Now Someone Turned a Slay Ball Into a Pot of Gold

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KELLY GLUECK
  • KELLY GLUECK
The latest artistic twist to visit the traffic-calming spheres along Compton Avenue showed up Tuesday — one that would have looked even better at the end of a rainbow than on a miserably wet day. Yes, ladies and gents, someone turned a ball into the most cunning little pot of (faux) gold.

Thanks to a mystery artist, one of the concrete balls at the corner of Shenandoah and Compton was swathed in black cloth, with a pile of plastic gold coins resting on top. By the time we got there this morning, the coins were gone — but the pot o' something still gave us a good chuckle.

The pot, of course, is only the latest creative repurposing of the traffic-calming devices along Compton. Known as Slay Balls or Ingrassia Balls depending on whether you credit the mayor whose tenure saw them introduced or the alderwoman who brought them to Compton, the spheres were initially a source of grumbling. In at least one case, a driver even knocked one loose, giving us visions of Indiana Jones being chased by a giant orb.

But in the three months that have passed since their installation, they've charmed us by becoming a canvas for some of the city's cleverest people. Since their debut, locals have transformed the spheres by knitting one a Cartman-style beanie, affixing one with googly eyes and a mustache and even transforming one into a snail (yes, we used "snail trail" in a headline, heh heh).

And there's surely more to come. Eponymous Alderwoman Christine Ingrassia has created an April 28 Facebook event to "Celebrate Spheres on the Compton Corridor." While it sounds like a big old street party — the invite promises "food, games, drinks, giveaways, demonstrations and more" — no celebration could be complete without special attention to the balls that inspired it.

To that end, the "Compton Sphere Decorating Contest" is now accepting proposals from artists hoping to use one of the four balls at the Compton/Shenandoah intersection as their canvas. The winners will be chose by April 5 ... just in time to commission the work for the big reveal at the party.

The submission form notes that "artists must be able to utilize their own supplies and be willing to partner with the City regarding maintenance for one year." Which, frankly, seems a bit ambitious. We've seen nearly a half-dozen great ideas in just two months. Is there any chance our local jokesters are going to let officially designated decorations stand for a full year? Come on! In St. Louis, we simply can't stop playing with our balls.

We welcome tips and feedback. Email the author at sarah.fenske@riverfronttimes.com