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


Beginning this fall, St. Louisans will be able to see the actual document that made what is now Missouri part of the United States.

In 1803, the United States bought more 828,000 square miles of land from France for $15 million – roughly four cents an acre – in a deal known as the Louisiana Purchase.

The parcel immediately doubled the size of the country and eventually became part or all of 14 states from Louisiana to Montana, including Missouri, Iowa and Arkansas.

Provided by Missouri History Museum

The Missouri History Museum’s “250 in 250” exhibition is on track to make history, itself.

The exhibit promises to break attendance records, with more than 54,000 people having already visited the display highlighting 250 images, people, places, objects and moments in St. Louis history. That’s more than half the number who came through "The Civil War in Missouri” – the most recent exhibit originated by the museum – during its entire 18-month run.

Mustard Seed Theatre

Mustard Seed Theatre Company was the big winner at the second annual St. Louis Theater Circle Awards, held Monday night. But everyone there seemed to find reason to celebrate.

The COCA theater in University City drew a full house for local theater's special event, an evening of hearty applause, warm camaraderie and good-natured ribbing.

Provided by the couple

While same-sex couples in Missouri ponder the uncertain impact of marrying in Illinois, one St. Louis pair plans to say "I do" across the river as another heads in the opposite direction.

As 29-year-old Kelsi Davis of south St. Louis plans to wed her partner Saturday in Illinois, her favorite romantic movie since the age of 4 is etched in her mind — and on her body: she has a “Princess Bride” tattoo on her hip which includes the film's signature line, "As You Wish."

Stephanie Zimmerman | St. Louis Public Radio intern

Beginning in 1942 and for around three decades – no one seems to know for sure – a massive mural depicting a flurry of commercial activity along the St. Louis riverfront peered down upon the ticket counter at Union Station.

wedding rings

Same-sex couples in Missouri may not want to rush across the river to tie the knot.

Even though some counties in Illinois are beginning to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, Jeffrey Mittman, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri, says marriage licenses granted to two men or two women from Missouri may not prove valid.

Stephanie Zimmerman | St. Louis Public Radio intern

*On Thursday, Cbabi Bayoc completed the final piece in his "365 Days with Dad" project. On Friday, he spoke about the project on St. Louis Public Radio's arts and culture talk show Cityscape. This article has been updated to include the audio from Cityscape.

Tonight, St. Louis artist Cbabi Bayoc plans to finish his masterpiece: the “365 Days with Dad” project.

Salon 53

Perseverance and triumph in St. Louis history will be explored in a new exhibition, opening today at Salon 53, a private art gallery in north St. Louis.

Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio and the Beacon

Some St. Louis rabbits are working like dogs as service and therapy animals. On Sunday, one will also don another hat – more of a crown, really for the Mardi Gras Pet Parade.

It’s not uncommon to see service dogs assisting vision- or hearing-impaired individuals. But a St. Louis woman named Nisha Full Moon uses a Flemish Giant rabbit as a service animal.

Sterling Waldman
Provided by Sterling Waldman

For many people, selecting “male” or “female” on their Facebook profile is an easy choice. But for those who identify differently, Facebook now provides 56 gender selections.

Last week, Sterling Waldman of Chesterfield turned 17 and received a perfect birthday present: the option to identify as “genderqueer” on Facebook.

On Friday, Facebook expanded its drop-down menu to offer a “custom” selection of genders that provides more than four dozen options, a cause for celebration for many who identify in a nontraditional way.

“It was very exciting to have that happen,” Waldman told St. Louis Public Radio and the Beacon.

Fifty-six Choices Not Enough?

Born and raised female, Waldman always felt different from friends and schoolmates.

“I didn’t really fit in with the girls and I didn’t fit in with the boys,” Waldman said. “I wanted to be both.”

For years, Waldman struggled with the feelings but lacked the language to describe them.

“I didn’t have the words, but I learned the terminology at the end of my freshman year,” Waldman remembered.

Waldman, who prefers the pronouns “them” and “they” to “him, his, her or hers,” has parental support and a community of like-minded people, outside of school and within Parkway Central High.

“In my grade, there are two others who identify as gender-non-binary,” Waldman said.

Facebook's menu also includes "transgender," "trans," "androgynous" and "cisgender," which is another way of saying you identify as the gender you were assigned at birth.

But are 56 choices enough? When it comes to politics and religion, Facebook users don’t have to pick from a list. They can write in their beliefs using words of their choosing. The profile form looks as though you could write in what you want, but it only accepts one of the 56 terms.

Despite the glee over being able to identify as “genderqueer” on Facebook, Waldman knows that not everyone will find the right term to describe such a personal and integral part of themselves.

"I have some friends whose identities are not on that list," Waldman said.

Marissa Mulder
Gaslight Cabaret Festival

The nine-week Gaslight Cabaret series includes Marissa Mulder’s “The Songs of Tom Waits,” lauded by the New York Times as “the best of the season.”

St. Louisans who like to gorge themselves on entertainment may already indulge in movie marathons and TV binge-watching. Beginning Thursday, Feb. 20, they can also get their fill of cabaret performances.

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.