Thursday, September 22, 2016

TricorBraun Exclusive Art Tour

In 1902, Samuel Kranzberg founded TricorBraun in St. Louis as a used-bottle company.Today, TricorBraun is headquartered in Creve Coeur, Missouri and one of the packaging industry's largest suppliers of glass and plastic containers, closures, dispensers and tubes. At home in what was once Jefferson Smurfit perch on the 10th floor of City Place Six overlooking a sunny warm first day of fall (September 21, 2016), Ken and Nancy Kranzberg graciously share with us a tour of the eclectic art collection that adorns that workspace. Happily, bottles have paved the way for their ongoing passion and patronage of art. We get a peek at the collection and some insight into dozens of stories about the acquisitions over time.

Ken and Nancy offered a few opening remarks that demonstrated the power of a partnership that has thrived. They demonstrate with smiles and stories about encountering art and artist over years of joy in sharing their love of art. Our group of art fans who share a connection to the Laumeier Sculpture Park are fortunate to witness this --- up close and personal. And we are able to view  and enjoy some of the fruits of their pursuits.
Jim Dine (b.1935 in Cincinnati) is an American pop artist. He is sometimes considered to be a part of the Neo-Dada movement. He studied at the University of Cincinnati and received a BFA from Ohio University in 1957. We were able to ponder a Jim Dine in an outer office waiting area while contrasting it with the bronze sculpture of Pinocchio among works at St. Louis City Garden downtown.
Ernest Tino Trova (1927 – 2009) was a self-trained American surrealist and pop art painter and sculptor who is best known for his signature image and figure series, The Falling Man. Trova's gift of forty of his works led to the opening of Laumeier Sculpture Park. We stood in front of a large falling man painting in one of the offices and it was only one of the remarkable images we were able to enjoy this day.   
Tom Huck (b.1971) is an American printmaker best known for his large-scale satirical woodcuts. He lives and works in St. Louis, where he runs his own press, Evil Prints. A stunning example of his work is on display outside the lobby in the form of a large format Triptych entitled Death Rattles. We were familiar with Huck since in April 2015 Laumeier installed 3 playground "spring toys" designed by Huck and fabricated based on his series of "Death Bug" prints.
Mildred Howard (b. 1945) is an African-American artist known primarily for her sculptural installation and mixed-media assemblages. Bottles, in various African cultures, have represented vessels of protection and safekeeping when placed in front of homes. One such installation is proudly displayed in Ken’s office – It was a gift from his wife. Like larger scale bottle projects by Mildred Howard, this piece is deeply rooted in personal narrative. It seems fitting that this piece is at home in a place where bottles are very much a part of the narrative.
Jerry O. Wilkerson was a lifelong painter who received a Bachelor of Science in Commercial Art from Lamar University in Beaumont Texas in 1966, and a MFA in painting in 1968 from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. He served in the United States Army from 1968-1970, upon his completion of military service he made St. Louis Missouri his home until his death. Wilkerson is recognized for his pointillism style of painting and use of everyday images of food (hamburgers, soup, sandwich, fruit etc). The Kranzberg’s like the St. Louis connection. 
Craig Norton (b 1972) is a self-taught artist. He draws on images from history books and contemporary media, recomposing them into collages of doll-like figures arranged alone or in small three-dimensional dioramas. Martin Luther King is featured in a Norton assemblage on a wall between offices.

A break area has an extremely rare four-sheet German Art Deco period poster for the Hamburg-Amerika Line, transatlantic liners "St. Louis" and "Milwaukee." Art Deco image from1929, created by Ottomar Anton, features one ship jutting out into the center foreground of the poster. In 1939, the St. Louis set sail from Hamburg across the Atlantic to Havana, Cuba, carrying over 950 Jewish emigrants fleeing Nazi tyranny. Unfortunately, the passengers of the St. Louis were turned away by officials of both Cuba and the United States, forcing the liner to return to Europe and the dangers of Nazi persecution.

Suffice it to say, while enjoying our post tour lunch at Il Bel Lago, our group of art enthusiasts were so very happy to toast our hosts Ken and Nancy Kranzberg and most fortunate to have them as friends.

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