Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Public Radio

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

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Like many artists, dancer Antonio Douthit hears a different drummer. But the drumbeat that changed his life at 16 wasn’t in his head. It wafted from a window on Washington Avenue.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Does the fact that it’s season 13 bode well for for Shakespeare Festival St. Louis’ “Twelfth Night?”

We’ll know more after the play opens May 24 in Forest Park, but it’s already clear this year’s production is a lucky one for a local orchestra ensemble. Shakespeare Festival chose the oddly named “The Rats & People Motion Picture Orchestra” to compose original music for the Shakespeare classic.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: As industrial artist Donald Judd neared 60, his work took a new spin -- along the color wheel.

A seminal figure in contemporary art, the Excelsior, Mo., native often paired two colors. But from 1984 through 1992, two years before he died, Judd explored the rainbow. In a first-ever exhibit, the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts will display two dozen objects and 30 collages and drawings from this period, in “The Multicolored Works,” opening May 10.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Carol North of Metro Theater Company is a storyteller. Ask her a question and it’s not uncommon for her to answer with a narrative, sometimes going back a couple of decades and across a half-dozen states.

Stories are integral to the mission of Metro Theater, which has woven magical, meaningful tales for children under North’s direction for 33 years. This year, as Metro celebrates its 40th anniversary, North, 66, is marking her last year with the company. Her husband, Metro resident artist Nick Kryah, is also departing.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Because St. Louis designer Michael Drummond got “Dressed” up and running, lovers of fashion and art definitely have someplace to go.

“Dressed” is an exhibit opening May 3 at St. Louis’ Regional Arts Commission. It features a small band of particularly tenacious local designers and artists whose work was curated by Drummond.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Growing up in a South St. Louis family of 11 kids, two-time Tony Award-winner Norbert Leo Butz remembers his little sister Teresa rocking out to “Proud Mary.” Four years after her death, Butz keeps her memory rolling in the river city by performing the classic 1970s hit and other songs in her honor.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts’ founder and a Washington University professor have been elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.

Emily Rauh Pulitzer, Pulitzer founder and chairman, and Elliot Lawrence Elson,  professor of biochemistry and molecular biophysics in the university's School of Medicine, are among 198 new members of the Academy.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The Boston Marathon bombing tragedy has St. Louis police brainstorming ways to make local events more secure.

Monday’s fatal bombing infused urgency into a Wednesday meeting of the city police department’s command staff about upcoming events in St. Louis, according to Police Chief Sam Dotson. These include the Sat., June 15 Komen Race for the Cure. Last year, more than 50,000 pink-clad participants joined the annual 5K event to fight breast cancer.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The Mensa organization isn’t technically a matchmaking operation. But it’s not unusual for members to meet their mates through this high-IQ group. When the offspring of these brainy unions come of age, Mensa also offers family fun.

Laura DeWeese of Sunset Hills met her husband through the St. Louis area Mensa in 1991. The couple and their two children, including a 10-year-old son who also belongs to Mensa, will spend this weekend with hundreds of other Mensa members at the national Mind Games event in St. Louis.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: If you want to get kids’ attention when it comes to bullying -- or anything at all -- it helps to understand the lingo.

Seventeen-year-old Dasia Vence, who plays popular, mean girl Gwyneth in “Winning Juliet,” Shakespeare Festival St. Louis’ upcoming educational play about cyber-bullying, has the 4-1-1 on popular terminology.

“Sneak-dissing,” Vence begins. “Like if you got a new haircut and I put on Twitter, ‘That haircut is gross,’ then you know it’s about you but I didn’t say that.

Source: Cyber Bullying Research Center, National Institute of Child Health, Autism Speaks, Gay and Lesbian Education Network

Brittany Jordan was a sophomore at Fort Zumwalt West High School when she was blindsided by bullies.

Browsing online, Jordan stumbled upon a MySpace page dedicated to her humiliation. The posts called her “fat,” “slut” and “skank.” “The world would be better off without you,” another read. She was horrified to see her face pasted above naked bodies. Then she saw something that hurt even more.

“Some of my friends were ‘friends’ with that page and they were ‘liking’ the pictures,” Jordan says.

Lum's “The Space Between Scott and Plessy”
Provided by Laumeier Sculpture Park

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The French connection between St. Louis and New Orleans is evident in street names and Mardi Gras celebrations. But the physical tie between the two cities is the Mighty Mississippi.

Laumeier Sculpture Park explores the shared waterway in “The River Between Us,” an indoor and outdoor exhibit opening this Saturday. At a time when the Mississippi River is in the news for efforts to bolster commerce, ecology and transport, and for its power to devastate a community like Pinhook, Mo., Laumeier is examining the the river’s role in U.S. history and how it connects the two cities and their residents.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: You might not think someone the size of “The Blind Side” character Michael Oher would have a problem with bullying. But Quinton Aaron, who played Michael to Sandra Bullock’s Leigh Anne Tuohy in the 2009 Academy Award-winning film based on a true story, was once afraid to walk home from school.

Now 28, Aaron is telling his story with the launch of the Quinton Aaron Foundation’s 31-city Anti-Bullying Tour. On Sunday, April 7, the tour stops in St. Louis for a bowling event at AMF Dick Weber Lanes in Florissant.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: When you enjoy a dance presentation, you expect to be moved, emotionally. But in an upcoming Leverage Dance Theater performance, the audience actually travels with the modern dance concert to three separate locations.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Money is the subject of many a popular song: It “Makes the World Go ‘Round” in “Cabaret.” Dire Straits laments “Money for Nothing.” Money "is a hit,” according to Pink Floyd.

Money will also be explored in literature, film and theater in the April 4-6 Greater St. Louis Humanities Festival. “Money, Money! Need, Greed and Generosity” is sponsored by Cinema St. Louis and a dozen other organizations. The 2013 event is St. Louis’ second annual festival. It’s the brainchild of Washington University English professor Gerald Early, who was inspired by the Chicago Humanities Festival.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Winter weather has stretched this year’s chili-eating season into spring. But even after temperatures warm up, chili will continue as a good choice for philanthropists, and those struggling to find enough to eat.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Forbidden love often finds itself on stage. In “Conviction,” an upcoming New Jewish Theatre presentation about a real-life, ill-fated romance, the stakes are particularly high.

“Conviction” is a story-within-a-story, set during the Spanish Inquisition, a period in which Jews were forced to convert to Catholicism. It centers on the true tale of a Spanish Jew turned Catholic priest who surreptitiously married and raised a family with a Jewish woman. After Father Andres Gonzales confessed his double life to a priest, he was burned alive.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Kaitlin Niewoehner tumbled through childhood as a promising gymnast in Columbia, Mo. Competitions often brought her to St. Louis, where her family of five enjoyed going to the Zoo, the Arch and Cardinals games.

But in Niewoehner’s early teens, gymnastics’ toll on her body and her dad’s job transfer to the 49th state changed the rhythm of her life: Hello 14, hello Alaska, hello dance lessons.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The International Photography Hall of Fame and Museum (IPHF) collection has arrived in St. Louis, after carefully traveling 500 miles in five moving trucks, toward the goal of an August opening.

If the experience were tallied up in a MasterCard commercial, it might sound like this: Transporting 30,000 images and 6,000 cameras from Oklahoma City: $25,000. Having them on display year-round in Grand Center: Priceless.

St. Louisans and other visitors can visit roomfuls of transformative photographs at the new IPHF in Grand Center, including Edward Steichen’s “Garbo,” Margaret Bourke-White’s “Fort Peck Dam” and Dorothea Lange's “Migrant Mother.”

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Brooks Brantly, a Belleville native who plays a veterinary officer in 'War Horse' at the Fox Theater, helps students from Grand Center Arts Academy meet Joey. 

As a Belleville East High School student, Brooks Brantly was into martial arts, not musicals. But as a freshman at Atlanta’s Morehouse College, he signed up for an acting course. It turned into a passion, the pursuit of an advanced degree, then a career.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: David Robertson’s "red phone" isn’t red at all. A black cell phone handles all urgent communications between St. Louis Symphony Orchestra music director and his family. 

During our interview, his wife, internationally acclaimed pianist Orli Shaham, rings Robertson from New York.

“Hang on, this is home. It might be important,” Robertson says.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Remember in the 1960s when being married was a woman’s holy grail, often achieved through incessant performances of just the right “bend and snap?”

Oh, wait, that was the 21st-century musical “Legally Blonde.”

Once upon a time, there was a world where the color pink peacefully coexisted with the ability to fix toys with motors.

In Wesley Middleton’s play in progress called “Unsorted,” characters Sweater, Slacks and Swimsuit dance happily together. But when Jacket demands the “clothings” be divided into Zums and Zing Zings, they become confused, and worry about which pieces of themselves they’ll have to cut off.

Will Copeland, at left, with his brothers at age 3 and, at right, age 4.
Provided by the Copeland family

The last time transgender teen William Copeland wore a dress was to his aunt’s commitment ceremony. The 5-year-old caved to parental pressure but on his terms: no bow in the back and only for the vows, not the reception.

“Big mistake! Huge mistake!,” his mother Laurie Copeland winces. “Why did he need to wear a dress to a lesbian wedding? They wouldn’t have cared if he’d worn a tux.”

Despite any early missteps, if you could special-order a family for a transgender child, it would be the Copelands of Creve Coeur.

Dieta Pepsi, aka Leon Braxton, leads a conga line up North Grand Boulevard.
2013 File Photo | St. Louis Beacon

If you’re thirsty for a tall serving of sassy drag queen, Dieta Pepsi hits the spot.

For nearly three decades, Dieta’s performed all over St. Louis, raising many thousands of dollars for local causes. Whether Dieta — aka Leon Braxton — is calling out bingo numbers or trivia questions, her unmistakable deep laugh and glamorously attired six-foot-three presence are ubiquitous in the St. Louis LGBT scene.

Kelly Hamilton
2013 File Photo | St. Louis Beacon

When Kelly Hamilton was 5, he stole his little brother’s tighty whities. He hid his bathing suit top, swearing it was lost when it was really stuffed in a drawer.

Once, in their shared bed, he was surprised to hear his older sister say, “You know the doctors can turn you into a boy now.”

Hamilton, a transgender man, doesn’t ever remember telling his sister he wanted to be a boy. Sometimes family just knows. But in 1980s Dallas, Texas, parents weren’t exactly embracing gender variance.

Lindsay Toler
2013 File Photo | St. Louis Beacon

Twenty-six-year-old Lindsay Toler of Tower Grove calls herself queer.

The Mizzou alum and journalist embraces this label even though she’s in a long-term, monogamous relationship with a man, and presents as the proverbial “girl next door.”

“I was a debutante growing up, I was in a sorority in college; I’m really blonde, really white — I’ve got a lot of privilege,” Toler says. “But you don’t have to be ‘other’ to be queer — everybody gets to be queer.”

Wait, what?

Birago, 7, Ajani, 9, and Jumi,12, sit on the couch with parent Cbabi and Reine Bayoc behind them.
Nancy Fowler | file photo

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon - Every day, St. Louis artist Cbabi Bayoc spends eight hours painting fathers and 24 hours being one.

He and his wife Reine Bayoc have three children: Jurni, 12, Ajani, 9, and Birago, 7. As Thanksgiving draws near, the family is thankful for each other and for many aspects of the “365 Days with Dad” project.

"Y'aba" by Yvonne Osei, Portfolio's "Skin Stories" exhibit
Provided by the gallery

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Art can change lives. For example, “365 Days with Dad” Artist Cbabi Bayoc hopes that when people view his positive images of African-American fathers, they’ll fold those perceptions into their belief systems. 

But you can’t be changed by what isn’t there. For many years, African-American art was absent or spotty in many collections.

A series of performances at Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts will blur the lines separating art, theater and social work to break down barriers among people and communities.

Courtesy of the Pulitzer


Emily Piro, case manager at St. Patrick Center, works with "Staging Reflections of the Buddha."