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.

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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.

Undercurrent 9 tapes featuring Frances With Wolves, Hylidae, Contrails and spoken word by Brett Underwood at Undercurrent 10 event
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

Musician, curator, and artist Damon Davis
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.

Normandy High School students learn ballet from Dance Theatre of Harlem's teaching artists Theara Ward
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. 

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. 

Nick Cave's Soundsuits are assembled from objects found throughout the country
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.

Fender Amp
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.

Zoo-Museum Board Meeting discussing proposed changes to the code of ethics
Willis Arnold/St. Louis Public Radio

Instead of voting on a new ethics policy today, the full Zoo-Museum District board repeated conversation held in two prior ethics committee meetings. Three issues remain contentious: whether changes should be applied to sub-districts, what level of financial disclosure is necessary, and how to handle ethics violations. 

Board Chair Thelma Cook expressed concern about the handling of violations, once identified.

Map by T. Stackhouse, publisher 1783, prior to Louisiana Purchase.
Courtesy of the Missouri History Museum

The Louisiana Purchase is much more complicated than most history textbooks portray.

That’s the message behind the Missouri History Museum’s new exhibition “The Louisiana Purchase: Making St. Louis, Remaking America.” Adam Kloppe, 30, is a writing and research fellow at the museum and took the lead in determining the content for the exhibit. He said the story of the Louisiana Purchase is a one of many doubts and tough decisions.

Tiffany Minx
File photo | St. Louis Beacon

Early this month Tiffany Minx announced on Facebook the closing of her independent music shop Apop Records. The store will close this Monday. Although Minx has stressed a desire to look to the future, some fans are mourning the loss of an integral part of the St. Louis music scene.

“It’s just a major loss,” said Matthew Stuttler, who runs a cassette tape music label distributed online and at Apop.

Jer Thorp
Stephanie Zimmerman | St. Louis Public Radio Intern | File photo

Data artist Jer Thorp completed the research-based stage of his $75,000 project to examine and creatively present St. Louis’ data. The New York based artist’s research consists of city visits and extensive demographic and mapping research coupled with an unexpected emphasis on experiencing the physical environment of St. Louis.

Brian Mulligan as Leon Klinghoffer and Nancy Maultsby as Marilyn Klinghoffer in Opera Theatre of Saint Louis' 2011 production of The Death of Klinghoffer.
Ken Howard | Opera Theatre of St. Louis

"The Death of Klinghoffer" drew protests Monday night at its opening in New York. In St. Louis Monday, faith leaders who had worked together in 2011 to create community discussion around the opera met again to consider the experience in light of Ferguson.

They hope past conversations about social issues will inform public response to the shooting death of Michael Brown. These leaders view conversation a way to change the future.

Provided by Dorothy

Dorothy: A Publishing Project is small literary press that’s making big waves in the literary community. The press publishes only two books each fall. This year Dorothy released Nell Zink’s "The Wallcreeper" and Joanna Ruocco’s "DAN." Critical acclaim continues to grow for Dorothy. "The Wallcreeper" is reviewed in the influential New York Time’s Book Review this weekend.

Alan Johnson, Black and Blue
Provided by the Artists Respond Show

The area-wide art show "Hands Up, Don’t Shoot — Artists Respond" opens this weekend.  The show was conceived by Salon 53 owner Freida L. Wheaton and will feature national and local artists’ responses to the shooting death of Michael Brown and subsequent protests in Ferguson. 

“All art galleries, especially ones located on universities, have a responsibility to address topical issues that are going to be important to their community and their students,” said Gallery 210 Director Terry Suhre, 61. He chose photography for display at the University of Missouri-St. Louis’ Gallery FAB.

The ethics committee meeting on Oct. 15.
Willis ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

The Zoo Museum District Ethics Committee remains stretched between two poles. Board member Charles Valier continues to call for an annual disclosure of board member assets while board member Tom Campbell says this disclosure would be an undue burden on ZMD leaders.

Jo Mannies | St. Louis Public Radio

The fourth night of Ferguson October demonstrations was marked by a series of decentralized actions by small groups of protesters at widely divergent venues across the region.

Protesters showed up at a fund-raiser for Steve Stenger, the Democratic candidate for county executive. Stenger has been the target of some protesters because of his political connections to county Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch.

Benjamin Kaplan
Act3

For the next six months chess and hip-hop will live under the same roof here in St. Louis. "Living Like Kings: The Collision of Chess and Hip Hop Culture" is an ever-evolving exhibit examining the relationship between the two art forms. Hip-Hop Chess Federation founder Adisa Banjoko, 44, thinks hip-hop and chess share a common noble truth.

“The spirit of competition in hip-hop and in chess is what helps us figure out who we are,” Banjoko said.

The musical protest at the St. Louis Symphony on Oct. 4 included banners
Screenshot from the YouTube video posted by the St. Louis American

Last Saturday night a group of protesters interrupted the St. Louis Symphony at the very end of intermission. The protesters sang an adaptation of the old folk song “Which Side Are You On?” They dubbed the performance “Requiem for Mike Brown” and began their protest shortly before the Symphony began Brahms' German Requiem.

This song wasn’t picked at random.

Morgan Nusbaum of bruiser queen
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

Bruiser Queen is a pair of St. Louis residents that play catchy, scuzzy, rock music that lands somewhere between 1960s girl groups and 1990s riot grrrl punk. Morgan Nusbaum fronts the band, commanding both microphone and guitar.

She’s backed by Jason Potter on the drums. The duo practices in an old doctor’s office off Cherokee street. The walls are a faded bubble-gum pink and plastic bins for charts are still screwed to the wall near every exam room. The duo rehearsed for Friday’s record release show promoting their newest album Sweet Static.

Alise O'Brien

Saturday night protesters used a new tactic to raise awareness about the shooting death of Ferguson resident Michael Brown. They brought their own music and a chant to the St. Louis Symphony’s performance with a continuation of the ongoing protests in Ferguson.

Provided by The Public Radio

Last week NPR’s All Tech Considered featured The Public Radio, a small single-station radio that lives in a Mason jar.  At the time the project’s Kickstarter campaign had yet to reach its goal of $25,000. To-date the project raised more than $65,000, and the developers have 20 days to go before their campaign expires.

RA Salvatore
Amazon

RA Salvatore’s written more than 50 books.  He’s sold more than 17 million. The New York Times best-selling fantasy fiction author met fans and signed books at the Webster Groves Public Library Oct. 2. Earlier that day he answered questions about how real-world events affect his writing practice.

St. Louis Public Radio: You’ve been writing for over 30 years, produced over 50 books, and sold over 17 million copies. How have you maintained your inspiration?

Photo Flood Photographer Jeni Kulka's September 20th Image in Tower Grove Park
Photo Flood Photographer Jeni Kulka

Late one sunny afternoon in late September eight photographers gathered at the Grand Avenue entrance to Tower Grove Park. For roughly 15 minutes the photographers chatted about gear, the quality of sunlight slipping through the leaves, and the stories behind some of their favorite photographs before slipping out into the park to document their surroundings.

Jazz at the Bistro's new season opened Friday, October 3.
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

Expectations are high for the new Jazz at the Bistro space.  Local vocalist Erin Bode, 37, said anticipation is high among local musicians.

“It’s just going to revitalize our motivation and our zest and zeal for making music in Grand Center,” said Bode.

Board members easily agreed to setting tax rate but debated value of allowing subdistricts to charge admission fees to non St. Louis City or County residents.
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

Tensions among Zoo-Museum District board members appear to have faded over the last year. The board met Monday to discuss the 2014 subdistrict tax rates, hear reports from committees and the executive director, and discuss past and future business of the board. 

Board members -- Robert Lowery appeared by speaker phone and Gloria Wessels was absent -- voted unanimously to approve an 8 cent property tax on behalf of the St. Louis Art Museum and the Zoo. The board voted to approve a 3.99 cent property tax for The Science Center, Botanical Gardens and Missouri History Museum.

Tritone Drive
Physics Punk Pedals Facebook page

This month David Anderson’s Tritone Guitars turns two years old. Tritone is really Anderson himself: repairing guitars, assembling guitars, and acting as guitar tech for local and national bands as they swing through town. National acts like Robert Randolph and the Family Band have called on Anderson to fix gear when they’ve suffered massive equipment failure in the middle of their set.

Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

(Updated at 2 p.m. Sunday September 28, 2014 with further details from St. Louis County Police.)

Overnight, two area police officers were shot at — a Ferguson officer wounded in an encounter near the Ferguson Community Center, and a St. Louis officer injured by flying glass when his car was hit by gunfire on Interstate 70 near Interstate 170.

Malik Performs "Unveiled"
Courtesy of the Artist

For the last five years, playwright Rohina Malik has performed her one woman play, "Unveiled." The play focuses on the lives of five Muslim women in the wake of 9/11.  She attests her play touches audience members regardless of their background. 

“One after another young, white male college students kept coming up to me personally and saying, thank you so much, it was eye opening,” Malik said about a recent experience performing at an college in Ohio. 

Images from zoo museum district entities
File photos and Wikipedia

The Zoo Museum District’s Ethics Committee met Wednesday to discuss changes to the organization’s code of ethics. Committee members Charles Valier, Ben Uchitelle and Committee Chair Tom Campbell were primarily in agreement. But Campbell and Valier differ over the level of transparency to write into the code.

“Transparency for transparency’s sake doesn’t benefit anyone” said Campbell.

chef taste 2014
Provided by Taste of St. Louis

Some returning restaurants reported lower attendance at this year’s Taste of St. Louis, which was held this past weekend. Some restaurateurs attributed the lower attendance to the festival's new location in Chesterfield. Mike Kociela estimated 250,000 people came through the event, which was down by an estimated 50,000 or 100,000.

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