Monday, May 6, 2013

Stoves, Bankers, Beer, Real Estate and Art

Roland L. Kahle, department manager of the Rigen Stove Co, bought about 50 acres on Rott Road in 1916. He planned to spend more than $20,450.00 to design and build a home there. It was four times the cost of an average house. Perhaps he wanted to keep up with his neighbors - South St. Louis businessmen Edwin Lemp, Joseph Griesedieck, Louis Stockstrom, and Adolphus Busch, Jr. who had summer or year-round residences in the area.

Fast forward 25 years. The Kahle property is sold to Henry and Matilda Laumeier in 1941. Henry’s new wife, the former Matilda Cramer is also the former the wife of Conrad Besch. The mature couple, Henry (in his early 60s) and Matilda, lived together in the house nearly two decades. She outlives Henry by nearly 10 years. (He died in 1959. She died in 1969). Her friendship with Wayne C. Kennedy, the Director of the St. Louis County Department of Parks and Recreation, results in the eventual donation of the property to the county. Banker Adam Aronson, along with Wayne Kennedy and sculptor Ernest Trova worked together to establish what became the Laumeier Sculpture Park. (Trova’s donation of 40 works in 1976 made it official.)
Aronson was instrumental in finding Beej Nierengarten-Smith, to be the director of the park for nearly two decades. (But she resigned in a cloud of controversy about her management.) In December 2002, a $1 million gift from Adam & Judith Aronson. They set up the Mark Twain Laumeier Endowment and the Aronson Endowed Professor of Modern and Contemporary Art at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Glen Gentele, as director, was able to restore public trust in the institution by uniting the Board of Directors and staff behind a mission, long term vision and a strategic plan. In 2009, Gentele accepted a position at another museum and Marilu Knode was offered the executive director and endowed professor position at UMSL.

Fire and Ice. Carts and Cocktails. LOVE meier. Art Fairs. Exhibitions (i.e. Not without my Dog, Finding a Home in an Unstable World, The River Between Us, Mound City) Site Specific work. Abstract Expressionism. Figurative. Contemporary. Monumental. Minimal. Conceptual. Educational. Kids Classes. Field Trips. Docent tours. Gallery talks. Landscaping. Lawn Care. Gifts. Grants. Time marches on ... on Rott Road.    

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