Madrina, the latest concept from Frank Romano of The Parkmoor Drive-In and Stanle…

From the Gateway Arch grounds to your own backyard, here’s how you can enjoy some quality time with the cosmos.

Gong, one of the youngest authors to be named to the New York Times bestsellers list, sits down with LN to talk about her creative process and…

“Little Shop of Horrors” is as campy and clever and irresistibly delightful as ever in its return to The Muny.

Missouri theater companies in Arrow Rock, Hannibal and Rolla have summer performances that make for a perfect theatrical getaway.