Tag Archives: St. Louis

Pop Art Sightings

My husband Tom and I were looking for an art show to go to on a Saturday evening after 5:00 pm mass and were pleased to see an ad for the show “Thank You” at Galeria Obscura by mixed media artist Marley Billie D. The theme of the show really resonated with me because an old friend of mine had died a few days earlier, and I had recently submitted a proposal for an art show that involved a tribute to another friend that passed away last year and both deceased friends and others were heavily on my mind. Appreciating the impact people had on your life when they are gone is a good thing, appreciating people while they are still here if you can is even better. I need reminders to do that more. Seeing a collage invitation for the show excited me. Collage and mixed media are near and dear to my heart (and one of my major muses) because of the way that actual found objects and papers can give another dimension to projects that brand new materials just can’t do sometimes.

Marley Billie D invitation and a scene from opening night.
Marley Billie D invitation and a scene from opening night.

I spoke to Marley briefly at the opening and expressed my appreciation for the collage, found objects and re-purposed materials used in the show. While some of the pieces in the show are actual collages or include some collage elements, each wall in the installation was itself a masterful assemblage that together created a kind of collage room. You could also think of it as a scrapbook that you can walk into. Artwork was combined with snapshots, many with captions written either on them or on the wall. The walls became a “journaling space” like you would see in a scrapbook or art journal. The black walls of the gallery space, some light gray painted frames at regular intervals, white text and “Polaroid” style photo margins in the exhibit were perfect neutral foils for the highly saturated colors in the artworks themselves. While viewing I soon realized the skill and design ability it takes to create an installation of joyful harmony when there is so much going on with colors, materials and textures.

Marley told me that Pop Art is one of her influences. I learned on the Oxygen web site that Marley Billie D was on a show called “Street Art Throwdown”. You could consider Street Art in the Pop Art category because it’s a populist form of art, and sometimes there is Pop Art subject matter incorporated into it. Marley told me that some of the Pop Art influences came out in her work in the “dot gain” pattern she likes to use in some pieces, used prominently by some well known Pop artists like one of Marley’s inspirations, Roy Lichtenstein. There is torn away corrugated cardboard also, which whether consciously or not helps me see the Pop Art influence. Cardboard cartons are a form of advertising re-created by another influence Andy Warhol in his Brillo boxes piece. The textures made by corrugated cardboard also look great combined with the dot gain pattern, both visually and thematically.

To my eye, there is also Pop Art influence in the saturated color schemes and the creative re-use of materials. There appear to be things like old wood, recycled frames and old wall decor blended in many of the pieces. The “cheesy” kind of wall art many of us remember growing up with could be considered a form of Pop Art. They are cozy, familiar, homey objects that remind many of us of happy family times from the past. Some of these discarded items from other people’s families can be found in alleyways and thrift stores, and while hunting and dumpster diving you might also find cardboard and product packaging. Very fitting to blend such materials with the retro and populist sub-contexts of the show. Also an example of how you can use kitsch to make art that is decidedly NOT kitsch.

You can understand by what I have written above why I had a strong personal reaction to this show. To explain further, the huge blue spoon and fork seen on the wall in my photo are perhaps examples of those objects that for some artists can become powerful symbols that appear repeatedly in an artists’ body of work. Sometimes the audience knows right away what the symbols mean, in other instances they are part of a more private language that the artist uses. Giant wall utensils also appear in one of Marley’s paintings – see it here on her Instagram account. I grew up in a house with several painted plaster ornaments decorated by my Mom, myself and my brother. For example my Mom “antiqued” a giant wall set that included fork, spoon and ladle, and displayed plastic grapes in the ladle part of it! I can relate intensely to this symbol. I think what Marley did in painting either the actual objects from the painting or objects like them dark blue and including them on this wall is a masterstroke, both in color choice and concept. The feelings they might evoke in someone who grew up surrounded by similar objects are powerful. They are also good examples of Pop Art because of their kitsch appeal, large size, bold colors and celebration of ordinary household objects, all characteristics that help signal the Pop Art genre. To add yet another level of meaning, utensils are associated with Thanksgiving, a ritual that involves food and family, is coming up in two days, and probably had something to do with the timing of this show.

I’m thankful for all the people who had something to do with forming my character and creativity as I have lived life. And I am thankful for Marley’s show for inspiring me and reminding me what I owe to others.

For more information about Marley Billie D:
Street Art Throwdown
Marley’s Facebook Page
Marley’s Instagram

I mentioned Pop Art subject matter above when I explained how Pop Art often celebrates objects that “ordinary” people use and encounter in their daily lives. A hamburger is one of the quintessential and ubiquitous American foods, and pop artist Claes Oldenburg was one of many pop artists who have celebrated the hamburger when he made his famous giant soft hamburger sculpture. The chain restaurants that feature objects on the walls evocative of the chosen restaurant theme could be considered a form of Pop Art as well. I don’t know a lot about the industry that supplies these objects, but I would like to! Some restaurants appear to use reproductions and/or vintage and antique objects to help create the desired atmosphere. It is very fitting that the new Red Robin restaurant in Richmond Heights, Missouri is decorated with colorful and engaging Pop Art. At least some of it appears to be specially commissioned work. I went to eat there because some of my friends were checking it out and I wanted to socialize with them (see photo). The art work was a special treat that I did not expect. Basically they turned the dining area into a giant Pop Art installation. There was even a hamburger hassock! The graphic below is a montage of some of my favorite pieces. Enjoy while contemplating an art form that originated as commentary on commercialism being shamelessly used as advertising! And very appealing advertising if you ask me…

Pop art subject matter
Stellar examples of Pop Art subject matter: beer advertising, maps, Americana, roadside signs, neon, video games, iconic toys, hamburgers…

MSD’s Project Clear and Our Local Water Issues

The Metropolitan Sewer District has been working hard on outreach to inform the public about Project Clear. In their own words, Project Clear is the “planning, design and construction of MSD’s initiative to improve water quality and alleviate many wastewater concerns in the St. Louis region.” MSD operates in both St. Louis City and County.

What are some examples of wastewater concerns in our region? Flooding, erosion, water pollution and sewer backups are some issues that affect many of our neighbors if not ourselves. MSD deals with both stormwater, which is intended to discharge directly into the natural environment, and wastewater, which needs to be treated at a wastewater treatment plant before release. MSD is undertaking large scale projects right now that are estimated to take 23 years to complete.

Read more on the Schnarr’s blog: schnarrsblog.com

A Selection of Mom’s Articles

My Mom was a freelance writer for the Suburban Journals for many years. Someone recently asked me if any of her articles were still available online. For the convenience of anyone else who would like to read them, here are links to some of them. This is not a comprehensive list, I know she wrote a lot more that are no longer archived online, but it’s a good start!

Local residents learn their town is great for tourists
Little Franklin, Tenn., site of big Civil War battle
TRAVEL: Tower Grove Park: Henry Shaw’s priceless gift to St. Louis
Despite the rain, England vacation a dream come true
Garden of the Gods brilliant red monuments to nature
Old Kentucky homes provide visitors a taste of history
Eastern vacation yields lessons in history
From Yosemite to Monterey, northern California is beautiful
New England vacation reveals region steeped in history

Do you recognize any of these suspects? Metrolink attack on 09/27/16

This is my work colleague Jason at our Displays that Pay booth at the Murmuration Festival on Sunday.
This is my work colleague Jason at our Displays that Pay booth at the Murmuration Festival on Sunday. Jason was attacked on Tuesday night. He was robbed, beaten, and suffered a broken ankle.
Anyone who recognizes the suspects is asked to call CrimeStoppers at 866-371-TIPS.
Anyone who recognizes the suspects is asked to call CrimeStoppers at 866-371-TIPS.
Anyone who recognizes the suspects is asked to call CrimeStoppers at 866-371-TIPS.
Anyone who recognizes the suspects is asked to call CrimeStoppers at 866-371-TIPS.
Anyone who recognizes the suspects is asked to call CrimeStoppers at 866-371-TIPS.
Anyone who recognizes the suspects is asked to call CrimeStoppers at 866-371-TIPS.
Anyone who recognizes the suspects is asked to call CrimeStoppers at 866-371-TIPS.
Anyone who recognizes the suspects is asked to call CrimeStoppers at 866-371-TIPS.

Book Review: Birdies, Bogeys, & Bipolar Disorder

Birdies, Bogeys, & Bipolar Disorder by Michael Wellington
Birdies, Bogeys, & Bipolar Disorder by Michael Wellington

I have a loved one who suffers from Bipolar disorder. A friend of mine who also has the disorder lent me this book so I could get a better understanding of what the illness is like and how to best be a help to someone who has this illness. My loved one will not talk to me much about his treatment, what it’s like when he’s in the different stages of the disorder, what it’s like to be hospitalized and what are the warning signs of symptoms escalating and how to help the sufferer put the brakes on. This book gave me a much better understanding of what he is going through. There is a limited amount of what you can do for a person with this illness because unfortunately much of the hard work has to be done by the patient. This book will however give you some guidance about whether you’re doing the right thing, what to encourage the person to do and how to recognize behavior that precedes different stages of the illness.

Unless you abandon the sufferer (and I’m not recommending that!), this disease is going to affect your whole family. You will need patience, empathy and education. I recommend Mr. Wellington’s book for friends and family members because it will help you in all those areas. You’ll feel less alone learning how people in the author’s life reacted to his situation. Bipolar patients should also read it to get some insight into their own symptoms and get guidance and encouragement in their own treatment. You will be inspired by this memoir of a true sportsman with real heart for the game and for life who has persisted against great odds to achieve and to help others.

You don’t have to be a big sports fan or a golf fan to enjoy this book – I finished it in two sittings because it was so gripping. The writing is top quality – I was excitedly turning pages waiting to learn the outcome about each tournament and each round of battling the illness. Although I like outdoor activities and fitness I don’t follow sports much nor do I know a lot about golf. I’ve never played though I do have a lot of family members who love it, so I did know that birdies are good, bogeys are bad, you use different clubs for different things and you are supposed to keep the ball out of the water and trees – but not much more! If you play golf or follow pro golf you’ll probably enjoy the book even more than I did. If you know someone with bipolar who is also a golf or sports fan, this book may get through to them better than any other book they might read because they will be able to relate to the author. After reading my friend’s copy I bought two more copies to give to family members.

Like the author, I’m a native of St. Louis, Missouri and geographical references in the book did help draw me in. Although I’m not the type to hang around in country clubs or golf courses I do recognize the names of a lot of places where the action takes place and I at least have a vague idea of where they are. Mr. Wellington is involved in charitable activities in the St. Louis area and elsewhere through the nonprofit organization Birdies4Bipolar. As someone who also does some work for a nonprofit that helps people with mental illness, I appreciate his efforts and those of others in that organization. Mental health consumers and their families need a lot of support!

Here are some of my older book reviews.

Upcoming Class with Carolyn on February 20, 2016: Jewelry Basics

Class with Carolyn Hasenfratz - Jewelry Basics
Class with Carolyn Hasenfratz – Jewelry Basics

Learn basic jewelry assembly techniques while creating one necklace and one bracelet. You will learn how to attach clasps on jewelry stringing wire with crimp beads, how to make a loop attachment, how to open and close jump rings and how to embed an image of your choice into a glass pendant. Class price includes materials. A variety of beads and images will be provided, but if you have any particular beads or images you would like to use you can bring them. If you bring any images they should be printed with waterproof ink (like from a laser printer or copier). Tools will be available to borrow so you can complete the two pieces and some tools and supplies will be available for purchase if you want to keep working on your own.

If you have the following tools, please bring:

Bead stringing board
Wire cutters
Chain nose pliers (flat and narrow)
Round nose pliers

If you have any questions about the class please feel free to contact me.

Class: Jewelry Basics
Date: February 20, 2016
Time: 1-4 pm
Location: 7403 Manchester Road, Maplewood MO, 63143
Cost: $32 if paid in advance, $40 day of class
Signup form: www.carolynsstampstore.com/catalog/class_signup.php

If you choose to pay ahead of time to get the discount for pre-paying, I will send you a PayPal invoice via email or if you’d prefer I can get your information over the phone and process your credit card with Square. Children under 18 must be enrolled with a parent as I think parents are best able to judge their child’s ability level and what tools they should be allowed to use.

Fit and Healthy on Route 66: Carondelet Park

I belong to a Meetup group called Let’s Hike and recently we went for a group walk at Carondelet Park, the third largest park in the City of St. Louis. The Village of Carondelet was founded in 1767 and was incorporated into the city of St. Louis in 1870. Carondelet Park was dedicated on July 4, 1876. To get to the Park from Route 66 if you are traveling East to West, take Gravois through the South St. Louis area. Shortly after turning onto Chippewa, make a left turn on Morganford then another left on Holly Hills Blvd. On the way you’ll pass through the Bevo neighborhood with the famous and historic Bevo Mill and across the street from the park you’ll see some really unique and beautiful homes. This Route will take you a little bit off of Route 66 but you’ll get a look at some really authentic living neighborhoods that you won’t see anywhere else.

The most iconic feature in Carondelet Park is the Boathouse overlooking a popular fishing lake. There is another lake plus interesting walls and other stone constructions here and there. There are recreational amenities such as horseshoe pits, ball fields, a playground and nicely paved trail for pedestrians and cyclists circles all. It took our group one hour to circle the park twice on foot. Apparently this is also a great spot for birdwatching – check out these photos! If you walk toward the recreation center on the East side of the park and cross the railroad tracks, you will see a very attractive bridge to the north.

Carondelet Park is being linked to the Great Rivers Greenway system via the new River des Peres: Carondelet Connector. This should be complete very soon and when it’s done you’ll be able to get on your bike at Carondelet Park and take the the River Des Peres Greenway all the way to Route 66 at the intersection of Watson Road and River des Peres Blvd. – the round trip would be formidable but doable for experienced riders.

There are plans for improvements at Carondelet Park that sound very interesting, including something very intriguing to me personally, bird habitat development. Get news about what’s going on the park from the Friends of Carondelet Park Facebook page.