MISSION: The self-proclaimed 'living laboratory' that is Laumeier Sculpture Park is focused on uniting contemporary artwork with the Missouri landscape. Throughout its 105 acres, the park welcomes some 300,000 visitors annually to enjoy the sculptures, facilities and lush grounds.
HISTORY: Founded in 1976, Laumeier is the product of a generous gift by Matilda Laumeier, who left 72 acres of her estate to St. Louis County Parks in 1968, says executive director Marilu Knode. “In 1976, a group of community leaders were approached by Ernest Trova, who donated 40 artworks, and that’s what made it a sculpture park.”
Since its creation, the park has grown in both square footage and creativity, as art activities, docent-guided tours, a library and indoor galleries have been added over the years. Recently, the park has expanded to include a pop-up facility, The Laumeier Patch, which travels from area neighborhoods to events, spreading its artistic mission.
COMMUNITY IMPACT: As a public facility, Laumeier serves any interested community member by providing a unique cultural experience. “What’s wonderful about Laumeier is that it attracts people from a wide range of backgrounds,” Knode says. “There are people who come here specifically for the art, but there are people who come because it’s art in a beautiful landscape...And there are people who come to walk the landscape!” Even area dogs benefit from these pet-friendly grounds, which play host to the occasional Yappy Hour! event. Throughout the summer, Laumeier also houses children’s camps, which focuses on both the natural surroundings and creative outlets, like painting and sculpting.
“We have a very good public/private partnership with St. Louis County Parks,” explains Knode. “They maintain the grounds and lend us the wide array of services within the county, and they also pay for some of our administrative staff. The other half is paid by the nonprofit, and that includes the bulk of the programming staff.”
Supporting finances come from a variety of events, as well as museum memberships and gifts. “Like all nonprofits, we’re very efficient with our money,” explains Knode. “Our primary focus is to support the mission, which is to give our audience the widest range of programming and activities as possible.”
Two exhibits are shown per year, in addition to the iconic, longtime pieces. Presently, Laumeier is exhibiting A River Between Us: a collection focused on the relationship between St. Louis, New Orleans and the Mississippi River.
NIGHT VISIONS, OCT. 12, AT LAUMEIER SCULPTURE PARK
Laumeier’s 2013 fall fundraiser will bring supporters outside to enjoy dinner, artwork, music, auctions and more beneath the autumn night sky.
HOW TO GET INVOLVED: To become a member or find out more, call 615-5278 or visit laumeiersculpturepark.org.
ON THE BOARD: DAVID SCHLAFLY
At the request of a longtime arts philanthropist, David Schlafly joined the Laumeier Sculpture Park board. “I knew very little about contemporary sculpture, but I knew a lot about Ken Kranzberg, so I immediately wanted to say yes,” says Schlafly. Some seven years later, Schlafly is board chair. “I began to really enjoy being around people who are in the art world and create these amazing pieces that I may not understand—because they cause me to think about things differently.”
A commercial real estate professional since 1987, Schlafly founded brokerage firm Schlafly Corporation in 1994. On top of owning the business, Schlafly does plenty of development work in St. Louis County, often transforming older pieces of property into commercial space—which helps to explain his passion for art. “Whether it’s good architecture, good planning or good landscaping, when you do a project in real estate that is more-than-common, it causes people to want to be there,” he says. “Art is part of it—it’s what makes something unique and different.” With its lush landscape and thought-provoking work, Laumeier definitely provides one of those more-than-common destinations. “Amongst trees, it’s peaceful—very different than going into a museum with white walls and recycled air, looking at a piece against a wall. Here you get to sit on the grass, walk in the woods and experience some unique, sculptural pieces.”
Outside of Laumeier, Schlafly is a Catholic Charities board member, City of Ladue Zoning Board of Adjustments member, City of Clayton Art Commission advisory member, Creve Coeur Economic Council chair and St. Louis County Business Retention Committee member. Previously, he graduated from Saint Louis Priory School and the University of Dallas.