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Cotton Belt - Mississippi Mondo Intervention: Minimum funding needed is $21,000.

Submitted By:
on 12.03.12


Cotton Belt - Mississippi Mondo Intervention: Minimum funding needed is $21,000.

Voting for this project creates volunteer and paid opportunities, which will put you involved with art creation on a massive and historic scale. The minimum needed to reach our first phase is $21,000. The Cotton Belt building is on 1st Street between Florida and Dickson - Google Map:,-90.182961&spn=0.005443,0.005879 The owners of a strategically located and very unique building, the Cotton Belt Rail Depot, are offering its Eastern facade (facing the new Mississippi River bridge) as new and massive welcome sign, front lawn, interactive art installation, and unifying volunteer event. Built in 1911, the Cotton Belt Rail Depot is 750 feet long and 60 feet tall. The facade is nearly 45,000 square feet. Several major public and private redevelopment works are already in progress in North St. Louis, Old North and Near North Riverside neighborhoods. The scale and ambition of the Cotton Belt - Mississippi Mondo Intervention will bring not only international attention to St. Louis, moreover this project will be a catalyst for change in the broader Near North Riverside neighborhood. The Intervention will be a much needed push for the St. Louis Riverfront, fostering geographic, economic and cultural friendship.The Cotton Belt - Mississippi Mondo Intervention project will create these connections. The Creative Exchange Lab - Center for Architecture & Design St. Louis, a nonprofit organization 501(c)3 promoting architecture, design, art & technology as catalyst in strengthening the fabric of our communities and the economic development of our city, will facilitate a design contest for the 750 x 60 ft. icon. The scale and significance has already brought about the attention of local and national respected artists, engineers, architects, and technologist, who are eager to contribute to the project. These experts, working with the project team leaders - Tommy Nagel and Jasmin Aber, will maintain the organization and logistics of the projection into completion.

The site itself, on the Near North Riverfront, is at the midpoint of the St. Louis Metropolitan region's geographic and cultural barriers: East/West and South/North. The building happens to be only a few blocks from the New Mississippi River Bridge. As the bridge nears completion in 2014, it is an understatement that the Cotton Belt - Mississippi Mondo Intervention will be highly visible and make a cultural impact larger than its massive physical scale. Moreover, the Eastward facade, located in the city that is the Gateway to the West, will be a marketing tool second in magnitude only to the Gateway Arch at the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial.

The scale, location, and content of the proposed icon will create an impression and impact larger than its canvas. Undertaking a project of this magnitude requires not only a high volume of paint, a secure scaffolding system and technology to match, but also a team of diverse experts plus 100 to 1,000 volunteers. In this way, the collaborative art project has a huge potential to be a unifying force in our community. School groups, university students, tourists, residents of any neighborhood, homeless residents, veterans, and corporately sponsored groups will make up the massive volunteer and paid labor pool needed, wanted, and included who will be involved in the project. The cost of phase one - to get started - requires roughly $10,000 for scaffolding, lighting, solar panels, and technology and $4,000 for paint, supplies, and volunteer needs: drinks, snacks, and swag. This action – as well as the content of the to-be-determined design – will address the serious, complex problems of a post-industrial city in a creative way in order to be a catalyst for change.

The project aims to reconnects the city back to the river. The proposed new visitor friendly river bank, the completed River Front Trail, a city owned tree nursery, and the Cotton Belt landscape extend the city’s “front lawn” North from the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial park by a mile plus.

To honor the significance of the Cotton Belt - Mississippi Mondo Intervention’s impact, several improvements to the site are underway and proposed to be developed in tandem with the project. In it’s current, undeveloped state, the building will operate as an open air art gallery and event space. These project will ultimately culminate in the development of the Cotton Belt Rail Depot itself as an event, mixed used loft, commercial, residential, and horticultural space.

Solar panels on the roof and facade of the Cotton Belt building power video projections on blank sections of the Cotton Belt building’s facade. A large amount of earth was placed on site in the summer of 2012 creating flat space that will become a lawn. The earth - coincidentally - was excavated from the construction grounds of the new St. Louis Art Museum addition. The essential motive of the Cotton Belt - Mississippi Mondo Intervention is to revitalize an ignored yet stunning, interesting, and exciting pocket of our city in order to create a sustainable, purposeful community space that connects the Near North Riverside’s rich history with its immense potential. As a catalyst for change, the Cotton Belt - Mississippi Mondo Intervention will create connections and attention to foster geographic, economic and cultural friendships, ultimately transforming a neighborhood through grandiose methods for a sustainable future.


NagelBite said 3/26/2013

Hi, I'm Tom Nagel. I posted this idea and want to let everyone know that this facebook page is a great place to keep track of progress on the project: Also, Artica is AWESOME. The owners of Cotton Belt and I are looking forward to LOVING the event at Cotton Belt and along the river for many years to come. We're working really hard to make this happen via Rally St. Louis and some community partners. Please stay tuned! #CottonBelt on twitter is a good place to see news on the the project's progression as well. Thanks!


YESorange said 3/25/2013

I agree with emily's post - this site has a rich artistic history that deserves respect -and believe for this project to happen with any integrity and longevity it must include the larger artistic community in STL. This is an exciting idea but not fleshed out enough at this time to move forward as stated.


Emily said 3/25/2013

I noticed a few other posts about Artica, I too am wondering if the persons behind this project know about it? Artica is a community-supported and artist-run event that has been occurring at this exact site for the past 10 years. Its a non-profit and receives funding by several arts institutions in the area: If this is not the case, my hope is that the group creating this proposal will reach out to the existing community using this space.

Sean Snyder

Sean Snyder said 3/1/2013

This is the only current idea I would consider funding, but there doesn't seem to be an idea to support. I would love for a final idea be presented.

tim smith

tim smith said 2/27/2013

great presentation, but i don't see one great visual.


thatmcphersonguy said 2/15/2013

would you be in charge of dying the water green on st. patricks day? I think that would be really cool. If you aren't going to do that do you know who I could contact about doing that? I like this idea.

Mike Eaton

Mike Eaton said 2/4/2013

Let's make this happen! Everyone voted with great enthusiasm, but now we need to put our money where our mouth is and fund this project.

Santo Domingo California

Santo Domingo California said 1/29/2013

Has this projects been approved? It looks like an abandoned building. If it is approved, is a farmer's market planned for the site? Seattle, San Francisco and New York have turned similar eyesore buildings into thriving retail space with the introduction of a market (plus associated retail space). One of my favorite places in Los Angeles is Farmer's Market at 3td and LaBrea The original market from the early 1900's still is quite an attraction. It helps that L.A. has both lots of resident AND lots of tourists. Don't forget to add more people. Stl. needs another 500,000 taxpayers. They would immeasurably help the region and the vacant building situation.

Jeff Webb

Jeff Webb said 1/28/2013

I am willing to come paint! I am not artistic, but i can help put down a base coat. I can help pay for materials as well. I have experience painting outside structures. Jeff Webb

Meg Natude

Meg Natude said 1/21/2013

amzing idea! Would sure love to see happen! You should talk to this local artist guy Pete eyes...he works at this scale, he just finshed a big mural on south broadway, see the video not sure how to reach him but cool stuff! good luck!

Diane Boyce

Diane Boyce said 1/4/2013

A compatible idea is in the January voting at


NagelBite said 12/27/2012

We LOVE Artica! I think we have some photos from the event on our facebook page here: Also the crowd in image 2 - with the scaffolding - are Artica goers. Notice the goofy hat and rainbow poncho.

Chloe Bethany

Chloe Bethany said 12/27/2012

I am wondering whether the organizers of this proposal are familiar with the Artica Festival which, with funding from the Regional Arts Commission, has taken place in the Cotton Belt building for the last 10 years.

Jim Schmitz

Jim Schmitz said 12/23/2012

How about using LED lights to complement the painted artwork? Then the display on portion of the building can be updated continuously based on time of year, events that are in town, or to make civic comments or memorials when national tragedies occur (but not for advertising!). Wouldn't it be great to scroll the names of all St Louis veterans killed in line of duty on Veterans Day, for example?

Gina D

Gina D said 12/20/2012

I agree, great idea, would love to see something like this bookend the riverfront development. That site has a whole new character since Hopeville was displaced. That said, what is represented and explained is a multi-million dollar idea, not convinced this is the right plaform for that, but hey I'm up for the Rally and support the dream.

Ted Yemm

Ted Yemm said 12/19/2012

This idea could link well with the Children's Art Museum Project (CAMP) idea.


NagelBite said 12/17/2012

Jason Schwartzman of the St. Louis Beacon did a great job explaining the project and the buzz around the Near North River Front in this article from last September:!/content/27163/cotton_belt_mural_092112 Thanks for the support everyone! You can participate in the project by staying up to date here:

Mark Schulte

Mark Schulte said 12/17/2012

Please allow me to respond to the comment below. concerning poverty and hunger. I am one of the owners of the property. Thank you for your remarks. You are right. And, I struggle with these same questions. I also know that constructively addressing those great human problems is a constant challenge. Just as I have offered the property for civic art, over the years it has been used to feed and house the hungry and homeless. On Monday nights, still, a lovely group assemble and share a hot meal. This distict has been a sanctuary for the distressed for years. Even still, it works that way. Certainly I, and maybe others too, can do more. I will take the comments as a challenge to myself to love more, share more, give more, hope more. Thanks for the reminder. And, maybe we can get a food roof to feed the hungry, too. Ands do that in a new Riverside of beauty and art. cheers, Mark Schulte (


bharrharr said 12/17/2012

I think that this is a generally neat idea, but there are several questions that I have for you: 1. With these paintings in an outdoors area downtown, how will you protect them from both vandalism and being stolen? 2. How much money do you get for winning this contest? This seems like it could be a project that costs tens of millions of dollars when you tally up building, labor, and material costs. You mention there being paid workers, yet don't include it in your phase 1 expenses. 3. Will this cause even more traffic downtown? I have a long commute (and generally small bladder - lol) On a positive note, art is cool. So is big art. With this and the arch, St. Louis would be the King of Super Big Art. Also it would be pretty cool if you did a commercial kind of like The United Way or NBA Cares and got St. Louis athletes involved. I know that the football players would love helping out and the NBA players would love another chance for those little kids to teach them how to read (ZING! Yikes, was that too mean?!?!?). Good luck in your endeavor

Tim Cooney

Tim Cooney said 12/17/2012

Go Cotton Belt! Just want to say I love this idea, good luck to Tommy Nagel, sorry for the comments of other people. Happy Voting!


vindeiselfan68 said 12/17/2012

This is the real vindeiselfan69. Hey faker, poser, and straight up loser. Cut it out. I get that this idea isn't for everyone (including me) but that negativity is straight bogus yo.


vindeiselfan68 said 12/17/2012

This is the real vindeiselfan69. Hey faker, poser, and straight up loser. Cut it out. I get that this idea isn't for everyone (including me) but that negativity is straight bogus yo.


vindeiselfan69 said 12/16/2012

This is such a cool idea! It's well known that the best ways to cure hunger and poverty is to draw and paint stuff on walls. How will you decide what is the right project to do? Just because you think pictures of rich people in Paris eating their croissants are cool doesnt mean that thats how the majority of people in St. Louis feel. What really is art anyways? I've seen a dog take a shit on a piece of canvas and roll in it and looked way better than half of the stuff I've seen on this page. You may say, "The point of my project isn't to cure hunger and poverty, please leave me alone. Why are you saying all of these mean things? I just have a neat idea that I want to share with St. Louis." Well to answer your hypothetical question, how is a big painting going to help anyone compared to the other ideas on this site? It's not. Maybe it'll distract drivers and cause a ton of accidents. How would you like that on your conscious? I am absolutely amazed that your elementary school activity got as many votes as it has. Maybe stop watching Sister Act so much, and you'll wake up.

Gavin Perry

Gavin Perry said 12/14/2012

Great idea to brighten up Northside by the new bridge!

Henry Goldkamp

Henry Goldkamp said 12/11/2012

This is so much more than a "touching up" of such a beautiful historical building. It would bring art to the community; the river to the community; recreation to the community; *community* to the community! Visually, the mural would be mind-blowing, essentially serving as a welcome sign alongside the new I-70 bridge, as well as a not-so-gentle reminder that St. Louis is one of the greatest cities in the world to live. I hope this becomes a reality ASAP.


lili said 12/10/2012

Great idea! A mural of epic proportions! Turning the Cotton Belt into something more than a piece of railroad history. Expanding The Lou's front lawn will take time, but the pictures really help put it into prospective.


PSMNolan said 12/8/2012

Gnarly. And concerts and stuff?


EvMueller said 12/7/2012

Love the idea to screen a movie on the side of the building...