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Best Display of Impromptu Public Art St. Louis 2002 - Demo Man

For decades, Don Bellon, head demo man for Bellon Wrecking and Salvage, had a desktop statue of a man swinging a sledgehammer, called "The Wrecker." His wife had given him the statue when he started his business back in '73. The statue was made of metal toothpicks, nuts and bolts. "I always had it in the back of my mind: 'I'm going to have that made big one day,'" Bellon recalls. Bellon's mechanic, Bud Knobeloch, started about a year ago to create a twenty-foot-high replica of the statue. "He started welding beams out of the yard, truck rims, whatever we had lying around," says Bellon. At first, Bellon put the statue right in front of this office, next to the sidewalk, near the corner of Chouteau and Vandeventer, but then he decided to set it on a wedge-shaped patch of grass he owns across the street. A metal plaque marks it as "Demo Man." Although Demo Man was not affiliated with the People Project, Bellon admits that the public-art display encouraged him to magnify his small statue. "I honestly can't go anywhere without someone saying, 'You're that guy with the Demo Man down on Vandeventer.'" says Bellon. Demo Man is visible to anyone exiting Highway 40 at Vandeventer. Even though it's a structure of sorts, because Bellon put it on his own land, City Hall didn't mess with him. "My attorney says you don't need a permit for art," says Bellon. All you need is some scrap metal, a welder, an idea -- and a successful business with a bit of land.

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