Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Public Radio

Nancy Fowler

Arts and Culture Reporter

Nancy is a veteran journalist whose career spans television, radio, print and online media. Her passions include the arts and social justice, and she particularly delights in the stories of people living and working in that intersection.

She’s an avid reader of memoir and a big fan of all true, compelling stories, which is why she loves public radio.

Nancy 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

A file photo of Augusten Burroughs accompanies this image of the cover of his new book, "Lust and Wonder."
Christopher Schelling

From the beginning of his writing career, Augusten Burroughs was determined to be honest, even if writing about his often messy life would be a daunting process.

In his memoir “Running with Scissors,” and his later works, Burroughs has engaged in self-reflection, an approach that has won him a loyal following and inspired a hit movie. He continues that process in his latest book, “Lust and Wonder.”

“That’s really the key: to understand what happened to you, what your role in it was,” said Burroughs, who speaks tonight at the Schlafly Branch of the St. Louis Public Library. “Just becoming more and more and more truthful with yourself.”

This is the marketing image for "The Boys in the Band," released in 1970. It is one of two classic films to be shown in this year's QFest.
Provided | Cinema St. Louis

When St. Louis' QFest of films officially launched, people in the LGBTQ community were barred from institutions ranging from the military service to marriage.

A decade later, LGBTQ citizens can both serve and marry.  The 10th annual festival, which opens March 29, includes a dozen films that reflect a restricted past and progressive present.

This file photo is a image from The Rep's production of "Follies," which kicked off its 50th season.
Provided | The Rep

Tales based on the Bard and a Stephen Sondheim musical about the glory days of show business were the top winners at the 2017 St. Louis Theater Circle Awards.

The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis took home nine awards for work associated with the company, seven of them for the musical “Follies," including outstanding production of a musical and outstanding director. The wins topped off a year of celebrating the company's 50th season.

Kevin Willmann of Farmhaus, left, and Kevin Nashan of Sidney Street, seen in these file photos, are James Beard Award finalists for the second year in row
Provided | Sauce Magazine

For the second year in a row, two St. Louis chefs with the same first name are finalists for an award from the James Beard Foundation. Kevin Nashan of Sidney Street Café, 2000 Sidney St., and Kevin Willmann of Farmhaus, 3257 Ivanhoe Ave., are each nominated in the category of “Best Chef: Midwest.”  

Last year, Minneapolis chef Paul Berglund took home the award but at the time, Nashan said he was “just grateful to be on the bus.”

A crowd of artists had many questions for St. Louis' mayoral candidates at this February 27 forum.
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

When St. Louis’ next mayor takes office, local artists will be waiting.

They’ve got a list of things they want the mayor — likely Lyda Krewson — to do in support of the arts. They presented their ideas to mayoral candidates in a recent forum presented by Citizen Artist St. Louis. Their goals include a living wage, more artists at the table when economic development plans are decided and recognition of artists’ economic contributions.

Shannon Greir, seated in this file photo, took classes at St. Louis' Improv Shop to work her way into the theater world and produce her play, "Fat."
Provided | Shannon Greier

Shannon Geier knows what it’s like to be rejected because of the way she looks. For years, she struggled to lose weight, and was often afraid of how people would react to her.

“I felt like the love I got was conditional, based on my size,” Geier said. “[I’ve been] on blind dates and having the guy see me and turn around and run from the restaurant.”

Today, Geier is at a weight she considers healthy. Now a playwright, she hasn’t forgotten the pain of rejection, but has found a way to talk about it in "Fat," a new play on stage in St. Louis that deals with weight and body image.

Choreographer Stephanie Martinez worked with Big Muddy Dance Company to create a piece inspired by Chilean poet Gabriela Mistral, who died in 1957.
Provided | Dance St. Louis

A 20th century Chilean poet who wanted her daughter to be more than just a princess is the inspiration for a dance performance on stage in St. Louis this weekend at the Touhill.

The dance that is rooted in the poem is called “Destino, Roto.” It’s one of three pieces in Dance St. Louis’ “Women Who Inspire,”  the name of the organization’s fifth annual New Dance Horizons presentation.

Members of the Charis women's chorus perform at a recent event, in this file photo.
Provided | Charis

In the early 1990s, same-sex relations were illegal, the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy helped keep closet doors sealed shut, and marriage equality for same-sex couples was unthinkable.

This collage of file photos shows the "Words for Love" book cover and author Emily Robbins.
Collage images provided by Riverhead Books

Author Emily Robbins was a Washington University grad student in August 2013 when she saw St. Louisans protesting in University City against U.S. plans to attack Syria. She was profoundly moved by the local activists and incorporated those feelings into the book she was writing, called “A Word for Love.”

On Wednesday night, Robbins will appear at Left Banks Books to sign copies, and speak about the book and its St. Louis roots.

“There is a very active community here,” Robbins said. “That was something I really drew on and felt proud of in St. Louis.”

Alexis J. Roston, seen in this file photo, has performed "Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill" in Chicago and Milwaukee.
Provided | Milwaukee Rep

The story of a jazz a singer whose signature song drew attention to the brutal treatment of African-Americans will be on stage in St. Louis for the next two weeks.

Max and Louie Productions presents “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill,” a drama about the iconic Billie Holiday. The setting is a fictional performance that takes place four months before her death.

The production includes a dozen of Holiday’s songs and a running commentary in which she looks back on her life of love, loss, addiction and struggle with racism.

Elizabeth Vega is on the front porch of Art House in this February 6, 2017 photo, talking about a child's chalk drawing on the bricks.
Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis artist and activist Elizabeth Vega spends a lot of time in her home.

It’s a place in north St. Louis known as Art House, that she bought in 2015. There, she provides space for sign-making and other activities related to protest actions. She also works with local children to create kites, collages and other art to help them process their feelings. Recently, she spent five days and nights at Art House without leaving. An ankle monitoring device kept her tethered to her home.

Jacqueline Thompson plays the role of Esther in New Jewish Theatre's "Intimate Apparel."  She appears in this file photo.
Provided | Eric Woolsey

A play by New Jewish Theatre looks at the constraints placed on women in the early 1900s: the pressure to marry early, within their race.

In much of the United States, interracial marriage would be illegal for another 60 years. Miscegenation laws forbade blacks and whites from joining in wedlock until 1967.

But even as “Intimate Apparel” illustrates that taboo, it helps the theater company break out of its own limitations, given its history of largely white casts.  Four of the six characters in this play, produced by the Black Rep in 2005, are African-American. It’s the kind of opportunity New Jewish artistic director Kathleen Sitzer continually seeks.

This artist's rendering shows a renovated studio space at COCA.
Provided | COCA

Hammering and drilling will soon join the chorus of tap dancing and singing at the COCA arts center in University City.

The institution will launch an expansion and renovation in early 2018. It includes a 450-seat theater, more than 8,000 square feet of studio space, a community area and a 200-car parking garage. COCA expects to complete the work in late 2019.

This file photo of the painting "Exasperation" by local artist Fabio Rodriguez depicts people in his home of the Domincan Republic desperate for essentials like food and water. It was cut from an art exhibition for being potentially disturbing.
Provided | Fabio Rodriguez

St. Louis-area artist Fabio Rodriguez was devastated when a very personal piece of his work was removed from an exhibition. But did that action rise to the level of censorship?

Joann Shew, her granddaughter Izzy Shew and daughter-in-law Jessica Shew pose as they wait for the bus for Washington, D.C. on January 21st.
Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Public Radio

More than 150 St. Louisans traveled and slept on charter buses to join the Women’s March on Washington over the weekend.

For many, the trip was about reinvigorating family ties as well as rallying for social justice.

Riverview Gardens High band director Harvey Lockhart leads a class through practice. (Jan. 17, 2017)
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Music is vitally important to Riverview Gardens High School band director Harvey Lockhart. But his students' well-being ranks even higher.

During the past five years, Lockhart has made musicians out of dozens of students, changing the way they see themselves and their futures.

For his efforts, The Arts and Education Council of Greater St. Louis will honor Lockhart Monday night as art educator of the year, in a ceremony at the Chase Park Plaza.

"The Way," by Alexander Liberman, seen in this file photo, is a made of steel oil tanks. While modern, it nods to many facets of ancient architecture.
Provided | Kevin J. Miyazaki

St. Louis sculpture fans can now have a hand in taking care of public art.

Laumeier Sculpture Park in Sunset Hills is asking individuals and groups to help maintain and preserve its displays with a new adoption program. Adoptions start at $25 a year.

At the lower level, contributors get their names on Laumeier’s website and an on-site digital wall. For $50, they receive an adoption paper and a color photo of their sculpture. At the top level of $500, they get a private tour of the park with the park’s executive director. All donations are tax-deductible.

Members of St. Louis' Improv Shop -- Tyler Crandall, Andrew Langerak, Erinne Haberl, Daniel Westheimer, Asia Thomas, Sue Koppel -- perform on stage in this file photo.
Provided | Improv Shop

We’ve all had that dream. You know, the one where you’re naked on stage and the audience is laughing.

For an improv performer, that’s no nightmare; that’s life. OK, they're wearing clothes but they're emotionally naked, working without a script, responding off the cuff to random cues from the audience and their co-performers.

Applicant Yashica McKinney talks with Lynette Watson with the St. Louis Small Business Development Center on Jan. 4, 2017, at the restaurant contest event. The Parks sign is from a former business in the building, according to a competition co-sponsor.
File | Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Public Radio

A contest offering a free restaurant space catty-cornered from Crown Candy Kitchen on St. Louis Avenue is hitting its stride.

More than 100 people have contacted organizers about the Fantasy Food Fare Business Competition. Today, in the first of two informational meetings, a half-dozen toured the 4,000-square-foot space at 2720 N. 14th Street.

Lynette Watson of the St. Louis Small Business Development Center hopes a new eating establishment will lead to other opportunities in the area.

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.

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