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

Visual artist and RAC grantee Ellie Balk works on a mural. She hopes to use some of her RAC fellowship money to create a workbook to demystify the process of creating public art.
Michael Toolan

The Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis has reached a major milestone in a program supporting local artists.

In 2013, RAC began awarding $20,000 to 10 Artist Fellows. Today, the group announced its fifth round of grants, bringing the total to $1 million.

This album was recorded live at Club Imperial in 1965.
George Edick

When George Edick Jr. was in elementary school, he received a present he’ll never forget: a guitar from Ike Turner.

Edick grew up in the 1950s around musicians like Turner who played at his father’s Club Imperial, 6306-28 West Florissant Ave., in the Walnut Park West neighborhood in northwest St. Louis.

The run-down building escaped the wrecking ball last month after the St. Louis Preservation Board voted to save it.

Erise Williams, wearing a gray and white striped shirt, stands by the window, talking with guests at Rustin's Place, a drop-in center  serving mostly young, black, gay men. January 2018
Erise Williams

Black History Month is a time to spotlight African-Americans who made a difference. But many people don’t know that prominent African-Americans were part of the LGBTQ community.

Among them was Bayard Rustin, an openly gay black man who worked side-by-side with the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.  The civil rights strategist who died in 1987 is honored every day at a little storefront in St. Louis’ Vandeventer neighborhood, called Rustin’s Place. It’s a drop-in center that largely serves LGBTQ people, particularly gay African-American men.

The St. Louis Symphony performs at Powell Hall in a 2016 concert.
File | St. Louis Symphony

The St. Louis Symphony has announced its 2018-2019 schedule, which includes a mixture of classics and new works.

The method of selecting the lineup was also new. For its 139th season, the orchestra asked its musicians to weigh in.

It just made sense to include them, according to Marie-Hélène Bernard, symphony president and CEO .

Carmen and Isabel Garcia with a Clydesdale, on location in September 2017 at Grant's Farm for a promotional St. Louis Blues video.
Carmen Garcia

For years, teenager Isabel Garcia performed in school plays as her mother, Carmen, beamed from the audience.

Isabel knew her mom once loved to perform, too, and had the playbills to prove it. But she’d never seen her mother on stage.

This is a recent photo of the building that once housed Club Imperial.
Robert Vroman

Updated Jan. 23 — A building that was the site of an historic St. Louis music venue will remain standing, at least for the time being.

The St. Louis Preservation Board Monday night unanimously backed a decision to deny a demolition permit for the former Club Imperial.

Building owner Robert Vroman, who bought the building last August in an auction, said he hopes public attention will entice a new buyer with plans to restore the space. The deadline for paying additional taxes is summer 2019, Vroman said. He said that if no one steps forward with a renovation offer by then, he’ll let the property return to the city for another tax auction.

This photo shows the St. Louis Symphony performing in Powell Hall in 1968.
St. Louis Symphony

In 1966, the St. Louis Symphony scrambled to find a venue for a publicized concert after plans fell through to play at the Kiel Opera House, now the Peabody Opera House. They ended up at the St. Louis Theater on Grand Boulevard.

For the musicians, the theater space just felt right, Maureen Byrne, according to director of diversity and community affairs.

“People just kind of went, ‘Whoa, this is pretty nice,’” Byrne said.

This image is a still shot from home movies of a gay pool party in 1945 that St. Louis filmmaker Geoff Story bought in an estate sale.
Geoff Story

Dozens of gay men gather for a pool party in a secluded spot in Hillsboro, Missouri. Home movies capture their easy affection and carefree dancing. 

But they’re not recent videos. The movies were taken in 1945.

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This photograph by Kat Reynolds is part of the Mane 'n Tail exhibition. Other artists include LaKela Brown, Pamela Council, Baseerah Khan, Abigail Lucien, Narcissister, Yvonne Osei, Shenequa, Diamond Stingily and Rachel Youn.
Provided | Kat Reynolds

Kat Reynolds stops by the beauty products store about as often as some people shop for groceries — about three times a month.

For many women, shampoos, conditioners, extensions and weaves seem to hold the key not only to an improved appearance but also a kind of self-satisfaction, according to Reynolds. With that in mind, the photographer is curating an art exhibition, “Mane ‘n Tail,” named for a popular line of beauty products.

Reynolds said the show, which opens Jan. 19, focuses on female attractiveness and African-American culture, including money and self-determination.

Lonnie Powell's watercolor, Southsun is one of 200 works in the All Colors exhibition.
Portfolio Gallery

A longtime gallery owner is debuting an exhibition Jan. 13 that he hopes will draw people from all over the country to see African-American art in St. Louis.

“All Colors” features the work of 66 national and local artists. The Portfolio Gallery nonprofit will present the show at the Artists’ Guild, 2 Jackson Ave., in Clayton, the first exhibition following the sale of its Grand Center building.

Portfolio owner Robert Powell sold the gallery space in 2015 with the goal of supporting African-American artists.

Michael Ferguson and Betsy Bowman starred in Bluff City Theater's 2017 presentation of The Glass Menagerie.
Joe Anderson

A small theater company in Hannibal is giving larger St. Louis troupes a run for their money in a regional awards competition.

The 4-year-old Bluff City Theater is nominated for 12 Broadway World regional awards for the 2017 season, including Best Theater Company. Larger, more established institutions like Stages St. Louis and The Rep typically dominate the annual contest. A public vote decides the winners.

The Gender Workbook for Kids will be published in April.
Kelly Storck

Children who grapple with their gender identity often start asking questions in their toddler years.

They may demand parents call them "her" instead of "him," or insist they’re a boy after they were assigned female gender at birth.

These declarations make sense to St. Louis therapist Kelly Storck, who has worked with children and parents for 20 years.  But the topic of gender doesn’t always make sense to kids, or even the adults in their lives. That’s why Storck wrote her new book “The Gender Identity Workbook for Kids: A Guide to Exploring Who You Are.”

The central corridor illumination art project on these grain elevators was tested briefly on Dec. 12.
Provided | Raven Fox

Many St. Louisans pack the family into the car, drive around, and ooh and ah over lighting displays during the Christmas season.

They might want to do it again in February.

That’s when the next phase of a huge, colorful, illumination art project will be briefly visible in St. Louis’ central corridor — and for miles around. The “canvas” consists of a series of grain silos that sit less than 200 yards from the IKEA store between Sarah Street and Vandeventer Avenue.

Kristin Cassidy spent weeks getting this set ready for the encore production of Remnant.
Provided | John Lamb

You can often find St. Louis artist and set designer Kristin Cassidy on the banks of the Mississippi River, picking up stones, metal and even animal bones.

The Metro Trans Umbrella Group telethon will take place Saturday at noon through Sunday at noon.
Provided

Sayer Johnson grew up watching the annual Jerry Lewis telethon for kids with muscular dystrophy.

In recent years, he's wondered if advocates for transgender people could raise money in a similar manner?

That will happen at noon on Saturday, when the Metro Trans Umbrella Group begins a 24-hour telethon. Viewers can watch it on Facebook and YouTube.

Provided | Anthony Volkman

For seven years, Ackerman School music teacher Anthony Volkman has spent his summers creating the school's annual holiday program on a budget likely to make The Grinch flinch.

“We had $400,” Volkman said. “We had basic costuming; we made sets out of cardboard and paper.”

But this year, the program will be more elaborate, thanks to a $3,000 grant from the Maritz marketing company. It's not a huge amount — enough for props for kids in wheelchairs, professional lighting and more microphones — but the impact on the kids in this K-8 Special School District building in Florissant is incalculable.

Left to right. Chorus members Samantha Madison, Kelli Lowe, Melissa Pickens, Khalid McGhee, De-Rance Blaylock, Robert Crenshaw, Duane Martin Foster, a NYC chorus member and Gheremi Clay in the October production of The Drum Major Instinct.
Provided | Theater of War

A theatrical performance coming to St. Louis on Friday ties the words of Martin Luther King Jr. to recent protests here, with the goal of getting people to talk about racism, gun violence and policing.

“The Drum Major Instinct” is based on a sermon King delivered in  February 1968, in which he encouraged followers to work not for individual glory, but collective justice. The New York company Theater of War Productions is staging the dramatic reading and choral event.

Indoor golf is coming to The Sheldon Art Galleries in summer 2018.
Provided | Scott MacLeod | Flickr

A St. Louis institution known for displaying paintings will temporarily change its focus to putt-putt next summer.

In June, all 6,000 square feet of The Sheldon Art Galleries will become a mini golf course.

Visitors can actually play the course, Sheldon Director Olivia Lahs-Gonzales said.

“Usually, you go into an art gallery and you’re not allowed to touch anything,” Lahs-Gonzales said. “This is an opportunity to be immersive, to have an immersive experience.”

Mazy Gilleylen (standing in front), a transgender girl from Overland, cemmemorates lives lost with her brother Seth and parents Amber and Donte Gilleylen, on the 2015 Transgender Day of Remembrance at the Transgender Memorial Garden.
File photo | Provided | Yuting Jiang

So far this year, at least 25 transgender people have been murdered across the country, two in Missouri, one  of which was in St. Louis.

On Monday, supporters in the St. Louis area will pay tribute to those victims as part of a national effort, the Transgender Day of Remembrance. The annual event is held every Nov. 20.

September 12, 2017 photo. Shakespeare in the Streets' "Blow, Winds," inspired by "King Lear," is staged on the steps of the St. Louis Public Library, Central Library, downtown.
Shakespeare Festival St. Louis

The cast and crew of this year’s Shakespeare in the Streets production worked for a year to bring its take on the Bard’s “King Lear” to the steps of the St. Louis Public Library’s Central Library, downtown.

But the Sept. 15 opening day of “Blow, Winds” coincided with another big event in St. Louis: Judge Timothy Wilson's non-guilty verdict in the murder case against Jason Stockley. Shakespeare Festival St. Louis canceled the weekend run amid protests against the verdict.

Theatergoers will have a chance to see it next summer. The festival plans to present “Blow, Winds” June 15-16, in connection with its annual event in Forest Park.

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