Talk of the Towns: 3.6.23

city museum | Why recycle when you can upcycle? Edgy, renegade Bay-area artist Daniel ‘Attaboy’ Seifert and his creations have landed and been reassembled on the fourth floor of City Museum downtown with The Upcycled Garden installation. The exhibit is Attaboy’s ever-growing and touring concept, featuring recycled cardboard, house paint and remnants of items that had been spray-painted. While beautiful and organic on the outside, when many of the pieces are flipped over, they reveal a visual diary of conspicuous consumption that Attaboy uses to create his art—gluten-free pizza cartons, Covid tests, light bulbs, Amazon boxes and other such mundane detritus of everyday life. As ‘they’ say, one man’s trash is another’s treasure. Attaboy kept all this stuff out of the landfill when he started making the art while enduring the pandemic lockdown. There is little-to-no planning while he’s making the pieces, and the artist says his open-ended play of constructing them is soothing. Attaboy could be creating different groupings of the sculptures and wall art even as we speak, and his installation is set to grow throughout 2024 and beyond. The Upcycled Garden sprouted at a converted mortuary, itself upcycled as an art gallery in Oakland, California, and has been exhibited at: Uma Gallery, The Brea City Gallery, Mainstreet LA, Art Thou Gallery and others before coming to town. It will stay here through June 1, and chances are it won’t be the same collection that arrived. A visit to Attaboy’s The Upcycled Garden, located in the Sullivan Architecture Gallery on the museum’s fourth floor, is included with admission.

creve coeur lake
“My, my,” one of the best bosses of all time would say as we boarded the elevator to ride four floors to his company headquarters back in the 1990s. Then, Jack Hughes would look you right in the eye and continue, “Some stretch of weather we’re having.” In a town where 40-degree variations in temperature occur from day to day—even between noon and 6 p.m. some days—it was a safe bet that two weeks ago someone would have responded, “Can’t believe it’s February and nearly 75 degrees outside!” The knuckleheads, along with some otherwise normal folks, who made the Polar Plunge last month into the frigid waters of Creve Coeur Lake were lucky it had made it into the high 40s that day, when not too many days before that, county park visitors could toss a heavy stick and watch it bounce on lake ice. Hardy kayakers at that time made like icebreakers in the Arctic, crunching their way through the frozen layer. In these parts, what we do know all too well is that we’ll never know whether the ballgame or concert will be rained out, or whether the half-inch of predicted snow will amount to ankle-deep, knee-deep, a quarter-inch of ice, or bupkis. Anyhow, the polar plungers from throughout the metro took the chilly dip to raise money for the Special Olympics. Whenever the plunge was being planned, of course, no one could’ve predicted what the weather would be like on Feb. 24. The hardy and the nutty, some clad only in swim trunks, others layering Hawaiian leis and grass skirts, went temporarily insane for a very good cause. These are selfless people, the types who take the ice-bucket challenge. It’s all good. Although some participants may have felt like they were suffering from hypothermia, no cases of frostbite were reported.

downtown west
This year marks the 50th anniversary of ON THE WALL’s first mural, Wally the giant butterfly downtown. Robert Fishbone, proprietor of the company, could be considered a touch off the wall. He is to give the weekly High Noon talk March 7 inside the High Low literary arts café’s listening room in the Grand Center Arts District. Fishbone’s to summarize his immense body of work since 1974, when he first started painting urban murals with his late wife, Sarah Linquist. Longtime St. Louis residents will remember “Lindy Squared,” which from a distance was a black-and-white image of Charles Lindbergh but got more and more indistinct the closer you got. Pixilated. The building has since been demolished, as has downtown mall St. Louis Centre, where sections of “Lindy” went for a few years. All this is a backdrop to perhaps Fishbone’s most ambitious project: He’s been tapped to manage restoration of Richard Haas’ iconic “World’s Fair” mural, painted on the west face of the old Edison Bros. warehouse just to the north of I-64 (Hwy. 40). It’s suffered from the elements for 40 years, and the new owners are dedicated to returning it to its original condition as they renovate the entire building. Up to 80% of the brick exterior needs to be tuckpointed before newfangled paint—engineered for the surface to absorb—is applied. Fishbone is loath to give a timeline for the project’s completion. Suffice it to say he’s thrilled to be involved. For a comprehensive portfolio of Fishbone et al. by decade, visit

notable neighbors
The dateline for this feature on Joy Grdnic could also be the Central West End (CWE), because she and husband Ron Stevens are moving this year from the former Nabisco mansion on Westmoreland Place to another stately home, the Arzt house in Soulard, a Victorian jewel that some observers have said looks like the Addams family’s abode And her last name could be Christensen, an old family name she used professionally when she owned and ran The Fountain on Locust. But she doesn’t consider herself a restaurateur, because she knew nothing about cooking or serving food in that fast-paced environment before she started running the place in 2003, but knew plenty about the business when she sold it 19 years later. She’s been married almost 50 years to Stevens, but didn’t take his last name, because Grdnic (pronounced ‘Grid-Nick’) is pretty cool on its own. My wife, Cate Griesedieck, says she’d give her a vowel—Grdnic wouldn’t even have to buy one like contestants on Wheel of Fortune. Grdnic and Stevens were radio personalities here (on KSHE-95) as well as in NYC, L.A. and San Diego… and their syndicated comedy bits aired on 700 U.S. stations, plus stations in Japan and Dubai. Their 1970s LP, Somewhere Over the Radio, was Grammy-nominated for Best Comedy Album; the bit “Fast Food” was a regular selection on Dr. Demento’s radio show and appears on a compilation album along with goofballs such as “Weird Al” Yankovic. She’s bought and sold several buildings in the Locust Business District, including the one where The Fountain still operates. Another, on the next block along the Lou’s onetime Automotive Row, is home to The Cherry Garage, where son Keaton Christensen is an owner who converts autos from fossil-fuel to electric propulsion. Grdnic admits she could have just started going by Joy, like Cher, Oprah or Madonna. But don’t call Joy a real-estate investor. She giggles over her tiny sundae in our booth at The Fountain “I’ve always developed or restored properties,” she says. “Ron said he never wanted me to go shopping because I’d come home with another building.” OK, then; can we pin her down by high school? Not likely. Raised on a farm in Millstadt, Illinois, she started at Gibault Catholic H.S. in nearby Waterloo. But she graduated over here, from Ladue, which has a more comprehensive art program. So, is she an artist? Yes, if fashionistas count: She wore a cute pink beret at the Fountain, where she received many admirers and former associates during our interview. With all she’s said and done, what best characterizes her? Joy is a comedian. She recently was on the bill at the Sheldon with her husband and John Ulett, KSHE’s ‘U-Man.’ Her slide presentation focused on what scares her: “Not so much climate change, A.I. or bitcoin,” she says. “They’re ALL scary, but I barely got to which can you’re supposed to throw your trash in. And, I mean, there are missing street signs that GPS can’t help with.” Luxury problems, perhaps, but Joy knew how to make them roll in the aisles, I can assure you.

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