I had a spare couple of hours during my recent trip to St. Louis. My Hertz NeverLost system suggested I visit Laumeier Sculpture Park.
It was about 25 degrees but felt quite a bit warmer. The sun was out, and it was a great day for tromping around in the 4-6" of snow. Or it would have been if I had appropriate footwear. Dress shoes and business casual attire may not have been the best choice, but I had a good time.
The Laumeier is a different experience from the Seattle sculpture park. The space is much bigger. In Seattle, the park is in a compact strip of land straddling a highway and hugging the sound. The Laumeier Park sits on acres of rolling hillsides in the suburbs west of St Louis. Seattle's park has lots of gravel. St. Louis's has lots of grass. I think.
But it's about more than the space. It has to do with the tone. The scupltures in Seattle are more imposing. Many of them are also just out of reach. Everything in Laumeier, however, is easy to grasp.
In Seattle, they post warnings like this.:
St. Louis is a little more tolerant.
I was in a particularly geeky mode so much of the art reminded me of things from Science Fiction.
In this picture we see a piece that highlgihts two different colors of metal. But look in the back ground towards the left.
Doesn't that piece in the distance look like a Bantha climbing the hill? I only saw one, but they could have been traveling single file to hide their numbers.
When I got to the other side of the park, I got a better look at it.
The three dimensional nature of sculpture means that what you see in the artwork depends on where you are. When I moved 10-20 feet down the walk, I got a completely different view of the Bantha.
It's the same piece, but seeing the individual pieces of metal gives it a completely different look.
I fully expect Joss Whedon to place a Buffy The Vapire Slayer story in St. Louis now. Why?
Because they have their own Hell Mouth.
Oh, come on. You just knew the gateway to hell had to be marked by a smile-y face.
Until Buffy gets to St. Louis who is protecting our universe from the unholy legions of demons that would seek to destroy us?
Why, the Ents, of course.
Here is a tree wearing its protective suit of Armor. It's ready for battle.
This piece struck me as the control center for some mad scientist's lair.
I spent several minutes staring at this piece. I saw it from a distance and thought of it as some sort of grave yard. Up close it still looked like that, but what kind? Am I seeing zombies rise from their Stygian slumber? Is it a robot grave yard for discarded, yet honored, automatons? Or are they markers for some alien civilization?
I've touched on it a couple times but one of the interesting things about this sculpture park is the role that distance plays in how I percieve the art.
Here is the everyman from across the hills.
As you get closer, the 1950s ordinariness of this giant figure looms large overhead. Here is the giant, numbered corporate cog we aspire to avoid or to embrace.
The giant man is at the beginning of a trail that took me into the woods. Whereas most pieces were in the wide open spaces, there were a number of pieces hidden by the trees. You walk down a path and suddenly encounter them.
I head down a path that wasn't terribly steep, but was steep enough in business style Doc Martin's to require a bit more work. I got plenty of exercise this way.
This bridge could be straight out of Battlestar Galactica, acoss some Caprican River. But here it is across a Missouri stream.
Totally not worth the steep stair climb was this tree sculpture that calls to mind Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
One of the last pieces I encountered on that trail was these two grassy (or snowy) mounds.
I don't have a strong Sci-Fi association with this work. Perhaps some battlements on Hoth? Do they make you think of anything Sci-Fi related?
The sign in front says, "Please do not climb or walk on the steep grassy slopes." You can tell how much stock people put in those signs by the foot prints and sledding tracks covering those slopes.
The big piece in the center of the park had an amazing orange color when the sun hit it just right. One side was made of big round tubes. The other side was made of crushed orange tubes. The balance and contrast between the crushed and full things held my interest.
It's also a massive piece you can walk under. That cross piece is a good 25-30' off the ground. It encourages you to look at it from as many angles as possible.
I'm sure Laumeier is lovely in the Spring. It must be a great place to go for a stroll or picnic after the snow is gone and before the oppresive St. Louis heat returns in the summer. If you have some time in St. Louis, check it out.
And let me know if the whole thing doens't remind you of a Sci-Fi novel waiting to be written.
You can see more of my pictures of these and other pieces here, in this Flickr set.