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.

Kristin Cassidy spent weeks getting this set ready for the encore production of Remnant.
Provided | John Lamb

You can often find St. Louis artist and set designer Kristin Cassidy on the banks of the Mississippi River, picking up stones, metal and even animal bones.

An ancient stature lies half exposed from the ocean bed, it's face and shoulders exposed to water.
Provided by St. Louis Art Museum

Sixteen-foot sculptures depicting humans and gods will live among the St. Louis Art Museum’s collection this spring.

Museum officials are calling it “the most significant exhibition of ancient Egyptian art undertaking in St. Louis in more than 50 years.” The show, titled “Sunken Cities: Egypt’s Lost Worlds,” will feature massive sculptures and antiquities from ancient cities Thonis-Heracleion and Canopus. 

William Gass teaches a class at Washington University in 1984
Herb Weitman | Washington University

Updated Dec.12 — On Tuesday's St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh discussed the life and legacy of noted author and Washington University professor William Gass.

Joining him for the discussion were Lorin Cuoco, co-founder and former associate director of the International Writers Center at Washington University, Stephen Schenkenberg, creator and curator of the website Reading William Gass and author and publisher of "The Ears Mouth Must Move: Essential Interviews of William H. Gass" and William Danforth, chancellor emeritus and member of the Board of Trustees at Washington University.

Gass died on Dec. 6 at his home in St. Louis. He was 93. The former Washington University professor was known for his contributions to fiction, criticism and philosophy. 

Provided by The May Day Orchestra

A Missouri musician and his band are making music that challenges listeners to confront their own complicity in exploitative labor practices and foreign policy while celebrating those who would change things for the better.

Tim Rakel launched The May Day Orchestra in 2008. The band creates self-described folk operas that aim to honor histories of social change. This month, the band returns with its third album, “Wake,” which melds together the story of a 17th century sultan turned pirate in what is now Kenya and Rakel’s knowledge and experience in modern-day Kenya .

People gather inside a giant inflatable bubble to listen to presentations about art
Provided by Gavin Kroeber

As the sun sets, several people circle around giant plastic disk laid out behind the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts. The disk inflates and attendees are invited to walk back and forth as it grows into a massive bubble.

Adults giggle as performers run around the inflated orb before inviting people inside for an installment of “At the Edge of Everything Else,” a creative soiree hosted by artist and organizer Gavin Kroeber. It’s part of a project to highlight art rooted in the urban fabric of St. Louis.

The word Monaco is laid out across a photo of a large 1-story brick and glass building.
Provided by Monaco

Fourteen St. Louis artists are opening a gallery that will put them directly in touch with art buyers. The space will be run by the artists and will function somewhat like a co-op.

But instead of seeking non-profit status as artist run spaces  typically do, Monaco will be a commercial gallery. Exhibiting artists keep 100 percent of their proceeds. 

Several suits made of different fabric types, including plastic and cloth, hang over individual florescent lights.
Provided by Michael DeFilippo

As you walk down the street, you might not realize that you’re on a giant rock hurtling through the galaxy at amazing speeds. That is to say, you’re standing in space. An show at Projects+Gallery, 4733 McPherson Ave., could help viewers confront this reality.

“Where you’re standing right now, you are not separated from outer space,” artist Christine Corday, said with a laugh. “You are absolutely positively in outer space.”

Two blue faces framed by jagged wood pieces rest on a bed of brick laid across a pedistal.
Provided by St. Louis Lambert International Airport

Holiday travelers will have a chance to see new art at the St. Louis Lambert International Airport this week.

At a time when many likely view the city as divided divided along political, economic and social lines, the exhibit in Terminal 1 aims to draw attention to the camaraderie and collaborative spirit that dominate the city’s art scene.

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 Saint 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.

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