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St. Louis Jewish Light

A nonprofit, independent news source to inform, inspire, educate and connect the St. Louis Jewish community.

St. Louis Jewish Light

A nonprofit, independent news source to inform, inspire, educate and connect the St. Louis Jewish community.

St. Louis Jewish Light

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Jewish artists’ sunflower silos shine on Katy Trail as colorful masterpieces

Bill Motchan
Anne Molasky and her painting partner Kim Alsop examining their work.

On a cool mid-September day, a pair of bicyclists rode along the Katy Trail halfway between Defiance and Augusta, Missouri.

“Wow!” one said to his companion. “Look at those silos!”

He was referring to three striking silos, painted from top to bottom with sunflowers. They are the work of Anne Molasky, a Jewish St. Louis artist, and her painting partner Kim Alsop. The “sunflower silos” are located along Route 94 a half-mile south of Sunflower Hill Farm. The farm is actually a café and event space. Its owners, Karen and Mike Koehneman, commissioned Molasky and Alsop to adorn the silos with sunflowers.

“The Koenemans bought the property about six months ago,” said Molasky, 62. “Karen is a very creative thinker. She knew she wanted to have the silos painted with sunflowers, so we took the project on.”

Molasky and Alsop enjoy working on large murals. They generally sketch out a design on paper, then draw grid lines on the space where the mural is planned, whether it be a wall or the outside of a building. The grain silos on the Sunflower Hill Farm property conveniently already had a wire superstructure.

“There’s a metal rod and because it’s a concrete block structure, we used spray paint,” Molasky said. “The wind could be a bit of a challenge especially right between the silos. It’s like a breezeway.”

One of the other challenges they faced was heat, including more than a week in August with 100-plus degree temperatures, and no wind. The sheer height of the silos made maneuvering around the space especially tricky, so the artists used a boom lift and worked on small sections at a time.

“When you’re up there, it’s really easy to get lost,” Molasky said. “The flowers are a little bit freeform, but the silo curves so you can’t always tell where you are. When we’re up there on the lift, it drops off and we can only see about two feet beyond where we are.”

Molasky has loved art and painting for as long as she can remember. She earned a bachelor’s in fine arts degree from the Kansas City Art Institute and a MFA degree from Washington University. Her work has been displayed at a number of Missouri galleries and she has been recognized for her impressionistic paintings at many exhibitions. She is a regular participant at the Plein Air Festival in Augusta, Mo., where she met Alsop.

They had an immediate chemistry and similar artistic sensibilities. They even enjoy listening to the same type of music while they’re painting sunflowers high above the ground; they’ve been going with the trio Khruangbin recently and sometimes break into impromptu dance parties while they work. The process of painting a large mural usually requires multiple artists, and to form a seamless image, they must paint in harmony. Alsop said she and Molasky almost work telepathically; she instinctively knows what color spray paint can to hand off to her partner.

One benefit to working adjacent to the Katy Trail for the sunflower silos is a constant stream of onlookers who call out encouragement to the artists as they ride by.

“I didn’t expect that many people saying how much they enjoyed it,” Molasky said. “I mean, people ride off the trail and come up to see it. That’s really cool and pretty rewarding, because usually we are not necessarily in the public, so we don’t get that kind of feedback.”

A meet the artists event will mark the completion of the sunflower silos on Sunday, Oct. 1 from noon until 3 p.m. Parking is available at Sunflower Hill Farm or trail heads along the Katy Trail in Defiance, Matson Hill, Klondike and Augusta.

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About the Contributor
Bill Motchan, writer/photographer
Bill worked in corporate communications for AT&T for 28 years. He is a former columnist for St. Louis Magazine. Bill has been a contributing writer for the Jewish Light since 2015 and is a three-time winner of the Rockower Award for excellence in Jewish Journalism. He also is a staff writer for the travel magazine Show-Me Missouri. Bill grew up in University City. He now lives in Olivette with his wife and cat, Hobbes. He is an avid golfer and a fan of live music. He has attended the New Orleans Jazzfest 10 times and he has seen Jimmy Buffett in concert more t han 30 times between 1985 and 2023.