ST LOUIS BLUES

It is confusing to be a kid.  The past and the present are mashed up and all is new information.  Little minds have to sort the stuff out, and questions are not always answered.  “You think too much”, was an often repeated answer to me.

A holiday visit to Budweiser in St. Louis, which is always a fun thing to do, brings up some of this youthful confusion.

1-outside general busch

Budweiser is not just a brand, or a beer, or a building, it is a community.  Above is a shot of many of the red brick buildings from inside the space of the community.

1-budweiser

Above is the general “public” face of the company.  But there is so much more.

1-bevo interior

There are bevo foxes all over these buildings.   See the standing red foxes (three) in this tile frieze?

1-outside bevo fox

There is a gargoyle-like bevo fox on the outside of this building in the complex.

From Wikipedia: ” Labels on the bottles billed it as “Bevo the Beverage”. The name “Bevo” was coined from the word “beverage” and the Slavic language word for beer “pivo”, and was pronounced “Bee-vo”. ”  This was a drink that Budweiser produced during prohibition.

The word “bevo” is a true St. Louis word which others probably would not know.  And to think this strong presence came from only the prohibition years!

bevo mill

Above is the old Bevo Mill in the South Kingshighway, South Gravois neighborhood.  Again, the mill mashed something for NOT making beer during prohibition.

bitter brew

Just read this book by William Knoedelseder.  As in all wealthy families, the Busch family had its ups and downs as far as business, and as far as domestic relations.  As  St. Louisians, we all heard parts of that story.  This book fills a lot of stuff in, within the overview of my (still) confusion.

I think that the main character of the book who is called “Gussie” Busch (most of them were named “August”) is the person we knew as Augie Busch when growing up.  Therein comes my childhood confusion.

Could not figure out the difference between Augie Busch and Augie Doggie (or Doggie Daddy).  This required immense examination on my part.  Of course, the Anheuser Busch Company bought the St. Louis Cardinals during my lifetime.  Yogi Berra was the much beloved, Italian (growing up in the area of the brewery) American catcher who also was the philosopher of the common man; (“deja vu all over again”) was one of his sayings.  Was Yogi Berra different than Yogi Bear?  Head- scratcher.

St. Louis is a total baseball town.  We reveled in it, and much of the time, the Cardinals were good.  Baseball we knew about, which always brought up the conundrum to me:  What was the difference between Babe Ruth and Baby Ruth?

Gawd, think I named this post incorrectly!

THINKING ABOUT WINDOWS

I have a stash of old wooden windows, smaller now than it has been.

1-wwindow stash

The contractor who built our bedroom has been giving me windows for years.  He knows me too well.  He also built our barn, and we saved a ton of money using his free windows.

1-side of barn featuring windows

We used 32 windows on this barn.  All old single pane, with wavy glass.

1-back of bedroom

Two years ago we used nine more on the back side of our bathroom.  They make for a brilliant space.

Art reflects life.  All this thinking about windows made me covet them.  And make work using them.

A recent piece using windows  was done during the World Series.  We are in the St. Louis diaspora, and don’t think much about the Cardinals except when they are in the playoffs and the series.  Not all the birds in this piece are cardinals;  some are chickens and other birds that I painted to look like cardinals.

1-IMG_0844

The chicken is in the upper right, upside down.

1-IMG_0850

A more exotic red bird stays as is.  “Masquerade” is the name of this piece.   An oval mirror has been included in the structure, and a cardinal sees himself.  Of course, they are so territorial, he thinks it is another cardinal.

1-IMG_0897

Just finished this piece.  Made of two of my windows, and a big palladian window given to me.  I buy the gentle wooden spirals like the one seen here at the flea when they are around.  Also used here are two aluminum ones from old screened doors.

1-IMG_0908

One gets a better sense of the piece’s three dimensionality when a photo is taken slightly from the side.  The largest aluminum curve is jammed in between the rectangular windows, and striped with paint.

1-IMG_0896

The finishing touch was using graphite to recreate the aluminum curve on the element in front of it.  This makes it seem transparent,  presenting the small aluminum curve in full.  Used to do this all the time in my embroidered work.

THE SPACE BETWEEN THINGS

the-hat-makes-the-man-1920.jpg!Blog

The Hat Makes the Man“, 1920,  Max Ernst

Images of things seen push around and populate the crevices of my brain.  Or maybe not the images themselves; the feelings experienced when seeing images is what lurks there.  In the example above, finding the image again and presenting it here was a surprise.  It looked unexpected, but was the one.  An artist takes away what she needs and flings away the rest.  Steal the core of the thing and push on.  “You take it, it’s yours”, Picasso said.

Why do I think of this famous image?  It has to do with the way aluminum tumblers are piled up on my fireplace.  They are not all the same size or color or style, but they are cylinders, irregular, unstable.  They have potential energy, but happily, they do not fall.

1-tumblers

All things are connected: from Max Ernst and Surrealism to my sister to my husband to my father to men in hats to my St. Louis childhood and then back to art like a cat who chases her own tail.  Inside that circle is my reality.

“Hats are chick-magnets”, said my stepson.  He is right.  He learned that from his dad.  I love his hats and caps.  In St. Louis this weekend, we went to Levine Hats.  Glenn had spoken of this place, and I wanted to see it.  Glenn wanted a hat.

The place is a hundred years old.  The pattern and organization there is stunning.  That is what art IS,  bygawd, pattern and organization.

1-levine 1

Did not expect the hovering hats when I walked in.  Or the beautiful armature.  It was magic.

1-british royalty

British royalty?

1-levine 2Straw caps.

1-levine upstairs

Upstairs, better deals.

1-sheliving

And a closer examination of the shelving structure.  Common string stretched in diagonals between parallel lines, letting the hats breathe and making them seem to hover in space.

1-levine's neutral

This color is a neutral, try it with anything.

1-shamrock

For use on March 17, and Royal Canadian Mounted Police in the back.

On both levels of the building, one can see the original metal pressed ceiling.  Long ago, felt hats were actually made here.  Now they are only modified when sold.

1-ceiling

1-my favorites

Love this misalignment of shapes which approaches the Ernst image.  They are only similar in that there are hats present, but the variety of sizes of shapes between the hats feels familiar.

When I showed the pictures on my camera to sister Nancy, she recognized Levine’s immediately.  Said she had been there when small with our dad; the business had been almost fifty years old then.  I missed out on what would have been an important early experience for me.  Always keep your eyes open.

WELCOME TO GLENN’S WORLD

My husband used to be a city truck driver for YRC in St. Louis.  A union guy.  It was a perfect job for him because he lives in the tiny spaces between the parts of machines, and he loves to be on the road.

trucks

He was a Roadway guy.  Then they merged with Yellow.  Another story.

I had a lot to learn about unions, and was an elitist.  Glenn wondered as to how I could be a true liberal, thinking that maybe unions had no place in the workplace anymore.  It was a challenge to me.

Pretty high up in the rankings of his terminal, he usually got the bid to work in the place that he wanted.  That place was “south city”, and the city was St. Louis.  He loved the bid because of the architecture in the area, and always carried his camera.   Not just for this:

arch

This is the way the arch looked when Glenn and I were kids.  We watched the creeping cranes slide up each leg of the new arch slowly, and all of St. Louis waited for the day that the legs would be jammed together, each being built to a slightly different height.   Every week pictures of the progress were featured in the Post Dispatch.  The skyline from back then seems like a few simple sprouts.

But this is not really the most appealing architecture in south city.  And the Gateway Arch is not in south city.  But you can see it for a long way, and seeing it now brings all my childhood into view.

What is south city?  Budweiser, Lemp, South Grand, “The Hill”, Yogi Berra, Joe Gragiola, Stan the Man.  It is red brick everywhere.  It is German, Italian.

Not as a youth being able to spend much time there,  I love it greedily now, and fantasize about the world when that architecture was new.

budweiser-history

You could view much of the history of south city through the lens of the development of the Budweiser company.

budweiser

And you can trace the footprint of south city with the red buildings, old and proud, where the workers worked,  and also played.  I don’t buy any other kind of beer now, being in the diaspora.

stlmag_korners

Beautiful little red brick public houses were built all over the city to serve Budweiser beer.  Most still exist with fabulous detail, a kind of craftsmanship not used today.

Another favorite:  the Water Tower in south city.

comptom-water-tower

We dreamed about owning a small house on “The Hill”, an Italian neighborhood in south city,  along with our acreage in South Carolina.   It probably would not have been a good idea for us to be there.  It is just as closed as is Charleston, SC in its own way.  But there are amazing little brick wonders just down the street from some of the best restaurants in the world.

small house in the hill

lemp2_lg

St. Louis could easily be the story of two beers:  Budweiser, surviving, and that made by the Lemp family.  Both family stories include lots of juicy details.

three cylinders

Gorgeous brick masses.

So, once in a while a union man with a lower number and more seniority would bid for Glenn’s route.  These bids took place maybe bi-monthly.   Why not?  If  Glenn wants this bid, always asks for it, it must be good, right?  After a stint with south city, the senior driver always let it go back to Glenn.

South St. Louis is a busy place.  And while most deliveries of freight to companies need only smaller trucks, once in a while a 53 foot trailer would be used, and Glenn could do this.

It is a mess stopping traffic both ways while you aim the back of a 53 foot trailer, only using mirrors,  into a little hole, only slightly bigger than the trailer door, down at least one level from street height.  In situations scrapped together among ancient buildings, where nothing like trucks of today even existed.

One day, Glenn had to do this.  It didn’t happen all that often.  He did his job, and a couple of times, had to jump out of the cab to make additional judgements about that tiny dock door.  He noticed a coffee shop with big windows across the street, and thought it a good time to take a break while the company workers unloaded their freight.

To Glenn, upon entering the coffee shop, everybody stood up and applauded.  One trucker said “I couldn’t do that!”   And that is why Glenn always got his bid back.