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.

Levy's image of the Michael Brown memorial in Canfield Green the night of August 10, 2014
Joel Levy |Courtesy of Documenting Ferguson

The Documenting Ferguson project launched in the midst of escalating protests that called for justice after the death of Michael Brown. As protests quickly grew into the Black Lives Matter movement -- with similar protests in cities like Baltimore and Cincinnati -- documentary efforts also spread from the St. Louis area to other cities.

Inside Dead Wax Records on Cherokee Street
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

There’s good news for local vinyl record stores. Vinyl sales are up 50 percent this past year as we enter the peak shopping season. A number of music store owners say the increase results from a new generation discovering that vinyl offers a widely different audio experience than streaming services.

“It’s nice to be able to have everything on a system or a phone, or an iPad or a computer, but when it comes down to it the really special records are the ones that you have to hold in your hand and you have to listen to them,” said Tim Hendrickson of Dead Wax records on Cherokee.

Grant's Farm - horses
Robert Duffy | St. Louis Public Radio

Plans for the St. Louis Zoo to buy Grant’s Farm are in legal limbo. Six heirs of August Anheuser "Gussie" Busch Jr. are in litigation over whether the property should be sold to the Zoo or Billy Busch. A hearing was held today - largely on the timing of how things will proceed.

John Stegeman, 18, helped design and build a Mars rover-style robot for the Science Centerexhibit
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

The Curiosity rover is cruising toward a specific set of sand dunes on Mars millions of miles across the universe. The St. Louis Science Center is trying to bring that science down to Earth.

A new exhibit aims to explain both the science and the thought process behind the Curiosity Mars rover, according to Paul Freiling, director of engineering and technology education at the center. For him, the scope of Curiosity’s responsibilities illustrate how problem-solving in space is the productive of cooperative minds.

St. Louis-based Foxing released its album "Dealer" a couple weeks ago to solid critical reception. The band’s music is filled with swells and melody. The lyrics focus on expansive topics like war and death filtered through a highly personal lens. With it getting dark earlier and the first snowfall imminent, this seems like a time to explore the slightly morbid sensibility that underpins the sweeps and builds of music from similar St. Louis "indie rock" bands.

The St. Louis Zoo is making plans to acquire the family attraction Grant’s Farm from the Busch Family Real Estate Trust.

Three prisoners share their stories through performance.
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

Recent national prison reforms have included shortening sentences for drug offenders and releasing a number of prisoners because of the changes in sentencing guidelines. Yet roughly 32,000 people are incarcerated in Missouri.

Museum Blue Founders Lauren Cardenas and Michael Behle stand in the exhibit 'Water, Water'
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

Last year four artists and educators decided to turn their shared studio space into an exhibition space for other artists. The project achieved unexpected results.

“The most important thing that I have learned is how remarkably diverse and surprising our audience is with every single show, with every single opening,” said photographer Gina Grafos.

Tef Poe at civilian review board hearing 1.29.14
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

This week a couple of hip-hop musicians released tracks tackling current political issues. Tef Poe’s "Devils" follows Poe’s template of using his ire for a specific politician, in this case Ben Carson, to address systemic issues he sees in the political structure. For Poe, it’s full steam ahead.

Two area organizations are looking to further their missions by honoring the legacy of Cesar Chavez, even though the labor organizer and Latino rights activist only briefly visited the state. 

The Missouri Immigrant and Refugee Advocates Coalition (MIRA) is celebrating its 10th anniversary with a series of events that look to explain how the organization fits within the history of immigration rights reform. This weekend the organization helps launch an exhibit focused on Chavez facilitated by the Hispanic Arts Council at the St. Louis Public Library .  

Missouri History Museum

Updated 1:24, Nov. 11 with agreement  -

This Veteran’s Day, the Missouri History Museum takes over as official custodian of Soldiers Memorial Military Museum. The city and history museum formalized the agreement outside Soldier’s Memorial.

Courtesy of the Hands On Black History Museum

The recent $5 million gift tech company Emerson made to the Missouri History Museum will fund the museum’s first exhibit from its initiative to improve the representation of African-American history in museum programing. The exhibit will attempt to show St. Louis' position as a leading city of the civil rights movement.

Antionette Carroll in a Faces of the Movement portrait
Antionette Carroll

St. Louis designer Antionette Carroll doesn’t know what might resolve thorny and multi-faceted problems like racism, stereotypical thinking and gentrification. But she thinks design professionals — and others like you and me — might have bits and pieces of solutions within ourselves.

Images from St. Louis International Film Festival

This year St. Louis Public Radio is reviewing films from The St. Louis International Film Festival related to prominent issues facing our city.

Yesterday we reviewed films that dealt with crime and crime prevention. Today we’ll provide reviews of select movies that tackle different perspectives on quality of life issues.

It's a broad topic, so it's a big list: "T-Rex," "The Invitation," Good Ol' Boy," "Keeping Rosy," "Unlikely Heroes," "Frame by Frame," "Radical Grace," "Echo Lake," "24/7/365," "Bounce" and "I Can Quit Whenever I Want."

St. Louisan Big George Brock has performed at past Bluesweek festivals.
File Photo | Bluesweek

The National Blues Museum has set April 2, 2016, as its opening day. The project intends to tell the history of blues music through exhibits and community outreach.

Eileen Myles
Libby Lewis

Writer Eileen Myles’ seems poised on the brink of widespread recognition. This fall she’s publishing two books: “I Must Be Living Twice” and “Chelsea Girls,” which collect new and selected poems and capture the downtown New York of the 1970s in a novel. Much of Myles’ work deals with life in New York City yet the author said her themes and content also exist in cities like St. Louis.

Radioactive waste, racial injustice, murder mysteries and selling drugs on the internet are all topics for the screen in this year’s Whitaker St. Louis International Film Festival. According to festival Executive Director Cliff Froehlich, the two-week long run of screenings will be unlike previous efforts.

“It’s fairly overwhelming I have to admit. This is the largest festival we’ve ever mounted,” said Froehlich.

(Courtesy: St. Louis Science Center)

Updated 3:14 p.m., Oct. 29 with the board's final approval - It took 18 months of tension, but the Metropolitan Zoological Park and Museum District has unanimously approved the board’s new code of ethics. The previous code was less than 10 years old but found insufficient after a conflict of interest arose involving the Science Center and a ZMD board member.

According to board member Tom Campbell the new code makes three main improvements on the old ethics code.

Spurred by Hylidae’s recent appearance on Cityscape, we decided to trace that line between ambient drone and melodic pop music. Here, we're presenting six tracks from STL artists who draw that line with different tools and tones.

Almost exactly two years ago Jon Burkhart left a commune in northeast Missouri that he called home and moved back home to St. Louis. He brought with him a host of analog electronic musical equipment, a computer, and a new musical persona, Hylidae. The project was born in contrast to the rural lifestyle the musician had just ended.

“It was kind of like my retreat from communal life to be making solo electronic music,” Burkhart said.