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STL250 Cakes Are Popping Up All Over

Got cake?

If your area is slated to get one of the celebratory STL250 cakes, but you haven’t seen it yet, never fear. The sweetness is on its way.

As cake artist (and pastry chef) April Morrison explained, the weather disrupted the cake plans as it did much else this winter. She is finishing her 11th cake and has found the experience to be enlightening.

The cake at Francis Field
Credit Provided by STL250
The cake at Francis Field

“The most important part of it was helping to celebrate St. Louis’ 250th birthday,” she said. “I went to St. Elizabeth’s Academy high school. I went to Fontbonne for my bachelor’s and my master’s and I’ve been local my whole life. So it was great to learn more about the city as I was getting site-specific cakes. It was like a little history with each cake.”

Some of that history is tied to Washington University, where she works with Bon Appetit Management Co. Morrison said the university knew she was on campus and understood it, so it had faith in her.

For the Francis Field cake, she was given photographs from the 1904 World’s Fair. “One of the original items,” she said, “is the big gate from the Olympics so I incorporated that into the cake and transferred some of the photographs from the actual Olympics onto it as well.”

Some of Morrison’s cakes benefited from her pastry chef experience. For those at the Bissell and DeMenil houses, she put caulk in a pastry bag to imitate buttercream frosting.

Other artists had their own inspiration. For Mark Swain the project has been a restoration.

Mark Swain's Cahokia Mounds cake
Credit Provided by Mark Swain
Mark Swain's Cahokia Mounds cake

“I had had a triple bypass,” he said. “After that I had lost all desire to paint.” And this is a person who was doing almost a painting a week.

When he learned about the Regional Arts Commission’s call for artists for the Cakeway project, he thought “this could be a really good thing or disaster” because he hadn’t been getting inspiration.

How did it work? He said it was like “a fire lit in my brain.”

Swain did nine cakes, with the one at Cahokia Mounds holding special meaning for him.

As a member of the AhNiYvWiYa tribe, he wanted that cake to be a tribute to Native Americans.

Swain, who is president of the Mount Pleasant Neighborhood Association and a board member of Dutchtown South Community Corp., is already involved in the city. But he said he was especially pleased to help bring more “public art into the city.”

Katherine Nelson with the Cardinals cake in progress
Credit Provided by Katherine Nelson
Katherine Nelson with the Cardinals cake in progress

Not all cake artists have long ties to St. Louis. Katherine Nelson moved here 15 months ago from Spokane, Wash. In an email, she said her designs “are influenced by my perceptions of this great city and surrounding landscape area.”

Nelson was able to land one of the cakes that’s likely to get a lot of attention: the Cardinals team cake at Busch Stadium. The Cardinals supplied two logos that she enlarged and placed on the front of the bird.

Now that the weather is getting better, STL 250 hopes to have all cakes in place by the end of next week.

About the Cakes

Material: Fiberglass

Size: The two-tier cake is 4 feet tall, 36 inches wide

Information: www.stl250.org/cake.aspx

campbell house cake
Credit Provided by STL250
Campbell House cake by Nick Nihira, an assistant professor of art at Jefferson College. In an email, he said that he loves the old bricks that are really a signature of St Louis. He lives in south city and has a brick lined alley. He said those bricks are weathered and worn and you just feel the history behind them. He thought it would be interesting to give a nod to the history of St Louis bricks. They are truly the foundation of the city.

Donna Korando started work in journalism at SIU’s Daily Egyptian in 1968. In between Carbondale and St. Louis Public Radio, she taught high school in Manitowoc, Wis., and worked at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the copy editor and letters editor for the editorial page from 1973-77. As an editorial writer from 1977-87, she covered Illinois and city politics, education, agriculture, family issues and sub-Saharan Africa. When she was editor of the Commentary Page from 1987-2003, the page won several awards from the Association of Opinion Page Editors. From 2003-07, she headed the features copy desk.

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