Wednesday, March 31, 2021


I could have saved this one for tomorrow's City Daily Photo April Fool theme day. It is in an old building downtown whose street-level retail space is unused (like so many others). Someone went to the trouble of setting up an elaborate display of fake produce. It's all plastic as far as I can tell. Heaven knows why - it's not a high pedestrian traffic area. Maybe it's for Frank Zappa's plastic people.               

Tuesday, March 30, 2021


This might be better left as an enigma than explained. What might lie behind such a door in the city center?           

Monday, March 29, 2021


But some things go on for an amazingly long time. I can't think of another business that has been in operation downtown so long except the natural gas utility mentioned recently. Famous old restaurants have closed or moved to the suburbs. The department stores are gone. No hotel has been in operation nearly that long. Even the baseball team only moved downtown in 1966. I bet this place had some hard times but is now doing better with so many old buildings being turned into apartments. It seemed to be going strong when I walked by.                  

Sunday, March 28, 2021


Well, sort of, but not alone and with a lot of luck. But why not a woman? Found on a vacant building on Locust Street in downtown St. Louis.               

Saturday, March 27, 2021


I am so out of materials and ideas. We have had some pretty spring weather but the same old daisies and magnolias aren't doing much for me. After a couple of hours in my office yesterday I picked up a camera and walked around the secondary streets of downtown trolling for images. Anything.

We have some handsome old architecture, some of it preserved, some not. Many years ago this was the headquarters of the natural gas utility (methane mixed with some other stuff), from the days when it was used to light homes and businesses. In time it became mostly used for heat and industrial applications. Then the business became just the Laclede Gas Company and moved to one of our first steel frame, curtain wall high rises, built in 1966. Several years ago, like some other corporations, it changed its name from something meaningful to something meaningless and is now Spire. The current location is in an odd Philip Johnson-designed building, once occupied by an insurance company that went under in the Great Recession.

So like many others, the old building is now apartments. As you can see, the ground floor retail space is vacant. Still, the structure retains its charm and dignity.


Friday, March 26, 2021


I suppose our town's best known 20th Century visual artist was Ernest Trova, He was, in a sense, a one-trick pony with endless, if creative, variations on a single theme, Falling Man. They are smooth, armless male figures, truncated cleanly at the shoulder like a mannequin. They often pitch forward but sometimes, like here, stand like Egyptian funerary figures. You can look at the web link if you want a precis on the subject. 

The art on display at Laumeier reminds me of the words of the poet Archibald MacLeish that a poem should not mean, but be. The essence here can be a challenge to the viewer.              

Thursday, March 25, 2021


As I write this series of posts I wonder more about how much help even receptive viewers need with contemporary sculpture. This piece at Laumeier is called Sugabus, a 2004 work by Robert Chambers. It refers to the arrangement of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen atoms in a molecule of sucrose. Well, and also Cerberus, the terrifying three-headed dog guarding the gates of Hades. Are there three heads? Is there a diet version?             

Wednesday, March 24, 2021


Likely the most popular work at Laumeier Sculpture park is Tony Tasset's Eye, The descriptions and interpretations provided by art venues, as in this link, are mostly written by curators. They may speak to the creators' ideas or to scholarship but I wonder how much they resonate with the average viewer. They don't always resonate much with me. Eye creeps me out. Big Brother might be watching you if it could move around.           

Tuesday, March 23, 2021


OMG, I almost forgot! Yesterday was Saint Louis Daily Photo's fourteenth anniversary. 5,025 posts to date, mostly from around here but sometimes from around the world during our travels. The days I've missed were generally when we were somewhere so far out in the boonies that there was no Internet or cellular service.  I could not have done it without the support, sharp observations and meticulous proofreading of Mrs. C. I'd be lost without her. Forty seven years together is worth a lot.

This may qualify as clinical obsessive-compulsive disorder. I'm not looking for any medication.      


One of the two best known works at Laumeier Sculpture park is The Way, completed by Alexander Liberman in 1980. It was constructed from 18 salvaged steel oil tanks, is 65 feet / 20 meters tall, 102 feet / 31 meters wide and 100 feet  30.5 meters deep and weighs 55 US tons (50 metric). The work dominates the central lawn. It is hard to get a sense of scale but for the tiny person at the center left edge.          

Monday, March 22, 2021


These pages have had many pictures from Citygarden, our two square block downtown art oasis.  They have rarely featured Laumeier Sculpture Park, a 105 acre / 42.5 hectare haven in the suburbs. . There are 70-something major outdoor works and a couple of buildings with rotating shows. Yesterday was such a perfect spring day that Mrs. C and I went over for a walk.

This is Donald Lipsky's Ball? Ball! Wall? Wall!, a 300 foot / 91.5 meter chain of marine buoys that snakes along a path in the woods, finding its way somewhere between minimalism and surrealism.            

Sunday, March 21, 2021


Mrs. C and  I went to the botanical garden yesterday to see if anything was popping as winter officially rolled into spring. Just a little bit. There will be more every day.               

Saturday, March 20, 2021


One of the reasons to visit the City Museum is its little circus troupe, Circus Harmony, It is not a circus in terms of clowns and animals. The organization recruits young people from every part of society and teaches them juggling, gymnastics and aerialist skills. They have a performance space in the center of the building, simple step seats on one side (background) and glass walls on the other for passers-by to watch. A group of young women was practicing when we were there. She looks determined even behind the mask.       

Friday, March 19, 2021


Once you clear the entry area of the City Museum and the obligatory gift shop, you enter an area with strange sea creatures and pools. It's full of tunnels and balconies, some too small for me to fit through. It is fanciful. What is the point besides pure whimsy? The Lou is a long way from the ocean.               

Thursday, March 18, 2021


Another perspective on the maze that is Monstro City, the outdoor part of the City Museum. You would have to be on an adjoining rooftop with a wide angle lens to get the whole thing.

This is an an area of old light industrial buildings and warehouses just west of downtown. The museum's structure was a shoe factory or warehouse or both, I forget which. Decades ago, this town was the center of shoe manufacturing in the United States. And we used to make more beer than anyplace before Anheuser-Busch was the last player standing. Back in the day when we were important enough to have two Major League baseball teams, it was said that St. Louis was "first in shoes, first in booze and last in the American League."                       

Wednesday, March 17, 2021


Yesterday's photo was inside the City Museum. This (obviously) is outdoors and again only a small part of the structure. It's called Monstro City for no obvious reason. There are all sorts of catwalks and tubes and tunnels in no order at all, other than it doesn't fall down. That's the scrapped Learjet I mentioned. You can mess around inside. The tube at the upper left is steel mesh and you can crawl through it. I'll have to shoot this again on a brighter day. 

No St. Patrick's Day celebrations in town and there are usually lots. My father's family is Irish (County Clare) but I'll have to drink my Guinness at home.    

Tuesday, March 16, 2021



This picture gives an idea of the wackiness and genius of the City Museum but the scene is a tiny part of the whole. It goes on and on. The vertical cylinders on the staircase all move. They must have been rollers for some industrial process, now wildly painted. That's Ellie in the pink sweatshirt inside the bars at the center left edge.               

Monday, March 15, 2021


City Museum is full of things to slide down, indoors and out, metal and wood, curved and straight. Ellie is careening down one on the outside, I presume made from aluminum. Some are long, steep and scary. Audrey, my five year old granddaughter in Michigan, is already a snowboarder. She could handle any of them.                   

Sunday, March 14, 2021


On Saturday we took Ellie to The City Museum, STL's funhouse of post-industrial junk. There is nothing like it in the world. It has some actual exhibits but most of it is a mad assortment of old building parts, architectural remnants, machinery and scrap metal. There is even a gutted Lear Jet suspended high over the street. Children love it, with its almost limitless variety of things to climb, crawl through and slide down.

Ellie may or may not have been in there somewhere. Some how this part of it reminds me of Duchamp's Large Glass.                

Saturday, March 13, 2021


Okay, not really, but that's the visual association I got from the scene. You see metal plaques around street drains here that say "Caution. Sewer drains to river," with a picture of a fish. This looked to me like some giant, rough pipe that thrust out of the levee next to the Mississippi.

But of course it isn't. It's in Citygarden, one side of the large sculpture Eros Bendato that's been seen here before (e.g., You can crawl right in there, and lots of children do. I just don't want to see that worker washed away by slime.              

Friday, March 12, 2021


I often mention Citygarden, downtown STL's two square block sculpture park. For some reason, when it was built the designers left the street open between the blocks but then immediately barricaded it. During the summer they roll in an ice cream truck and it's been a venue for small performances pre-COVID. Maybe that was the intention.                                

Thursday, March 11, 2021

WE ARE THE . . .

I've mentioned Ballpark Village, the real estate development next to the baseball stadium. A couple of years ago they installed a giant replica of the championship trophy in front of the main entrance. Our team has won it quite a number of times. When it was unveiled, many commentators said it looks really tacky, and they are right. In fact, I think it's a bit of an eyesore.

The base is cylindrical. The funny thing is, a bit out of the frame to the left, there is a big dent in it. I'm not showing it today but the shape and distance off the ground makes it obvious that an SUV or pickup truck ran into the thing. There's some poetry in that.                         

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Hanging Out

Masked or unmasked, downtown at 7th and Market. You would never get me on one of those things. Well, with my spine, my knees and my lousy sense of balance it would be plain foolish.

The streets were nearly empty on a weekday afternoon.             

Tuesday, March 9, 2021


Actually, the caption is totally unfair. I wrote it just to get your attention. There's no blame on the city health department. It's on our incompetent state administration and governor and all of those fine "it's my free choice whether to wear a mask" folks. 

The state's vaccine distribution system is a disaster. I was lucky to get my first shot through the big doctor-hospital network I use. However, we read in the news about vaccine sent to rural areas going to waste and St. Louisans in the currently eligible group driving long distances to get a shot. I got an email yesterday from the state registry offering vaccination appointments in Kansas City, four hours drive away. Remember, this is the state that gave us Josh Hawley. See .           

Monday, March 8, 2021


I love Jim Dine's statue of Pinocchio in Citygarden. The puppet who wanted to be a real boy had a problem: every time he told a lie his nose grew longer. This image suggests there have been a couple of whoppers. But look at the posture, the gesture, the body language. Whatever he has said, he's proud of it and seeking adulation. What person, recently off the national stage, does this remind us of?                

Sunday, March 7, 2021


We must suffer a little bit longer. Although it's been unseasonably warm (again), little of novel interest is pushing its head through the earth.   

Citygarden's plantings are designed in four tiers, reflecting the seasons and ecological zones of our region. Since I am someone from the streets of New York with a black thumb, I cannot tell you what this area represents, only that the first week of March is too early for Persephone to make her appearance.            

Saturday, March 6, 2021


Fluid motion in sculpture and landscaping at Citygarden in Tai-Chi Single Whip. Taiwanese sculptor Ju Ming is a student of the art and frequently uses it as a subject. I've posted lots of pictures from our large downtown sculpture garden but never this one (I think). It looks so much better twelve years after the park opened with mature foliage all around.           

Friday, March 5, 2021


It has felt like spring in The Lou lately, and spring brings a long-established activity. I've gone sour on professional sports over time, what with the subject turning mostly to money and marketing. However, I still have a soft spot for baseball. Memories of happy days in the uppermost rows of Yankee Stadium, when a kid could get in for what was in a kid's pocket. (No more!) My home city had deep baseball traditions and my adopted city does, too. No, I rarely go to games - the prices are extortionate. But once in a while I'll put on my red hat . . .

There is a pretty big real estate development across from Busch Stadium (more revenue, naturally), Ballpark Village, that has this little plaza laid out like a diamond. The inscription on these stairs is new this year. Fans stand and sing this song in the middle of the 7th inning game after game. It feels good: let me root, root, root for the Cardinals. If they don't win it's a shame.          

Thursday, March 4, 2021


Still in Bellefontaine Cemetery. Odd combination. The mossy one on the left might be older but together they look like they were doing the wave. Maybe it's just their dance moves.          

Wednesday, March 3, 2021


I suppose the word at the base of the column is a family surname but in context (pardon the pun) it's still chilling. Did someone meet a violent end? Never ran across a person with that name. It could be socially awkward and get the children picked on or shunned. It would be even worse if the family was Irish and had red hair. Truman Capote might have liked it, though.            

Tuesday, March 2, 2021


There's a lot to see in Bellefontaine Cemetery even if the funerary art isn't as wild as the famous ones in Paris (or Buenos Aires, for that matter). It's large and hilly, making for interesting views even if the architecture is not as inspired. Here we see a backlit angel atop a tomb. Whether it is an angel from heaven or the angel of death is up to the viewer.        


Monday, March 1, 2021


Hall of mirrors, Union Station, St. Louis. I kept going around in circles. The family had no trouble finding their way through.

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