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The Sheldon Presents Photos Of St. Louis At 250 Years

The Sheldon has its own way of celebrating St. Louis’ birthday. Its new exhibit "The City at 250: A Celebration of St. Louis in Photographs" stemmed from a city-wide photo contest the Sheldon launched with the Beacon (now part of St. Louis Public Radio) that received over 500 entries. Focusing on photos of the city as it is today, the exhibit is a companion to the Sheldon's “Imagining the Founding of St. Louis.” Together, they offer a then and now view for the city’s 250th celebration.

“We put the word out last summer … for people to depict their city and its surrounding areas, and to really talk about what’s unique about the city, and what are the wonderful moments or the not so wonderful moments,” said Olivia Lahs-Gonzales, the director of the Sheldon Art Galleries.

Jurors sorted through the entries and chose the final 100 to be featured in the exhibit, with another 150 in a slideshow – for a total of 250 pictures.  Any process of developing or enhancing the images, including Photoshop, was allowed.

The jurors were looking at the quality and uniqueness of the images and for photos that were technically good. “We wanted to see images we hadn’t seen before. We wanted to see pictures that really showed the uniqueness of the city,” said Lahs-Gonzales.  

The competition included three divisions: professional, amateur, and a youth division (for photographers up to 18 years-old). The youngest photographer was 4 years-old. Her photo is featured among the main 100 photographs.

Credit Jane Linders
Jane Linders' photo of the USS Inaugural titled Mississippi River.

Jane Linders had two photographs selected for the show in the professional division. The first depicts the U.S.S. Inaugural, a World War II minesweeper that sank in the flood of ’93. The ship resurfaced during the recent drought, and a friend suggested she go shoot it. “He gets me into all these interesting places. In the Cotton Belt Depot Building – he got me in there too,” she said. The second picture was taken in that depot building.  

Olivia Botonis, a rising high-school senior, became interested in photography after taking a photography class her freshman year. Her photo “A Stitch-in-Time Becomes a Playground to Climb” depicts her grandmother with a sewing machine in front of the City Museum. Her grandmother emigrated from Greece in the 1970s and took a job at the Biltwell Sportswear factory – which later became the City Museum. 

Botonis said her first thoughts of St. Louis were the Arch and the Cardinals but she knew her picture needed to be more personal than that. She then thought about the diversity in both St. Louis and her family and decided her grandma’s story, and the transformations both her grandmother and the building have experienced, were a good fit.

Credit Olivia Kristine Botonis
A Stitch-in-Time Becomes a Playground to Climb, February 16th, 2014 (Youth – 2nd Place, People)

“The exhibit is really cool. It’s really fun to walk through the hallway and the exhibit and see everyone’s own view of St. Louis, and how they see it and what they think of it. It’s kind of a nice way to wrap up the city and shows … all the cool things St. Louis has to offer,” said Botonis.

The exhibit will run through August 23.

The Sheldon Art Galleries Present "The City at 250: A Celebration of St. Louis in Photographs"
June 6 - August 23, 2014
Tuesdays, 12:00 noon – 8:00 p.m.
Wednesdays – Fridays, 12:00 noon – 
5:00 p.m.
Saturdays, 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Sheldon Art Galleries, 3648 Washington Blvd.
(314) 533-9900

Cityscape is produced by Mary Edwards and Alex Heuer and sponsored in part by the Missouri Arts Council, the Regional Arts Commission, and the Arts and Education Council of Greater St. Louis