Art Demolition Salvage St. Louis County

Name Made from Place

by Michael R. Allen

Janet Zweig’s If You Lived Here You Would Be Home, a new public art project in Maplewood funded by Arts in Transit, rewards repeated viewings — even at high speeds. The work consists of two sculptures that spell “Maplewood” on each side of the MetroLink overpass bridge on Manchester Road. On the west side, which people face heading into Maplewood, the word is spelled forwards, but on the other side it’s spelled backwards. Motorists leaving Maplewood might catch a glimpse of the word spelled forwards in their rear-view mirror. In her project description (which includes many excellent photographs), Zweig announces her intention regarding this effect: “hey can read the word on the other side of the overpass in their rear-view mirrors, as if seeing an illusionistic image of Maplewood’s past.”

There are other ways that the art work conjures Maplewood’s past. The typeface used is borrowed from the long-shuttered Maplewood Theater’s sign. Like a theater marquee, the letters of the sign are outlined in light at night, a great decision. The materials used to comprise each sign, not especially evident on a drive-by visit, are bits from two historic homes demolished in 2006. The idea of having the place name literally created by pieces of the lost past is profound, and need not be smothered by my analysis. Go drive, walk and stand by Zweig’s work, and then think about it.

One reply on “Name Made from Place”

Unless you have your rearview mirror at a really odd angle (or, perhaps, are driving a semi), the overpass backwards “Maplewood” is too high up to see. The idea was interesting; the execution . . . not so good. 

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