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

Mustard Seed Theater

Alicia Reve' Like plays Nella, a bright patch in an Alabama family whose quilts tell stories of segregation and the civil rights movement.

Last February, Alicia Reve' Like portrayed a motel maid who whooped up on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the Black Rep’s “The Mountaintop,” the story of King’s last hours.

Table and Chairs
Duet Gallery

A table can connect families, foster discussion or encourage a game of cards. This weekend, a table in Grand Center also provides a canvas for artistic and cultural expression.

“Table” opened Thursday night at the new Duet art space, 3526 Washington Ave., with an evening of drinks and folk music. Friday night at 7, the custom wood design by Martin Goebel becomes the stage for a new media performance.

A scene from "For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf," presented by the Black Rep in 2014
Provided by the Black Rep

There are many reasons you might want to see the Black Rep’s current production of Ntozake Shange’s poem series “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf” at the Missouri History Museum.

Of course, you get that deep, hard look into the lives of black women in the 1970s as seven characters wearing seven different colors leap, lament and laugh their way through Shange’s classic language.

Provided by Afriky Lolo

St. Louisans can explore the area's broad past including black history through larger-than-life puppets, Gee’s Bend, Ala., quilters and exhibits by members of the Alliance of Black Art Galleries.

The recently formed Alliance of Black Art Galleries will debut its first collaborative exhibit in February in connection with St. Louis’ 250th birthday celebration.

St. Louis Art Museum, looking to the west
Provided by the Art Museum

Visitors to the St. Louis Art Museum will see some changes in the museum's Panorama restaurant.

The museum is looking closely at the menu, service and kitchen operations after a six-month review observed a $260,000 loss. The red ink was noted in a Zoo-Museum District audit of the museum, released last week.

Night view of art museum (2008)
File photo | Rachel Heidenry | St. Louis Beacon

A draft of an audit of the St. Louis Art Museum has turned up no significant issues at that institution, according to board members of the Zoo-Museum District.

Previous audits ordered by the ZMD — for the Science Center and the Missouri History Museum — revealed information that led to shakeups in leadership and changes in governance.

Provided by the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts

On any given weekend, you can follow the show tunes and Beyonce beats to a drag performance in St. Louis.

But on Saturday, Jan. 25 and for the next several months, drag moves beyond the bar scene. The art and history of drag will be in the spotlight at PHD art gallery, the Missouri History Museum and the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts in Grand Center.

Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Public Radio and the Beacon

A report sharply criticizing St. Louis’ Zoo-Museum District (ZMD) was adopted by the parks committee of the city’s board of aldermen Thursday.

Alderman Joe Roddy, parks committee chair, released a draft of the report this week following a year of investigation.

photo of frances levine
From video by Nancy Fowler

A solid round of applause welcomed Frances Levine as she entered the meeting that finalized her presidency of the Missouri History Museum on Tuesday. Shortly afterward, she also received kudos from her home in Santa Fe, where she’s been director of the New Mexico History Museum for more than 10 years.

photo of
Blair Clark | Museum of New Mexico

The Missouri History Museum has named Frances Levine, director of the New Mexico History Museum, as as its new president and CEO.

Levine, 63, will become not only the first woman to lead the museum but the first woman to head any institution of the St. Louis Zoo-Museum District. Her contract was approved this morning in a meeting of the museum's board of trustees and members of the ZMD museum subdistrict.

Our preview of the exhibits opening Friday at CAM includes video of artist Joyce Pensato doing what she loves most: playing with paint, and a look at the work of  Nicole Eisenman.

The title “I Killed Kenny” smacks of death in its reference to the recurring demise of the "South Park" icon. But the exhibit's more about Brooklyn artist Joyce Pensato bringing new life to animated characters ranging from Homer Simpson to Mickey Mouse.

photo of Damon Davis
Jo Vonda Winters

A project designed as a bridge across Delmar Boulevard begins construction this week and should be in place in early February. It's a contemporary concept with a low-tech twist: hand-delivered letters.

The “Wailing Wall,” envisioned by local musician and artist Damon Davis, was chosen last August from among other entries in a contest of ideas to address what’s known as the Delmar Divide. The term refers to income inequality north and south of Delmar Boulevard.

Vanity Projects

Using words like “play” and “permissiveness” in its promotional materials, the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts wants to make sure St. Louisans know it's operating on a different frequency in the upcoming “Reset” program.

photo of Em Piro
Courtesy of Em Piro

If you or your group is seeking a spot in St. Louis' 2014 Fringe Festival of performing arts, you’d better have your fingers on the keyboard Wednesday evening at 6 p.m. sharp.

Last year, available slots for online submissions filled up in less than two seconds, according to Fringe founder Em Piro.

James McAnally
Provided by M. McAnally

The Luminary Center for the Arts credits numerous supporters, volunteers and long-range thinking for the purchase of its own building.

To be successful in the arts, a business head can be as important as a creative mind.

(via Wikimedia Commons)

Update 1:05 p.m.

The Missouri History Museum has chosen a finalist to become its president. In a meeting this morning, the board of trustees and commissioners of the Zoo-Museum subdistrict approved a candidate recommended by a committee. The finalist's name has not been released.

The next step is contract negotiations. The talks will take place among the candidate, board chair John Roberts and commission chair Romondous Stover.

Our previous story:

EAC/Portfolio’s “Ebony Creations”

St. Louis-area art openings this Friday explore the beauty of nature, teapots and African-American works. “Ebony Creations” is a joint project of Portfolio Gallery and the Edwardsville Arts Center.

Courtesy of the Black Rep

The actual meeting never happened. But “The Meeting,” opening Wednesday, dramatizes the “what ifs” of a one-hour conversation between Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X.

The Black Rep will stage its presentation of “The Meeting” through Jan. 26 in its 37th-season home at Harris-Stowe State University.

Scott Rackers

The Sheldon Art Galleries in Grand Center is asking for photographs documenting St. Louis, as the city celebrates 250 years.

The Arch, Busch Stadium and the World's Fair Pavilion in Forest Park are among the usual suspects when it comes to picturing St. Louis. But the same-old, same-old won’t cut it in a photography contest focused on the city at 250.

Courtesy of Poetry Scores

Poetry Scores, an organization translating poems into different media, is asking St. Louisans to picture themselves through the lines of a Greek psychoanalyst.

On the Metrolink, in bars and even at funerals, cell-phone photographers are capturing selfies -- self-portraits -- usually bound for Facebook, Instagram and other social media. But now, they now have a more poetic destination.


Same-sex marriage in Illinois was the cherry on top of the cake of advancements for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in the St. Louis area in 2013. But for those who oppose the marriage of two men or two women, it was more of a cherry bomb.

Regional Arts Commission

Whether they were on stage, leaning into the kiln or creatively advocating for justice, it was a banner year for many local artists.

The Regional Arts Commission this year began an unprecedented awarding of money
to St. Louis-area artists through its Artists Count program. Dozens of visual, performing and literary artists were given grants of between $500 and $3,000 for specific projects.

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.