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.

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Follow her on Twitter: @NancyFowlerSTL

First Night 2013 poster
Courtesy First Night

Grand Center has a two-pronged approach for luring more revelers to its “First Night” New Year’s Eve party this year.

Organizers look to active entertainment to bring in the families and a wide spectrum of participants. And they hope a more mature late-night lineup will attract teenagers and adults without children.


A report released this afternoon by St. Louis city prosecutor Jennifer Joyce has cleared the Missouri History Museum of all allegations of criminal activity. But the report also scolded the museum for questionable behaviors.

Provided by Perennial

A local program re-purposing broken chairs helps heal women with criminal convictions as they prepare to re-enter society.

The hit TV series “Orange Is the New Black” explores the lives of women behind bars. But even after their release, orange remains an important color to some of St. Louis' former female inmates. So do purple, green and the entire rainbow.

photo of John Roberts
Provided by Missouri History Museum

The Missouri History Museum could name a new president early next month after narrowing the field of Bob Archibald's possible successors to two candidates.

In a Monday meeting of the board of trustees, board chairman John Roberts announced that the museum plans to bring each candidate to St. Louis just after the new year. The week of Jan. 6 is under consideration if the prospects are available. No further information about the candidates was revealed.

slso image for a gospel messiah
St. Louis Symphony Orchestra

Only 11 more shlepping days ‘til Christmas. But if you need to take a break from the season’s ritualistic mass consumption, upcoming local holiday arts offerings range from ho ho ho to Handel.

“Too Hot to Handel: A Gospel Messiah,” presented by the St. Louis Symphony: 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 13, Powell Hall, 718 North Grand Blvd., 63103. $30-$65.

Provided by Kathryn Bentley

The Regional Arts Commission (RAC) today handed local artists Kathryn Bentley, Arny Nadler and eight others $20,000 each to make their dreams a reality.

Bentley, a theater artist, and Nadler, a sculptor, are among the first group of 10 visual, performing and literary artists to become RAC Artist Fellows. Their names (see full list below) were announced in a morning news conference at RAC's offices. (Note: An earlier version of the article said the offices were in University City. They are in St. Louis.)

Jen Killion turned IKEA spice racks into book shelves for her daughter.
Provided by Jen Killion

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - Driving the 15 or so miles to St. Louis' newly planned IKEA from her home in Kirkwood will be a breeze for Stephanie Kessler. The first time she shopped the iconic retailer in 2006, it required a 4,500-mile plane ride.

Kessler, 28, didn’t actually fly to Sweden just to experience IKEA but to visit friends. Still, after that trip she was hooked, and has since ventured to a variety of IKEAs around the country including the one in Schaumburg, Ill.

Keep Calm and Carry On: The jury in the Einstein vs. Jesus: The Right to Free Thought trial is shown returning from lunch. These Nine Angry Felines are preparing to find against science on ALL counts. (Artist's writing)
Work of Jay Thompson

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - Artist Jay Thompson and his granddaughter Jessica literally herd cats. And yes, it’s a two-person job.

When they visit an animal shelter, Thompson woos readily approachable felines while Jessica, 10, wrangles more prospects. But their goal is not to adopt or just play with these cats but to immortalize them in Thompson’s Cat Works photography.

Reggie Moore
Provided by the family

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Reggie Moore’s love of the circus took him into the ring, on the road and into the hearts of local circus performers and those around the world. Now, the 21-year-old man known as the “gentle giant” of St. Louis’ Circus Harmony, is being mourned by the wider circus community and his family, following his Friday night death in a local car accident.

After joining Circus Harmony as a teenager, the six-foot-five, 250-pound Moore quickly became known as a hard worker with a big heart, according to the organization’s artistic and executive director Jessica Hentoff.

Chinyere Oteh
Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Beacon | 2013

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - Are you a plumber who could use a massage? A masseuse in need of a hair cut? A hair stylist with a taste for pumpkin pie?

The local Cowry Collective Timebank (CCTB) connects people with a wide variety of skills. One hour of services rendered equals an hour of services received. All areas of expertise are equal -- 60 minutes of legal work has the same value as 60 minutes of love-letter composition (Oh, that Cyrano were an attorney!).

Anyta Wilson works with students at the St. Louis Art Museum.
Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Beacon | 2013

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - “When you look at me, what do you see?” Anti-Defamation League program training facilitator Anyta Wilson asked a group of mostly white sixth-graders at the St. Louis Art Museum this past Tuesday.

“Girl.” “Long hair.” “Dreads.”

Accurate, yes, but Wilson pressed on: “What color am I?”

“Brown,” several replied, as Wilson nodded.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - From lust to anger, the color red evokes a hotbed of emotions. Its vibrancy also figures prominently in popular cultural, with movies such as “The Woman in Red” and songs including “99 Red Balloons.” Now red is the subject of an art exhibit in the Teaching Gallery of the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum on the Washington University campus.

Kristina Van Dyke has old and new in her Lafayette Square carriage house.
Jarred Gastreich | St. Louis Beacon | 2013

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - Art and science often seem to exist on opposite ends of a spectrum bookended by the likes of Georgia O’Keeffe and George Washington Carver. But for Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts director Kristina Van Dyke, the two worlds collide in an art collection inspired by archeology, geology and even radiology.

Cindy Shuford and her daughter
Provided by the family

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - Cindy Shuford of Washington, Ill., was at church Sunday when word came that a tornado was fast approaching. Taking cover in one of the building’s windowless rooms, Shuford first thought of her 22-year-old daughter, working the deli counter at Kroger.

“I just kept thinking of her, and I wanted to see her face,” Shuford said, in a telephone interview.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - Gov. Jay Nixon announced this afternoon that legally married same-sex couples living in Missouri can file joint returns on their state income taxes.

The executive order allows the Missouri Department of Revenue to accept joint returns from same-sex couples who also file jointly for their federal taxes.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon - The approval of same-sex marriage in Illinois Tuesday has some gay couples in Missouri already planning a June wedding across the river. But don’t book that venue just yet. Legal minds and advocacy groups are debating whether Missouri couples will be allowed to tie the knot next door.

Todd Sivia
Provided by Mr. Sivia

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - When Alton Tea Party co-organizer Rhonda Linders heard about 
Tuesday’s approval of same-sex marriage in Illinois, her first thoughts were about its religious implications.

“I believe marriage is between a man and a woman; that’s what it says in the Bible,” Linders said.

Provided by Colin Murphy (left) and Kurt Ross

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - Gay and lesbian couples in Illinois are celebrating after the General Assembly gave final approval Tuesday to same-sex marriage. But next door in Missouri, a constitutional amendment banning such marriages remains firmly in place.

When O'Fallon, Ill., resident Colin Murphy first got the news that state lawmakers had approved same-sex marriage, he texted his husband: “We’re legally married.”

Emma Price, back left, leads a rehearsal.
Courtesy of Variety Club

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Eight-year-old Selah Harris has accomplished something most of us will never do: fly.

Selah’s ascension takes place near the end of the Variety Children’s Theatre production of “Peter Pan,” which begins Friday at the Touhill. One of Selah’s characters is Jane, the daughter of the now grown-up Wendy Darling, who flies away from her mother to return to Neverland. On the way to her first flight practice Monday, Selah spoke with the Beacon about her mixed emotions.

Disaster preparedness exercise in Olivette in 2006
Photo provided by STARRS

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: After only a week on the job, new SLU College of Public Health faculty member Alexander Garza was already the local go-to guy on the subject of chemical weapons.

The former Homeland Security official and St. Louis native landed here in August just as news broke about Syria’s chemical weapons attack. Garza’s unpacked boxes waited as he visited TV newsrooms to shed light on the assault against Syrian residents and the prospect of a similar strike in the U.S.

Lewis deSoto, Paranirvana, 1999-2012, installed at MOCRA in 2013.
Courtesy of the artist and Brian Gross Fine Art, San Francisco

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: An invitation to cross thresholds into unfamiliar territory is the theme as Saint Louis University’s Museum of Contemporary Religious Art marks two decades of existence. “Thresholds: MOCRA at 20” is a two-part exhibit reprising segments of previous shows dating back to the museum’s 1993 debut. Part One, open through Dec. 15, revisits MOCRA’s first 10 years.

Chess fashion, from left, sage, mother figure and enchantress
Provided by World Chess Hall of Fame

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon - Lovers of chess, royalty, fashion and psychology will make a move toward the World Chess Hall of Fame beginning this weekend. "A Queen Within: Adorned Archetypes, Fashion & Chess,” opening Saturday evening, features dozens of items related to psychologist Carl Jung’s theory of archetypes, or examples of people and their behaviors.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: After a two-month search, the St. Louis Black Repertory Company has secured a stage for its 37th season. The theater company will present three of its four 2013-2014 shows at Harris-Stowe State University’s Emerson Performance Center.

Too Much on My Plate
Courtesy of the artist

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Mary Sprague’s had a busy life. She gave birth to four children before finishing a master's degree, taught community college classes, made art, moved from California to St. Louis for her husband’s job, taught at Meramec, made more art, divorced, hosted legendary parties and made even more art.

Logo from 2013 exhibit at MoHist
Provided by the Missouri History Museum

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Assassinations. Activism. Love-ins. “Laugh In.” Bell bottoms. Bombs. The year 1968 was an explosion of world-changing events from the murders of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy to the ubiquity of the peace sign.

Lisa Melandri seated beneath a Trova print
Jarred Gastreich | St. Louis Beacon | 2013

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - Outside the realm of postmodern art, you might expect the director of St. Louis’ Contemporary Art Museum to also appreciate an earlier-period artist or two. So Lisa Melandri’s fondness for Italian surrealist Giorgio De Chirico and American abstract expressionist Philip Guston is hardly surprising. But duck decoy heads and flea-market ship paintings?

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: HeLa cells have been known to scientists since the 1950s. But the name Henrietta Lacks, whose cancer cells were the basis of groundbreaking research, only became widely recognized with the publication of Rebecca Skloot’s “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” in 2010.

Solomon and Pat Thurman
Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Beacon | 2013

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: When Pat Thurman closed the door on her career as executive vice president with MasterCard, she and her artist husband opened the door on another: art gallery ownership. Much more than a business, 10th Street Art Gallery, 419 N. 10th St., was also a calling in its focus on the work of African-America artists including co-owner Solomon Thurman.

Noah Kirby
Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Beacon | 2013

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Metal sculptor Noah Kirby wants to make sure people know he worked “for” the late Bob Cassilly, not “with” him, as some claim. But just being in proximity to the creator of St. Louis’ City Museum was life-changing, giving Kirby a first-row seat to Cassilly’s genius, and generosity with space and materials.

Dominic Molon
Provided by CAM

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: St. Louis’ Contemporary Art Museum's "mission is not to preserve, but to provoke," according to the website of its architect. Ten years after the museum began challenging assumptions about art with its building and exhibits, CAM will celebrate Brad Cloepfil’s design, beginning this Friday with site-specific installations paying tribute to its surface, scale, transparency and boundaries.