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CWEnder Carla Dawson’s paintings at Third Degree Glass Factory

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Education Events, Sightings  Third Degree Glass Factory Central West End Carla Dawson

Third Fridays of each month Third Degree Glass Factory, 5900 Delmar Blvd., has become a popular entertainment option for people of all ages. It’s a magnet for young families, couples, and groups of friends looking for an interactive experience. You can watch a glass making demonstration, listen to live music, and perhaps take a glass blowing class. There is always a food truck parked out front and on the Friday I visited, June 15, a couple from Ices Plain & Fancy was working their magic creating fabulous nitro-churned ice cream in the front room.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Education Events, Sightings  Third Degree Glass Factory Central West End Carla Dawson

Each Third Friday also marks the introduction of a new artist invited to display art in the main room.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Education Events, Sightings  Third Degree Glass Factory Central West End Carla Dawson

On the 15th, CWEnder Carla Dawson, June’s “artist of the month,” presented All About Color. She’s photographed in front of her oil paintings It’s All Connected, left and  Maui Sunset, right.

Several years ago Dawson and her husband Denny moved to the Central West End from Chesterfield. She said they wanted a more urban, diverse environment. “Plus, the amenities in the CWE are awesome,” she added. The artist can often be spotted walking with her greyhound Pearl from her condo to her art studio in the neighborhood.

As a single mom Dawson chose a career in the banking industry. In 1992 she left banking and took up art studying at Washington University, and then with local artist and teacher Robert Ketchens before striking out on her own.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Education Events, Sightings  Third Degree Glass Factory Central West End Carla Dawson

All About Color is inspired by nature and the artist’s love of travel. Shown from top,  Quiet, middle, Time Lapse, and bottom photo, Pier.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Education Events, Sightings  Third Degree Glass Factory Central West End Carla Dawson

Above, An example of the artist’s collage on glass called Metallic Sunrise.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Education Events, Sightings  Third Degree Glass Factory Central West End Carla Dawson

Dawson’s After the Rain, 42″ x 34″ oil on linen.

It’s All About Color will remain on view at Third Degree Glass Factory until July 18.  The next Third Friday event is scheduled for July 20. Doors open at 6 p.m., admission is free.

To contact Carla Dawson, or to learn more about her vibrant art, visit her website.

A visit to Cortex’s AB Mauri, where they’re passionate about baking

Nicki's Central West End Guide Education Food and Drink Web/Tech  Savor Saint Louis Food Tour Rick Oleshak Oscar Carreon Mark Prendergast Made.by Lia Lia Weber Fleischmann's yeast Cortex Innovation Community AB Mauri North America

After CWEnder Meredith Ramm won tickets to a Savor Saint Louis Food Tour offered on this blog, I noticed on her winning email that she works for AB Mauri, located in the @4240 building in the Cortex Innovation Community. As many times as I’ve been to that building I had never noticed the company’s entry, which is located on the first floor. What really caught my eye in her response was the company’s tagline, “Passionate about Baking,” because I too am passionate about baking.

More than curious about what the company does and why a business that’s associated with baking would be located at Cortex, I set up a meeting with AB Mauri’s Vice President of Marketing Rick Oleshak, to learn more. The first thing Oleshak asked, when I mentioned that I loved to bake bread, was what brand of yeast I used. Luckily my response, Fleischmann’s, was the correct answer as that brand is AB Mauri’s largest consumer product. I also learned that 2018 is a banner year for the company, as Fleischmann’s Yeast is celebrating its 150th anniversary.

AB Mauri moved from West County to Cortex a little over 3 years ago after Australian Mark Prendergast became president. Prendergast, a biking enthusiast, lived at The Chase Park Plaza for a while and would bike around the Central West End after work. When he discovered Cortex, he decided to move AB Mauri’s North American headquarters to a 23,000 s.f. space (which includes 8,000 s.f. of lab space called the bakingHUB) at @4240, Duncan and Boyle.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Education Food and Drink Web/Tech  Savor Saint Louis Food Tour Rick Oleshak Oscar Carreon Mark Prendergast Made.by Lia Lia Weber Fleischmann's yeast Cortex Innovation Community AB Mauri North America

photo courtesy of AB Mauri

Rick Oleshak, photographed in the bakingHUB above, said the change in location has also changed the attitude of the company’s 80 employees. The West County location didn’t have the personality Cortex has, and employees now enjoy interaction with other tech company innovators @4240.

AB Mauri is a baking technology company that delivers service, yeast and bakery ingredient solutions to large industrialized bakeries, local grocery chains and many restaurants as well.  The company also has artisanal partners around the country including several in the St. Louis  area.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Education Food and Drink Web/Tech  Savor Saint Louis Food Tour Rick Oleshak Oscar Carreon Mark Prendergast Made.by Lia Lia Weber Fleischmann's yeast Cortex Innovation Community AB Mauri North America

CWEnder Meredith Ramm, above, became AB Mauri’s Financial Planning & Analysis Manager in March of 2017. “I own forecasting, budgeting, etc. on the financial side,” she said.  “My husband and I love living in the Central West End and I couldn’t imagine turning down a job offer in the neighborhood too.” Ramm added that the work environment is fabulous. It’s easy to appreciate, once you step inside the handsome space, why AB Mauri was named one of the coolest working spaces by the St. Louis Business Journal and one of the top workplaces in a 2017 St. Louis Post-Dispatch poll.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Education Food and Drink Web/Tech  Savor Saint Louis Food Tour Rick Oleshak Oscar Carreon Mark Prendergast Made.by Lia Lia Weber Fleischmann's yeast Cortex Innovation Community AB Mauri North America

A row of flags along a north wall represents 15 countries of origin for the 80 employees at AB Mauri North America.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Education Food and Drink Web/Tech  Savor Saint Louis Food Tour Rick Oleshak Oscar Carreon Mark Prendergast Made.by Lia Lia Weber Fleischmann's yeast Cortex Innovation Community AB Mauri North America

Fleischmann’s Yeast was founded in 1868 by two brothers in Cincinnati, and quickly became a staple in American pantries. Note the charming cover of a 1917 cookbook above, which hangs on a wall in the company’s dining area. When Fleischmann’s was acquired by Associated British Foods (ABF) in 2004, AB Mauri was formed as an operating division. From the website: “Around the world, AB Mauri operates in more than 50 locations in 32 countries (and employs 7,000 people) with global headquarters located in Peterborough, United Kingdom.”

With 1700+ strains of yeast in its fermentation lab, AB Mauri North America makes yeast for the production of many products including bread, beer, wine, spirits and nutrition. The company recently expanded its yeast production to include biofuel.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Education Food and Drink Web/Tech  Savor Saint Louis Food Tour Rick Oleshak Oscar Carreon Mark Prendergast Made.by Lia Lia Weber Fleischmann's yeast Cortex Innovation Community AB Mauri North America

The 8,000 s.f. bakingHUB is the largest lab in the area. Technicians have 500 ingredients available in the AB Mauri system to assist clients in creating a unique bakery mix so their product will stand out from the competition.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Education Food and Drink Web/Tech  Savor Saint Louis Food Tour Rick Oleshak Oscar Carreon Mark Prendergast Made.by Lia Lia Weber Fleischmann's yeast Cortex Innovation Community AB Mauri North America

photo courtesy of AB Mauri

The bakingHUB is also used to help bakeries find solutions to problems. Technicians at AB Mauri can program the HUB’s equipment to mimic conditions at a bakery’s factory and figure out what’s wrong. It could be as simple as a conveyor belt being out of whack.

The photo above shows AB Mauri North America Innovation Manager Paul Bright, and Technical Sales Manager Ed Livesey, evaluating a finished yellow cake during a recent baking session.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Education Food and Drink Web/Tech  Savor Saint Louis Food Tour Rick Oleshak Oscar Carreon Mark Prendergast Made.by Lia Lia Weber Fleischmann's yeast Cortex Innovation Community AB Mauri North America

Americans’ tastes have broadened with exposure to foods from different cultures. With that in mind, meet Oscar Carreon, above, technical service manager for AB Mauri North America. Carreon moved to St. Louis from AB Mauri Mexico to work expressly on the tortilla segment for North America.  In Rick Oleshak’s opinion, “Carreon is outstanding and is regarded as one of the top technical bakers for tortillas in the industry.”

Nicki's Central West End Guide Education Food and Drink Web/Tech  Savor Saint Louis Food Tour Rick Oleshak Oscar Carreon Mark Prendergast Made.by Lia Lia Weber Fleischmann's yeast Cortex Innovation Community AB Mauri North America

photo courtesy of AB Mauri

The photo above shows another example of the variety of activity going on in the bakingHUB.  AB Mauri technicians are shown practicing cake decorating skills led by Lia Weber Holter, far right, who uses the facility for her wedding cake business, Made. by Lia (found on The Knot). Lia, who travels to trade shows as an AB Mauri representative, was the winner of TLC’s Next Great Baker.

Thank you to Rick Oleshak for the wonderful visit—and for his patient responses as I tried to make sense of my copious notes—and to Meredith Ramm for acting as the catalyst for letting us explore a company I never expected was headquartered in the neighborhood.  It all started with a Savor Saint Louis Food Tour.

AB Mauri North America, 4240 Duncan.

STL Village Souper Sunday: Bridging the Delmar Housing Divide

Nicki's Central West End Guide Education Events, Sightings Food and Drink  U.S. Bancorp CDC Tyrone Turner Neal Richardson Malaika Horne Gail Brown Dream Builders 4 Equity Brown-KortKamp Realty and Urban Planning and Development Corporation Better Family Life

On a recent Sunday STL Village hosted a “Souper Supper” and panel discussion on Bridging the Delmar Housing Divide, a subject that’s both timely and, coincidentally, related to a recent post introducing you to Kevin Bryant, who has a development plan for the Kingsway District north of Delmar. The topic was chosen by STL Village Community Engagement Committee members Gloria Gordon and Malaika Horne to continue the Village’s goal “to strengthen the organization’s footprint by strengthening the footprint’s under-served areas.”

The event, held at Second Presbyterian Church, 4501 Westminster Pl., which is also home of STL Village’s new offices, was attended by approximately 80 people who enjoyed a variety of soups prepared by Village members.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Education Events, Sightings Food and Drink  U.S. Bancorp CDC Tyrone Turner Neal Richardson Malaika Horne Gail Brown Dream Builders 4 Equity Brown-KortKamp Realty and Urban Planning and Development Corporation Better Family Life

Malaika Horne, above, Director of Executive Leadership Consortium at UMSL, moderated the discussion. Her first question to the panel consisting of Gail Brown, Neal Richardson and Tyrone Turner was: “Why should this topic, Bridging the Delmar Housing Divide, be important?”

Nicki's Central West End Guide Education Events, Sightings Food and Drink  U.S. Bancorp CDC Tyrone Turner Neal Richardson Malaika Horne Gail Brown Dream Builders 4 Equity Brown-KortKamp Realty and Urban Planning and Development Corporation Better Family Life

Gail Brown, above, president of Brown-Kortkamp Realty and Urban Planning and Development Corporation, founded by her father Elisha Brown in 1960, responded: “St. Louis is only as good as our weakest link, and we haven’t gained much ground north of Delmar.”

Standing alongside a map of the city’s central corridor Brown explained the disparity in housing prices. North of Delmar houses range from a low of $3,000 to $428,000,  while south of Delmar prices range from a low of $57,750 to a high of $1.9 M.

“Families who live on the north side want the same things as families in more affluent areas of St. Louis,” she said, “better schools and better services, things that come with higher property taxes.”

Nicki's Central West End Guide Education Events, Sightings Food and Drink  U.S. Bancorp CDC Tyrone Turner Neal Richardson Malaika Horne Gail Brown Dream Builders 4 Equity Brown-KortKamp Realty and Urban Planning and Development Corporation Better Family Life

Neal Richardson, Assistant Director of New Market & Historic Tax Credits at U.S. Bancorp CDC, has worked in real estate finance for the past 10 years. As a side project he founded Dream Builders 4 Equity which teaches at-risk youth to succeed through mentorship, entrepreneurship, scholarship, and leadership training. It also affords them the opportunity to attain ownership in real estate in low-income, highly-distressed communities.  The 15-to 18-year-old high school students chosen for the program go from having “no clue about their future to at least thinking about it,” Richardson said.

The “Dreamers” are currently rehabbing a 1,000 s.f. house on Lewis Place that had been vacant for 4 years. As part of their learning experience, students kept a journal which was then published in a book titled Together We Can Break Chains, see above, which is available on the Dream Builders’ website. When the renovated house is sold, 30% of the profits will go into a college fund pool for the participating students. Here is a link to a description of what this inspirational program does and whom it serves.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Education Events, Sightings Food and Drink  U.S. Bancorp CDC Tyrone Turner Neal Richardson Malaika Horne Gail Brown Dream Builders 4 Equity Brown-KortKamp Realty and Urban Planning and Development Corporation Better Family Life

Another member of the panel, Tyrone Turner, Vice President of Better Family Life’s Housing and Asset Development, earned a Bachelors in Finance from S.E. Missouri State. He’s been working in housing development for the past 15 years.

Better Family Life has constructed a hub for low income families to meet at 5415 Page Blvd. There residents can take micro classes on a variety of topics including financial literacy. BFL also helps with home repairs. The organization has established de-escalation centers, and sponsors entrepreneurship training for youth in schools from East St. Louis to districts in West County. You can learn more about Better Family Life’s work on the website.

On the housing front, the organization has developed a revitalization plan to create more affordable housing by rehabbing 100 homes along Page Boulevard. “When you get to Page, the ‘divide’ becomes a cavern. Redlining by the banks in the 50s & 60s still affects the area,” Turner said.  “Considering that the largest share of one’s wealth is tied up in housing, you can see what a disadvantage it is not to be able to own a home.”

A few other things that Turner mentioned were also quite interesting. “As much as we focus on race, it’s really about money. Decisions by business leaders long ago affected  the control of wealth in St. Louis.”

Before moderator Malaika Horne wrapped up the discussion she suggested: “Let’s call it the Delmar “Bridge,” not the “Divide.”  Then she asked the panel to describe what their hopes are for the future.

Gail Brown dreams of a safe, walkable community north of Delmar, with Fountain Park and Lewis Place becoming destinations. She also wondered if St. Louis couldn’t put a lending fund together targeted toward home ownership, as Detroit has created.

Neal Richardson added: “There needs to be more ownership in the area north of Delmar, but right now a lack of supply and a lack of demand in those communities does not attract investors. We must create opportunities for people to own property.”

Asked what we can do to help in the short term, Turner suggested a neighborhood cleanup, which would help residents begin to appreciate where they live.  Many in the audience thought that was a great idea. If a neighborhood clean-up is organized, I will be sure to post the information.