Sunday, April 13, 2014


A convener is an individual or group responsible for bringing people together to address an issue, problem, or opportunity. Co-conveners Marilu Knode and Meridith McKinley did just that to expand the conversation about the role of sculpture, public art and monuments in a context of communities. The three-day event in St. Louis engaged 300 participants in a dialogue. Along the way the region found itself proudly showcasing its own unique and powerful commitment to art as it relates to our civilization.

Marilu is executive director of the Laumeier Sculpture Park and Meridith runs Via Partnership, a firm that facilitates planning and management of public art. So they are stakeholders in such an exchange. To their credit, this meeting of minds was not at all parochial. However, they are careful to leverage the assets of this region from the Saint Louis Art Museum, The Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts, The Contemporary Art Museum (CAM), Forest Park and the nearby Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site in Illinois.

“Saint Louis has the nickname ‘mound city’ precisely because this region was home to a civilization archeologists refer to as ‘Mississippians’ more than one thousand years ago. The mounds preserved here are part of that,” advises Bill Iseminger atop Monk’s Mound as he guides a group of conference participants. The Gateway Arch at Jefferson National Expansion Memorial can be seen on the horizon on this clear day as the visitors marvel at the remnants of an ancient civilization. This reference point and indeed the Arch itself serve a powerful reminder of what Marilu Knode refers to as “the archeology of place,” as the Laumeier Sculpture Park opens its Mound City exhibition with commissioned installations by artists Sam Durant, Marie Watt, Juan William Chavez, Geoffrey Krawczyk and others.     

The conference wraps up with a keynote address by artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer. His work embraces a sense of space with light, sound, technology. He has had exhibitions around the world from San Francisco, Sydney, Buenos Aires and Singapore. He inspires the artists and academics in the room. He demonstrates how public space can be energized. "My work lives at the intersection of architecture and performance art" says Rafael Lozano-Hemmer. “It is just like a club: you set things up and hope people will come in and make it a scene. If they don’t, it’s okay. You move on and do something else.”

At the Chase Park Plaza hotel in the Central West End of Saint Louis on Sunday morning the remaining out-of-towners make arrangements for transportation back to their respective cities. They are, like everyone else who engaged in this comprehensive discussion, processing what it all means in the context of art, of history, and how they might apply principals to their respective   places as artists, as academics and as citizens.  


Archeologist Bill Iseminger guides visitors atop Monks Mound at the Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site in Illinois. The group exits Monks Mound.

A Mud Hut at Laumeier Sculpture Park (below) pays homage to ancient cultures of Mound City.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Parker, Michael and Daniel at the Old Rock House

Michael Rose (Bass), Parker Millsap, Daniel Foulks (Fiddle) in front of the Old Rock House in St. Louis April 2, 2014. 

If you live long enough, you will see some incredible things. If you are talented and ambitious enough, some of those things you will see will be early in your life.  Chances are, however, they will be out of the context of the rest of your time on this earth. Parker Millsap and his band are aware and gearing up for their performance at the Old Rock House in Saint Louis. These three musicians share a passion for performance. Out of context but in the moment.   

A true artist recognizes context, maybe instinctively, maybe with a bit of spirituality and captures it with something that resonates with an audience. The band agrees to pose in front of the venue just 20 minutes before show time. It was long enough to glean the bonds between band mates. Michael and Parker have been musical partners since ninth grade. That means they have been together maybe seven years. Daniel says he joined Parker Millsap a couple years ago. His beard is a symbol of the wisdom. He is grateful in their good fortune. “2014 has been very good to us. Things are falling into place and here we are in St. Louis.” Daniel says even as the trio can see the Gateway Arch. “Hey, can you climb up that thing?” asks Michael. The band mate joking laments life on the road leaves little time for national monuments and tourism. Scaling the Arch makes its way to the stage as part of the banter between Parker and Daniel. Parker also apologizes for the weather pattern that seems to be following them from Oklahoma this rainy night with hail and tornado watches in the forecast.

Opening Day Cardinals Baseball in St. Louis is just a few days away but the Parker Millsap band will be long gone. They may not make it to the top of the St. Louis Arch but they are on the rise. Michael, Daniel and Parker are happy to sign merchandise. They know this is part of building a brand. They do it with pleasure. Somehow they have a sense of the context by which they sign CDs and posters.

Parker says, “this is a song about junkies.” He laughs because it is rather a song about nursery rymes put into another sort of different context. Artists can do that sort of thing. Thanks to Parker, Michael and Daniel for bringing it to our town.

“Mary Mary quite contrary/How’d you get your eyes so scary/Lost your pocket full of posies /Pawned your rings and cut your roses/Now I see you out struttin’ on the corner/Working for a man named little Jack Horner”

For more information For Bookings  Davis McLarty - Atomic Music Group - 512- 444-8750 -