Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Public Radio

Nancy Fowler

Arts and Culture Reporter

Nancy Fowler is a veteran journalist whose career spans television, radio, print and online media. Her passions include the arts and social justice, with a particular delight in the stories of people working in that intersection.

She received a regional Emmy Award for news writing at WXYZ-TV in Detroit, and the Pride St. Louis' Felton T. Day Award for service to St. Louis' LGBT community. Her numerous fellowships include USC Annenberg’s NEA Arts Journalism Institute in Theater, and the Wake Forest University Addiction Studies Program for Journalists.

Email her: NFowler@STLPublicRadio.org

Follow her on Twitter: @NancyFowlerSTL

This is the marketing image for "The Boys in the Band," released in 1970. It is one of two classic films to be shown in this year's QFest.
Provided | Cinema St. Louis

When St. Louis' QFest of films officially launched, people in the LGBTQ community were barred from institutions ranging from the military service to marriage.

A decade later, LGBTQ citizens can both serve and marry.  The 10th annual festival, which opens March 29, includes a dozen films that reflect a restricted past and progressive present.

This file photo is a image from The Rep's production of "Follies," which kicked off its 50th season.
Provided | The Rep

Tales based on the Bard and a Stephen Sondheim musical about the glory days of show business were the top winners at the 2017 St. Louis Theater Circle Awards.

The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis took home nine awards for work associated with the company, seven of them for the musical “Follies," including outstanding production of a musical and outstanding director. The wins topped off a year of celebrating the company's 50th season.

Kevin Willmann of Farmhaus, left, and Kevin Nashan of Sidney Street, seen in these file photos, are James Beard Award finalists for the second year in row
Provided | Sauce Magazine

For the second year in a row, two St. Louis chefs with the same first name are finalists for an award from the James Beard Foundation. Kevin Nashan of Sidney Street Café, 2000 Sidney St., and Kevin Willmann of Farmhaus, 3257 Ivanhoe Ave., are each nominated in the category of “Best Chef: Midwest.”  

Last year, Minneapolis chef Paul Berglund took home the award but at the time, Nashan said he was “just grateful to be on the bus.”

A crowd of artists had many questions for St. Louis' mayoral candidates at this February 27 forum.
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

When St. Louis’ next mayor takes office, local artists will be waiting.

They’ve got a list of things they want the mayor — likely Lyda Krewson — to do in support of the arts. They presented their ideas to mayoral candidates in a recent forum presented by Citizen Artist St. Louis. Their goals include a living wage, more artists at the table when economic development plans are decided and recognition of artists’ economic contributions.

Shannon Greir, seated in this file photo, took classes at St. Louis' Improv Shop to work her way into the theater world and produce her play, "Fat."
Provided | Shannon Greier

Shannon Geier knows what it’s like to be rejected because of the way she looks. For years, she struggled to lose weight, and was often afraid of how people would react to her.

“I felt like the love I got was conditional, based on my size,” Geier said. “[I’ve been] on blind dates and having the guy see me and turn around and run from the restaurant.”

Today, Geier is at a weight she considers healthy. Now a playwright, she hasn’t forgotten the pain of rejection, but has found a way to talk about it in "Fat," a new play on stage in St. Louis that deals with weight and body image.

Choreographer Stephanie Martinez worked with Big Muddy Dance Company to create a piece inspired by Chilean poet Gabriela Mistral, who died in 1957.
Provided | Dance St. Louis

A 20th century Chilean poet who wanted her daughter to be more than just a princess is the inspiration for a dance performance on stage in St. Louis this weekend at the Touhill.

The dance that is rooted in the poem is called “Destino, Roto.” It’s one of three pieces in Dance St. Louis’ “Women Who Inspire,”  the name of the organization’s fifth annual New Dance Horizons presentation.

Members of the Charis women's chorus perform at a recent event, in this file photo.
Provided | Charis

In the early 1990s, same-sex relations were illegal, the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy helped keep closet doors sealed shut, and marriage equality for same-sex couples was unthinkable.

This collage of file photos shows the "Words for Love" book cover and author Emily Robbins.
Collage images provided by Riverhead Books

Author Emily Robbins was a Washington University grad student in August 2013 when she saw St. Louisans protesting in University City against U.S. plans to attack Syria. She was profoundly moved by the local activists and incorporated those feelings into the book she was writing, called “A Word for Love.”

On Wednesday night, Robbins will appear at Left Banks Books to sign copies, and speak about the book and its St. Louis roots.

“There is a very active community here,” Robbins said. “That was something I really drew on and felt proud of in St. Louis.”

Alexis J. Roston, seen in this file photo, has performed "Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill" in Chicago and Milwaukee.
Provided | Milwaukee Rep

The story of a jazz a singer whose signature song drew attention to the brutal treatment of African-Americans will be on stage in St. Louis for the next two weeks.

Max and Louie Productions presents “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill,” a drama about the iconic Billie Holiday. The setting is a fictional performance that takes place four months before her death.

The production includes a dozen of Holiday’s songs and a running commentary in which she looks back on her life of love, loss, addiction and struggle with racism.

Elizabeth Vega is on the front porch of Art House in this February 6, 2017 photo, talking about a child's chalk drawing on the bricks.
Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis artist and activist Elizabeth Vega spends a lot of time in her home.

It’s a place in north St. Louis known as Art House, that she bought in 2015. There, she provides space for sign-making and other activities related to protest actions. She also works with local children to create kites, collages and other art to help them process their feelings. Recently, she spent five days and nights at Art House without leaving. An ankle monitoring device kept her tethered to her home.

Jacqueline Thompson plays the role of Esther in New Jewish Theatre's "Intimate Apparel."  She appears in this file photo.
Provided | Eric Woolsey

A play by New Jewish Theatre looks at the constraints placed on women in the early 1900s: the pressure to marry early, within their race.

In much of the United States, interracial marriage would be illegal for another 60 years. Miscegenation laws forbade blacks and whites from joining in wedlock until 1967.

But even as “Intimate Apparel” illustrates that taboo, it helps the theater company break out of its own limitations, given its history of largely white casts.  Four of the six characters in this play, produced by the Black Rep in 2005, are African-American. It’s the kind of opportunity New Jewish artistic director Kathleen Sitzer continually seeks.

This artist's rendering shows a renovated studio space at COCA.
Provided | COCA

Hammering and drilling will soon join the chorus of tap dancing and singing at the COCA arts center in University City.

The institution will launch an expansion and renovation in early 2018. It includes a 450-seat theater, more than 8,000 square feet of studio space, a community area and a 200-car parking garage. COCA expects to complete the work in late 2019.

This file photo of the painting "Exasperation" by local artist Fabio Rodriguez depicts people in his home of the Domincan Republic desperate for essentials like food and water. It was cut from an art exhibition for being potentially disturbing.
Provided | Fabio Rodriguez

St. Louis-area artist Fabio Rodriguez was devastated when a very personal piece of his work was removed from an exhibition. But did that action rise to the level of censorship?

Joann Shew, her granddaughter Izzy Shew and daughter-in-law Jessica Shew pose as they wait for the bus for Washington, D.C. on January 21st.
Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Public Radio

More than 150 St. Louisans traveled and slept on charter buses to join the Women’s March on Washington over the weekend.

For many, the trip was about reinvigorating family ties as well as rallying for social justice.

Riverview Gardens High band director Harvey Lockhart leads a class through practice. (Jan. 17, 2017)
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Music is vitally important to Riverview Gardens High School band director Harvey Lockhart. But his students' well-being ranks even higher.

During the past five years, Lockhart has made musicians out of dozens of students, changing the way they see themselves and their futures.

For his efforts, The Arts and Education Council of Greater St. Louis will honor Lockhart Monday night as art educator of the year, in a ceremony at the Chase Park Plaza.

"The Way," by Alexander Liberman, seen in this file photo, is a made of steel oil tanks. While modern, it nods to many facets of ancient architecture.
Provided | Kevin J. Miyazaki

St. Louis sculpture fans can now have a hand in taking care of public art.

Laumeier Sculpture Park in Sunset Hills is asking individuals and groups to help maintain and preserve its displays with a new adoption program. Adoptions start at $25 a year.

At the lower level, contributors get their names on Laumeier’s website and an on-site digital wall. For $50, they receive an adoption paper and a color photo of their sculpture. At the top level of $500, they get a private tour of the park with the park’s executive director. All donations are tax-deductible.

Members of St. Louis' Improv Shop -- Tyler Crandall, Andrew Langerak, Erinne Haberl, Daniel Westheimer, Asia Thomas, Sue Koppel -- perform on stage in this file photo.
Provided | Improv Shop

We’ve all had that dream. You know, the one where you’re naked on stage and the audience is laughing.

For an improv performer, that’s no nightmare; that’s life. OK, they're wearing clothes but they're emotionally naked, working without a script, responding off the cuff to random cues from the audience and their co-performers.

Applicant Yashica McKinney talks with Lynette Watson with the St. Louis Small Business Development Center on Jan. 4, 2017, at the restaurant contest event. The "Parks" sign is from a former business in the building, according to a competition co-sponsor.
Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Public Radio

A contest offering a free restaurant space catty-cornered from Crown Candy Kitchen on St. Louis Avenue is hitting its stride.

More than 100 people have contacted organizers about the Fantasy Food Fare Business Competition. Today, in the first of two informational meetings, a half-dozen toured the 4,000-square-foot space at 2720 N. 14th Street.

Lynette Watson of the St. Louis Small Business Development Center hopes a new eating establishment will lead to other opportunities in the area.

Landon Brownfield and Wolf Smith take a short break from working to get St. Louis' new LGBT Community Center ready on December 29, 2016.
Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Public Radio

A new LGBT Community Center near South Grand Boulevard will open to its first visitors on Sunday. The center is housed inside the Pride St. Louis offices at 3738 Chouteau Avenue.

The Center's programs stem from a collaboration of many local organizations: Black Pride, the MTUG transgender group and QTPOC organization of queer and transgender people of color, as well as Pride St. Louis.

These are the undated logos for The Rep, the Black Rep, Stages and New Jewish theater companies.
Provided

A half-dozen St. Louis theater companies toasted to longevity in 2016.

The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis turned 50 years old and the St. Louis Black Repertory Company observed its 40th anniversary. Stages St. Louis marked 30 years and New Jewish Theatre Company celebrated 20.

Mustard Seed Theatre logged 10 years and St. Lou Fringe festival of performing arts commemorated five.

From Radar Home by Amy Reidel, an illustration by Fox Smith and a file photo of poet Treasure Shields Redmond
Provided and file photos

The art of activism weaved its way more deeply into the St. Louis arts scene in 2016.

In this year’s Cut & Paste arts and culture podcasts, we brought you conversations with performers, poets and visual video artists, inspired personal experiences and cultural issues.

This November 2016 photos shows the front of Zack and Brie Smithey's shipping-container home in St. Charles.
Zack Smithey

As Zack Smithey began building his shipping-container home in St. Charles last May, the controversy around it grew along with the house.

Compliments came, but also complaints: Even after Smithey painted the red metal gray, it just didn’t look like other homes in the neighborhood.

On Tuesday, the City Council voted to categorize such dwellings as “conditional use” buildings. That means anyone who wants to build one will have to seek city approval to do so. The council also decided that container homes must include a pitched roof, and be fully sided — using vinyl siding, brick, wood or some other material.

Gianna Ceriotti and Emily Catanzaro pet Paul during a recent visit to Mauhaus Cat Café in Maplewood. (Dec. 7, 2016)
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

There’s a new café in St. Louis, where you can get a cappuccino and your cat fix.

Mauhaus Cat Café  in Maplewood offers coffee and pastries, and houses 10 cats from Tenth Life Cat Rescue available for petting, playing and adoption.

The spot opened in November and already is so popular that if you’re interested in going, you’ll need to book your visit early, co-founder Dana Huth said.

“We’ve had some waits as long as an hour to get in just because it’s a limited space and we don’t want to overcrowd it,” Huth said.

This collage of new RAC Fellows includes, clockwise, Agnes Wilcox, Jess Dugan and Robert McDonald Jr. and Damon Davis.
Provided and file photos

The Regional Arts Commission has chosen its 2016 Artists Fellows, who will each receive $20,000 checks to help with their work.

This is the fourth year RAC has presented the awards. Winning artists do not have to designate a specific project; they may use the money in any way that helps make their work possible.

The new group of 10 features literary, visual and performing artists, including a local performer who wants to spread his love of opera.

St. Louis Youth Poet Laureate Bisa Adero and official Poet Laureate Michael Castro met each other awards ceremony on Oct. 14, 2016 at UrbArts.
Vincent Lang

Two official St. Louis poets don’t always agree on what’s appropriate but they do concur on at least one thing: If you want change, you've got to work for it. For this pair, words are the tools.

Violinist Leila Josefowicz plays with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra in this photo taken earlier this fall.
Dilip Vishwanat

The St. Louis Symphony Orchestra can claim some of the glory in a Grammy Awards nomination announced today.

Violinist Leila Josefowicz was nominated for Best Classical Instrumental Solo for her performance on John Adams' Scheherazade.2,  in a February 2016 recording with the SLSO. Music Director David Robertson conducted the performance.

In these Nov. 28, 2016 photos, Jaimie Hileman, on the left, looks at threatening posts on Facebook. On the right, Amber Winingham and Gus stand on the corner where she said a truck veered toward them.
Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Public Radio

Every day, Amber Winingham walks around her south St. Louis neighborhood with her dog Gus, a Pointer-mix rescue dog who’s about a year old. When Amber and her wife adopted Gus, he was skittish. Now he has a new reason to be on edge.

The day after the Nov. 8 election, Winingham and Gus had just stepped out onto Magnolia Avenue at Louisiana Street, when she saw a man in a truck, barreling toward her.

Elizabeth Herring, who turned 90 on Oct. 26, practives for her trapeze show in this photo taken in October of 2016.
Provided | Elizabeth Herring

As a teenager, Elizabeth Herring of Ladue escaped a life luxury by joining the circus. Tonight, she’ll be back in the ring, celebrating her 90th birthday at a party benefiting St. Louis’ Circus Harmony.

Drummers from the Sunshine Cultural Arts Center perform at the Diversity Awareness Partnership's annual fundraising dinner, held November 9, 2016, the day after the 2016 election.
Provided | Diversity Awareness Partnership

Some St. Louisans who are upset with the outcome of the presidential election are putting their money — and their time — where their mouths are.

Following the victory of Republican president-elect Donald Trump, they’re plan to donate to local social-justice organizations — and volunteer.

The local Diversity Awareness Partnership, for example, noticed an immediate effect when it held  its annual fundraising dinner the night after the election. The education group took in $12,000— twice as much as last year — and signed up 100 first-time volunteers for its Connect program, rather than the usual 10 to 15.

Father-daughter beatboxers Nicole Paris and Ed Cage have fun posing for this photo on November 5, 2016.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Millions have marveled at the beatboxing contests between father-daughter duo Ed Cage and Nicole Paris. They’ve battled it out in numerous YouTube videos and TV appearances including “The Late Late Show” and “Steve Harvey Show.”

But did you know they live in St. Louis? And that their beatboxing (percussion sounds produced mainly by mouth)  is more often collaborative than competitive?

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