Bicentennial cake a labor of love for local artist

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Pictured, from left, are Monroe County Commissioner Delbert Wittenauer and Theresa O'Bryan of Art2Go Studio in Columbia with the second of two ceremonial Bicentennial cakes. (Corey Saathoff photo)
Pictured, from left, are Monroe County Commissioner Delbert Wittenauer and Theresa O’Bryan of Art2Go Studio in Columbia with the second of two ceremonial Bicentennial cakes. (Corey Saathoff photo)

The second of two ceremonial cakes in honor of the Monroe County Bicentennial is almost ready for display.

Monroe County was chosen to help celebrate the 250th anniversary of St. Louis in 2014 with two colorful fiberglass cakes that were displayed prominently in Columbia and Waterloo.

Those same cakes have been re-purposed to mark Monroe County’s 200th birthday in 2016.

Monroe County Commissioner Delbert Wittenauer and the late Nora Feuquay, who served as the county’s community and economic development educator, were instrumental in leading a campaign to bring the “stl250” cakes to Monroe County.

Local artists painted the cakes in keeping with the stl250 theme, and they sat outside the Monroe County Courthouse in Waterloo and Monroe County Welcome Center in Columbia.

Wittenauer joined Ken Valentine of Valentine Auto Body in stripping paint, sanding down and re-treating these cakes in preparation for two new artists to showcase their talents in honor of the Bicentennial.

Mary Biby designed the first Bicentennial cake, focusing on current-day Monroe County and its businesses. Her finished cake sits outside the courthouse along South Market Street.

The second Bicentennial cake was designed by artist Theresa O’Bryan of Art2Go Studio in Columbia.

Her cake focuses on Monroe County’s rich history, featuring colorful images of agriculture as well as one-room schoolhouses, stone bridges and other important historical references.

“Her cake focused on what made Monroe County what it is, looking back,” Wittenauer said.

Also painted on the cake is a list of both current and former towns and villages that have helped make Monroe County what it has become today.

O’Bryan displayed her finished cake at her studio on Friday. The cake still needs to be clear-coated to protect it from the elements before it is placed outside the Monroe County Welcome Center in Columbia, hopefully by the end of the month.

O’Bryan said the project took about five weeks to complete, spending about five hours per day outside of running art camps through her studio.

“I looked at it for about three weeks before I started to sketch on it,” she said. “It certainly was a challenge.”

O’Bryan has taught art at Mascoutah Middle School for several years.

“She’s done a wonderful job,” Wittenauer said while looking at the cake.

Wittenauer said the plan is to auction off both cakes as commemorative keepsakes during the special Bicentennial Gala at Turner Hall to be held Nov. 5.

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