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

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.
File | 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?

David Robertson, the St. Louis Symphony's musical director, leads the orchestra in this file photo.
Scott Ferguson | Provided

The St. Louis Symphony ended 2016 with the healthiest bottom line in many years.

The good news includes the first balanced cash operating budget this century for the institution, which has a budget of $28.1 million, up from $26.6 million last year. The symphony saw growth in philanthropic support, and increased attendance and ticket sales.

In a news release, St. Louis Symphony President and CEO, Marie-Hélène Bernard praised the symphony's board and the generosity of the St. Louis area. She cited innovative experiences as factors in the orchestra’s achievements.

Cevin Lee poses with his daughter, Alana, and mother,  Phan Ly, at Hong Kong Express on South Grand Boulevard on Nov. 14, 2016.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Cevin Lee of St. Louis never meant to follow in the footsteps of his parents, who’ve run Asian restaurants for most of his life.

But a health crisis led Lee back to the family’s passion for food, and recently, to open his own restaurant, Garden on Grand, 2245 South Grand Blvd. — next door to his parents’ Hong Kong Express. It was something he once swore he’d never do.

Revelers march down Market Street in this file photo from a previous Pride Parade.
Pride St. Louis | Provided

Pride St. Louis will open a new LGBT Community Center in its office building at 3738 Chouteau Ave., near Grand Boulevard.

The community has been without a meeting and education space for nearly three years, after the center on Manchester Avenue in The Grove area shut down.

The local LGBT population needs a physical space in which to gather and share resources, according to Pride St. Louis secretary Landon Brownfield.

“This marginalized community — the LGBT community, and especially LGBT people of color — it’s really important for all of us to be united and to be able to support each other and we think that the Center will facilitate that,” Brownfield said.

Clockwise from upper left, Jay Ashcroft, Josh Hawley, Eric Schmitt and Mike Parson
File photos | Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri voters have given the nod to Republicans running for secretary of state, attorney general, treasurer and lieutenant governor. In congressional races, incumbents held onto their seats.

Actors play the part of other ghosts surrounding the ghost of King Hamlet in this November 3, 2016 photo.
Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Public Radio

As the cast of “Hamlet” carefully rehearsed for opening night, they also got ready to break something: the fourth wall — the theater term for the invisible barrier between actors and audience.

In this rendition by the Rebels and Misfits Productions’ new Immersive Theatre Project, theater-goers are part of the play, opening Saturday at the Barnett on Washington event space in Grand Center.

The interaction starts with the cocktail hour. Don’t be surprised if a character beckons you over or whispers in your ear.

Artist William Burton Jr. talks with Black Rep founder Ron Himes as he works on a mural on the side of the theater company's office building on October 31, 2016.
Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Public Radio

In the mid-1970s, Ron Himes started a St. Louis theater company to tell the stories of African-Americans.

This week, Himes and the Black Rep are marking a milestone — the company’s 40th anniversary — with a fundraising concert, and the launch of a mural project. Both are designed to draw attention to the company, which is emerging from years of turmoil.

10-27-2016: This detail from Edo Rosenblith's mural, "Supper Club," in the Techartista co-working building. shows the artist within his work.
Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Public Radio

You can almost hear the silverware clatter, the glasses clink and the generations clash as Thanksgiving approaches.

St. Louis artist Edo Rosenblith aims to capture the conviviality and chaos of the family dinner table — during holidays or not — in wall-sized mural, “Supper Club.” The 10-by-24 piece towers over work tables at the TechArtista co-working space in the Central West End (see image of full mural, below).

Marjorie Owens is The Prima Donna/Ariadne in Richard Strauss’ “Ariadne on Naxos at Opera Theatre” presented by Opera Theatre St.  Louis during 2016, its 41st season.
Ken Howard | Opera Theatre St. Louis

Opera Theatre of St. Louis is celebrating important gains in financial support and audience growth.

On Friday, the company released numbers for record-breaking fundraising as well as increases in diversity and opera-goers under the age of 50. Luring younger audiences is a crucial component for a successful future, according to general director Timothy O’Leary.

This fall 2016 photo shows the the back of the Smithey's container home with new sod and patio.
Provided | Zack Smithey

A proposed amendment to St. Charles' building codes would make shipping-container homes blend in with more typical houses in the city.

A new home on Elm Street sparked the debate that led to the regulations, introduced at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting. The amendment would require shipping-container homes to be fully sided and have a pitched roof.

Participants in the Good Journey Development Foundation with mentors and instructors
The Good Journey Development Foundation

If you want to come up with a good idea for teen lives, why not ask a teenager?

That’s what a group called The Good Journey Development Foundation does. A group of 13-to-17-year-olds brainstormed a plan for a center offering employment and education tips, along with life-skills training.

Good Journey recently received $300 in seed money for the project from another organization called Better Billion, working to make St. Louis a better place to live.

On Monday morning, St.  Louisans can hear from the Good Journey kids and other Better Billion winners at the St. Louis Board of Aldermen meeting.

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