In 1969 I purchased my first serious camera, a Nikon F. In the summer of that year (prior to any photography classes) I set out to photograph and explore my hometown of St. Louis, more specifically, Forest Park.
Forest Park is a large municipal city park located in the city of St. Louis. At nearly 1,300 acres it is approximately 500 acres larger than Central Park in New York City. Forest Park is home to the St. Louis Zoo, the St. Louis Art Museum, the Muny Opera, and many other attractions. One of the attractions, often overlooked prior to 1968, was the old World’s Fair Pavilion. Janis Joplin and Big Brother and the Holding Company performed a free concert in Forest Park at the old World’s Fair Pavilion on August 10, 1968. This event likely inspired local bands to provide free concerts at this same location, especially in the following summer. By 1969, the pavilion was a popular gathering spot on every summer weekend. Forest Park was an important gathering place where people of all ages, races and economic backgrounds came together.
Forest Park continues to thrive as a popular destination. Some events, such as the Balloon Glow and Hot Air Balloon Race fill the park to capacity. In 1998 the Old World’s Fair Pavilion was restored and renovated. The free concert weekends are gone as the World’s Fair Pavilion is available for rental. Today it rents for $1,000 on a Sunday and for $1,750 on a Saturday night.
Dennis Staffne is an artist, photographer and educator originally from St. Louis. He earned his BFA and MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. From 1968 – 1970 he attended Meramec Community College. Today he teaches photography at Northern Michigan University and maintains a second home in St. Louis. He lives in the South Hampton neighborhood just blocks from the SOHA Gallery.
Gallery Phone: 314-497-5202