Monday, June 5, 2017

Laumeier Sculpture Park - 100 Years in the Making

Tour Strategy June, 2017

In 2017, we celebrate 40 years since the beginning of Laumeier Sculpture Park. Four decades are really a drop in the bucket in the grand scheme of things. This place has been influenced by events and circumstances of more than one hundred years. It was one hundred years ago that Roland L. Kahle, department manager of the Rigen Stove Co, built the estate house here in Sunset Hills. Meanwhile, Ernest Hemmingway was about to graduate from High School in a Chicago suburb and he was about to begin his career as a writer in Kansas City. The artist, Ernest Trova wouldn’t be born for ten years. Babe Ruth was playing baseball for the Boston Red Sox. Marcel Duchamp submitted his now famous readymade (a porcelain urinal) as a work of art in New York while Picasso and Braque were laying the foundation for Cubism in France. 100 years influenced movements/styles such as Futurism, Dada, Constructivism, Minimalism and Conceptualism.  Along the way artists and writers shaped the conversations about what is and what is not art. The United States became the center of the post WWII art world as critics like Clement Greenberg described Abstract Expressionism and Jackson Pollock took center stage.

Around 1968, Wayne Kennedy, the Director of St. Louis County Parks and Recreation, convinced the widow Matilda Laumeier to bequeath her property in Sunset Hills. (Kennedy died in 2017 at age 93). Trova’s gift of 40 works of sculpture to the County put the real estate gift on a course to becoming an historic celebration of monumental contemporary art. (Trova died in 2009 at age 82). We’ve come a long way in four decades but we’ve only managed to capture the slightest essence of why we keep coming back. These unassuming 105 park-like acres in the St. Louis Region are home to between 60 – 80 works on view at any given time. There are art camps, tours, art fairs, food trucks, picnics and dogs to walk (they come and go). But as all that is happening, the feeling of stability remains. It is a familiar place in the middle of the U.S. It is a celebration of world class art in our own backyard.   

I have been a docent tour guide at Laumeier for five years. I estimate that I have conducted 100 or more tours of the place. On this Sunday June 4, 2017 I led a tour of 22 people. The group included family groups, young and old art fans, local visitors and out-of-towners. 90 minutes into the tour I was convinced, more than ever, that our sculpture park is a treasure. It is ever changing and evolving. It has something to offer everyone who comes to visit. It rewards me personally over and over again. 

U ME UM by Terry Allen, 1998 (neon light/fiberglass)

Eye by Tony Tasset, 2007 (fiberglass, resin, oil, paint, steel)

Man with a Briefcase by Jonathon Barofsky at #2968443, 1986
(in foreground) and The Way by Alexander Liberman, 1972-1980 (18 salvaged steel oil tanks)  

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Sibling Reflection after a Wedding

Morgan-Cooper Wedding 
Oklahoma City, OK March 11, 2017 
photo by Dan Morgan (c) 2017

Wow. So much fun being a part of the celebration of Mr. and Mrs. Adam Cooper. Tara was stunning as the bride. (Beautiful naturally...but also going the distance from smiles at the Petroleum Club rehearsal dinner to the alter at Christ the King to the charming exit from the country club reception in a vintage car.) A fantastic wedding. God is smiling on those dragons from Southlake and it makes Rob show us his soft side with emotion that is palpable. 

Sundance you were there as I could not resist sharing a story with the groomsmen at Cooper's male bonding over burgers, brats and beer. The brother who managed to get himself kicked out of Georgetown twice. (I know...I may never have the facts fully accurate in my accounts. But as they say in the movie The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance - "when legend become fact, print the legend"

Lynn (Zsa Zsa) you were there too. I know I'm a bit of a smart ass when I note "Six Morgans - eleven weddings" but you are an inspiration in your resilience.  Everyone deserves a shot at happily every after. Your weddings were among the most memorable. This one looks like it might stick. (Tara's middle name is Lynne. Huh.) 

Greg - It is always easier for me to get around town with Uber Dad in the mix. Wes (the lesser) and Matt - Those boys are so much fun. In your hotel suite it kinda felt like the U - Mahoney Hall #234. 

Dan - thanks for convincing Netti to travel with you to OKC. She puts your moral entrepreneurship in perspective with humor and grace. You have an uncanny knack for staging things for the optimal digital splash. 

Rob - You did good. But that is to be expected from the BEST. You know, of course, that Joy keeps you humble and always rallies that awesome family of yours. Thanks for sharing your family! 

Parker Milsap - your rendition of Butterfly Kisses was a surprise and a treat. I love it that you photo-bombed your way into the hearts and minds of Morgans everywhere.

photos below by Gregory Morgan (c) 2017  


Sunday, January 22, 2017

Tara and Adam Cooper

Adam and Tara are tying the knot;
Standing still we watch and celebrate.
Sooners together forming a bond on the spot;
Circumstances perfect - The moment great.
A March day may never be forgotten,
Forces of nature - a wonderful fate.

Friends and lovers out of the gate;
Fantastic dragon, chocolate cake;
A lawyer ready to litigate;
Equal partners mate to mate;
A teacher looks to illuminate. 
Pack your bags – don’t be late;
Soon you’ll moving to the lone star state.

Over a glass of wine you made a pact;
Projecting a future of family ties;
Learn something every day as a matter of fact;
No time for compromise.
Years from now you will look back;
And see just how precious time is and how quickly it flies.

Petroleum; natural gas fracking;
Together you face life one day at a time;
Rob and Joy will provide emotional backing;                                                              
Little things are big things - you just might find.
You’ll be Sharing your lives – but who’s tracking?
“Which toothbrush is yours - which is mine?”

All of us are hopeful. We want to be kind.
This union you seal with a kiss;
Be keeping us in mind;
As we wish you marital bliss;
We want you to have everything you want super duper Cooper time;
It seems- you cannot miss.

We show support and will be present,
But we will return to our respective lives.
We will bring some sort of present,
But we look to you to show us how it is done.
You must go and live your lives;
Live. Love. Laugh. Be a team of one. 

Oklahoma City (OK) - Wedding Day photo by Dan Morgan March 11, 2017 at Christ the King 

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Remembering Ed

Ed Regelean was among the first people I met socially at HBE in 1998. Rick Schaefer had an extra ticket to a hockey game and he invited me (the new guy) to go to the Blues game. Ed met us downtown. I remember how Ed graciously credited HBE and its founder Fred S. Kummer for building hospitals in America where there might never have been such a facilities. I was still learning about the culture and legend of being part of the company and FSK. Fast forward a dozen years or so and I came to know Ed as part of a regular posse of golfers who annually travel to Florida and behave like fraternity brothers indulging in camaraderie, golf, Crown Royal and living together in close quarters for a week at a time.

On December 28, 2016, Ed Regelean, died after a long battle with cancer. His son Dan (who spent a bit of time in Human Resources in the Big House on Olive) reports that Ed always spoke highly of his friends at HBE. On behalf of the family he thanked us all for our friendship with his dad over the years. Services were held at Incarnate Word Parish in Chesterfield, MO on Monday, January 2, 2017 starting at 10 am followed by Mass at 11 am and a luncheon downstairs from the church. In lieu of flowers, the family asked that donations be made to the Catholic Renewal Center.

Funeral services are always cloaked in sadness but there is great irony in the happiness too: The faith that Ed is in a better place; The joy of a family coming together to celebrate the life and times of a human being however flawed; The simple pleasure of connecting and showing support for friends and colleagues. Ed’s son David choked up and was holding back tears in the sacristy but composed himself as did each of Ed’s children at different points in the services. Sweet empathy.    

Arguably, at times, FSK was evil incarnate and here we are at mass at a place called Incarnate Word. Colleagues are quick to point out that our benevolent leader was never all bad or all good. He is a shared reference point, but this is not about Fred, it is about Ed. Nevertheless a large chunk of the stories we shared with Ed, Charlie, George, Frank, Brad, Bob, Jack, Mitch, Wayne, Wes and assorted others were accounts that made us laugh out loud. Such stories cement a bond. Guys on a golf course are often inarticulate and stoic. After a warm day in the sun and 18 or 36 holes we are not fretting costly sand shots and poor reads of the greens. Instead, as often as not, we recall holding court with FSK enduring harsh reprimands, lectures about change orders, or navigating errors and omissions with a hospital administrators or the follies of travel via Spirit Airport.

Among those in attendance, in the arms of Ed’s youngest boy is a baby not six months old. It is in the eyes of adorable baby Mae we see the circle of life. Ed was good enough to leave many prayers behind. In spite of the invoice for $1.82* charged for the birth of baby Edward in 1942, his was a Wonderful Life and one of great value. Thanks Ed. You will be missed.    
*Ed’s brother Jim reported that Ed would say “Well I guess you get what you pay for…”

Friday, November 25, 2016

Soft Landings

The opportunities to get the band together are fewer and farther between. So when Rowdy proposed a round at the Landings at Spirit on Black Friday it seemed like just what the doctor ordered. Yesterday, Allison, my daughter-in-law hosted a spectacular Thanksgiving as she approaches a due-date just about a month away. That gathering included along with my incredible daughter-in-law, my son, my wife and her brother and mom in from Memphis. My daughter Lindsey surprised us with a visit to St. Louis with her newborn in tow last week. I’m feeling like I have much for which to be thankful.

Dave Cox has three remarkable girls, the oldest of which is a Creighton University Blue Jay who plans to study in Florence, Italy next year. Tom Shaughnessy’s daughter is a proud Notre Dame Lawyer and Rowdy Jones daughter is a recently married Dartmouth grad and her little brother is a soccer star at Wisconsin. But we are stoic golfers who only share those moments about family between tee shots.

Time marches on and we are still men of a certain age consumed by ourselves and measuring our self-worth in the context of competition – with ourselves and our comrades in arms. The beauty of golf partners you have had for almost two decades is that you can measure up in some twisted statistically significant way if you look at data over time, in real time or in your own augmented reality. It doesn’t really matter. You always win.

Rowdy shared slices of his own home-made cherry pie over a cold beer in the clubhouse. And the scorecard review reveals, not surprisingly, the shot of the day is a 40 foot putt for a birdie two on hole #5 by Shaughnessy. But we all leave the course with a memory of something that happened because we showed up. We are alive and well. We are blessed beyond all of our own expectations.

We did not gush about those things for which we are thankful, but we are all indeed most grateful for each and every one of our accounts of A Wonderful Life.    

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Mohau Modisakeng

Mohau Modisakeng was born in Soweto in 1986. He completed his undergraduate degree at the Michaelis School of Fine Art, Cape Town, in 2009.  He lives and works between Johannesburg and Cape Town. He was just 8 years old when Nelson Mandela became President of South Africa. “I am a visual artist,”  proclaims Mohau but he is very articulate about the context in which his work emerges. Large photographic prints and video are part of this show. 
We are in the Midwestern U.S. and he is speaking at the Adam Aronson Fine Arts Center on the first Saturday in November 2016. Temperatures are moderate and turnout for this gallery talk is modest. The exhibition of Mohau Modisakeng is supported by Adrienne D. Davis, Alison and John Ferring, Patricia Smith-Thurman and the Des Lee Collaborative Vision at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, with assistance from a gallery in Cape Town.

Marilu Knode, the museum executive director, kicks off the discussion and opens up to those in attendance. Mohau confesses that he is nervous. He is a soft-spoken young man, but in spite of less than optimal acoustics in this remarkable space, he shares a bit about his inspiration. “My mother was a dreamer. She was a healer in our culture,” he offers, “I  was able to travel to London and visit the Tate museum.”  He added that he was able to meet Johannesburg, South Africa born artist Jane Alexander. The artist helped convinced Mohau that artists must overcome obstacles and difficulties to be successful.

Afterwords, Mohau relaxed on a bench near Judith Shea’s Heartland Garden near the estate house at Laumeier Sculpture Park, chatting with a new friend (a contemporary woman of color) who wanted to know more about what it was like to study in an Eurocentric environment such as the university in Cape Town, Maybe she also wanted to know what the artist thought about living in a place in time in after Apartheid (that system of racial discrimination that was in place from 1948-1994 in South Africa).

This is a beautiful day to also view the installation of local artists Alison Ouellette-Kirby and Noah Kirby. The piece, Arena, made possible by Nancy and Ken Kranzberg, is on view adjacent to the South Lawn in the park.  


Saturday, August 6, 2016

Operation Rob

As you face adversity it is still about us;
If you had half a brain you would be dangerous.
Sure, roll the dice. Put a hotel on Baltic Avenue;
Hopes and prayers are always with you.

Collect $200 as you pass GO;
You can’t expect to win. This you already know.
FREE Parking, take a rest;
CHANCE card says cash in. You are the best.

Those incredible dragons on the spot;
It doesn’t take a genius to see they love you a lot.
Tokens, play money, moving space to space;
The game is the thing. Find your place.

The edge water compound is a shared context;
We get older and wonder what will be next.
It has always been as clear as day;
We started.  We continue to play.

Upon reflection we can see;
Living, loving. finding joy, destiny.
The action in an instant --- in a blink
It happens so fast --- no time to think
Count the money. Count the things.
Count the Blessings that your family brings.
No matter. Tomorrow maybe you win at Crazy Eights.

Alive and well as one can plainly see;
In the home of the brave and the land of the free
Who cares who gets to boast?
Isn’t it just the little things that matter most? 

P.S. Happy Birthday Rob - August 30