Fact: No Locust Projects, no Wynwood Arts District. OK, OK, it might be tough to prove that hypothetical. But when Locust was founded in 1998, it became the first artist-run space in the area and quickly began drawing crowds seeking an alternative to stale local gallery scenes. Since then, Locust has been an alt-haven where artists have been able to take risks early in their careers. Locust has presented work from nearly 250 local, national, and international names and mounted more than 125 exhibits. The nonprofit has become the largest experimental contemporary arts organization in the Southeast. It's not unusual now for shows that start at Locust to rocket to bigger and bigger platforms. Consider Theaster Gates, whose "Soul Manufacturing Corporation" debuted at Locust this past November and drew droves of Art Basel cognoscenti to the gallery. It went on to earn slots in Philadelphia's Fabric Workshop & Museum and London's Whitechapel Gallery. Locust's Out of the Box public art initiative has also made contemporary art accessible to the masses by installing site-specific artworks on billboards and bus shelters across the county. Even if Wynwood would have happened without Locust, no one can claim it hasn't been the engine powering the neighborhood to relevance.