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Aaron Belz

Cassilly's City

Remembering the Gaudí of St. Louis.

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Before and after many of those readings, I walked past Bob Cassilly, hard at work on something new, though I usually couldn't tell what it was. He would greet me and my visiting poets and affirm his delight that a cultural event was being born there. The series moved to the Contemporary Art Museum for its second season and eventually became known as Observable Readings—as it still is today. Eventually my family and I left St. Louis so that I could take a teaching job in California. Now we're in North Carolina. For us, nothing remains of that former life.

A month ago I returned to the City Museum with my two daughters. There weren't enough hours in our visit to have all the different kinds of fun we were intended to have. Afterward, sweaty and sore, we walked down Washington and witnessed its new life. People, stores, cars—it was not the 1904 World's Fair, but it was something. I didn't know that we stood in time so close to the end of Bob Cassilly's life.

St. Louis is something, something more than the Cardinals and Anheuser-Busch. It took an artist to define it and turn it into a walkable work of art. I hope his vision continues.

Aaron Belz is a writer in Hillsborough, North Carolina. He is the author of two books of poetry, The Bird Hoverer (BlazeVOX, 2007) and Lovely, Raspberry (Persea, 2010).

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