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A conversation with former CWEnder & meteorologist Brian Bardone

Nicki's Central West End Guide Education Web/Tech  meteorology Earth Satellite Corporation Commodity Weather Group Brian Bardone

In March and April, when parts of the country were shut down, I was intrigued by an article in the NY Times suggesting that weather forecasting could be impacted because air travel had come to an abrupt halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Apparently many airplanes are equipped with sensors that routinely broadcast atmospheric conditions directly to National Weather Service forecasting operations.

Now that air travel has returned—though not quite to the level it was previously, the question of whether weather forecasting has been affected during the pandemic remains. It turns out I knew just the person to ask, meteorologist Brian Bardone, above, who grew up in the Central West End and now lives in Cincinnati with his wife Dawn, and sons Korbin, Kaden, and Koen.

“What you read is true,” Bardone said in response to my questions, “fewer flights were impacting weather models as there were fewer observations that the models needed to run as input. However, how much of an impact reduced flights had is still unknown. Some articles I’ve read say the impact could be low, but again it’s hard to say.” Bardone explained that “satellite observations are the number one input for weather forecasting, air flights are 2nd, and weather balloons are 3rd.”

“There was discussion,” Bardone continued, “about compensating with more balloon observations to measure temperature, dew points, air pressure, etc. but that didn’t happen. What we did observe due to the shutdowns was less air pollution,” he said, “but we have not as yet seen a corresponding decline in CO2 levels in the atmosphere. The theory is that it would take a while for any CO2 reductions to register, as CO2 lingers longer than the pandemic has been around.”

Nicki's Central West End Guide Education Web/Tech  meteorology Earth Satellite Corporation Commodity Weather Group Brian Bardone

Bardone’s mother, Peggy, recalls that he became interested in the weather in the late 70’s—when he was about 4—during a very cold and snowy winter. From the time Brian was a little boy I would hear stories from our late son Peter about his neighborhood friend’s fascination with the weather.

The weather map above is one Bardone drew when he was around 12. As part of our email exchange he related one of his favorite memories from 8th grade at St. Roch. The principal called one evening as a winter storm approached because she was getting conflicting reports on how much snow and sleet was predicted and she wanted his advice. “I told her it was going to be a good-size storm,” Bardone remembered, “and she cancelled school. It was a good call as we had 8 inches of snow on top of a layer of ice.”Nicki's Central West End Guide Education Web/Tech  meteorology Earth Satellite Corporation Commodity Weather Group Brian Bardone

When he was much younger, Bardone would fall asleep listening to his weather radio, above, and dream about working as a meteorologist on tv. His dreams came true for a while while he was earning his bachelor’s degree in Atmospheric Science at Mizzou. He was offered an internship with meteorologist Dave Murray at Fox 2, which was great, but after graduation in 1998 his career path took him in a different direction. He says now it was the best thing that could have happened.

Bardone’s first job out of college was as a meteorologist for Earth Satellite Corporation (Earth Sat) in Maryland. He provided weather forecasts commodity traders and energy companies would use to make decisions on energy prices and demand. Bardone moved back to St. Louis for a brief stint to work for another forecasting company, then moved to Cincinnati where he has been ever since.

A group of meteorologists from Earth Sat started Commodity Weather Group and invited him to join the company.  His job responsibilities include weather forecasting for energy companies around the country, as well as for commodity traders in natural gas. He also provides forecasts for renewables, focusing on how much electricity wind farms will produce at any given hour up to 10 days out. Those forecasts are shared with companies in Canada and in Europe.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Education Web/Tech  meteorology Earth Satellite Corporation Commodity Weather Group Brian Bardone

The Bardone family lived at 29 Westmoreland Place from the late ’70’s to early 80’s. The photo shows parents Peggy and and Bob, twins Cadie and Colleen, Brian and older brother Patrick. They kept a horse (Bucky) and pony (Portland) which they would ride in Forest Park, and sometimes bring to the neighborhood’s 4th of July parade when we would gather on Lenox Place.
Nicki's Central West End Guide Education Web/Tech  meteorology Earth Satellite Corporation Commodity Weather Group Brian Bardone

The family also lived in the old Channel 11 building (now the York House) for 7 years, the Tramore Castle, Lindell Terrace, and Park Royal. As was the case with many young adults in the neighborhood, Brian and his brother Patrick worked at Balaban’s during summer vacations and over the holidays.

As we wrapped up our conversation Bardone said that “the CWE was a wonderful place to grow up,” and he still visits whenever he can. “Friends like Peter and Andrew (Dwyer), Vernon Wellington (and others) don’t come around often, and those memories of times together will be forever etched in my memory.”

“Things have changed of course, but it still feels like home. I have fond memories of playing basketball on Lenox Place, ice skating and hockey games at Steinberg Rink in Forest Park, buying baseball cards at The Daily Planet (where BBC Asian Cafe & Bar is now located), my uncle’s place M.P. O’Reillys, (on Maryland Plaza where Bar Louie was located until recently), The Grind and so much more.”

Thanks to Brian Bardone for taking the time to explain a little behind-the-scenes info about weather forecasting, and also sharing what a career as a meteorologist can entail.  His memories of growing up in the neighborhood were fun to hear as well.

The CWE’s Gateway Academy of Classical Art offering 6-week online course

The Central West End is home to many artists, art galleries and a classical art academy that opened at 4814 Washington Avenue in the Fall of 2018. In adapting to Covid-19 related  stay-at-home orders, several neighborhood galleries—Duane Reed, Houska and Walker-Cunningham Fine Art (which CWEnder Sarah Cunningham operates from her home) have transitioned to virtual tours of current exhibitions.

In a similar quandary, The Gateway Academy of Classical Art (GACA) has been offering online instruction to its current students. In an effort to expand their reach, they’ve just announced a 6-week online class: The Art of Storytelling: An Introduction to Narrative Painting, that will begin May 11.

For some background on how GACA came to be, here is information gathered from the website: The Gateway Academy of Classical Art began as a group of seven artists seeking out teachers to train in traditional drawing and painting skills. After studying with Florence Academy graduate and oil painter William Neukomm, they realized that St. Louis needed an atelier based school, so they decided to start one. The new studio is taught by their newest partner and artist, B.J. Parker, from the Texas Atelier of Fine Art. The Gateway Academy of Classical Art allows for continuous atelier training and for more nationally-known fine artists to come to St. Louis and teach workshops in representational art topics. Now known as GACA, the studio hosts open-studio figure drawing events, and continues to offer classical atelier studies, and arranges workshops featuring the finest guest artists from St. Louis and around the world.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Education  Walker-Cunningham Fine Art Victor Wang Teresa Oxaca Stephen Assael St. Louis Art Supply Houska Gallery Gateway Academy of Classical Art Duane Reed Gallery BJ Parker

Co-founding Director, Artist & Instructor B.J. Parker is photographed with Co-founders, Ingrid Oertli and Sarah Blumenfeld. An introduction to other GACA members Elodee Tuley, Carolyn Karacek, and Social Media Director Martha Iler can be found here.

This is the information about the class that was released earlier this week:

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Education  Walker-Cunningham Fine Art Victor Wang Teresa Oxaca Stephen Assael St. Louis Art Supply Houska Gallery Gateway Academy of Classical Art Duane Reed Gallery BJ Parker

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Education  Walker-Cunningham Fine Art Victor Wang Teresa Oxaca Stephen Assael St. Louis Art Supply Houska Gallery Gateway Academy of Classical Art Duane Reed Gallery BJ Parker

B. J. Parker has advised that artists of all skill levels are welcome to enroll in the class. For a link to the curriculum, and to art supplies required, click the syllabus here.  (For supplies: The CWE’s St. Louis Art Supply is operating online.)

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Education  Walker-Cunningham Fine Art Victor Wang Teresa Oxaca Stephen Assael St. Louis Art Supply Houska Gallery Gateway Academy of Classical Art Duane Reed Gallery BJ Parker

B. J. Parker, above, shown painting in his studio, which is adjacent to the atelier where students gather for instruction.Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Education  Walker-Cunningham Fine Art Victor Wang Teresa Oxaca Stephen Assael St. Louis Art Supply Houska Gallery Gateway Academy of Classical Art Duane Reed Gallery BJ Parker

Sarah Blumenfeld shown during a class at GACA.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Education  Walker-Cunningham Fine Art Victor Wang Teresa Oxaca Stephen Assael St. Louis Art Supply Houska Gallery Gateway Academy of Classical Art Duane Reed Gallery BJ Parker

photo courtesy of Elodee Tuley

Last year Victor Wang, center above and below left, professor of Art at St. Louis’ Fontbonne University, conducted a sold-out workshop. When the stay-at- home order is lifted GACA will once again schedule a robust roster of sought-after artists from around the country to conduct workshops in the studio.

Other artists who have taught at GACA are  Stephen Assael middle photo, on the faculty at the School of Visual Arts in NYC, and below right, Washington, DC-based Teresa Oxaca.

photos courtesy of Elodee Tuley

For questions, email gacastudio.info@gmail.com  To enroll in The Art of Storytelling: An Introduction to Narrative Painting (full class fee $60, audited class $30), here is the link.

Gateway Academy of Classical Art, 4814 Washington Ave., Suite 322.

New City School: The ABCs of creating a community garden

Nicki's Central West End Guide Education Food and Drink For kids Urban Gardens  New City School Matt Lebon Maggie Pearson Julie Lazaroff CWE Farm Arthur Culbert Alexis Wright

Earlier this summer I found CWEnd-based illustrator Maggie Pearson (see 2013 post here) picking juneberries, aka service berries, on Euclid. She was a little sheepish about getting “caught,” as she wasn’t sure that picking berries off city trees was legal (she later found out that it’s ok).

It seems that birds had devoured berries from 15 juneberry trees on New City School’s campus at Lake and Waterman, and Maggie was scrambling to gather enough fruit to make jam for the school’s Farmer’s Market. That’s when I first learned that Maggie and another parent, Julie Lazaroff, had started a community garden at New City School the previous summer.

Their game plan, including information regarding grants they received, may offer a blueprint for others thinking of organizing a community garden at their own children’s school.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Education Food and Drink For kids Urban Gardens  New City School Matt Lebon Maggie Pearson Julie Lazaroff CWE Farm Arthur Culbert Alexis Wright

When I followed up with a visit at the end of June, the women said this project had been on their radar for a long time. Maggie was largely responsible the garden’s design—”she has a beautiful aesthetic,” Julie said.  Julie, a dietician and yoga teacher, credits an apprenticeship at EarthDance Organic Farms with adding to her knowledge of soil preparation and plant materials.Nicki's Central West End Guide Education Food and Drink For kids Urban Gardens  New City School Matt Lebon Maggie Pearson Julie Lazaroff CWE Farm Arthur Culbert Alexis Wright

Last July the “partners in crime,” as Maggie, left, and Julie, right, identify themselves, started work with encouragement from New City’s Head of School Alexis Wright and advice from Matt Lebon of Custom Foodscaping. They removed a tether ball and digging area to make room for the new garden.  The school’s groundskeeper Bill Sprung built the arbor, trellis, and planting beds. A group of 20 volunteers had the garden up and running by the start of the 2018/2019 school year.

The area is designated as additional classroom space for 1st through 6th graders. “We are teaching our kids to be Stewards of the Earth,” said Maggie. “In addition to learning how to grow food, they’re using math skills when they plant seeds, and learning lessons in environmental science as well.”

Last spring, 3rd graders planted radish seeds, then harvested and tasted them 30 days later.  Julie took the radish greens home and made pesto and quiche for the kids to sample. New City is in the process of raising funds for a maker space that would include a kitchen so that the kids can learn to cook what they grow at school.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Education Food and Drink For kids Urban Gardens  New City School Matt Lebon Maggie Pearson Julie Lazaroff CWE Farm Arthur Culbert Alexis Wright

Photographs above: Parent volunteers at work in the garden, and snapshots of the Garden Club’s Farmer’s Markets (there were 2 last year). Proceeds from sales are used to purchase seeds and other supplies for the garden.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Education Food and Drink For kids Urban Gardens  New City School Matt Lebon Maggie Pearson Julie Lazaroff CWE Farm Arthur Culbert Alexis Wright

The pair was able to secure two grants for their project. A grant from the Whole Kids Foundation (Whole Foods) was used for the garden’s infrastructure, and a second, awarded by Missouri Wild Ones, was used for a pollinator garden which they planted alongside the school, shown above.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Education Food and Drink For kids Urban Gardens  New City School Matt Lebon Maggie Pearson Julie Lazaroff CWE Farm Arthur Culbert Alexis Wright

The pollinator garden at work, above.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Education Food and Drink For kids Urban Gardens  New City School Matt Lebon Maggie Pearson Julie Lazaroff CWE Farm Arthur Culbert Alexis Wright  Left above: New City offers outdoor classroom experiences for pre-schoolers as well. Just outside the entry to the 3-to-4 year old classrooms there are a few vegetable beds which are tended by pre-school teachers during the school year, and the garden committee in the summer. Right: Last February there was a “Chicken Arrival Party” for chickens rented from locally-owned The Easy Chicken. Fuego & Ginger (names chosen by the students) were cared for by a different grade each week. The chickens were sent home for r & r this summer, and will return in the fall.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Education Food and Drink For kids Urban Gardens  New City School Matt Lebon Maggie Pearson Julie Lazaroff CWE Farm Arthur Culbert Alexis Wright

After all the rain we’ve had this summer, the kale and Swiss chard were flourishing when I visited. Bottom photo left: Felt “smart pots” are filled with herbs for a sensory experience. Bottom right: The committee planted strawberries as “eye candy” for the kids, hardy kiwi, blackberries, and a fig tree.Nicki's Central West End Guide Education Food and Drink For kids Urban Gardens  New City School Matt Lebon Maggie Pearson Julie Lazaroff CWE Farm Arthur Culbert Alexis Wright  Grape vines are growing on a new fence built by Julie and Maggie’s husbands at the east edge of the garden.

Over the summer vacation, committee members stop by twice a week to weed and harvest. There are three other community gardens on Waterman between Kingshighway and New City School. The granddaddy of them all is the CWE Farm which was started 10 years ago by Arthur Culbert (and which I have posted about many times). There is also a garden at Central Reform Congregation and at First Unitarian Church.

The organizers of New City’s community garden thank Arthur Culbert for his contribution of advice, plant materials, and herbs he’s brought to their garden.  Most importantly though, Culbert created a citizenship curriculum for New City 4th graders, and the food the students help plant is donated to food pantries at Trinity Episcopal Church and Second Presbyterian Church. His initiative became the catalyst for Central Reform and First Unitarian, some Westminster Place neighbors and now New City to join in the effort to feed those less fortunate in the neighborhood.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Education Food and Drink For kids Urban Gardens  New City School Matt Lebon Maggie Pearson Julie Lazaroff CWE Farm Arthur Culbert Alexis Wright

The photo above shows New City’s soccer field with a section of the garden in the foreground.

Julie and Maggie are mindful of the fact that there has to be a plan of succession when their children graduate from New City. They have begun working on a long-term integrated program with Head of School Alexis Wright.

The women are visibly proud of what they have created and excited that the garden has become a learning experience for the parents who volunteer as well.  Many have taken what they’ve learned home to start vegetable gardens of their own. That, plus seeing reluctant eaters at least taste a radish, makes it all worthwhile. “My 5-year-old, Auggie, really disliked salad until we started growing our own lettuce,” Maggie said. “Now he loves it.”

New City School, 5209 Waterman (at Lake).