I fell in love with Tower Grove Park last summer when I visited St. Louis, and I've been wanting to get back to paint ever since. It was founded by Henry Shaw, who gave the land, built a huge variety of charming Victorian buildings and pavilions, and left money to help with its care. I love that one man could do so much for so many people in the future.
I'm fortunate to have two different households of friends and/or cousins who live just a block off the park and were willing to take me in for my painting trip. It was wonderful to be able to get up, walk out the door, and start painting with a minimum of fuss. It's a gorgeous old neighborhood, too, and if for some reason I could no longer live in Memphis, that would be my number one choice of where to go.
It was drizzly my first day there, which beautifully was a Sunday (the only day the cafe at the Palm House is open), so I bought a cup of hot chocolate and settled in to paint indoors in comfort and with wait service. Every urban sketcher's dream. The Palm House is converted from an original Victorian greenhouse, which has been happily reclaimed from its time as a bus barn.
My next project was the Old Playground Pavilion. I spotted it on my walk that first drizzly morning and am pondering a print of it for my new series.
I might, however, prefer the bandstand instead. Shaw built it with the busts of his favorite composers on pedestals around it, and every concert played had to have a piece by at least one of them. It's a gorgeous building with intricate details and a wooden floor that (I'm lucky enough to know from personal experience) is just perfect for waltzing. It's also surrounded by beautifully eccentric trees. This may be my winning scene. Either way, it was a thrill to paint at Tower Grove again, and I hope not to let so long go again before I get back there.
Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.
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