I have lead over 100 tours of Laumeier Sculpture Park as a docent. It is no secret that this place in the Saint Louis suburban setting is a treasure. Today is Sunday and I am scheduled to lead a tour for the general public. It is never entirely clear who will show up for these tours that are offered from May through October on the first Sunday of each month. I have come to think of this showcase of sculpture in the heart of the Midwest as a home. Not just because It was in fact a home since it was built in 1917 and occupied by Henry and Matilda Laumeier from about 1941 to 1968.
In the spirit of visiting someone’s home, I plan to conduct today’s tour as you might welcome guests. Laumeier Sculpture Park is a sprawling 105 acres with plenty of nooks and nuances. My plan today its to use this glorious summer-like day as an opportunity to lead my guests to see some of the extraordinary works IN PLAIN SIGHT.
As I reflect on Sunday tours in the past it seems I try to give a broad brushstroke overview of the park. It usually lasts 90 minutes. As a matter of fact, I can never get to everything I want people to see and learn more about. So today, I plan to take a leisurely stroll with emphasis on just ten of those items that are (in my view) too often overlooked. As with a tour of a beautiful home, we sometimes forget to enjoy the curb appeal and first impressions of the foyer and living spaces. So here are my notes for today:
Saint Louis Project by Richard Fleischner (b. 1944) is part of Laumeir’s ten-sites initiative (between 1980-2000) in which artists were challenged to create an installation that is site specific. This piece is 425 feet in length and incorporates trees, shrubs and limestone structures. The Artist earned his BFA and MFA at the Rhode Island School of Design. The site is a sort of grand entrance into the park that reaches across the street and into the neighboring community.
Canto IV 1974 by Ernest Trova (1927-2009) is now appropriately in the Northern Grove and highly visible as one looks toward the estate house and grounds. Trova is a local artist who may be best known for his Falling Man Series. I will point out an example as we get closer to the estate house and you will note the sharp contrast from this work.
Walking Roots by Steve Tobin (b. 1957) is a cast bronze sculpture that has moved to make room for Farid’s Bird #1. Tobin created a similar but grander scale piece that, for a time, was a 9-11 memorial in NYC of an uprooted tree that fell near a church not far from ground zero.
Bird #1 by Farid Rasulov (b. 1985) is an installation that complements the featured exhibition in the fine arts building from April through July. The artist lives and works in Baku, Azerbaijan.
MIX by Alexandre Da Cunha (b 1969) is a example of what Marcel Duchamp would call a readymade. The barrel of a cement mixer is proudly on view. The artist was born in Rio de Janeiro and studied in Sao Paulo and London. He now lives and works in London.
Man with a Briefcase by Johnathan Borofsky (b. 1942 Boston) is Fiberglass with epoxy enamel and features a number the artist was on as he was engaged in a cognitive exercise of a numbering sequence. The artist earned his BFA at Carnegie Mellon and MFA at Yale.
Laumeier Project by Jackie Ferrara (b. 1929 Detroit) is another example of a site-specific installation. This one is a structure that is reminiscent of a puzzle made of red cedar. As with the Saint Louis Project by Fleischner it was part of the ten-sites initiative. Interestingly this is a “second original” since it was rebuilt to the artist specifications (when the original installation began to show signs of weathering).
Tower Hybrid and Linked Forms by Richard Hunt (b. 1935 Chicago) are two pieces that show a range and creativity of the artist.
Untitled 1984 by Donald Judd (b. Excelsior, MO 1928-1994) is a fine example of Judd’s Minimalism (a term he did not much care for) – made of concrete cubes with partitions that alter views from the sides.
Public Goddess and Heartland Garden by Judith Shea (b. 1948 Philadelphia) is a tribute to women who are placed on a pedestal (while simultaneously imprisoned by it). Her work shows her interest in fashion design which was her principal area of study initially at Parsons in New York.
So there you have it. The IN PLAIN SIGHT tour.