Love Of St. Louis Inspires WG Artist

Marilynne Bradley will sign copies of her new book of paintings on Nov. 7

Webster Groves artist Marilynne Bradley holds a copy of her book, “St. Louis in Watercolor: The Architecture of a City.” The book contains 76 reproductions of her paintings. photo by Diana Linsley (click for larger version)
October 31, 2008
Webster Groves artist Marilynne Bradley professes a love for St. Louis, a love that serves as inspiration for her many paintings.

On Friday, Nov. 7, Bradley will be signing copies of her new book, "St. Louis in Watercolor: The Architecture of a City," at Grafica Fine Art & Custom Framing, 7884 Big Bend Blvd. in Webster Groves.

The book, with reproductions of 76 paintings, will be available for $25. Some of Bradley's original art will be on display at Grafica through Dec. 6.

Bradley received her master of Fine Arts from Washington University and is on the faculties of Webster University and the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

She is a signature artist in the Southern Watercolor Society, the Missouri Watercolor Society, the Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Houston, Alabama, Pennsylvania, Mississippi and Oklahoma Watercolor Societies, the St. Louis Artists Guild and many more.

Her work has been recognized in over 200 museums and exhibits throughout the world. She has won over 50 awards and has had over 150 one-person exhibits

Bradley began her career as an architectural illustrator.

"It's easier to draw buildings than people," she said. "And that's what started me. I used to do a lot of illustrations for books, and one of the first I did was 'St. Louis Silhouettes' by Elizabeth Benoist, a descendent of the Choteaus."

As a freelance artist, Bradley also worked in fashion illustration for Brown Shoe and other area fashion designers. "That was when St. Louis was a clothing hub in the '70s," she said. But it was St. Louis, its history and architecture that provided her with fodder for her art.

Marilynne Bradley book includes a painting of the Climatron at the Missouri Botanical Garden. (click for larger version)
The first subject she illustrated was the old White Castle at the corner of Hampton and Chippewa avenues in South St. Louis.

"They tore it down, so this was my way of preserving architecture in St. Louis," she said. "I would do a painting of that which was disappearing."

Many long gone St. Louis landmarks live again through her works.

"I've painted Coral Courts, the old Arena," she said. "Also the Title Guarantee Building and the Buder Building downtown."

Other subjects include the Hadley Glass Works on 11th Street ("the interior was built like an Egyptian temple"), Lambert Airport ("what it looked like before all the additions"), the Old Rock House on Laclede's Landing, and Little Bohemia ("a hangout for artists on the corner of 4th and Clark Streets") now the site of the Millennium Hotel.

She painted the Santa Maria, a reproduction of one of Christopher Columbus's three ships, brought to St. Louis by former mayor Alphonso Cervantes after its display at the 1964 World's Fair in New York.

She has integrated her art into writing books, her first being "Arpens and Acres," written in 1975 as a brief history of Webster Groves from the years 1850 to 1900.

Her new book has a different concept.

"The original premise of my book was borrowed ideas — architectural plans borrowed from others. For instance, (St. Louis) City Hall is a copy of the Hotel De Ville in Paris. The old Post Office is a copy of the Louvre. The lobby, or great room, in Union Station is a copy of the Basilica of Constantine.

"People like the tradition," she continued. "They like to see pictures where they know what the subject matter is. Mine is more nostalgia."

Her next endeavor will be a collaboration with radio personality Ron Elz, better known as "Johnny Rabbit."

"He's planning on doing a book on restaurants, and I've already illustrated most of them, like Crown Candy, the Hill Top Inn, Ted Drewes, Rigazzi's, Carl's Drive-In," she said.

Bradley's accomplishments spread far beyond the St. Louis region. She has been acknowledged in "Who's Who in American Women Artists," "World's Who's Who of Women," and "Who's Who in the World."

She was also in a group of 100 plein air painters who traveled the Katy Trail producing paintings in 2006.

Besides Grafica, Bradley will be signing on Nov.16 at Rothschild's Antiques. 398 N. Euclid Ave.; Nov. 20 at the Webster Groves Bookshop, 100 W. Lockwood Ave., and Nov. 23 at the St. Louis Artists Guild, 2 Oak Knoll Park.

Bradley will also take part in the 63119 Art celebration to be held Nov. 1 and 2 (see related story).

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