City Streets intern seeks graffiti artists’ help in changing look of riverfront

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ST. LOUIS (KPLR) - A local college student is leading the way to improve the look of concrete flood walls along the St. Louis riverfront, with the help of volunteers and graffiti artists.

Jacob Schmidt, a City Streets Department intern, has spent the past several weeks north of the Poplar Street Bridge with a few volunteers trying to feel a giant concrete canvass with fanciful images.

Schmidt, 21, created what he calls the Urban Beautification Project when he was a student at Metro High School. The first project was to give mundane city trash dumpsters some personality.

Now Schmidt’s tackling a mural along Leonore K. Sullivan Boulevard at the edge of the Mississippi River.

He’s hoping to get some creative help from graffiti artists and tagging painters, some of whom have left foul or unwelcome messages on city and private property.

There is some foul language painted on segments of the flood wall. Organizers hope the folks responsible for it will instead join in and help create mural art that everyone can enjoy.

"We’re all trying to live in our community and I think that even the people who are going out illegally and spraying have something to say,” Schmidt said.

Schmidt said he’s working to soften the relationship between illegal street artists and the city, with the goal of creating a sustainable venture between city bureaucrats and muralists.

“So far, they have respected my wall, my piece of the wall; so yeah, hopefully they continue to do that," Schmidt said.