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.


Local Venues
9:52 pm
Thu November 20, 2014

Surviving The Nightlife — How Music Venues Stay Afloat in St. Louis

Kim Massie Live at The Beale on Broadway, Nov. 19, 2014
Credit Willis Ryder Arnold/St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis is a music town. Luminaries like Chuck Berry and Tina Turner honed their craft here before hitting international stages. For music to thrive it needs a home, it needs live venues. This month, local venue the Gramophone announced it was closing as a concert space and reopening this spring as a bar. Although they’ll still occasionally have live acts, the venue’s shift is away from high-energy music and toward a relaxed food and drink emphasis.

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Day of Remembrance
11:20 am
Thu November 20, 2014

Reflection In The Face Of Violence Against Transgender Individuals

Dan Stewart, transgender University of Missouri St. Louis student
Credit August Jennewein/Courtesy of UMSL / UMSL

Today some St. Louisans take pause to remember transgender lives lost to violence throughout the country.

“It’s a great opportunity for those that identify as transgender, those that are allies, those that want to be supportive and are learning how to recognize this day for what it really is - in the sense that to identify as transgender is dangerous in this world,” said 25-year-old Dan Stewart, a transgender UMSL graduate student.

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6:07 pm
Sun November 16, 2014

Love And Desperation: Two Musicians Respond To Ferguson

Credit Courtesy of the Artist

Two leaders in the St. Louis music community released Ferguson-related songs this month. Tef Poe’s War Cry levels harsh criticism at political leaders while Brian Owens' Love, Love addresses the hope for community understanding.

Sample Lyrics:

Tef Poe’s War Cry: Ferguson is Barack Obama’s Katrina.

Brian Owens' Love, Love: We need love love love - let's talk about it - love is all we need.

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Staff Picks
10:35 pm
Thu November 13, 2014

15 Mini Reviews For The St. Louis International Film Festival

Credit website

Updated 5:30 p.m. Nov. 14 with new review.

The St. Louis International Film Festival is underway with enough options to ensure that almost everyone can find something of interest.

Some of us in the newsroom of St. Louis Public Radio checked out the list of offerings and asked to review films that caught our interest. As you check out our mini reviews, you should know that several of the movies we requested were not available and that some of us asked for more than time permitted. These are just a taste of what is available.

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Music Technology
10:12 pm
Wed November 12, 2014

The Return Of The Cassette Tape — This Time Also As Work Of Art

Undercurrent 9 tapes featuring Frances With Wolves, Hylidae, Contrails and spoken word by Brett Underwood at Undercurrent 10 event.
Credit Willis Ryder Arnold/St. Louis Public Radio

Ask someone younger than 10 if he's ever heard a cassette and you may be met with a blank stare. Before CDs or the ubiquitous MP3, tapes were the go-to method for album releases. Major record labels stopped releasing cassettes years ago, but St. Louis is home to a dedicated tape community. Musicians turn to tape for artistic, creative and practical reasons.

An Affordable Method

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Kranzberg Arts Center
1:51 pm
Fri November 7, 2014

Voodoo, Christianity And Twitter Fuse In New Art Show

Musician, curator, and artist Damon Davis
Credit Jen Everett/Courtesy of the Artist

Voodoo and Twitter, Christianity and Facebook. The new visual art exhibit ALTrs draws inspiration from them all.

Damon Davis, participating artist, musician and curator, said he hopes to highlight the relationship between daily rituals and the tradition of grand ritual in religious practices.

“The basic idea is blending technology and social media, things of that nature, all the rituals we have now with older, for lack of a better word, archaic rituals,” said Davis.

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11:37 am
Fri November 7, 2014

Dance Theatre Of Harlem Performs, Teaches In St. Louis

Normandy High School students learn ballet from Dance Theatre of Harlem's teaching artists Theara Ward.
Credit Willis Ryder Arnold / St. Louis Public Radio

This weekend, the Dance Theatre of Harlem performs as part of the Dance St. Louis fall season. Yet the company is here to teach as well as perform. Since Oct. 27, teaching artist Theara Ward has been teaching ballet and diaspora history at Normandy High.

“The main thing is for young people to understand history, how they connect to history and how history connects to them, their culture, their community, but also how the arts can be used as a powerful tool to express yourself,” Ward said. 

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6:13 pm
Tue November 4, 2014

St. Louis Art Museum Receives $50 Million Gift From Prominent Local Family

St. Louis Art Museum
Credit Flickr | ChrisYunker

Three years after her death, Edith Spink, Ladue's longest serving mayor, continues to shape the area's culture.

Tuesday the St. Louis Art Museum announced a bequest of 225 artworks from her and her husband, Charles Claude Johnson Spink, the onetime publisher of the national sports paper "The Sporting News."

The gift, which is valued at more than $50 million, includes work by famed American painters Norman Rockwell and Andrew Wyeth as well as Chinese and Japanese jade, bronze and porcelain pieces valued at more than $5 million apiece. 

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St. Louis Art Museum
11:13 pm
Sun November 2, 2014

Costume and Performance with Nick Cave's Soundsuits

Nick Cave's Soundsuits are assembled from objects found throughout the country
Credit Willis Arnold/St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri-born artist Nick Cave's Soundsuits are known for vibrant colors and incorporating found objects as costume. The suits straddle the line between dance costume and soft sculpture. This weekend the St. Louis Art Museum opens Currents 109: Nick Cave, a multimedia solo show presenting Soundsuits, video, and additional work. Cave spoke with St. Louis Public Radio's Willis Ryder Arnold about his work as social commentary and creative influences.

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Local Bands
11:09 pm
Wed October 29, 2014

Police Make Progress In String Of Musician-Related Thefts

This Fender mmp is just an example of the type of thing thieves have targeted.
Credit floss | sxc.hu

In the last six months thieves targeting touring musicians have hit St. Louis. At least eight bands' touring vans have been robbed since May 2014. Some musicians like rapper Spose have vowed to avoid the city because of the thefts. Police Captain Daniel Howard, of the Fourth District, where many of the thefts took place, said authorities are making progress and some equipment  has been recovered.

“There’s a ringleader of a group of thieves that we have our eyes on, and we are working with a prosecutor to make charges,” Howard said.

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