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Katie O’Connor

CWEnder Maggie Pearson and her art

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Handmade Services  Maggie Pearson Katie O'Connor Alex Pearson

Maggie Pearson is a busy mom, wife, and occasional construction-crew supervisor (she and her husband are still tweaking the renovation of their stunning CWE home), but no matter what else happens during the course of a day, this talented artist carves out some time to draw.  Now that her second son Auggie has celebrated his first birthday (the elder, Jack, is almost 5), Maggie is ready to get back to her design business creating art for invitations, birth announcements, weddings, and corporate clients, etc.

Maggie’s artistic talents can be traced to both her grandfather and her mother who strongly encouraged her three daughters in their creativity. Though Maggie wanted to become an urban planner after graduating from SLU with a degree in public policy, she found herself on a different bus after she and her husband Alex moved to San Francisco—in Maggie’s words, “right after the bottom fell out in 2001.” While working for Condé Nast in San Francisco, she learned technical drawing and design, and lost her heart to illustration.

After the couple returned to the CWE ten years ago, when Alex took a job as Director of the Solution Center at Express Scripts, they lived in a condo on Laclede. Maggie worked for Alive and St. Louis Magazine and ran her design business on the side. They bought their 3-story house on a large lot a couple of years ago, just across the street from her sister Katie and her husband Tim O’Connor.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Handmade Services  Maggie Pearson Katie O'Connor Alex Pearson

Front and center in the photo above is the imaginative holiday card Maggie designed for Circus Flora’s FloraDora. Design work is squeezed into small bursts of time when Auggie is sleeping or after the children have gone to bed for the night. Her design services, which cover the whole process from beginning concept to finished product, are very reasonable, starting at $50 an hour. Maggie was eager to note that she sources local printers for her invitations and announcements, everything is done right here in St. Louis.
Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Handmade Services  Maggie Pearson Katie O'Connor Alex Pearson

Maggie also enjoys writing and illustrating children’s books, which are as yet unpublished. She describes her illustrations, above, as having a “spirit of Halloween” feeling, and finds inspiration from the late author and illustrator Edward Gorey and illustrator Gris Grimley whose drawings lean toward the dark side.Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Handmade Services  Maggie Pearson Katie O'Connor Alex Pearson

Give this clever woman a pen and paper and she will quickly sketch your home or business, see examples above, which would make a wonderful gift too. One of our favorite drawings from long ago is a sketch of our former Lenox Place home that an artist who lived on Pershing Place gave us.

To contact Maggie Pearson for more information about her design and illustration services, email her at maggiehpearson@gmail.com.

Dining Underground in Forest Park

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Events, Sightings Food and Drink Forest Park  St. Martha's Hall St. Louis Magazine Sandy Talley Ranken Jordan Marie Jary Katie O'Connor Habitat for Humanity Forest Park Forever

Follow the path around the statue of German-American Civil War General Franz Sigel at the Union Avenue entrance to Forest Park,

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Events, Sightings Food and Drink Forest Park  St. Martha's Hall St. Louis Magazine Sandy Talley Ranken Jordan Marie Jary Katie O'Connor Habitat for Humanity Forest Park Forever

past the cat tails, Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Events, Sightings Food and Drink Forest Park  St. Martha's Hall St. Louis Magazine Sandy Talley Ranken Jordan Marie Jary Katie O'Connor Habitat for Humanity Forest Park Forever

and you may come across Marie Jary and her husband, architect Sandy Talley (above), putting the final touches on a pop-up dining pavilion that has finally come to fruition after six months of planning. The curtain opens this evening on the first of the couple's six Demitasse 665 underground dinners in Forest Park. I was crushed to learn that all six events–three this week and three next—have been sold out  (see new info below) for quite a while. There is a private event scheduled for this evening (Thursday), and five others that benefit different charitable organizations, including Forest Park Forever, which arranged for permission to use the site, Ranken Jordan, and St. Martha's HallNicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Events, Sightings Food and Drink Forest Park  St. Martha's Hall St. Louis Magazine Sandy Talley Ranken Jordan Marie Jary Katie O'Connor Habitat for Humanity Forest Park Forever

Architect and self-taught chef Sandy Talley designed the 12' x 50' structure (see model in photo above), and sited it to take advantage of Forest Park's recently installed stone amphitheater (which was donated by architect Bill Wishmeyer and family), and in the distance, a graceful bridge and the Park Plaza.

Volunteers from Habitat for Humanity worked alongside Sandy to build the structure, and will eventually help dismantle the temporary dining pavilion and take the materials away for a future Habitat project.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Events, Sightings Food and Drink Forest Park  St. Martha's Hall St. Louis Magazine Sandy Talley Ranken Jordan Marie Jary Katie O'Connor Habitat for Humanity Forest Park Forever

Photo above courtesy of Charlotte Lyons

 Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Events, Sightings Food and Drink Forest Park  St. Martha's Hall St. Louis Magazine Sandy Talley Ranken Jordan Marie Jary Katie O'Connor Habitat for Humanity Forest Park Forever

Sandy and Marie have been holding underground dinners in various spots around town since 2009 (see CWEnder Katie O'Connor's account in St. Louis Magazine here). The structure, which seats 20, includes a makeshift kitchen. Most of the seven tasting courses will be prepared elsewhere, with limited finishing on site. To start each evening there will be a reception in the amphitheater next to the stream, pictured above. The cost for the dinner and wines–chosen by Marie Jary–is $125. But alas, unless you know someone who knows someone, you are out of luck–at least this time around. See info at end of post for openings this week.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Events, Sightings Food and Drink Forest Park  St. Martha's Hall St. Louis Magazine Sandy Talley Ranken Jordan Marie Jary Katie O'Connor Habitat for Humanity Forest Park Forever

When you see this structure up close you too may wish it could remain there permanently. The concept and execution are just magical. To get on the list for a future event, contact Marie Jary: demitasseunderground@gmail.com.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Events, Sightings Food and Drink Forest Park  St. Martha's Hall St. Louis Magazine Sandy Talley Ranken Jordan Marie Jary Katie O'Connor Habitat for Humanity Forest Park Forever

Photo courtesy of Marie Jary

This morning (Tuesday) I received an email from Marie Jary to say that there are a few cancellations for Thursday and Saturday night's events which benefit Forest Park Forever. The cost is $125 per person for an evening that will remain in the memory book for a long time. See menu and contact info below.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Events, Sightings Food and Drink Forest Park  St. Martha's Hall St. Louis Magazine Sandy Talley Ranken Jordan Marie Jary Katie O'Connor Habitat for Humanity Forest Park Forever
Photo courtesy of Marie Jary

There is one change to the menu. Halibut en papillote, which I understand was fantastic, has been substituted for the meat course.

If you'd like to experience Dining Underground in Forest Park Thursday or Saturday, while benefitting a good cause, contact Marie: demitasseunderground@gmail.com.