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.

Protesters push and lift one of the fences surrounding the St. Louis Medium Security Institution. (July 22, 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.

File: The Knuckles met and became friends before their musical collaboration began.
File photo | Provided | The Knuckles

Don’t put Rockwell Knuckles and Aloha Micheaux in a box.

He’s known as a rapper and she’s more of a pop singer, who made it to the finals in “American Idol” in 2005. But the St. Louis performers shun labels in their collaboration known as The Knuckles.

Poster detail created for the event has the title of event.
Provided by Andrew Gibson

Music played an important role in the civil rights movement that helped transform the nation. Songs such as Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come” and “We Shall Not Be Moved” by Mavis Staples inspired black people to push for change — and moved the hearts of others.

A pile of bricks sits in the left hand corner of the image while behind it rest pallets of brick and a building.
Michael Thomas / Pulitzer Arts Foundation

What would you do with $2,500 and three pallet loads of brick? Four St. Louis art groups and collaborators will soon have an answer in the next phase of a year-long public art project overseen by the Pulitzer Arts Foundation and the Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Art.

Confetti hangs in an open window reminiscent of a snowglobe in Bunny Burson's sculpture
Bruno David Gallery

Early on election night last November, artist Bunny Burson looked to New York City’s Javits Center ceiling, expecting confetti to fall to celebrate Hillary Clinton becoming the nation's first woman president. But the confetti never fell.

Crushed by Clinton’s loss to President Donald Trump, Burson began an almost two-week journey to track down the confetti, which she thought would make great material for artwork.

An artist or advocate stands before a wall of sticky notes at RAC in 2014 artists and advocates gathered at RAC to discuss the roll of the artist in social justice movements following the shooting death of Michael Brown Jr.
File Photo | Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

People in the St. Louis region will soon have a chance to let arts advocates and funders know how to better connect with the public.

Last week, the Regional Arts Commission, or RAC, launched an initiative to bridge the gap between area residents and the arts community. 

“It’s really more about just being more aligned with what is relevant for the community today and not just based on the way we did business more than 30 years ago,” RAC Executive Director Felicia Shaw said.

Nika Marble is an artist, musician and head bartender at Elaia and Olio. (June 23, 2017)
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Nika Marble’s artistic toolbox holds an eclectic mix: A shot of tonic, a staccato note and a sharp pair of scissors.

Each tool is in service of one of her artistic endeavors: music, mixology and collage making. But as she dons one hat after another, how does Marble define herself? In this reboot of our Cut & Paste podcast, we talk with Marble about an identity crisis that plagues many creative people.

“Am I am I an artist who waits tables? Or am I a waiter who occasionally makes art?” Marble said. “This is a thing that has worried myself and a lot of my friends in their lives.”

Patrons sit on Iowa Street outside Yaquis on Cherokee.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

On April 30, Francis Rodriguez, the owner of Yaquis on Cherokee, was drawn to his apartment window by a commotion outside on Cherokee Street. Rodriguez lives above the pizza parlor and, as shots rang out, he and his wife dropped to the floor. After a pause, he ran downstairs to check on the restaurant, where people didn’t immediately recognize the sound of gunfire.

“They're still playing music in here. They didn't hear the shots upstairs that are right outside the door,” he said. “But just as I open up the back door from our apartment and hear people start raising the alarm in here [Yaquis] and so people started screaming and falling onto the floor.”

Jazz St. Louis Executive Director Gene Dobbs Bradford
File photo | Dennis C. Owsley

The Arts and Education Council of Greater St. Louis will honor two performing arts advocates with lifetime achievement awards during the 2018 St. Louis Arts Awards.

A 100-foot sculpture  made from fibers and plastic sheets hangs from the ceiling at St. Louis Lambert International Airport over the heads of Southwest Airlines passengers waiting to pass through security.
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

Amid the hustle and bustle of morning rush at St. Louis Lambert International Airport, a man in a red baseball hat, blue sportswear shirt, and flip flops chats with a woman in jeans and T-shirt and an adolescent girl in tie-dye.

Much of their exchange is lost to the cacophony of people asking agents for directions, complaining to airport workers about the long security line and making bland observations about arrivals and departures. Yet one comment slips through the noise.

“Wow, it looks like a lake,” the man said, nodding up at the new sculpture hanging from the ceiling, before turning to head through the security checkpoint.

Charles Berry, Jr. stands behind a podium with a giant image of Chuck Berry behind.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

For more than 40 years, bassist Jim Marsala toured with Chuck Berry. They played together in the Kremlin in Moscow, on the beaches of Rio de Janeiro, and at Berry’s regular Duck Room show at Blueberry Hill in the Loop.

In the early 2000s, Berry’s son Charles Berry Jr. joined the band. Berry then began music, writing piano lines, lyrics and guitar parts for what would be his final work — tapping Marsala and his son on guitar.

Those recordings will be released today in the rock icon’s final album, “CHUCK.” The younger Berry says it’s a classic, and shows that late in life his father remained a gifted songwriter with a knack for making people dance.

Redoubled No. 3 by Jen Everett dipicts a layerd photo of the side of a black man's face that has been scarred.
Provided by Projects+Gallery

Sculptor Kahlil Irving has been making art for more than 10 years and his reputation as a critical thinker and talented sculptor continues to grow. But all too often, he says, people primarily think of him and other black artists in St. Louis in terms of their race. And Irving’s sick of it.

stacks of library books
faungg | Flickr

Don't count on using an interlibrary loan service to get a book from outside your town or county in the future. Services like interlibrary loan may be at risk in the upcoming round of federal budget cuts.

The Trump administration’s proposed budget, released this week, would eliminate funding to the Institute of Library and Museum Sciences, a federal agency that provides significant funding to Missouri’s state, local, and county library systems.

A young woman stands before Edo Rosenblith's painting which is three black and white triangle panels linked to form a large triangle.
Provided by Daniel Burnett

Most people probably don’t think artists develop their exhibits by meeting for coffee, walking through the park, and talking. But that’s exactly how the Daniel Burnett-curated show, “Anchors,” came together. Burnett said his initial approach wasn’t about finding the biggest names in St. Louis, but finding out how artists might fit together to represent the visual art community.

A still from student film "Grieve" depicts a solemn young black man's face against a brick wall.
Provided by Washington University

As Washington University student Sagar Brahmbhatt went through training in the school’s Uncle Joe’s Peer Counseling program, he was struck by the value of a fundamental emotion: grief.  Brahmbhatt learned that internalizing emotional pain without an outlet can be harmful and that grieving is healthy. 

“Once you do accept grief, although you do feel sad, you’re more at peace with it” he said.  “And eventually, once you go through the grieving process, you may get better.”

St. Louis Poet Laureate Michael Castro delivers a poem before the ceremonial swearing-in of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen.
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated with information from the Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed's office — The St. Louis poet laureate position is vacant following the resignation of Michael Castro over the city's failure to pick his successor.

Castro, the city's first poet laureate, stepped down Thursday, noting that it was unfair for him to remain in the position when another poet had been named to succeed him.  In December, a committee recommended Jane Ellen Ibur take up the mantle.

But that choice was met with pushback by some members of the public, and Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed has not moved forward on the recommendation.

Bassist Andrea Morse, drummer Vijay Roy and guitarist Dave Anderson debut improvisational music at the new performance series, The Lab
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

Dave Anderson’s small basement workshop in south St. Louis is a way station for instruments used by some of the city's best guitarists. Over years, he’s developed the trust of dozens of top-notch players, tuning and rebuilding their instruments. Some play clubs around the city, some tour and some are relatively unknown, content to just do their thing.

A guest takes photos of the start of the funeral procession for rock 'n' roll legend Chuck Berry. (April 9, 2017)
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Nearly two months after guitarist Chuck Berry died, St. Louis is seeking proposals to develop a museum and cultural district in Berry’s former neighborhood.

 

The Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority announced Monday it wants private developers to rebuild Berry’s home in the The Greater Ville neighborhood in north St. Louis. 

The artist Agnes Denes stands in the middle of a wheat field she planted in a landfill.
Provided by CAM

Update 05/08 10:01 - This article was updated to include local artist Juan William Chavez's contribution to the show and better reflect Kelly Shindler's curatorial trajectory. 

The Contemporary Art Museum’s CAM’s new exhibit, “Urban Planning: Art and the City 1967–2017,” features images of burning buildings, wheat fields planted on landfills, and whole lot of history.

By combining works by emerging and established artists, the project explores themes of architectural failure, racist housing practices, and the depopulation of St. Louis. 

For artists, the themes are design currents that flow beneath the city’s physical spaces, visiting curator Kelly Shindler said.

You know what they say: You can’t spell Cut & Paste without “u.”

OK, go ahead: groan. We're groaning with you. We know that no one says that.

But seriously, we want to know what you want to hear in Cut & Paste, our arts and culture podcast. Not necessarily “who,” but what kinds of conversations and experiences do you want to be in on?

6 North in the Central West End.
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

Jane Jones was overwhelmed when she first visited the 6 North Apartments building in the Central West End.

Built in 2004, it’s the nation’s first building constructed entirely under the universal design concept, which incorporates features that allow people with disabilities to live in the space. It can be defined as "the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design."

Jones, who is blind, moved there in 2012. She couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.

A recent show at the Contemporary Art Museum
Provided by the Contemporary Art Museum

The Contemporary Art Museum has hired a chief curator.

Wassan Al-Khudhairi, a curator of modern and contemporary art at the Birmingham Museum of Art, joins CAM in August.

Al-Khudhairi, whose work places a priority on interactions with local audiences, replaces Jeffrey Uslip, who resigned late last year amid controversy over a solo exhibition by artist Kelley Walker.

A print by Mitchell Eismont, cut from linoleum depicts noted physicist Albert Einstein above the words "Einstein was a refugee."
Courtesy of the St. Louis Artists' Guild

Ohio-based artist Mitchell Eismont’s interest in the ongoing Syrian refugee crisis developed while he was producing posters for East Coast musician Chadwick Stokes' “Forced to Flee” tour. Inspired by Stokes' dedication, Eismont began work on a series of prints supporting immigrants and refugees, featuring cultural figures like the Dalai Lama, Jesus and Albert Einstein.

“I think it’s probably the crisis of our generation,” Eismont said of the crisis, which stems from a long-running civil war. “I think it’s important to try and help with the situation.”

In this April 12 photo, arts advocate and law professor Adrienne Davis looks upon a piece by artist Lorna Simpson in her home collection.
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

Adrienne Davis teaches law but she regularly cross-examines the status quo in a completely different field: the arts.

The Washington University law professor will receive an Arts Advocacy award from the Women of Achievement of St. Louis in a May 16 event at the Ritz-Carlton. The honor applauds her service on various boards including that of the St. Louis Art Museum and Opera Theatre of St. Louis.

But it also extols her efforts to infuse more racial diversity into the artistic pipeline, from art-makers to gallery attendants to curators to institutional leaders. In our latest Cut & Paste arts and culture podcast, we talk with Davis about her advocacy and why it matters.

A picture of vinyle tops and stacked records from Euclid Records' upstairs which is filled with old pressings of jazz, country, ambient and rock
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

Saturday is Record Store Day, an international event developed in the age of the internet to build awareness for brick and mortar music shops. The music-buying public has embraced the event and many stores use the day to host live music, have cookouts and generally adopt a party atmosphere.

Continuing the Legacy COCA 2015
Provided by COCA

When folk artists die, their craft can be lost. To make sure their work is preserved, Lisa Higgins, director of the Missouri Folk Arts Program at the University of Missouri in Columbia, helps preserve those techniques.  That way, when an artist dies, it’s not the end of their expertise.

“There’s a bit of joy in there also, it’s bittersweet, to know that through the program they have been able to sit down and pass that tradition onto someone else who’s invested in it and plans to carry it on,” Higgins said.

Kat Reynolds is pictured in a file photo of a self-portrait shown recently at The Militzer Art Gallery in St. Louis.
Provided | Kat Reynolds

Photographer Kat Reynolds is having a moment.

In the past few months, Reynolds has exhibited at five St. Louis venues. She was named this year’s Emerging Artist by the local Visionary Awards, a prize she’ll accept April 24 at the Sun Theater in Grand Center. She’s also wrapping up a residency program at Paul Artspace, north of Florissant. Her work primarily features young people of color, friends, people she encounters on the street, or people she finds through social media.

Reynolds works all these activities around a full-time customer relations job. In our latest Cut & Paste podcast, we catch up with this busy artist, who strives to genuinely connect with her subjects.

Gene Jackson started his professional performing  career at 15 when his mom signed a waiver allowing him to perform at the Midnight Lounge on Dr. Martin Luther King Drive in the mid-1970s.

Older musicians took him under their wings, showing him the ins and outs of St. Louis’ rhythm and blues, and initiating him into a fellowship of performing musicians determined to keep soul music alive.

Roland Johnson entered the scene years earlier, started his career singing with groups at sock hops and youth dances before entering the realms of bars and clubs.

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