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St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Group hopes University City public art project will liven up Olive Boulevard

Group hopes University City public art project will liven up Olive Boulevard

By Katie Kull
St. Louis Post-Dispatch


UNIVERSITY CITY - The strip malls and supply stores of Olive Boulevard got a little brighter on Saturday after volunteers raised a mural of popping yellows, reds and greens on a street side building.

The artwork, mounted on the Winco Window Company building near Skinker Boulevard, is the first of what volunteers hope will be multiple murals commissioned to liven up the city and celebrate the historic diversity of a corridor that has been the target of new development in recent years.

Garrie Burr, a member of the group Murals on Olive, said he also hoped it would prompt people to slow down while passing through.

“It’s more than just murals — it’s a pathway and an opportunity,” he said.

The group commissioned local artist Byron Rogers to design and paint the mural, about 8 feet tall and 20 feet wide. It depicts people of all ages and ethnicities shopping, cooking, gardening and playing under a glowing sun. Rogers said he wanted to capture the familial spirit of University City.

“The inspiration came from showing the unity of the city and community,” Rogers said.

Rogers had help from University City High School art students, who spent time after school painting alongside him.

Lila Gralnick, who graduated in May, said it was a fun challenge to emulate Rogers’ style as she filled in large pink flowers that seemed to pop from the metal sheets, donated by Winco to serve as the mural’s canvas. It was also one of the opportunities from the district’s programs that made her want to study art in college at Webster University, she said.

“It was different because it was just such a large space,” she said.

The next mural is planned for the University City School District’s administration building near North and South Boulevard.