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Women’s Work- The Lost Cause Amy Hunter, Director of Racial Justice, YWCA "Free Bree!" was shouted as Bree Newsome climbed the 30 foot flagpole and took down the Confederate flag that had flown over the state Capitol in Columbia, South Carolina. A symbol of racist laws, practices and belief systems in America, the Confederate flag is also a reminder that justification for the intergenerational enslavement of humans can be explained away by a conversation of states’ rights. While South Carolina has been the focal point of this debate, we have our own version of the Confederate flag in St. Louis.

narratives of honor that the southern confederates wholeheartedly believed were the positive recollections from the failed civil war (Gallagher, 2000).

I was recently at a book swap, a place where women gather, bring books they've enjoyed reading and swap them for another book. It is a wonderful time. While at this integrated, convivial event, I learned that there is a large Confederate statue in our beloved Forest Park, located on (believe it or not) Confederate Way. I listened carefully as this roomful of white women spoke of their desire to remove the statue from the park. Of course, like others, we were surprised that such a monument would exist in a city that is almost fifty percent African-American and prides itself on efforts to create a more inclusive community. I, like the other women, wanted this 32 foot statue removed from the park.

Bree Newsome took the flag down in South Carolina only to see it flown once again until the South Carolina legislature took action. Won’t you join the call for our St. Louis lawmakers to install art that emotes love in Forest Park, instead of remnants of hatred, lynchings, bloodshed and inhumane treatment? If we are going to be the city we envision, our public art should be a reflection of all our desires.

So, I did some research to understand how this symbol of the Confederacy ended up in one of the most beautiful and serene parks in the country. I learned that a women's group, the Ladies of the Confederate Monument Association, affiliated with the United Daughters of the Confederacy, assisted in getting the George Zolnay statue to the park where it was dedicated in 1915. The piece features a relief of The Angel of the Spirit of the Confederacy, and some use that title for the piece, while others draw a stronger correlation to "The Lost Cause,” as in the Lost Cause Movement, a literary and cultural phenomenon that began shortly after the war to continue the white supremacy ideology and

I am encouraged as an associate of the YWCA, the oldest women’s organization in the United States, to see women’s vision and leadership in the effort to have this piece removed from Forest Park. We are a community filled with amazing artists. We could creatively design a piece that honors racial and gender inclusion in our city.

I am looking forward to changing Confederate Way to Liberation Circle and invoking the understanding that liberation and equity are the goals for us all. I am looking forward to the statue of Peace, Hope and Love instead of the Lost Cause. May we embrace the belief that none of us is a lost cause and the work of St. Louis women is toward love and peace.

George Zolnay, The Angel of the Spirit of the Confederacy, (photo credit: Richard Reilly)

George Zolnay, The Angel of the Spirit of the Confederacy, (photo credit: Richard Reilly)

Art and History Collide: Help bring Ritziata to South Grand! Michael R. Allen / Director, Preservation Research Office Walter Gunn, Artist The human impulse to create entryways to common spaces for ceremony, entertainment and inspiration, both communal and personal, remains strong in us. In the early 20th century, the Juniata Theatre was built. Though the name changed to the Ritz and the façade was altered, then torn down altogether, this small lot on South Grand has now been made a permanent common space for a society continuing to explore its humanity. We are proposing the people once again be given a façade to approach.

Andrew Petty, Ritziata artist rendering (photo credit: Courtesy of the artist)


A successful urban streetscape is an ensemble act; a cast of facades whose architectural characters act out ambiance and image. They are the critical interface between inner and outer space. The vitality of a historic district, and its city, depends on its façades and like a missing tooth from a smile, a missing façade has a negative impact. COMMENTARY

In essence, we envision a steel outline echoing architectural elements and gesture from the Art Nouveau Juniata and Art Moderne Ritz façades in a unified homage. We call it, RITZIATA. Like a pen and ink drawing suspended in air, its two-story height will fill in the streetscape to complement its neighboring structures, create a formal entrance for the park, and using negative space, provide visual separation from the busy boulevard. Help us make this project a reality! Visit the South Grand Ritz Park Art Installation Project crowdfunding campaign on the Indiegogo website to view the full story, budget, and information about the project's artists. We appreciate your support of our effort to integrate historic preservation and public art on South Grand!

All the Art, Fall 2015  

The Visual Art Quarterly of St. Louis

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