Recently Ray Preston of KMOV, channel 4, did a story,
which can still be viewed on line; “St Louis Proud: The Story Behind Merferd.”
Ray spent an entire morning with my art and Arborculture
Apprentices, Christopher Smith, Nehemiah Stone, and myself.
THIS story begins with the DRIVE NICE sign on highway 70.
One night a man in a tinted widow car road raged one of my daughters on the lawless strip of 70 between the Arch and our city of Ferguson.
So I painted Merferd saying
This sign lasted for three years …
… until Merferd’s old enemies the LOW DOWNS, a graffiti gang, found a way up and tagged over him.
Two homeless friends got up on the roof and painted it white again. St Louis’ homeless love Merferd, and Merferd loves them.
My apprentices, 15 years old Nehemiah (from the south side), and 14 year old Christopher of Berkley, hung around with me for several days …
WHAT was Merferd going to say? He initially was going to say “Welcome to Missouri.”
After discussion with Alderman Bandon Frazier-Bosely, (who is sick at heart with all the crime and murder in north St. Louis), and consulting with a couple other friends …
… He is presently saying “FATHER” along with “Malachi 4:6”.
The West side of the Billboard plugs a St Louis band of a friend of mine.
Merferd knows how to make the best out of a mess. He is a PROPHETIC comic character with big hands, feet, mustache, and a big heart. Besides saving his Treetoon friends who sit on land repoed by the bank of SCAMALOFYA, Merferd is also into saving the printed page. This is a quandry for him, for you see Red Elm, his main Treetoons sidekick HATES 'HARD COPY'...can you wonder WHY?!
SAP FLOWS ON in the Tree Toon stand. Where Merferd is prophetic, Red Elm is a seer. Saving the earth, people and the press is a large task, but not if one is as moved as a Merferd and as tenured as a tree.
Merferd Over the Years
This Merferd was created on a trip out to Montana several years ago. He began to take on earth colors at this point. He welcomes togetherness. Other than having to move a little bit to help one of the tree toons with a snag that needs to be trimmed here or there, Merferd moves slow. Life is worth slow. Can one feel the earth spinning round and round? Answer. No. So too, a Merferd accomplishes much, you just don't see it....
Notice this Merferd (left) was drawn on an envelope. I did not notice the envelope until some time later and the words, The Value of Community. That says it much for Merferd. He is into conversation, community and comic friends. You can see how the roughed out drawing was given color and life in the classic 'Show Me' Merferd portrait next to it (right).