Cavi and the giant skull

Photo by Kristen HareToday in the St. Louis Beacon, journalist Kristen Hare tags along with five-year-old Cavi Wilson and his parents for a preview of the “Niki in the Garden” exhibition at the Missouri Botanical Garden. The garden is already one of Cavi’s favorite places — but as Hare makes clear, “This is different.”

Past stretches of green grass at the Missouri Botanical Garden, around open tulips and emerging tree buds sits a giant skull. Flashes of greens and yellows, oranges and reds pop out from glaring eye sockets. Nearly every inch sparkles under the Sunday sun. …

Inside the skull, called “La Cabeza,” Cavi’s family listen to their voices echo.

“Hey, this skull is pretty dangerous,” Cavi decides, fixing his body in front of slick, nubby teeth where he can see a strip of grass, knees and bellies. Cavi pushes his skinny arms through and growls at people passing.

Most of them stop, eyes big, then step up and touch and duck inside.

“I like this,” Mr. Wilson, who works in advertising, says to his wife, a stay-at-home mom. Walking through the formal garden and seeing a six-ton, mosaic-tile, fiberglass skull was a shock, he thought. “This is cool.”

“Niki in the Garden” opens this coming Sunday and runs through Halloween.

Photo by Kristen Hare