For 35 years, Tom Engelhardt drew editorial cartoons for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Some of the more than 8,000 cartoons that comprise his career will be on exhibit April 24 to May 30 at the St. Louis Mercantile Library at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, One University Blvd., St. Louis, Mo. 63121.   A reception for the artist will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. May 14 in the Mercantile Library. A reception for the artist will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. May 14 in the Mercantile Library.

Starting in 1962, Engelhardt drew five cartoons a week until his last piece on Dec. 31, 1997. His extraordinary work attacked the status quo and the social injustices of the time, and he was seen as a champion of equality. With artistic precision and often biting satire he chronicled the last four decades of the tumultuous 20th century – the civil rights movement, busing, the Vietnam War, poverty, crime, big business, international relations, censorship, Watergate and politics in all of its forms.

This exhibit will focus on the many elections Engelhardt depicted in his cartoons. A story about one of those cartoons published in the St. Louis Journalism Review in 2008 illustrates the influence editorial cartoonists can have on an election. In a 1960s election in St. Louis for president of the board of alderman, the Republican candidate unexpectedly won the race. When a reporter looked into this unusual occurrence, many pointed to an Engelhardt cartoon that depicted the Democratic candidate tiptoeing up city hall steps, shoes in hand, toward a dark city hall, a darker cloud hovering above. The caption read: “Coming into the home stretch.”

Engelhardt will receive an honorary Doctor of Arts and Letters degree t the University of Missouri–St. Louis commencement ceremony at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 15.

Established in 1846, the Mercantile Library is the oldest library west of the Mississippi and the grandparent of all cultural institutions in St. Louis. It is located in the Jefferson Memorial Library on UMSL’s North Campus. Library hours are from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and 1 to 9 p.m. on Sunday. However, library hours vary according to semesters and visitors are encouraged to call 314-516-7240 or 314-516-7247.

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Maureen Zegel

Maureen Zegel