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

Each of these 2015 shows won two or more St. Louis Theater Circle Awards.
Stages St. Louis, St. Louis Actors' Studio, Opera Theatre St. Louis

The Repertory Theater of St. Louis and Stages St. Louis were the top winners among two dozen companies in Monday night’s fourth Theater Circle Awards. Each of the troupes had five wins. Four of Stages’ awards were for the musical “Anything Goes.”

Artists First executive director Sheila Suderwalla helps Vietnam veteran Mike David with a charcoal project.
Artists First

Mike David came home from Vietnam in the early 1970s with two Purple Hearts and a feeling of doom after spending a year in combat on a squad known as a “killer team.”

“All six of us were in constant fear for our lives, every moment of the day,” he said.

It took David a decade to start dealing with his PTSD with the help of friends and meditation. He wishes he’d had more creative opportunities to heal, like a new program offered by a Maplewood organization called Artists First.

International Institute of St. Louis president and CEO Anna Crosslin, today, and with her parents in Tokyo in 1952.
Anna Crosslin

The head of the International Institute of St. Louis says she is looking forward to taking her passion for equity to a statewide level.

Anna Crosslin is one of Gov. Jay Nixon's two nominees to the Missouri Commission on Human Rights. The Commission investigates complaints about discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations based on factors like race, gender, and national origin.

PrideFest-goers in 2014 celebrated a second festival in downtown St. Louis, after many years of holidng it in Tower Grove Park.
Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Public Radio

“Solidarity” is the theme for this year’s PrideFest celebration at Soldiers' Memorial downtown.

Members of Pride St. Louis chose the theme to unite the LGBT community at a critical time, according to Pride St. Louis’ director of inclusion and diversity Leon Braxton.

Some St. Louisans enjoy a full breakfast; others get by on coffee alone. Then there's everything in between, from rum cake to Gogurts.
Susannah Lohr / St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis is known for toasted Ravioli and Ted Drewes. But what do we eat for the most important meal of the day?

We at St. Louis Public Radio have become sorta-experts on what St. Louisans wake up to. That’s because when we interview people (including each other), we often begin with the question, “What did you have for breakfast?” to check our microphone levels.

Fox Smith is one of eight storytellers who will talk about women's bodies at an event called "Picturing Women." In this photo, she's participating in a cosplay event, which involves dressing up, usually like an anime or video-game character.
Fox Smith

Images of the perfect female form are all around us, on social media, in movies and in advertisements for products from liquor to luxury cars. It’s hard not to feel inferior no matter what kind of body you have.

Fox Smith of Shrewsbury has complicated feelings about her appearance.

"Somewhere between loving and hating [my] body," Smith said.

These baseball caps (Cardinals, Pirates, two Orioles, KC Royals and Detroit Tigers) spell out "spookd" in a piece by artist Ryan Doyle.
Ryan Doyle

Make no mistake. As a white man, artist Ryan Doyle does not try to "explain" racism to anyone.

Doyle’s work is a way to explore his own experiences and the racist environment we all live in. Take his recent work using baseball caps. It features molds of the caps’ home team letters, spelling out "spookd."

Michael Uthoff, second from left, talks with students, along with Dance St. Louis’ Janet Brown. (Brown is in the middle on the right-hand side of the photo).
Dance St. Louis

Dance St. Louis is under new leadership as it winds down its 50th season, after executive and artistic director Michael Uthoff announced he's leaving after 10 years.

"I’m 72 and I figure I need some time to smell the roses," Uthoff said.

Ka'Milla McMiller is an organizer with the Missouri Gay Straight Alliance Network.
Carolina Hidalgo / St. Louis Public Radio

What’s it like to live in fear, every day?  To know you’re a target just by being yourself? To understand that being attractive could kill you?

Ka’Milla McMiller of south St. Louis knows. As a young transgender woman of color, she can’t stop thinking about her safety, especially after what happened last year.

Left to right: "Meltdown" "Puzzled" and "Missing Piece" by Judith Shaw. "Cover-Up," embellished with Band-Aids and "Figured Out," which has no adornment, are two more pieces in the show.
Judith Shaw

For most of her life, Judith Shaw didn’t think she had a problem with food and she certainly didn’t consider herself artistic.

Then 10 years ago at the age of 53, the Clayton resident sought treatment for her anorexia. She responded to one therapeutic assignment by tracing her gaunt pound body and gluing words like “help” and “pain” to the outline. Later she traced her fuller figure and added things like puzzle pieces.

“I’m spilling my guts in pictures and words and shapes and forms,” Shaw said.

‘Many people have a hole’

A dinner party with Isaac (Jonathan C. Kaplan), Jory (Rachel Christopher), Emily (Leigh Williams) and Amir (John Pasha) in The Rep's "Disgraced" starts off on a friendly note but soon takes a different turn.
Peter Wochniak / ProPhotoSTL.com

This year’s most widely produced play in the country is on stage right now at the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis. 

“Disgraced” centers on an ambitious New York attorney grappling with his Islamic roots in a post-9/11 world. But the Pulitzer Prize-winning drama is really about everyone’s American experience, people of all faiths or no faith, according to playwright Ayad Akhtar.

The work in "Visualizing Life: Social Justice in Real Time" includes that of (left to right) Howard Barry, Annetta Bentil and Gundia Lock-Clay.
Freida Wheaton

What do you call a group of visual artists inspired by the death of Michael Brown and the social-justice movement it spawned? St. Louis curator Freida Wheaton calls them the “Sweet 16.”

It’s a nod to their numbers as well as a reference to their niche. On Feb. 26-27, you can see the work of these St. Louis artists at the Touhill, in conjunction with “New Dance Horizons IV.”

Jessica Witte will launch a seed-art project, similar to this August 2015 one in Belleville, along the St. Louis riverfront June 3-5.
Jessica Witte

St. Louisans will get to participate in a massive art project on the riverfront this summer, thanks to a new public art grant.

The local Critical Mass for the Arts announced the winner of its first-ever public works endeavor today. The group awarded multimedia artist Jessica Witte $10,000 for her “Seed the Change” idea.

Grand Center vice president Michelle Stevens and National Endowment for the Arts chairman Jane Chu in the Public Media Commons on Olive Street.
Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis is on the right track, according to the head of the nation’s largest grant-making organization for the arts.

Jane Chu, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, visited St. Louis Monday as part of a tour of NEA grant recipients. Her stops included the Grand Center Arts District,  which has received two “Our Town” awards totaling $125,000 to help with plans to make the area more walkable and attractive.

The official "Puppy Bowl" portrait of Ellie aka Puddin' Pop. You can see her play fpr Team Ruff at 2 p.m. Sunday.
Stray Rescue

There’s a doggone good reason to watch TV on Super Bowl Sunday, even if you’re not a football fan — or still bitter about the Rams.

St. Louis may not have a home team anymore, but we do have a dog in this fight -- an actual dog, from Wentzville, who’ll take the field in the Animal Planet channel’s annual “Puppy Bowl” on Sunday afternoon.

This piece is from Basil Kincaid's "Reclamation 2," showing at The Luminary through Feb. 27.
Willis Ryder Arnold / St. Louis Public Radio

It's no stretch to think that Basil Kincaid’s efforts to unite people of African heritage require travel. But pre-paid phone cards, vinyl sheets and a strong adhesive are also part of the process.

A 1963 photo of the Congress of Racial Equality demonstrating at the Jefferson Bank & Trust Company over the issue of jobs.
Arcadia Publishing

The author of a new book called “African American St. Louis” hopes images of the past will help people better understand the issues of today.

Lead author and educator John Wright Sr. grew up in St. Louis in the 1940s and '50s. His book, written in collaboration with his sons John Wright Jr. and Curtis Wright Sr., contains 170 color and black-and-white photos from the 1960s through the present.

Wright said many of the pictures are unique images you won’t see in museums, libraries, newspapers or online.

David Robertson conducting at Powell Hall
Dan Dreyfus | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis Symphony will return to New York’s Carnegie Hall in March 2017.

Music director David Robertson will lead the symphony and chorus in a performance of John Adams’ “Gospel According to the Other Mary.” The event pays tribute to Adams’ 70th birthday.

The performance will include an international vocal ensemble, showcasing singer Kelley O’Connor. The mezzo-soprano performed the 2013 world premiere of the title role of “Gospel”

Matt the Cat's human mom, Maire Murphy, said Matt's brother Oliver is doing okay, but he's a little needy since his best buddy has gone missing. Matt looks a lot like Oliver but he was heavier last time Murphy saw him.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

When St. Louisans think about the biggest news so far in 2016, what probably comes to mind is the New Year’s flooding or the Rams leaving town.

But for many people in one city neighborhood, the focus isn’t on football but a feline — a certain orange one, who has his own Facebook page and Twitter account. So how has this cat become the talk of Tower Grove South?

Artist Davide Weaver examines an installation-in-progrress at his "Star Wars Toys" art exhibition at the City Museum.
Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Public Radio

If the “The Force Awakens” has reignited your passion for “Star Wars,” you might be interested in an art exhibition at St. Louis’ City Museum.

Erin Renée Roberts as Nina and Ron Himes as Kenyatta look at photographs of Nina's late mother in the Black Rep's "Sunset Baby"
Phil Hamer

Revolution is not for the faint of heart; neither is parenthood. In The Black Rep’s production of the play “Sunset Baby,” the character Kenyatta finds connecting with his grown daughter is perhaps more difficult a challenge than enduring years as a political prisoner.

The newsies including Alex Prakken, kneeling on the right behind the small boy, surround Jack's love interest, Katherine
Deen van Meer

Updated 2:10 p.m., Jan. 19, 2016 — This story was originally published on Jan. 14, 2016 and has been updated to include an extended cut of Nancy Fowler's interview with Alex Prakken for "St. Louis on the Air."

Countless boys and girls have sat in the audience at St. Louis’ Fox Theatre and dreamed of one day performing on its stage. For one young man from Ladue, that dream is coming true.

The 24-foot-tall "Adinkra Tower" by sculptor Thomas Sleet was dedicated on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday.
Arts in Transit

If you see people craning their necks to look up at Riverview Transit Center in north city, here’s a reason why: They’re likely contemplating a new 24-foot-tall sculpture called “Adinkra Tower.”

Officials from Metro’s Arts in Transit program formally dedicated the work today. It features Adinkra symbols of the Ashanti people of Ghana in West Africa, representing principles including creation, hope and wisdom.

A rendering of the planned food stands in railroad cars and 200-foot-high Ferris wheel at Union Station.
Lodging Hospitality Management

The company that owns St. Louis' Union Station will begin work Feb. 1 on a major makeover of the historic railroad hub.

Participants enjoy being part of the 2015 "Act Your Pants Off' St. Lou Fringe event.
Allan Crain

Five-year-olds are known for their openness to new experiences and their steady growth. In its fifth year, the St. Lou Fringe festival is no different.

As the Fringe gears up for 2016, it’s adding new events and positioning itself as a five-month-long series rather than a nine-day festival.

Printmaker Tate Foley welcomes visitors to his home studio during the October 2015 Studio Tours held by the Contemporary Art Museum.
Jarred Geistreich

Making art involves creativity, of course. But for many artists, including St. Louis’ Tate Foley, exactitude is every bit as important.

Printmaker Foley is meticulous about following the necessary steps, in strict order. One of his first steps sometimes involves ordering from eBay, since Foley’s work explores consumerism using things like gum wrappers and trading cards.

Songs from "The Wild Party," "Bat Boy" and "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" will be part of New Line's 25th anniversary concert.
New Line Theatre

St. Louis’ New Line musical theater company has something to sing about this week: its silver anniversary.

On Tuesday and Wednesday nights (Jan. 5 and 6), New Line will present a concert called “25 Years to Life!” featuring songs from shows dating back to its 1991 debut. The event showcases 16 New Line veterans including Ryan Foizy, Taylor Pietz, Anna Skidis and Zachary Allen Farmer.

Darion Taylor, 15, helps paint a cafeteria mural at Confluence Academy's South City campus. Volunteers gathered to paint base coats for artist Cbabi Bayoc's design, which promotes healthy food.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis artist Cbabi Bayoc is known for painting fathers. But in a new project, he’s painting food.

Vegetables and fruits star in his mural going up in the kindergarten-through-second-grade lunchroom at Confluence Academy-South City, 4235 South Compton Ave.

Regional Arts Commission executive director Felicia Shaw, Pulitzer director Cara Starke and St. Louis Symphony president Marie-Hélène Bernard
Regional Arts Commission, Pulitzer Arts Foundaiton and St. Louis Symphony

Three women who moved to St. Louis this year to head up major arts organizations are praising the area for assets ranging from architecture to sports teams. But all three agreed on one perk: the food.

Clockwise from left: Alcar, Nick Carlson, Alan Cleaver, Quincy

The arts in St. Louis are similar to the fabled elephant described by six men who cannot see: “It’s like a snake!” cried one who grasped the tail. “No, a tree trunk!” insisted another, as he rubbed a leg.

Art is a staged dialogue that makes you wince with recognition. It's a brushstroke that evokes sadness; a beat your toes can’t help but keep. And it's as unique as the artist, as we've learned in our first year of putting together the Cut & Paste podcast.

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