A huge lighting display coming to grain elevators near IKEA | St. Louis Public Radio

A huge lighting display coming to grain elevators near IKEA

Dec 20, 2017

Many St. Louisans pack the family into the car, drive around, and ooh and ah over lighting displays during the Christmas season.

They might want to do it again in February.

That’s when the next phase of a huge, colorful, illumination art project will be briefly visible in St. Louis’ central corridor — and for miles around. The “canvas” consists of a series of grain silos that sit less than 200 yards from the IKEA store between Sarah Street and Vandeventer Avenue.

It will take at least six months to complete the public-art project, artist Raven Fox said

“It’s the biggest project I’ve ever done, in terms of size,” Fox said. “We’re talking about possibly a hundred thousand square feet of canvas.”

Part of a larger goal

Sarah Street St. Louis Projects is behind the idea. It’s part of a larger and ongoing goal to connect The Grove with the Cortex biotech area "to create a sense of place, really, so they each complement each other,” Fox said.

Ron Troyano, of the Sarah Street group, said the illumination art project makes sense.

“Using art and innovation to two connect two districts, one, arts and entertainment; and the other, technology; resonates really well,” Troyano said.

A variety of designs are part of the concept for the grain elevator art installation in St. Louis' central corridor.
Credit Provided | Raven Fox

The artists briefly tested the project last week, projecting images onto three of the silos. February’s test will involve the south façades of 16 silos. The eventual goal is to create 360-degree coverage on all sides.

The project also includes interactive lighting and designs on the walls of a Sarah Street  underpass between Manchester and Chouteau Avenues.

The cost could soar past $1 million. Funding is not completely nailed down.

“We’re working with local developers, and people in the community and neighborhood groups,” Troyano said. “The silos are a very important part of the neighborhood, and this pays homage to them."

The series of grain silos, officially named Elevator “D,” is a working grain terminal at 4040 Duncan Ave.

Built in 1953, Elevator “D” houses 88 bins that can hold 2.4 million bushels of grain. Ray-Carroll County Grain Growers Inc., a farmer’s co-op headquartered in Richmond, Missouri, bought it in the mid-1980s. The bins hold soft red wheat, purchased from farmers within about a 150-mile radius of St. Louis.

The project is not without risk, according to Fox.

“Grain dust is highly explosive,” Fox said. “So we really have to be super-careful with our electrical.”

The plan was originally conceived in 2012, as part of a Rally St. Louis campaign seeking innovative project ideas.   

Follow Nancy on Twitter: @NancyFowlerSTL