Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Public Radio

Nancy Fowler

Arts and Culture Reporter

Nancy is a veteran journalist whose career spans television, radio, print and online media. Her passions include the arts and social justice, and she particularly delights in the stories of people living and working in that intersection.

She’s an avid reader of memoir and a big fan of all true, compelling stories, which is why she loves public radio.

Nancy 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

Among the things on Owen Ragland's calendar are a monthly residency at the Dark Room and a slot at this year's LouFest.  6/28/18
Carl Wickman

Owen Ragland is a musician on the move. In the last year, the 17-year-old pianist, producer and bandleader has played the LouFest in support of local artist Mvstermind, released a debut album plus follow-up EP and launched a monthly residency at the Dark Room

Some of the next items on his agenda include a performance with his quintet at this year’s LouFest and graduating from Webster Groves High School.

He spoke with Cut & Paste about his path to music, which he started at age 3 — and his efforts to fuse elements of jazz, hip-hop and electronic music into a style all his own.

Coffee Wright founded the St. Louis Inner City Cultural Center Enterprise 20 years ago. This year, the organization is partnering with the Missouri History Museum for a Friday night Juneteenth event. This photo is from her group's second annual Juneteenth
Derrick Phillips

St. Louis is known for its elaborate Fourth of July events, with fireworks bursting in dozens of municipalities and most famously, over the Arch.

But many St. Louisans want that kind of attention also focused on a significant day for African-Americans and the nation: Juneteenth. It commemorates a June 19, 1865, Texas order that freed all enslaved Americans, two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

Several local events mark the occasion. Many take place this weekend, including one organized by Tracy Johnson of south St. Louis, who said he can’t overemphasize the day’s importance.

“Besides an African-American’s birthday, that should be the next day they celebrate,” Johnson said.

Shakespeare Festival St. Louis' most recent Shakespeare in the Streets production, Blow, Winds, will be on stage this weekend at the Central branch of the St. Louis Public Library.
Shakespeare Festival St. Louis

Shakespeare Festival St. Louis is one of the most prominent theater companies in town, yet it doesn’t own a stage.

The organization shares its various stages — Shakespeare Glen in Forest Park, local schools and even city streets — with the public. With programs like Shakespeare in the Streets, which tells a community’s story, that sharing comes with great responsibility.

Cheryl Walker, chairwoman of the poet laureate task force, is a St. Louis native. Her published work includes a poetry chapbook called Silence Isn’t Quiet.
Cheryl Walker

After months of discord over who should be the next poet laureate for St. Louis, the city could select a new voice this fall.

St. Louis has been without an official poet for more than a year after a disagreement between the task force that recommends a poet laureate to the Board of Aldermen and a former member of that group.

Now, a new task force is in place and its members are asking the public to play a role.

Ngone Seck hugs a friend after receiving her diploma at Riverview Gardens High School's graduation ceremony. May 2018
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Just a few years ago, Ngone Seck arrived in Florissant from Italy and began the seventh grade.

From the start, she was behind her peers. She struggled to adapt to her new country, had trouble learning English, and, at first, did poorly in school.

Today, the Italian immigrant of West African heritage began her first day of college, on a full scholarship. Her journey is paved with the sacrifices of her working-class family, the comfort of her music and the support of good teachers.

This rendering provides an idea of what the Gravois Park artists housing development will look like.
SPACE Architects + Designers + Builders

Many St. Louis artists struggle to make a living and pay the rent.

The Kranzberg Arts Foundation wants to help by buying 25 properties and developing affordable artists’ homes and studios. Most are in the Gravois Park area, bound by Jefferson Avenue, Chippewa Street, Grand Boulevard and Cherokee Street.

The city’s Land Reutilization Authority will let the foundation buy the properties for $30,000. Many of the 12 existing buildings and 13 vacant lots have been neglected for decades. The Kranzberg Foundation plans to renovate the dilapidated buildings and construct new homes on the vacant lots before offering them for sale to artists. The work will begin this fall.

 This image is from Sarah Paulsen's film White by Law which is part of her The Invention of Whiteness exhibition at the Contemporary Art Museum.
Sarah Paulsen

For most of her life, St. Louis artist Sarah Paulsen was oblivious to what it means to be white, and the privilege it confers.

Then in 2008, Charles Lee “Cookie” Thornton shot and killed six people at Kirkwood City Hall.  Thornton was a black man; his victims were white. The tragedy threw a spotlight on the racial, class and wealth divide that had long existed in the St. Louis suburb. It also prompted Paulsen to begin exploring the social construct of race in America and how being white means never having to think about it.

Tom Ridgely co-founded Waterwell theater company 15 years ago. The organization has developed and produced over a dozen world premieres and adaptations of classics. He began working with Shakespeare Festival St. Louis in mid-May.
Shakespeare Festival St. Louis

The new head of Shakespeare Festival St. Louis is promising to put more women and minorities in leadership roles within the organization.

Incoming executive producer Tom Ridgely comes to St. Louis from New York, where he founded and directed Waterwell Theater, a company focused on presenting new works — and was committed to diversity — Ridgely said.

Students of Hawthorn Leadership School work with tutors from YourWordsSTL to express themselves through writing.
YourWordsSTL

Shortly after Anna Guzon of St. Louis graduated from medical school, she realized she wanted to practice a different kind of medicine: helping young people heal by writing about their lives.

That’s the aim of YourWords STL, the organization she cofounded to help marginalized youth.

omplishments with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra include a 2014 Grammy Award for a performance of John Adams' "City Noir."
St. Louis Symphony

This weekend, St. Louisans will say goodbye to a maestro known for honoring the magnificence of classical music while also making it approachable for the everyday person.

After 13 years as music director, David Robertson will conduct his final concert with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra on Sunday afternoon.

Some of the young men and women at Marygrove Children's Home participate in a  tutoring session. "Unheard Voices" features the stories of just the men who are aging out of the institution.
YourWords STL

Actors will tell the real-life stories of young men aging out of a children’s home in a staged reading on Saturday in Ferguson.

The free event at the Ferguson Youth Initiative, 106 Church St., draws on writing by young men who participated in a program of YourWords STL. The organization helps St. Louis youth express themselves, and work through trauma using the written word.

The presentation, “Unheard Voices: You Don’t Know My Story,” is comprised of poetry, lyrics and narratives by residents of the Marygrove Children’s Home in Florissant.  It highlights the human need to be heard, according to YourWords’ cofounder Anna Guzon, a former physician.

This image combines two portraits by different artists in the Metro Trans Umbrella Group's "Transcending the Spectrum" art exhibition.
Metro Trans Umbrella Group

Over the past five years, the Metro Trans Umbrella Group art show has more than doubled in size. This year’s event at Koken Art Factory in south St. Louis on Saturday boasts 35 visual artists and 25 stage performers.

The exhibition has expanded as more transgender artists feel safe to show their creations, according to curator Alex Johnmeyer and artist Eric Schoolcraft. But, they noted, growing visibility also highlights the dangers of being seen. To address that, organizers put a safety team in place to escort attendees to and from their cars.

File photo: Esther, played by Jacqueline Thompson, and Mr. Marks, played by Jim Butz, examine a bolt of fine fabric in a scene that simmers with largely unspoken feelings.
Eric Woolsey

The emphasis is on the “new” for incoming New Jewish Theatre artistic director Edward Coffield.

In July, Coffield will take the reins from founder Kathleen Sitzer who launched the company 22 years ago.

Coffield plans to shake things up by including a family show every year, collaborating with other companies and working with themes that encompass issues well beyond the realm of Judaism.

After serving as Sitzer’s assistant for 16 years, Coffield acknowledges he’s building on the work of a St. Louis theater icon.

Shakespeare Festival presented "Winter's Tale" as its 2017 mainstage production in Forest Park.
Shakespeare Festival

Shakespeare Festival St. Louis has named Tom Ridgely of New York to fill the post of  executive producer, which includes both artistic and leadership roles.

Ridgley comes to St. Louis from New York City’s Waterwell theater company, which he founded in 2002. He replaces Rick Dildine, who headed Shakespeare Festival St. Louis for eight years.

Omega Jones plays Jesus in Stray Dog Theatre’s “Jesus Christ Superstar.” This rendition is set in a dystopian world and portrays Jesus as a complicated human.
Stray Dog Theatre

Growing up in and out of foster care, St. Louis singer and actor Omega Jones managed to find a silver lining: self-reliance.

It’s a trait that helps him confront racism as a young black man — and handle  the ups and downs of musical theater.

“I know at the end of the day, I’m taking care of me; no one else is,” he said.

Opera Theatre of St. Louis premiered Champion by Terence Blanchard and Michael Cristofer in 2013.
Opera Theatre of St. Louis

Opera Theatre of St. Louis’ departing general director and his replacement may very well pass each other on the way to their new jobs.

The St. Louis organization has announced that Andrew Jorgensen will become its new general director. Jorgensen comes to St. Louis from the Washington National Opera in Washington, D.C., where he directs artistic planning and operations. It’s the same organization where current Opera Theatre general director Timothy O’Leary is heading July 1 to become general director there.

Tickets to the touring version of "Hamilton," coming to the Fox Theatre, sold out in less than five hours.
Joan Marcus

After standing in line, waiting in online queues and forking out big bucks, St. Louisans will be able see “Hamilton” in their hometown.

Lin-Manuel Miranda’s blend of musical theater, hip-hop, blues, jazz and rap begins Tuesday night and runs through April 22 at The Fox Theatre. The musical turns traditional casting on its head, with actors of color playing the men who shaped the nation, including the first Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton and Vice President Aaron Burr.

Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

In Emeara Burns’ north St. Louis neighborhood, gun violence is a way of life.

Shelley Richmond, a transgender woman, and her wife live in the same house in this Cahokia neighborhood where Richmond grew up.
Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Public Radio

Eighty-year-old Wisper Lowe, a transgender woman from Belleville, grew up during World War II, a period that demanded patriotism and strict gender roles.

Lowe was assigned male gender at birth. When she was 5, her mother caught her putting on lipstick.

“And her response was to smear the lipstick all over my mouth and then push me onto the front porch where all the neighborhood kids were playing in the street — and lock the door,” Lowe said.

“Souvenir,” the story of singer Florence Foster Jenkins, presented by Max & Louie Productions, won five Theater Circle awards including Outstanding Actress, Actor and Production of a Comedy.
Max & Louie Productions

St. Louis’ small theater companies were the big winners Monday night in the sixth annual Theater Circle awards.

Stray Dog Theatre took home six awards for the musical “Ragtime” and another for “A Doll’s House.” “Ragtime,” the story of African-American life in the early 20th Century, won in categories including Outstanding Actor, Actress and Production of a Musical.

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