(Editor's Note: This article appeared on Wednesday, January 18, 2012, in the online edition of the STL Today at www.stltoday.com)
By: Deb Peterson
BREIT AS EVER: It's been a long time since we heard about one of our favorite St. Louisans, artist Mary Engelbreit.
So we were delighted to get an email today about her participation in a national competition about healthy vision.
It goes back to Engelbreit's childhood, when she got her first pair of glasses. She credits her beginning in art to being able to see the details of the world around her clearly for the first time.
As a grown up, Engelbreit fashioned her most beloved character, Ann Estelle, after herself and drew the girl with a set of oversized glasses.
So it's no surprise that Engelbreit has partnered with Essilor of America, a vision industry leader, in a nationwide contest they dubbed "Breit Eyes," to encourage kids to wear glasses.
The winner of the online contest, Michele Zeblisky, and her son, Jack Zeblisky, 11, both of New Hampshire, will be in St. Louis tomorrow to tour Engelbreit's studio in the Central West End and to receive an original Engelbreit sketch of Jack.
The contest asked Facebook fans to submit photos of their child (or children) wearing glasses and being "lighter, safer and greener." The tie-in is that Essilor makes Airwear lenses, which are lighter and more impact-resistant than standard plastic lenses. They also provide 100% UV protection.
Engelbreit, who is now presbyopic, is an advocate for healthy vision and yearly eye exams.
She says of those early pre-glasses days of hers: "I was in second grade, loved to read, and was holding the books up so close that my parents knew it was time for glasses. Once I put on my first pair of glasses, I noticed new things, like individual leaves on trees and airplanes way up in the sky-things I had never seen before."