Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

Willis Ryder Arnold

Arts and Culture Reporter

Willis Ryder Arnold is an arts and culture reporter for St. Louis Public Radio. He has contributed to NPR affiliates, community stations, and nationally distributed radio programs, as well as Aljazeera America, The New York Times blogs, La Journal de la Photographie, and LIT Magazine. He is a graduate of the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism and a recipient of the Society of Professional Journalist’s award for Radio In-Depth Reporting.

One of 45 images selected for display at the organizations new space.
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

While selecting images for the art show “On the Street Where I Live,” Amanda Verbeck of Pele Prints saw certain themes emerge in artists submissions: impermanence, restlessness, transition and instability.

She wants the show at Webster Arts to explore the places where people live and their relationships with their neighbors.

Protesters stand together on Kingshighway Friday night as police officers in riot gear move toward them.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

A common refrain among protesters who took to the streets of St. Louis in recent weeks has been “I know that we will win!”

Many are confident that the demonstrations that took place following a judge’s decision to find former St. Louis officer Jason Stockley not guilty in the death of Anthony Lamar Smith will help win the fight to stop police from killing black people.

Silver tiles can be scene beneith the Space Shuttle at Kennedy Space Center.
Provided by St. Louis Art Museum

The St. Louis Art Museum opens three different shows this month that use technology as a jumping point to explore politics or history.

Among the exhibits is one by world-renowned German photographer Thomas Struth, whose photographs include of wires, robot parts, and industrial machines. For him, researchers and scientists have managed to bring humanity together even while political crisis after political crisis unfolds.

Treasure Shields Redmond and Karen Yang at Yang's kitchen table.
Provided by Kristen Trudo

The kitchen table can be a place for conversation, nurturing and sustenance. Two St. Louisans are making the intimate space the source for an ambitious podcast.

With “Who Raised You?” Treasure Shields Redmond and Karen (Jia Lian) Yang hope to explore a variety of experiences.

“It’s like a springboard,” Shields Redmond said. “Because people cannot just talk about family … they can talk about rearing influences, the music, food, travel, everything!”

DACA activists rally outside an event organized by U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay at St. Louis University. Nov. 10, 2017
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay said Friday that he won’t support the year-end spending bill necessary to keep the government running unless it includes provisions to protect undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children from deportation.

The remarks came at a Saint Louis University forum organized by Clay to discuss the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which gave 800,000 young immigrants work permits and relief from deportation over the last five years.

Detail from a board that covered windows at Meshuggah Cafe on Delmar Blvd.
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

As he drove down Delmar Boulevard in September, Tony Borchardt was struck by what he saw. Numerous painted boards lined the street in anticipation of more protests over a judge's decision to find former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley not guilty of murder in the death of Anthony Lamar Smith.

Hours earlier, a dean at Fontbonne University asked if Borchardt could organize an exhibit of art related to the event.  Looking around him, Borschart knew he’d found his show. 

The exhibit “Protest and Peace,” at the Fontbonne University Fine Art Gallery, features those painted boards from the Delmar Loop.

This is a portion of the cover of the new "Standing Up for Civil Rights" book for children.
Provided | Missouri History Museum

How do you condense more than 150 years of civil rights history in to a single book — and make it understandable and meaningful to a fifth grader?

St. Louisan Amanda Doyle and co-author Melanie Adams recently attempted to do just that, for their children's book, “Standing Up for Civil Rights in St. Louis.”  It starts in the 1800s with the stories of people who were enslaved, and ends with the 2014 shooting death of Michael Brown and the subsequent protests in Ferguson. But its message looks to the future, asking kids what they can do to change enduring problems facing African-Americans.

Provided by Cinema St. Louis

St. Louis International Film Festival artistic director Chris Clark’s office walls in Grand Center are crowded with film posters. Marketing materials are stacked neatly on the front of his desk. In the final push before the festival’s opening night, Clark is confident that the entries this year deliver on its very clear mission.

“What we look for is the best, newest, freshest stories told from unique perspectives,” he said. 

The Rev. Starsky Wilson former co-chair of the Ferguson Commission
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

After the demonstrations that followed a Ferguson police officer’s fatal shooting of Michael Brown in 2014, the 16-member Ferguson Commission came up with a list of recommendations to address policing and the region’s disparities in jobs, education and policing. But many African-Americans say elected leaders have yet to adopt those proposals —and that has helped fuel a new wave of protests.

In the three weeks that followed a judge’s decision to acquit former St. Louis officer Jason Stockley of first-degree murder in the death of Anthony Lamar Smith, people have again taken to the streets. The Rev. Starsky Wilson and others say the latest protests — including Tuesday night’s shutdown of Interstate 64 — are acts of social disruption aimed at compelling regional leaders to act.

The Dinosaurs album cover features all four bandmates shot in black and white in a line.
Provided by Big Muddy Records

Four decades ago, a young Bob Reuter walked into the T&D Lounge, a south St. Louis dive bar, just as the country band on stage announced the end of its run at the club. Reuter, then in his mid-20s, walked up to the bar and talked the bar manager into offering him the performance slot. But there was just one problem. He didn’t have a band.

So Reuter reached out to three friends and formed the Dinosaurs, which he claimed was the city’s first punk band. It wasn’t, but over the next three months, the band played a weekly four-hour gig at the bar, combining covers with original tunes that sounded too punk for  rock ‘n’ roll and too rock for punk.

Big Muddy Records has refocused attention on the late guitar player, singer and DJ with its release of the band’s first self-titled album. That early music established the brash Reuter as an enduring force in St. Louis’ underground music scene.

Michelle Higgins clarifies protesters' main demand – "stop killing us" – at the People's Town Hall at Christ Church Cathedral in downtown St. Louis. Sept. 28, 2017
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 9:25 p.m. with details from protest — Activists put forth an updated list of demands Thursday, including that new St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson resign. But Thomas Harvey, the head of ArchCity Defenders, told St. Louis Public Radio that the main thing protesters want is simple: “Stop killing us.”

Later in the evening, a group of protesters returned to Washington Avenue, close to where mass arrests were made on Sept. 17, sparking three lawsuits against the city. After protesters surrounded a police car for a few minutes, yelling at the officers inside, a line of police in riot gear showed up. The group eventually moved on, and the protest ended after about two hours, with no arrests.

St. Louis Police face off with protesters on September 15, 2017, the day a judge acquitted Jason Stockley of first-degree murder in the 2011 shooting death of Anthony Lamar Smith.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Police departments are standing by their officers’ response to protesters after days of civil disobedience throughout the St. Louis region.

Although three lawsuits have been filed against the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, officials are confident the majority of their officers complied with the department's use-of-force policy, which establishes guidelines, though one area law professor argues those guidelines are up for interpretation.

St. Louis County police arrested at least 22 people Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017, during a protest at the Galleria mall.
Vincent Lang | St. Louis American

Updated at 11:15 p.m. Sept. 23, with additional details — The continuing protests over a judge’s decision to acquit former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley of murder returned to the Galleria mall on Saturday, where police ended the demonstration and made 22 arrests.

Many in St. Louis are outraged that St. Louis Circuit Judge Timothy Wilson found Stockley, who is white, not guilty in the death of Anthony Lamar Smith, who was black. Protesters marched through the mall to declare that there would be no business as usual until the St. Louis region reformed its criminal justice system.

Protesters square off with police officers at the gates of Busch Stadium Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017 during a concert. They were protesting the acquittal of a former St. Louis police officer on murder charges.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 9:40 p.m. with additional details — Hundreds of “white allies” marched in the streets downtown on Thursday. Their aim was to demonstrate broad support for the protest movement sparked by a judge’s decision to acquit a former police officer of murder.

For more about 90 minutes, a crowd of predominantly white demonstrators expressed solidarity with African-Americans. For the past week, many have protested St. Louis Circuit Judge Timothy Wilson’s decision to find Jason Stockley, who is white, not guilty of murder in the 2011 death of Anthony Lamar Smith, a black man.

Protesters faced off with police Friday afternoon just hours after ex-St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley was found not guilty in the 2011 shooting death of Anthony Lamar Smith.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

 

Originally published on September 20, 2017. Updated with audio from Don Marsh's discussion with Jeffrey Mittman on "St. Louis on the Air."

This past week, hundreds of people took to the streets to express outrage at a judge’s decision to find former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley not guilty of first-degree murder in the 2011 death of Anthony Lamar Smith.

The protests largely have been peaceful. But police have made numerous arrests since the demonstrations began. On Sunday alone, police made 123 arrests — largely on a charge of failure to disperse. They also charged a few people with the destruction of property or assault. 

A demonstrator waves a flag from a minivan during protests Sunday evening over the acquittal of former St. Louis cop Jason Stockey. A third day of protests started peacefully before a smaller group smashed windows downtown.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 3:25 p.m. Sept. 18 with release of Post-Dispatch reporter — More than 80 people were arrested Sunday night, St. Louis police said, long after the official — and peaceful — protests ended. The last group of people to be arrested downtown were boxed in by police and sprayed with a chemical agent, a livestream showed, and a St. Louis Post-Dispatch staffer tweeted that one of their reporters was among them. A Post-Dispatch editor this morning announced that reporter Mike Faulk has been released.

Sept. 11, 2017 photo. Prison Performing Arts Sescond Acts Ensemble members Robert Morgan (left) and Lyn O'Brien are buddies as well as fellow actors.
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis’ Prison Performing Arts serves 1,000 inmates every year, some as actors, others as audience members. But leaving prison doesn’t have to mean saying goodbye to the program.

Through its Second Acts Ensemble alumni troupe, PPA provides a theatrical outlet on the outside for those who honed their acting skills behind bars.

In our latest Cut & Paste podcast, we talk with Robert Morgan and Lyn O’Brien, two Second Acts members, about how PPA and recently deceased founder Agnes Wilcox changed their lives.

Brit Daniels of Spoon played at LouFest. Sept. 9, 2017
Eli Chen | St. Louis Public Radio

LouFest 2017 reached another set of milestones, selling out Saturday.

Music Record Shop handled sales of the performers' recordings and provided space for festival-goers to meet artists.

The festival also held its first concurrent art exhibition, overseen by TechArtista. It featured wooden triangle constructions to be repurposed after the festival. Check out our photos of LouFest highlights.

Chuck Berry
Bill Greenblatt | UPI | file photo

The annual LouFest music festival will be anchored in part this year by a celebration of St. Louis rock 'n' roll legend Chuck Berry.

A tribute Saturday, titled “Hail! Hail! Chuck Berry!” will feature musicians from national acts The Roots, Spoon, Huey Lewis, and St. Louis’s own Pokey LaFarge, Bryan Greenberg and Chris Chew. Berry’s grandsons Charles Berry III and Jahi Eskridge also will share the stage. The event will take place on the main Bud Light Stage from 8 to 9 p.m., before headliner Snoop Dogg performs.

This pink poster with a photo and scribbled rememberances was hung on the door to the apartment building where Kenneth "Kiwi" Herring was shot during police investigation of reported stabbing.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

As the sun set over the Transgender Memorial Garden in the Tower Grove neighborhood late last month, members of St. Louis’ transgender community, supporters and advocates expressed frustration, sadness and a strong will to resist as they gathered to mourn the death of Kenneth “Kiwi” Herring, a black transgender woman.

Storyteller Bobby Norfolk once worked as a park ranger at The Arch. The lack of represenation of York in the Museum of Westward Expansion helped inspire his current performance.
File photo | Provided | Bobby Norfolk

Who were the leaders of the Lewis and Clark Expedition across the Western United States? The obvious answer is Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. But many likely don't know that an enslaved African played a crucial third role.

Lewis and Clark are famous for undertaking the “Corps of Discovery” in the early 1800s. But another man, York, typically only receives a footnote in history books.

St. Louis storyteller Bobby Norfolk wants the change that. In our latest Cut & Paste arts and culture podcast, we talk with Norfolk, whose Sept. 15 storytelling event at The Link Auditorium in the Central West End focuses on York’s experience, which included adventure, hardship and terrible mistreatment.

People gather at the Transgender Memorial Garden to honor Kenneth "Kiwi" Herring.
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 5:35 p.m. with information on charges against the driver — The St. Louis Circuit Attorney's Office has issued warrants against a St. Louis man who drove his car into a group of people protesting the fatal police shooting of a transgender woman.

Prosecutors filed warrants against Mark Colao for resisting arrest/detention/stop by fleeing, leaving the scene of an accident and operating a motor vehicle in a careless and imprudent manner.

Crevonda Nance, Herring's sister-in-law, is supported by community activists – including Gina Torres, to the left of her, whose son was killed by police in June. Nance drove to St. Louis from Mississippi after finding out Herring was killed by police.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 5:24 p.m. — Members of the LGBTQ community, activists and advocates are outraged that police shot and killed a transgender black woman this week.

Frustrated by the shooting — and that police identified Kenneth “Kiwi” Herring as a man — about 40 people gathered outside the building in which Herring was shot Tuesday for a vigil and to express dissatisfaction with a police force they said was disrespectful and too quick to shoot.

July 27 photo: Mark Kelley helps cast members of "In the Heights" stage a fight while Christina Rios looks on from behind him.
Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Public Radio

This has been a super-crazy week for St. Louis theater professional and mom Christina Rios.

One of her three younger children started kindergarten. Her teenager entered her junior year of high school. And her theater company R-S Theatrics geared up to open its largest-ever production: “In the Heights.”

People line the sides of West Florissant during a protest held to marke the one year anniversary of Michael Brown's death.
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

After a Ferguson police officer fatally shot Michael Brown Jr., local artist Damon Davis hit the streets. What he saw there conflicted with TV news reports and social media posts he’d seen that emphasized clashes between protesters and police.

“It was absolutely nothing like what was being portrayed by the media,” Davis said.

Instead of clashes with police, he noticed people exercising their first amendment rights. So when budding filmmaker Sabaah Folayan contacted Davis about collaborating on a documentary about the protests, he felt compelled to work with her. That documentary, “Whose Streets?” will be released locally and across the nation tonight. 

Peter Seay and his child
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

 

 

A group of St. Louis doctors is working to make sure transgender kids get the medical care they need.

When the Washington University and St. Louis Children’s Hospital Transgender Center of Excellence opens today, it will be the first of its kind in a 250-mile radius. The clinic aims to provide transgender children with comprehensive health care including pediatric medicine, endocrinology, and mental health counseling.

Matthew Kerns poses for a portrait with his late father's mounted deer head. The head, of the first deer his father killed, is now his prized possession. July 2017.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Who among us hasn’t grappled with building a relationship with our parents?

Matthew Kerns, director of the St. Lou Fringe festival of performing arts, struggled to bond with a father who was very different from him. Kerns was a gay theater kid; his dad was a stereotypically “manly” man who drove a truck and hunted deer.

Protesters push and lift one of the fences surrounding the St. Louis Medium Security Institution. July 21, 2017
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated July 24 at 2:15 p.m. information on arrests — Amid continued protests during this week's heat wave, St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson announced Saturday that the city is ordering portable air conditioning units to be installed "as soon as possible" at the Medium Security Institution. Inside the facility, which is also known as the Workhouse, many inmates are live in quarters without air conditioning as temperatures soar above 100 degrees. 

Environmental Protection Agency workers met with city health officials at the Clemens House before learning they did not have authorization to test the site for asbestos.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 5:40 p.m. Wednesday with comments from Mayor Lyda Krewson – The day after a recent four-alarm fire engulfed the historic Clemens House on Cass Avenue, neighbors got together with brooms and shovels to start cleaning up the debris left scattered across their yards.

“We started talking and started looking and then we decided — wait a minute, we don’t know what we’re sweeping up here,” said Larry Chapman, a retired carpenter who lives on Helen Street.

Still from an earlier iteration of Rewind depicts Klu Klux Klan robes in Kente cloth, camoflage, and other fabrics as an attempt to reclaim rascist iconography.
Provided by Ryan Stevenson

When Paul Rucker received a call inviting him to bring his work confronting racism and white supremacy in United States to a Ferguson gallery, he knew he had to make the trip.

Rucker, of Baltimore, is a Guggenheim Fellow and has shown the work throughout the country. But he saw the opportunity to show his work in Ferguson as a way to address the continuing presence of racism.

Pages