(Illustration Friday visitors - Fuel, Scattered and Contraption all rolled into one. Water as fuel, many scattered ideas into one and certainly one giant contraption - just check out the St. Louis City Museum.)
Bob Cassilly created many works of interactive art. All draw the viewer in to the wonder of both the physical and mental human experience associated with each piece. This unique artist passed away recently in the midst of carrying out another gargantuan task. The co-founder and creative spirit behind the St. Louis City Museum set his sights on an even bigger playground. This can be a place where old meets the really old, Cementland.
An abandoned cement factory and warehouse company appears as ruins similar to the Coliseum, the Pyramids and even Stone Henge. These places represent lost worlds whose contemporary purposes began to fade as more time passed. We, as latter day observers, can only guess and conjure up stories about their significance. Even further away from our relatively recent ruins of up to 5000 years ago, stand the ruins of our Pre-Cambrian predecessors. Mr. Cassilly seemed to want to marry these two old concepts with a young suitor, a child-like adventurer. This adventurer being fueled by the simple human desire to be a kid. A kid who kayaks through silos on water pumped in from the mighty Mississippi River. A kid who braves eel infested moats, scales castle walls and then gleefully throws rocks at would-be invaders. A kid who sees the world as a place to explore. A place to do things they normally would not do. What more symbolic way to pay tribute to all three missions than to explore this organic, concrete jungle along the same pathways that Lewis and Clark traversed on their famed journey in 1803?
Bob Cassilly will be remembered for his talent as a sculptor and his vision as a mold breaker. Visitors throughout St. Louis and other parts of the country can look to his work as a reminder of a person who knew that growing up was optional, not a requirement. Go climbing at Turtle Park in Forest Park, visit the St. Louis Zoo or check out the hippos at NY’s Central Park. His presence is all around us. I just hope that with his passing, we gain more artists who are brave enough to carve out a new world without waiting around to ask for permission.