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.

Email her: NFowler@STLPublicRadio.org

Follow her on Twitter: @NancyFowlerSTL

Landon Brownfield and Wolf Smith take a short break from working to get St. Louis' new LGBT Community Center ready on December 29, 2016.
Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Public Radio

A new LGBT Community Center near South Grand Boulevard will open to its first visitors on Sunday. The center is housed inside the Pride St. Louis offices at 3738 Chouteau Avenue.

The Center's programs stem from a collaboration of many local organizations: Black Pride, the MTUG transgender group and QTPOC organization of queer and transgender people of color, as well as Pride St. Louis.

These are the undated logos for The Rep, the Black Rep, Stages and New Jewish theater companies.
Provided

A half-dozen St. Louis theater companies toasted to longevity in 2016.

The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis turned 50 years old and the St. Louis Black Repertory Company observed its 40th anniversary. Stages St. Louis marked 30 years and New Jewish Theatre Company celebrated 20.

Mustard Seed Theatre logged 10 years and St. Lou Fringe festival of performing arts commemorated five.

From Radar Home by Amy Reidel, an illustration by Fox Smith and a file photo of poet Treasure Shields Redmond
Provided and file photos

The art of activism weaved its way more deeply into the St. Louis arts scene in 2016.

In this year’s Cut & Paste arts and culture podcasts, we brought you conversations with performers, poets and visual video artists, inspired personal experiences and cultural issues.

This November 2016 photos shows the front of Zack and Brie Smithey's shipping-container home in St. Charles.
Zack Smithey

As Zack Smithey began building his shipping-container home in St. Charles last May, the controversy around it grew along with the house.

Compliments came, but also complaints: Even after Smithey painted the red metal gray, it just didn’t look like other homes in the neighborhood.

On Tuesday, the City Council voted to categorize such dwellings as “conditional use” buildings. That means anyone who wants to build one will have to seek city approval to do so. The council also decided that container homes must include a pitched roof, and be fully sided — using vinyl siding, brick, wood or some other material.

Gianna Ceriotti and Emily Catanzaro pet Paul during a recent visit to Mauhaus Cat Café in Maplewood. (Dec. 7, 2016)
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

There’s a new café in St. Louis, where you can get a cappuccino and your cat fix.

Mauhaus Cat Café  in Maplewood offers coffee and pastries, and houses 10 cats from Tenth Life Cat Rescue available for petting, playing and adoption.

The spot opened in November and already is so popular that if you’re interested in going, you’ll need to book your visit early, co-founder Dana Huth said.

“We’ve had some waits as long as an hour to get in just because it’s a limited space and we don’t want to overcrowd it,” Huth said.

This collage of new RAC Fellows includes, clockwise, Agnes Wilcox, Jess Dugan and Robert McDonald Jr. and Damon Davis.
Provided and file photos

The Regional Arts Commission has chosen its 2016 Artists Fellows, who will each receive $20,000 checks to help with their work.

This is the fourth year RAC has presented the awards. Winning artists do not have to designate a specific project; they may use the money in any way that helps make their work possible.

The new group of 10 features literary, visual and performing artists, including a local performer who wants to spread his love of opera.

St. Louis Youth Poet Laureate Bisa Adero and official Poet Laureate Michael Castro met each other awards ceremony on Oct. 14, 2016 at UrbArts.
Vincent Lang

Two official St. Louis poets don’t always agree on what’s appropriate but they do concur on at least one thing: If you want change, you've got to work for it. For this pair, words are the tools.

Violinist Leila Josefowicz plays with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra in this photo taken earlier this fall.
Dilip Vishwanat

The St. Louis Symphony Orchestra can claim some of the glory in a Grammy Awards nomination announced today.

Violinist Leila Josefowicz was nominated for Best Classical Instrumental Solo for her performance on John Adams' Scheherazade.2,  in a February 2016 recording with the SLSO. Music Director David Robertson conducted the performance.

In these Nov. 28, 2016 photos, Jaimie Hileman, on the left, looks at threatening posts on Facebook. On the right, Amber Winingham and Gus stand on the corner where she said a truck veered toward them.
Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Public Radio

Every day, Amber Winingham walks around her south St. Louis neighborhood with her dog Gus, a Pointer-mix rescue dog who’s about a year old. When Amber and her wife adopted Gus, he was skittish. Now he has a new reason to be on edge.

The day after the Nov. 8 election, Winingham and Gus had just stepped out onto Magnolia Avenue at Louisiana Street, when she saw a man in a truck, barreling toward her.

Elizabeth Herring, who turned 90 on Oct. 26, practives for her trapeze show in this photo taken in October of 2016.
Provided | Elizabeth Herring

As a teenager, Elizabeth Herring of Ladue escaped a life luxury by joining the circus. Tonight, she’ll be back in the ring, celebrating her 90th birthday at a party benefiting St. Louis’ Circus Harmony.

Drummers from the Sunshine Cultural Arts Center perform at the Diversity Awareness Partnership's annual fundraising dinner, held November 9, 2016, the day after the 2016 election.
Provided | Diversity Awareness Partnership

Some St. Louisans who are upset with the outcome of the presidential election are putting their money — and their time — where their mouths are.

Following the victory of Republican president-elect Donald Trump, they’re plan to donate to local social-justice organizations — and volunteer.

The local Diversity Awareness Partnership, for example, noticed an immediate effect when it held  its annual fundraising dinner the night after the election. The education group took in $12,000— twice as much as last year — and signed up 100 first-time volunteers for its Connect program, rather than the usual 10 to 15.

Father-daughter beatboxers Nicole Paris and Ed Cage have fun posing for this photo on November 5, 2016.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Millions have marveled at the beatboxing contests between father-daughter duo Ed Cage and Nicole Paris. They’ve battled it out in numerous YouTube videos and TV appearances including “The Late Late Show” and “Steve Harvey Show.”

But did you know they live in St. Louis? And that their beatboxing (percussion sounds produced mainly by mouth)  is more often collaborative than competitive?

David Robertson, the St. Louis Symphony's musical director, leads the orchestra in this file photo.
Scott Ferguson | Provided

The St. Louis Symphony ended 2016 with the healthiest bottom line in many years.

The good news includes the first balanced cash operating budget this century for the institution, which has a budget of $28.1 million, up from $26.6 million last year. The symphony saw growth in philanthropic support, and increased attendance and ticket sales.

In a news release, St. Louis Symphony President and CEO, Marie-Hélène Bernard praised the symphony's board and the generosity of the St. Louis area. She cited innovative experiences as factors in the orchestra’s achievements.

Cevin Lee poses with his daughter, Alana, and mother,  Phan Ly, at Hong Kong Express on South Grand Boulevard on Nov. 14, 2016.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Cevin Lee of St. Louis never meant to follow in the footsteps of his parents, who’ve run Asian restaurants for most of his life.

But a health crisis led Lee back to the family’s passion for food, and recently, to open his own restaurant, Garden on Grand, 2245 South Grand Blvd. — next door to his parents’ Hong Kong Express. It was something he once swore he’d never do.

Revelers march down Market Street in this file photo from a previous Pride Parade.
Pride St. Louis | Provided

Pride St. Louis will open a new LGBT Community Center in its office building at 3738 Chouteau Ave., near Grand Boulevard.

The community has been without a meeting and education space for nearly three years, after the center on Manchester Avenue in The Grove area shut down.

The local LGBT population needs a physical space in which to gather and share resources, according to Pride St. Louis secretary Landon Brownfield.

“This marginalized community — the LGBT community, and especially LGBT people of color — it’s really important for all of us to be united and to be able to support each other and we think that the Center will facilitate that,” Brownfield said.

Clockwise from upper left, Jay Ashcroft, Josh Hawley, Eric Schmitt and Mike Parson
File photos | Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri voters have given the nod to Republicans running for secretary of state, attorney general, treasurer and lieutenant governor. In congressional races, incumbents held onto their seats.

Actors play the part of other ghosts surrounding the ghost of King Hamlet in this November 3, 2016 photo.
Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Public Radio

As the cast of “Hamlet” carefully rehearsed for opening night, they also got ready to break something: the fourth wall — the theater term for the invisible barrier between actors and audience.

In this rendition by the Rebels and Misfits Productions’ new Immersive Theatre Project, theater-goers are part of the play, opening Saturday at the Barnett on Washington event space in Grand Center.

The interaction starts with the cocktail hour. Don’t be surprised if a character beckons you over or whispers in your ear.

Artist William Burton Jr. talks with Black Rep founder Ron Himes as he works on a mural on the side of the theater company's office building on October 31, 2016.
Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Public Radio

In the mid-1970s, Ron Himes started a St. Louis theater company to tell the stories of African-Americans.

This week, Himes and the Black Rep are marking a milestone — the company’s 40th anniversary — with a fundraising concert, and the launch of a mural project. Both are designed to draw attention to the company, which is emerging from years of turmoil.

10-27-2016: This detail from Edo Rosenblith's mural, "Supper Club," in the Techartista co-working building. shows the artist within his work.
Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Public Radio

You can almost hear the silverware clatter, the glasses clink and the generations clash as Thanksgiving approaches.

St. Louis artist Edo Rosenblith aims to capture the conviviality and chaos of the family dinner table — during holidays or not — in wall-sized mural, “Supper Club.” The 10-by-24 piece towers over work tables at the TechArtista co-working space in the Central West End (see image of full mural, below).

Marjorie Owens is The Prima Donna/Ariadne in Richard Strauss’ “Ariadne on Naxos at Opera Theatre” presented by Opera Theatre St.  Louis during 2016, its 41st season.
Ken Howard | Opera Theatre St. Louis

Opera Theatre of St. Louis is celebrating important gains in financial support and audience growth.

On Friday, the company released numbers for record-breaking fundraising as well as increases in diversity and opera-goers under the age of 50. Luring younger audiences is a crucial component for a successful future, according to general director Timothy O’Leary.

This fall 2016 photo shows the the back of the Smithey's container home with new sod and patio.
Provided | Zack Smithey

A proposed amendment to St. Charles' building codes would make shipping-container homes blend in with more typical houses in the city.

A new home on Elm Street sparked the debate that led to the regulations, introduced at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting. The amendment would require shipping-container homes to be fully sided and have a pitched roof.

Participants in the Good Journey Development Foundation with mentors and instructors
The Good Journey Development Foundation

If you want to come up with a good idea for teen lives, why not ask a teenager?

That’s what a group called The Good Journey Development Foundation does. A group of 13-to-17-year-olds brainstormed a plan for a center offering employment and education tips, along with life-skills training.

Good Journey recently received $300 in seed money for the project from another organization called Better Billion, working to make St. Louis a better place to live.

On Monday morning, St.  Louisans can hear from the Good Journey kids and other Better Billion winners at the St. Louis Board of Aldermen meeting.

Actor Dan Kelly aims his gun, as a cop in "You Try It" by Neil LaBute, part of the "Every 28 Hours" theater collaboration. Actors Joel Beard, Noble Montgomery and Theresa Masters look on.
Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Public Radio

Every day, in St. Louis or elsewhere, a black person shudders in fear after seeing a police officer approaching. Every day, a cop makes a lightning-quick decision that could mean life or death.

A selection from Amy Reidel's "Radar Home: 11.8.13"
Willis Ryder Arnold

We’ve all been touched by cancer, through someone we love or admire, or even our own. Nearly 40 percent of us will be diagnosed with the disease in our lifetime.

Three years ago, St. Louis artist Amy Reidel found out her mother had cancer. Shortly after, first one aunt, then another, got a cancer diagnosis. In the middle of it all, Reidel’s grandmother died.

Visitors to the Contemporary Art Museum are now (Sept. 30, 2016) greeted by warning signs and a wall that went up in front of Kelley Walker's Direct Drive exhibit following criticism and outrage of the work.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 1:40 p.m. Oct. 10 — Chief curator Jeffrey Uslip is leaving St. Louis' Contemporary Art Museum for another institution.

Uslip's departure follows weeks of controversy over CAM's current solo exhibition by white artist Kelley Walker that some found demeaning to African-Americans. Three CAM employees and others had called the museum to remove Uslip shortly after the exhibition, "Direct Drive," opened Sept. 16.

In a news release, the Contemporary did not say where Uslip is going or whether he will remain in St. Louis.

Bruno David in his empty Grand Center gallery
Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Public Radio

After Bruno David opened his gallery in Grand Center 11 years ago, he was a cheerleader for the area’s emergence as a major arts destination. Now Grand Center is so successful that David has to leave.

In late October, David is relocating his namesake gallery to Clayton, to a spot on Forsyth Boulevard near the St. Louis Artists' Guild. The move comes a month after inspectors deemed his Washington Boulevard location unsafe. A regularly scheduled assessment revealed that concrete walls in the back of the building were crumbling.

The Rep, The Muny, Stages St. Louis

Stages St. Louis hopes its current production of “Sister Act” will do what the Whoopi Goldberg character in the movie did for her Catholic convent choir: Shake it up — at least where its audiences are concerned.

The theater company’s patrons are not very diverse. Executive Producer Jack Lane, describes the Stages St. Louis audience this way: “suburban, white.”

Attracting more theater-goers of color, while addressing important social-justice concerns on the front burner in St. Louis right now, is important to St. Louis’ larger theater companies, which include the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, The Muny and Stages. Adding more minority patrons could help with the perennial issue of aging subscribers and donors. But it’s also a way to stay relevant at a time when St. Louis is more riveted than ever on race.

Jason Wilson, CAM board member, and Shanti Parikh, anthropology and African Studies assistant professor
Kelly Moffit | St. Louis Public Radio

An exhibition that opened at the Contemporary Art Museum Sept. 16 continues to draw fire for images that some say are demeaning to African-Americans. The issue has hit home with many St. Louisans including Shanti Parikh, an anthropology and African Studies associate professor, and her husband Jason Wilson, who’s on the board at CAM.

A art piece by Kelley Walker depicting a civil rights-era protest is splattered with melted dark, white, and milk chocolate.
Kelley Walker, Black Star Press | Paula Cooper Gallery

Updated Sept. 29 with a statement from Jeffrey Uslip — The Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis will not remove Kelley Walker’s controversial artwork from its walls. 

Some St. Louis residents called for a boycott of the museum and three of the museum’s black employees called for the removal of four works  — and for chief curator Jeffrey Uslip to resign — on the grounds that Walker’s exhibit demeaned black people. CAM director Lisa Melandri said Monday that removing the work would be censorship.

The Fantasy Food Fare Business Competition winner will be open a restaurant at this location at St. Louis Avenue and North 14th Street in St. Louis' Old North area, seen in this file photo.
Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Public Radio

A St. Louis contest is offering an unusual prize: a nearly fully-equipped restaurant.

Three local organizations are holding a competition in which the winner gets two years of free rent at a restaurant space catty-cornered from Crown Candy Kitchen, on St. Louis Avenue in the Old North area. The prize is a nearly finished 4,464-square-foot space equipped with walk-in freezers, food-prep areas, a ventilation system and even the kitchen sink. The package is worth up to $100,000.

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