Laumeier Art Fair

Laumeier Art Fair

On Sunday, Mothers Day, Anne and I went for a bicycle ride. This is a common Sunday activity for us. We ride on most weekend day. It being Mothers Day, our destination wasn’t all that unusual either. We rode to Laumeier Sculpture Park for the 25th anniversary of the Laumeier Art Fair. Anne has been visiting this art fair for most of its twenty-five years. In the beginning, I would watch the boys and Anne and Joanie would take-off for Laumeier. I feel a little bit guilty for usurping Joanie’s place, but Anne really wanted a ride. Besides, the boys have flown the coop.

This destination was a little bit outside my comfort zone. Not the sculpture park, but its environs. Don’t get me wrong, the park is located in a very tony neighborhood, but the road network that supports it, I found questionably bike friendly. I am frankly more comfortable cycling in the City of Saint Louis. Even with its ‘sketchy’ neighborhoods, it boast a road network that was designed and built for a million people and now supports only a third that number. Consequently, there are plenty of low traffic roads available to us cyclists. On the other hand, the county, in particular West County makes due with a rural road network that has been overgrown with urban sprawl. In the county, there are now fast traffic roads that string together islands of neighborhood bike friendly streets. 

With this backdrop, we sallied forth. Our itinerary included Maplewood, Webster and Kirkwood, all familiar destinations. Leaving Kirkwood, we began a process of navigation by successive approximation. We snaked through the bike friendly neighborhoods and limited our exposure on the fast traffic lanes using our iPhones. We would memorize the next few turns, hop on bikes, ride and repeat. It really was only a few extra miles, but such is my fear and prejudice about riding in the county that it felt like a major victory. We got 25 miles.

In the background above and again below is pictured Alexander Liberman’s “The Way”. It is bright red now, with a new coat of paint. It was constructed from eighteen salvaged steel oil tanks. “The Way” is the signature art work for Laumeier Sculpture Park. Below is the park’s description of this piece:

“The Way” has long stood as an acting symbol for the park, projecting in all directions like the guns of a giant battleship. This monumental work dominates the field; its scale is, in part, and meant to represent the awe-inspiring impact of classical Greek temples and mammoth Gothic-style cathedrals. The massive crumpled cylinders are welded together and placed to resemble a post and lintel architectural system. With numerous points of tension, this sacred pile of weighted geometry possesses shrine-like properties with humorous undertones, familiar to a failed game of Jenga. Discovered along the northeast coast, the eighteen salvaged steel oil tanks are a towering gateway built-in the modernist spirit. Cadmium-red was chosen for its symbolic qualities, representing beauty in Russian culture, and as a luminous abstract mixture that unifies all of the constructed parts of this work. Liberman’s carefully placed industrial columns offer layered symbolism that combines site with compositional elegance and bold enthusiasm of form.

The Laumeier Art Fair is small by some standards, but it boasts an excellent locale. The weather on Sunday was brilliantly perfect, not too hot, not too cold. I keyed on the photographic artists, because my brother, Chris, has begun to sell some of his photos. The stretched canvas framing technique that he has used, was very popular. Another framing technique in vogue was the triptych. A panoramic photograph would be subdivided into thirds, with the twist that the center section could stand on its own and was sold as such. There were no Mark Rothko prices, but close.

The Way, by Alexander Liberman