Public Art

Leon R. Strauss

By Jessie Vonk
Category: Bust


Facing the majestic and ornate Fox Theater, in a tree-lined park setting, is a bronze portrait-bust of a man. Pensive, with penetrating eyes peering forth under thick brows, a bearded chin thrust slightly forward, and a high forehead that catches ambient light, the portrait is of prominent civic leader Leon R. Strauss. An “Urban Pioneer and Preservationist,” as the plaque indicates, he was a man with a vision of a restored city, a city with a grand center, a vision that, with his wife Mary, changed the urban landscape of the area. The sculpture faces one of the examples of urban renewal, the Fox Theater. This memorial piece stands in line with the Saint Louis Symphony hall down the block—an institution to which Strauss was deeply committed. The text concludes saying the sculpture is a tribute to Strauss by a grateful city.

Cast in bronze with a granite base, this sculpture was developed from a series of photographs. Jessie Vonk, the sculptor, overcame some of the difficulties of creating a life-like image from photographs because she knew Strauss well. She was determined to capture the marvelous sparkle she always saw in his eyes. Vonk also works in wood, stone, and bronze.

Dimensions: 5′ x 3′ x 2′
Year Completed: 1999
Material: Bronze with granite pedestal
Owner: Grand Center
Donor: Fox Associates

About the artist:

Arts and cultural events are waiting around every corner throughout the St. Louis region. Explore the abundant creativity our area has to offer. From gallery shows and performances to public installations, St. Louis is rich with culture and the arts in all forms. Browse these links to experience our arts community firsthand.


Due to the ongoing financial impacts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Regional Arts Commission (RAC) has been working diligently to adjust our annual grantmaking programs to ensure alignment with RAC’s strategic priorities, and in response to feedback from the arts community.


We have gathered a variety of news, information, and other resources to sustain the health and vibrancy of our arts community.


As the leading public catalyst for arts and culture in St. Louis, the Regional Arts Commission leverages the power of creativity to strengthen and enrich our community. Read our commitment to diversity, racial equity, accessibility, and inclusion, and see our strategic plan for the next five years.


Covid-19 has impacted us all. But what it hasn’t changed is RAC’s commitment to finding innovative ways to support arts programming, arts organizations, and individual artists through the pandemic, and to resuming these programs as soon as conditions allow.


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