Owner, Monarch Jewelry
Kenny Greene is a resident artisan and the “unofficial mayor” of the North Village Arts District. In the North Village, you’ll find Mr. Greene’s shop, Monarch Jewelry, nestled among a host of studios, shops, galleries, restaurants, a distillery, coffee shops, gyms, dance halls and more. When some of the most creative minds of Columbia gather in one four-block footprint, you never know what you’ll find behind the next door.
I am the famous Kenny Greene. I make, repair, sell, appraise and do custom jewelry. I teach jewelry making at the college and I also hold an ongoing tai chi class. Tai chi is a Chinese form of martial arts for health, meditation and self-defense. It’s a love of mine and I love sharing it with the community. You can join us for free any Monday, Wednesday or Friday at 8 a.m. at the Armory, or Saturday at 9:30 a.m. in Peace Park, weather permitting. If it looks like rain, we move inside, to the commons area at the beautiful Orr Street Studios.
Perhaps the most notable place in the North Village is Artlandish, which features work from hundreds of local artists and designers. Underneath Artlandish is a series of passageways that used to be dark and dank, but the shop owners got together, cleaned them up, and created a space where people would meet up and play music. It was an unofficial gathering place that became known as the Catacombs. Now the Catacombs are individual gallery spaces where local artisans can display and sell their work without the overhead and expense of a large studio. You can access the Catacombs through Artlandish or through Fretboard Coffee, which happens to be one of my favorite coffee shops.
One of the best things about the North Village is the variety of events we host. We created First Fridays as a way to get people to come downtown and see the arts that Columbia has to offer. In collaboration with Orr Street Studios, we have an event called Second Saturday for Kids, which is a free event dedicated to teaching art to kids age five to 15.
One of the greatest teaching tools we have available to us is the Museum of Art and Archaeology. It is the third largest in the state of Missouri, with holdings that are noted worldwide. It is a research facility and it houses artifacts and art from antiquity to the modern age. It’s not in the North Village, but only about a mile north of here on the Business Loop.
Columbia is really becoming known for its festivals, like True/False Film Fest, which is probably the largest. Then the Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival , which brings a lot of big names from blues to rock to jazz greats. Coming on strong are the Citizen Jane Film Festival, which is dedicated to women in film, and the Unbound Book Festival. In addition to festivals, the We Always Swing Jazz Series has been able to bring in a lot of national and international jazz acts. We have a conservatory at the Missouri Symphony Society, and not many people know that.
When my kids come home, their number one stop is Tony’s Pizza Palace. Number two is the Sub Shop. Some of my favorite places to nosh are Ernie's for breakfast and Booches for burgers, which is the oldest restaurant in Columbia. If we have friends in town and don’t want to cook, we take them out to Murry’s. If I want a good steak, I go to CC’s City Broiler. If I want something vegetarian (though that’s rare) I’ll go down to Main Squeeze or a lot of times my wife likes International Café. We have lots of offerings in Columbia, from casual to fancy.
The Root Cellar is a group of local producers with a lot of local meats, produce and other goods. It’s like having a bodega or a convenience store for fresh, local or organic food. That’s the thing I like the best. I don’t have to drive out to the super stores. I know the people who produce this stuff. And it’s convenient.