New Adult Coloring Book Shows the Beauty of St. Louis Architecture

St. Louis Splendor
is JoAnn Kargus' first adult coloring book — but it is not her first attempt to document the gorgeous buildings of St. Louis. Far from it.

A St. Louis native — she was born in Affton and graduated from Mehlville High School — Kargus has worked as an architectural illustrator in the area for more than three decades. Those beautiful renderings you see depicting future projects at City Hall or in the Post-Dispatch? Those are frequently her work.

But publisher Reedy Press approached Kargus earlier this year with a much more comprehensive project — a chance to illustrate 50 scenes across the metro area with the sort of precise detail that allows for beautiful adult coloring. Looking at her gorgeous illustrations, you can't help but want to buy a new box of markers and get to work.

And they're not all landmarks like the Gateway Arch and the Cathedral Basilica — although of course those are there too. Kargus chose to include some homey neighborhood scenes, as well as the Vess Soda bottle, Ted Drewes, Crown Candy Kitchen and even Donut Drive-In.

"I thought it would be hard to come up with 50, but as  I got into it, I realized I had to limit myself to 50," she says. "Now I'm hoping there will be a Volume 2 in my 
click to enlarge JoAnn Kargus
JoAnn Kargus

As a girl who grew up in the county and now lives in Imperial, Kargus admits that revisiting some parts of the central corridor was an eye-opener. She had fond memories of visiting her grandparents in south city, but can't believe how much some areas have changed, and how beautiful others are.

"My editor wanted Cherokee Street on there, and I was not as familiar," she recalls. So she drove down to take a look — and promptly fell in love. "I was just riveted by that Cinderella building. It's absolutely gorgeous. As nice as all the other buildings are down there, that's the one I fell in love with." Now it graces page 12 in her book.

Kargus will be hosting a series of book signings and "coloring parties" to promote the book beginning next Wednesday, October 19, at Grant's View Library. Catch her at Schlafly Bottleworks on October 26 or the Wash U campus bookstore on November 30.

The book is available at Left Bank Books, Subterranean, the City Museum gift shop, Barnes & Noble and numerous other retailers.

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