You don’t have to go to a galaxy far, far away to see ‘Star Wars’ sites ー just to City Museum | St. Louis Public Radio

You don’t have to go to a galaxy far, far away to see ‘Star Wars’ sites ー just to City Museum

Jan 24, 2016

If the “The Force Awakens” has reignited your passion for “Star Wars,” you might be interested in an art exhibition at St. Louis’ City Museum.

A display featuring characters and scenes from the mind of director George Lucas opened this weekend. "Star Wars Toys" is the creation of installation artist Davide Weaver.

Like many kids in the late 1970s, Weaver was obsessed with "Star Wars" toys after seeing the first movie. Later, as a young adult, a house fire claimed much of his childhood collection and nearly his life. But a friend searching through the rubble found a charred Evil Empire vehicle, and it became the first object in Weaver’s “Star Wars” installation art.

“I try to use that to make something good out of something bad,” Weaver said.

Now a half dozen scenes from the films are on display at the City Museum. Many of the toys came from people who’ve followed Weaver’s work. He said it seems like just about everyone has a "Star Wars" toy in a box in the attic or the garage.

“[They tell me,] ‘Oh my God, I have Jabba the Hut’s palace…I want to give it to you to put on display; I’m not doing anything with it,'” Weaver said.

Not just child’s play

A scene from "The Empire Strikes Back" by Davide Weaver shows Luke finding out that Darth Vader is his father.
Credit Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Public Radio

Weaver, who founded the educational and artists' support nonprofit organization Art Dimensions, has shown some the "Star Wars" pieces at his 2720 Cherokee art gallery and performance space on the namesake street. But children aren’t allowed inside that location, and he said he felt the City Museum would be a perfect place for kids to see the work.

“Here, the whole place is like an art exhibit,” Weaver said.

Weaver’s seven-year-old son was on the installation team for this new exhibition. But Weaver said the work is far more than child’s play. The former executive director of the St. Louis Artists’ Guild said his vision, design and use of items such as old radio parts and typewriters raise the exhibit to an artistic level.

Davide Weaver incorporated old radio circuitry into this piece of his "Star Wars" exhibition.
Credit Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Public Radio

“The found objects are placed and used to expand the toy galaxy, in a sense, and to connect the toy scene with, like, our real world,” Weaver said, “and that goes beyond playing with the toys.”

Artist Davide Weaver oversees an installation in his "Star Wars" series. The exhibition includes thousands of toys and other objects.
Credit Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Public Radio

The exhibition runs through mid-February at Beatnik Bob’s café inside the museum.

Café manager Max Cassilly (son of museum founder Bob Cassilly) said he expects art-lovers and “toy nerds” to visit the display, as well as people looking for something to do.

“I’ve seen people on social media talking about how it would be a great idea for a date,” Cassilly said.

The main idea is just to have a good time, according to Cassilly.

“We’ve just tried to have as much fun as we can with this exhibition,” he said.

Follow Nancy Fowler on Twitter: @NancyFowlerSTL