Posted by: Diane Capuano
This is how the West was won—with trompe l’oeil murals, painted finishes, plenty of hard work and a whole lot of talent from a dedicated group of professionals.
This dedicated group included the members of the Metro Artisans Guild, the International Decorative Artisans League’s chapter in the Greater St. Louis area. Fifteen artists from MAG lent their talents to the Wild West Fest, a philanthropic project undertaken to benefit CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) for Children in St. Louis County.
The project involved the creation of 11 spectacular playhouses using a Western town theme. MAG members participated in the creation of eight of the playhouses; other businesses in the St. Louis area created the three others. Playhouses included a schoolhouse, restaurant, general store, stable/blacksmith, hotel, movie theater, boat—even an old-fashioned Western jail.
Trompe l’oeil was a major part of all 11 of the playhouse projects. Among the trompe l’oeil effects created were: cowboys and cowboy boots, merchandise in a general store, tasty-looking food and beverages in the restaurant, a silhouette of a blacksmith working with an anvil, the front desk of the hotel, the ticket window at the theater, authentic-looking signage on every building, and many faux woodgrains and aged wall treatments.
The CASA for Kids Playhouse Celebration kicked off with a Wild West Fest fund-raising event at Ambassador Floor Co. in Chesterfield, Mo., on July 31. Attendees enjoyed food, beverages, square-dancing and a chance to win one of the playhouses. In addition, other playhouses were raffled off as part of the fund-raiser.
The Wild West Fest was a follow-up to last year’s successful philanthropic project, which also raised money for CASA for Kids. “Last year, the event raised $15,000,” reported Diane Hansen, who spearheaded the project along with fellow MAG member Kathy Otto. “This year, we were expecting to do even better.”
MAG members worked with other professionals to create the impressive playhouses, including local builders, architects and designers. “It was a great experience,” Hansen said. “We got to meet and network with a lot of wonderful people.”
This project had double significance for Otto, since she has been a trained volunteer for CASA for Kids for nine years. As Otto explained, CASA is a wonderful organization that stands up for abused and neglected kids. To be able to combine her commitment to CASA with her artistry was very fulfilling for Otto. “Bringing together these two things I really care about—it was really a perfect fit,” she reported.
On top of that, Otto agreed with Hansen that the ability to network with other St. Louis-area professionals was an amazing experience. “We were able to meet a lot of different people. It gave us an opportunity to showcase our work for a lot of different architects and designers—plus it was a lot of fun to do.”