Ruckus on Cherokee

Residents to Shirley Wallace: Mind your own damn business

Wallace, manager of Haffner's Antiques on Cherokee, says the controversy is being fueled by "a group of people who like to stir up trouble. I'm not interested in participating in it."

Last week Scott called together a group of business owners and residents. Wallace was invited but did not attend. The group addressed the division that exists between the two business associations — the Cherokee Business Association to the west of Jefferson Avenue and the Cherokee Antique Row Merchants Association to the east.

"The block is divided up in a way that perpetuates these divisions," says Scott.

Art attack: Shirley Wallace tears down the Cherokee installation (to the displeasure of local artist Patrick Ritchey, on bike).
shannon knox
Art attack: Shirley Wallace tears down the Cherokee installation (to the displeasure of local artist Patrick Ritchey, on bike).

Antique Row Merchants Association president Barb Moore acknowledges the schism but says it's not as distinct as some may think. "Things are changing. You can't be an island," she says. "If Cherokee wants to survive, we all have to work together."

Cherokee Business Association President Robin Strathmann declined to comment for this story.

At the meeting, business owners agreed that Wallace was the key divider and pointed out that she doesn't even own a business or property in the Cherokee neighborhood.

Shangri-La's Celeste Webster recalls a recent run-in with Wallace. Webster and the diner's owner, Patrice Mari, decided to repaint their red-white-and-blue fire hydrant with green paisley. Webster says Wallace confronted them and called the police.

"Within five minutes," Webster recalls, "there was a police officer standing there wishing he was anywhere else." The cop proceeded to call his supervisor, who then contacted the St. Louis Water Division, which granted Webster and Mari permission to keep painting.

Fort Gondo owner Galen Gondolfi, meanwhile, says Wallace accused him of selling drug-laced gumballs. He countered that he had purchased the candy at nearby Globe Drugs.

Scott plans on leaving what remains of the installation intact, which suits Cherokee business owners just fine. There are no plans to file charges against Wallace for trespassing or for destruction of property. During the rainstorm demolition, Wallace didn't have a ladder and was unable to reach the upper half of the installation. As a result, an important part of Scott's artwork remains. It hangs just below the green alien's eyes and lords over the neighborhood like a command: "Acknowledge."

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