Tuesday, July 9, 2013


SAINT LOUIS: The east wing of the St. Louis Art Museum opened Saturday June 29, 2013. (Photo by Alise O'Brien) 

Designed by award winning British architect David Chipperfield, the very modern expansion features a dark polished concrete facade, floor to ceiling windows and skylights in the galleries.  It’s a stark contrast to the main building built in 1904 for the World’s Fair. Located in one of America’s most splendid urban parks, next to one of St. Louis’ grandest structures, the new East Building at the St. Louis Art Museum aspires to be adored on its own terms. White oak floors and a dark polished facade, skylights and concrete coffers – the East Building is both airy and weighty. The Gold LEED-certified building is 210,000 square feet and features 21 galleries, a 300-space underground garage, a restaurant and a gift shop. The $160 million project also includes classrooms and updated galleries. 

“Visitors expect a gracious experience, and they should have it,” Museum director Brent Benjamin says.

Strolling through the gallery spaces in the new building: Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Frank Stella, Ellsworth Kelly, Andy Warhol, Donald Judd are among the artists, whose work is now accessible to the public. Also at the museum: Sigmar Polke’s Why Can’t I Stop Smoking? (1964), a work infused with deadpan humor; Richard Long’s Mississippi Circle (1988), composed of river rocks; Andy Goldsworthy’s Stone Sea, 25 10-foot stone arches, each weighing approximately 13 tons, constructed of limestone sourced from the Earthworks Quarry in Perryville, Missouri; and Chuck Close’s Keith (1970), a hyper-realistic portrait.

The east building houses the museum’s contemporary art and temporary exhibitions.  It allows the museum to showcase its vast modern collection, displaying artwork that hasn’t been seen in more than a decade.To find out more go to the St. Louis Art Museum website www.slam.org.

Special Substitute

The Special School District (SSD) educates more than 23,000 students with disabilities at sites throughout St. Louis County, including 265 public schools operated by the other 22 public school districts in St. Louis County. SSD also provides technical education to about 2,000 area high school students at the district’s two technical high schools and at other satellite locations. Hailed as “one of the great success stories in public education in the St. Louis region” by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, SSD has become an icon for special education and technical education providers over the past half century. SSD’s unique status as a public school district ensures that all local students receive equal access to quality special education regardless of their socio-economic background or the neighborhood in which they live. In collaboration with partner districts, we provide technical education and a wide variety of individualized educational and support services designed for each student’s successful contribution to our community.

I will become a part of SSD beginning in 2013 as a substitute teacher. I applied for the job, participated in an on line assessment test, did a face-to-face interview, obtained required finger printing, provided original copies of my college transcripts, gave them names and contact information for 3 references, got a physical (and required TB skin test), attended a training session (mostly paperwork), provided proof of citizenship (license, social security card, passport), got a photo ID made, got into the SUB FINDER system with my employee ID. I still have a safety training course (an estimated 2 hours) to complete but I am almost ready to go.    
Mark Brackin gave me the name of veteran sub of whom I intend to call for insights. I’m reading Autism Spectrum Disorders, What Every Parent Needs to Know (a guide prepared by the American Academy of Pediatrics) and generally getting my head wrapped around what I might be getting myself into.

School starts August 2 (just a few weeks away). More on this as things develop.