Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Sculptures LOST Briefly

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Sculptures LOST Briefly

Article excerpt

ST. LOUIS * First, some of the sculptures were left to rust and break. Last year, St. Louis County tried to sell some of them.

Then, on Tuesday, county park officials discovered that three of their famous Earnest Trova sculptures on loan at a downtown office building had disappeared.

"They're gone. They're not there. You can see where they've been removed," said county park director Tom Ott, midway through Wednesday. "I think in time we'll find out what really happened to them. That's all I know for now."

And for several more hours it was a mystery. Then the answer showed up in the building's garage.

The Laumeier Sculpture Park, in Sunset Hills, was founded nearly 40 years ago on county land with the help of a 40-sculpture gift from Trova, one of St. Louis' most renowned artists.

But over the years, the sculptures fell into disrepair and disregard. Rain and sun took a toll on the outdoor pieces. And Trova's profile, once on the rise, began to dip in esteem. Laumeier stopped displaying many. The park's mission, officials said, was broader than a single artist.

Some of the Trovas were crated up and stored. A few were left nestled in the Laumeier woods. The park lent others to St. Louis University, the WingHaven subdivision in O'Fallon, Mo., and the Missouri Botanical Garden, among others.

Some sculptures are in bad enough shape that the county is holding a workshop today to teach borrowers how to preserve and fix the works.

In 2002, three of the sculptures were sent to the General American Insurance company, headquartered at 700 Market Street downtown. They were big pieces of angular steel and bright paint, worth tens of thousands of dollars each. They decorated the southeast corner of North Eighth and Market streets for more than a decade.

Then, last year, St. Louis County officials asked for their Trovas back. The plan at the time was to sell off what they felt they couldn't display at Laumeier, and to make room and money for other sculptures.

But one borrower wasn't interested. In 2005, Centaur Properties, owned by New York investor Harlan Berger, bought the General American building. And Berger wasn't convinced the county actually owned the Trovas, Laumeier officials recently said. …

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