Saturday, August 1, 2015

Labadie Gems

Wolf Hollow is far away but close in a way too. Their website claims they are a St. Louis hidden gem – a golf course designed by Mother Nature. Well sure, it follows that mom would want her kids to have fun but with the requisite challenges. Our foursome on this, the best weather day of the entire summer, is an all-star cast (if I’m the one doing the casting). So it begins - we find our way to Labadie, MO.

Dave Cox – Cast as my bestest friend. Why? Well all my bestest friends since I was in high school have been called Dave. So I can tell a story of nearly any important period in my life that begins with: So my friend Dave and I...  Also because Dave is an incredibly good sport when he is inexplicably the target of my convoluted jokes.

Tom Shaughnessy – The Journeyman software specialist is perhaps the most fun guy in the world to traverse a challenging golf course. Tom’s wife says he likes the game because it is like a five-hour math problem. I love riding in a cart with him because he shows me how to use that part of my brain. Not because I ever will, but because I like knowing there might be potential there.

Mike Malloy – Filling in for our regular band-mate Rowdy Jones, Mike demonstrates how the game can be played almost effortlessly. And who knew? He’d come up with cigars and salami sandwiches. Mike thinks of everything. And by the way, thanks for the lesson Mike.

Wes Morgan – Starring role? Well sure. It’s all about me. I chose the venue (by virtue of my winning ticket from a PTO fundraiser last winter). As team captain, I get to make unilateral decisions for the group, even though I am easily the worst player. God forbid the conversation drifts in favor of anyone else. I simply introduce a subject more squarely about me. It’s good to be King.

It all adds up to a few laughs and a spectacular day – this last day in July 2015. I’d give the reader a hole-by-hole account but in the interest of brevity, I think I’ll just share a few highlights. So, my friend Dave is telling himself not to decelerate when chipping some delicate shots around the green only to sky it from where he dropped (out of the woods) into the sand bunker on the other side. On the very next hole, as if never troubled by adversity, he executes a sand bunker shot like a PGA pro to within inches of jarring it. Malloy was textbook and followed the strategy I proposed at the beginning of the round. “Hit Fairways. Hit Greens. Make Putts. Beat Dave.” Shaughnessy was Shaughnessy – Parabola graphing quadratic equations and calculating triangulations of possible putts and yet missing a few. It’s way funnier to see a guy fail after intense scrutiny than to watch a guy step up and knock one in as if by pure luck.

I was excellent as usual. 

Group shot selfie by Tom Shaughnessy - "Friends of Bobby Jones" (c) 2015

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Scouts on Tour

Another tour is scheduled. Seven Girl Scouts and their chaperones (four moms no doubt) are ready for an activity but being together as friends is really what they are up to. From the start the laid back scouts are at home. They are on the patio of the Laumeier estate house and are ready for whatever. I heard one of the girls say that she knew one of her friends was born in 2002. (It startles me to realize 6-7th graders may have no memory of where they were when 9-11 happened). They got a tour that leads them to the Tree Tent, The Way field, Recess and more.

We ended up at Ferrara's site specific piece when one of the moms asked about the pool complex. The group gets a second wind and enjoys the triangular bridge, redwood one, reading room and Beverly Pepper's earthwork. Another group recognizes the jewel we have in our region – Laumeier Sculpture Park. The adults are reacquainted and the kids are introduced to something they may remember for years to come. (I hope so.)

“Now your homework is to write a 1,000 word paper of at least 4 pages.” I concluded with the scouts. Not missing a beat one of the girls envisions the headline of her assignment beginning with “Art is Cool.” I think they get it.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Clara Collins Coleman

The docent does what she does
The art is what it always was
The park is for us all -- and for each
It’s here and within easy reach
The docent does what he does
Now and forever -- as it was
Follow me and take a look
Each tour is unique -- not by a script or in a book
Listen to your heart and mind
There is no telling what you will find
“Art is not what you see
It is what you make others see”
Abstract Minimal Conceptual
Surreal Difficult or Accessible
It’s the gems you collect but never count
The sum of which is a substantial amount
Thank you Clara for helping us see
The joy in the little things that makes us free

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Pulitzer and CAM

The continuing quest for enrichment and camaraderie of our corps of docents from Laumeier Sculpture Park continues. On July 22, 2015, 15 of us are treated to a one-two punch in the Grand Center Arts District with guided tours at both Pulitzer and CAM.

The Pulitzer Arts Foundation  is a  intimate space for exploring the arts in the remarkable Tadao Ando designed building. Jennifer Baker, a curator intimately involved with the current exhibitions of Alexander Calder, Richard Tuttle and Fred Sandback serves us well as our guide. Calder’s mobiles, standing mobiles and constellations are on view and speak to the Ellswoth Kelly color field Blue Black on view as we are introduced to the Calder pieces. Already we are well rewarded for our efforts to meet here . Wire Pieces by Richard Tuttle is a multi-layered sculptural experience is stunning in its simplicity. 64 Three Part Pieces by Fred Sandbank challenges the viewer to understand mathematical possibilities of three lines of stretched yarn across adjacent gallery spaces.  

Seth is our guide at The Contemporary Art Museum (CAM) which opened its new building in the Grand Center Arts in St. Louis in 2003. We are impressed. Beginning with ACCUMULUS a site-specific installation by graduate architecture students in the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis. Also at CAM Pre-Verbal Painting by Israeli-born, Los Angeles-based artist Liat Yossifor:  Mexican artist Pedro Reyes explores art and psychology, photography by Laurie Simmons (CPR dummies and female love dolls). Green Varnish, by New York-based Nomad Studio tells us “We live in denial within vanishing landscapes.” in the interior courtyard, a lush, growing sculpture.

Special thanks to Molly Pearson and  Victoria Donaldson at the Pulitzer and CAM respectively for making arrangements for our visit. I think it is safe to say, we’ll be back.

ACCUMULUS  (PHOTO by Barb Flunker) - designed and fabricated by students Jay Bassett, Qian Huang, Boxun Hu, Jeffrey Lee, Chun Liu, Alex Melvin, John Patangan, Joseph Vizurraga, Lingfeng Zhang, and Yue Zhang with guidance from Washington University instructors Jason Butz and Lavender Tessmer.  

This magnificent bouquet from Barb Flunker made its way to Clara Coleman and the remainder of this awesome cake from Pamela Dern's culinary artist baker friend made its way to Laumeier Sculpture Park (delivered by Maureen Jennings). Thanks to Pamela Dern, Mary Drury, Nancy L, Maureen, Barb, Ann Bauer, Mary Devine, Janette, Sheila, Mary B., Tim R., Loren, Karen Mullen and Tara, (and me --- makes fifteen). Summer Salads sponsored by Wes Morgan.  

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Call Me Maurice

Call me a space cowboy. Call me Maurice.
No dedicated follower of fashion -- shorts, flip flops, a Hurricane fleece.
And don’t call me meathead -- please.
Coach said I was a pro -- Provelone, like the cheese.
In the registration building -- where they keep the books.
Art is never as easy as it looks.                                                                

Well read and well rested,
We always knew we would be tested!
Cream cheese on a bagel lightly toasted,
“Another day another A” -- You always boasted.
Paperback books, rubber cement and wind chimes,
It was the worst and the very best of times.

Frugal, fun seekers hitch hiking to Key West.
Chopper hears about your motorcycle -- He is not impressed.
Drawing a landscape, still life bowl of fruit or full frontal breast.
Gauntlets, metaphors, ironies in jest.
The Loch Ness Monster seen or not seen,
A duck, a dog, a boat, a machine.

Busted into a Red Road rental -- broke the Madonna.
Devil Dog swims -- not a fish called Wanda.
Salvador Dali paintings in a Cleveland injection molding plant.  
Picasso, Gustav Klimt, Warhol not among those who say I can’t.  
So its Head Shoulders Knees and Toes.
Kafka-esque. Quintessentially Drimer. So it goes.

Happy Birthday Dave Drimer July 2015.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Kangaroo carton project

Materials – single serve milk carton, grocery brown paper bag, cardboard, black Sharpie marker, Elmer’s glue, scissors, tape.

Step 1 – Clean and rinse milk carton.

Step 2 – Cut brown paper shopping bag (remembering to cut a slit for the kangaroo pocket). Wrap and glue brown paper to carton wraping carton with extra room at top. Tape paper together at top. 

Step 3 – Cut legs, arms, baby kangaroo (joey) out of cardboard. (Can be made from discarded boxes often available in local grocery stores).

Step 4 – Use Sharpie pen to add features (eyes, nose and, if desired, paws) to cardboard pieces.

Step 5 – Glue face, feet and arms to carton (bend arms to give lifelike embrace look). Insert Joey in pocket. (Glue in pace if desired.) Paste brown paper to bottom of carton with brown paper tail showing in back.   

Step 6 – Allow time for glue to dry so kangaroo is secure.

NOTE: You can scale to larger size by following the same steps (substituting a square cardboard box and brown kraft paper) to create Kangaroo that is closer to life size.  

School Board Report

Name of School District: Parkway School District
Date of Meeting Attended: Wednesday August 27, 2014 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.

Brief Description of What was Discussed: Regular meetings of the board of education are held monthly at Parkway Central Middle School as designated in the board meeting calendar, They and are open to the public.  In addition, all meetings are streamed live on Parkway's website. (I was able to get a preview of a typical meeting but technology prevented me from sitting through more than the opening remarks of an archived video of the June meeting.) Meetings begin at 7:00 p.m. unless otherwise specified.

Public comments are welcome at each regular board meeting during the period designated for citizen statements.  To address the board, a sign-up sheet is provided between 6:30 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. at the entry table.  Citizens will be called to the podium by the board president to make their statement.  Those who address the board are also asked to provide a written statement.  Those who do not wish to address the board may fill out the comment sheet located at the sign-in table.

The board consists of the following seven people: Beth Feldman, President (Term Expires 2015, appointed 2008, elected 2009); Chris Jacob, VP (Term Expires 2017, elected 2008); Kim Applebaum, Director (Term expires 2016, elected 2010); Tom Applebaum, Director (Term expires 2016, elected 2010); Dee Mogerman, Director (Term expires 2017, appointed 2004, elected 2005); Deborah Hopper, Director (Term expires 2017, elected 2014); and Sam Sciortino, Ph.D., Director (Term Expires 2016, elected 2010). Also present was Superintendent Keith Marty.

This meeting I noted was, somewhat predictably, efficient. This is clearly not the forum for debate as much as a public demonstration of the civilized and orderly bureaucracy of managing a district that includes 5 high schools and somewhere in the neighborhood of 17,000 students.
The agenda, neatly printed on two sides of a single sheet of paper included housekeeping items like call to order, roll call, pledge of allegiance; special recognitions for a group of boy scouts in attendance and efforts on behalf of the American Heart Association. A long list of action items were quickly voted on, such as board approval of minutes of past meeting, unanimous votes in favor of purchases of supplies, transportation and a variety of other items that seemed essential to the ongoing business of running the various schools.

The biggest items for the evening came later in the meeting: Approval of Comprehensive Assessment Plan; A preliminary discussion of Math Program Evaluation and an SSD Public Review Committee Report. Surely these topics represent highly charged issues for which there are widely divergent views.           

Perhaps the most impressive thing about this group, it seems, is a cohesive agreement to stay on a course forged by the creation of a comprehensive strategic plan. In addition to the plan itself, Parkway appears to have done a pretty good job of elevating their brand by communicating with stakeholders in clear, concise terms. As it happens, I am familiar with the firm UPbrand that proudly assisted in helping the Parkway School District. They described the assignment as follows on their website:
Parkway School District has long been viewed as one of the top public districts in the country. As part of their on-going evolution, they embarked on an ambitious strategic planning process that led to the re-conception of the core elements and process of delivering a top-notch public education.
Having codified their new direction, it was time to generate excitement about the new approach among the community and their key constituents.

Personal Reflection on the role of the School Board:
Before attending the meeting, I was sure that I would feel like an outsider sitting in on a board meeting of the Parkway School District. Both of my children are graduate products of Parkway West High School (Classes of 2000 and 2004).
Parkway School District was my second choice for this assignment. I had hoped to attend a Special School District board meeting until I learned those meetings are scheduled on Tuesday nights in direct conflict with EDU 211 Foundation of Education with David L. Shields, Ph.D. Fortunately, the special  report on the partnership between Parkway and SSD was on the agenda that evening.
When we relocated to St. Louis at the end 1996 we, like so many others who move, were heavily influenced by the perceived quality and reputation of the public school where our kids would attend high school. It never occurred to me to get more involved than a typical parent attending periodic open houses, teacher conferences and athletic events. With this experience I am struck by the tremendous responsibility these seven school board leaders have in delivering on the Mission Statement spelled out in the well designed and crafted Strategic Plan brochure online:


More than 400 Project Parkway volunteers helped develop Parkway's mission, vision and strategic plan, which will guide our work through 2016. We have also revitalized Parkway’s brand with a new logo and tagline to better reflect our mission and vision for students.(1)

(1) Parkway Schools. Higher Expectations. Brighter Futures. A printed copy of this brochure was available at the meeting and is offered as an exhibit.
(2)  The agenda for 8/27/2014 board meeting is also provided.  

This report was prepared by Wesley A. Morgan in accordance with assignment as described in the Syllabus provided by the professor on the first night of class August 18, 2014