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Public art links Hazelwood's past to future | The Homepage

By Juliet Martinez

A mural showing a face in shades of brown, orange and gold has metal "braids" floating around it. Workers on scaffolding work on part of the braids.
Workers put the final touches on “Braids of Hope,” a public art piece located at the corner of Second and Tecumseh avenues. Photo by Heather Mull

With eyes lifted skyward, the “Braids of Hope” multimedia public art piece in Tecumseh Plaza silently speaks of a bright future for Hazelwood.

After months of community input and a collective design process by student welders, “Braids of Hope” is now a reality. Project partners Hazelwood Initiative, Arts Excursions Unlimited, Industrial Arts Workshop and Elevationz, will dedicate the new piece on Oct. 13 (see ad on Page 3).

Another public art piece for Hazelwood is hot on its heels. The event planning initiative Hazelwood Local, with project partner Hazelwood Initiative, announced on Sept. 14 that sculptor and steel fabricator Ben Grubb will deliver a piece called “Crossing Beacon” wrapping the second and third floors of 4800 Second Ave. The former home of Josza’s Corner sits at an intersection many consider the gateway to Hazelwood. A crossing beacon is a symbol known in river navigation and represents joining past, present and a hopeful future.

The name also seems to recall 15-year-old Gladstone School crossing guard John Minadeo, who died along with classmate Ella Cornelious, on Oct. 7, 1954, while protecting four children from a runaway car on Hazelwood Avenue that jumped onto the sidewalk.

Elevationz owner and Hazelwood Initiative board member Rena Halsel said she hears a lot of praise for “Braids of Hope” from customers. She tells them that she gave input into the design, but the Industrial Arts Workshop summer welding students created it.

“It brings life to the neighborhood,” she said. “It is beautiful. I’ve never seen anything like that anywhere else.”

Juliet Martinez is the managing editor of The Homepage.

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