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.

Willis Ryder Arnold/St. Louis Public Radio

The Fort Gondo Compound for the Arts on Cherokee Street will triple its operating budget next year thanks to a new grant from The Warhol Foundation. Director Jessica Baran says the award points to the strength of Fort Gondo’s programming.

“I think that we’ve built up over this long period of time ... is recognized at this point as deserving of some kind of funding along these lines,” she said.

Donald Judd's Untitled, 1984 recently underwent a three stage conservation process to keep presentation in line with the artist's wishes.
Kevin J. Miyazaki/Courtesy of Laumeier Sculpture Garden

Famed minimalist artist Donald Judd’s sculpture at the Laumeier Sculpture Garden just got a $200,000 facelift.

“People see things outside and think it’s just like a car sitting outside on their driveway, but a car sitting outside will show a lot of damage and weather wearing and so on and so forth,” said Executive Director Marilu Knode.

One of the dozens of images Joel Levy submitted to the Documenting Ferguson project
Joel Levy/Courtesy of Documenting Ferguson

A unique blend of technological, circumstantial and social issues face archivists and documentarians who are trying to preserve the events of the past five months in Ferguson.

The Contributor

Joel Levy, 20, stands on West Florissant Avenue, a central site during the protests over the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown. His initial interest in Ferguson was opportunistic, spurred by the heat of the moment, yet he’s now dedicated to portraying the broader story of what’s happened in Ferguson since Aug. 9.

ZMD Board members continue debate over ethics code language
Willis Ryder Arnold/St. Louis Public Radio

The Zoo Museum District’s Thursday meeting was defined by two events: a stymied vote about language for its new code of ethics and a recent audit of the St. Louis Zoo. 

Code of Ethics Contention

The continued discussion regarding language for a new code of ethics drew ire from those wanting to include stricter language and members preferring a more relaxed approach.  Immediately prior to a vote on which language to forward on to city, county, and board council, board member Gloria Wessels left the meeting.

St. Louis Art Museum East Building
Jacob Sharp/Image courtesy of the Saint Louis Art Museum and Architectural Wall Systems

St. Louis Art Museum board member Barbara Taylor and her husband Andrew Taylor, executive chairman of Enterprise Holdings, Inc., recently donated $5 million dollars for a new sculpture garden at the museum. Carl Ham, head of development for the museum, praised the Taylors for their foresight and said the gift would fund both construction and an endowment for maintenance.

“It’s the rare exception and real benefit to organizations when people like the Taylors make a gift that makes possible both,” Ham said.

Nonesuch website

The St. Louis Symphony is nominated for two Grammy awards this year. The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences members nominated the symphony in the categories of Best Orchestral performance and Best Engineered Album, Classical. Vice President of External Relations Adam Crane almost couldn’t stop smiling when he discussed hearing the news.

“It’s what everyone strives for when you record an album, you want a Grammy award,” said Crane.

Chris Renteria's portrait of an Missouri State Highway Patrol trooper assigned to protest detail re: Ferguson
Courtesy of Chris Renteria

This Friday the Kranzberg Arts Center opens a photo show challenging popular media representations of events in Ferguson. The photographers focused the lives of Ferguson residents, details, portraiture, and children instead of just conflict. Participating photographer Chris Renteria, 40, saw unity where many see division.

“Whether I looked through my lens and saw a police officer in riot gear holding an assault rifle, or a 2-year-old in his mom’s arms as she’s fist-raised and chanting - in each person there’s humanity,” said Renteria.

James and Brea McAnally in the work in progress at the new Luminary Center for the Arts.
Nora Ibrahim | St. Louis Public Radio Intern

This fall the National Endowment for the Arts awarded nine St. Louis-based arts organizations a total of $250,000 in grants. But in the visual arts category, only The Luminary Arts Center on Cherokee Street got funding. Thanks to the new NEA grant the space will expand its international artist residency program. Brea McAnally runs the space with her husband, James. They say the award is a national spotlight for the space.

“Primarily we’re just grateful that the organization has been seen and validated on a national level,” said Brea McAnally.

Mitch Hill's video during Public Media Commons Artists Showcase test
Courtesy of Mike Pagano

For the first time in the Public Media Commons’ short life a group of young visual artists will display site-specific work on the main and secondary screens Tuesday night. Mike Pagano, 36, of the Nine Network helped the artists develop their projects for the space. He says the works will be a balancing act between artistic vision and accessibility.

“Kind of the tension between the artist, their vision and their voice, and what their work is traditionally about, and how to bridge that so that it fits with a space that’s accessible to everyone,” Pagano said. 

Performers at the Missouri History Museum's quest to set the record for most people tested for HIV in one venue
Alex Detrick | Missouri History Museum

On this Worlds AIDS Day, the Missouri History Museum is trying to break the world record for most people tested for HIV in one venue. Yet, Director of Community Partnerships Alex Detrick, 37, said she knows testing people is more important than setting records.

“If people can have a positive experience today and say, ‘You know what? It really wasn’t that hard, that scary, that intimidating.’ That would be exciting!” said Detrick.

James Baker performs with Kentucky Knife Fight at Off Broadway
Jess Luther | St. Louis Public Radio

For 10 years the band Kentucky Knife Fight, an institution in St. Louis’ indie rock community, pursued a sound that stood out from the crowd.

“I would want people to remember us for the fact that we never compromised our sound, we never tried to fit into a box,” said James Baker, 31, the band’s drummer.

On South Florissant Road 1125
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

The second day of post-grand jury protest in Ferguson unfolded in a familiar pattern. It began peacefully and ended with broken windows, tear gas and instructions to disperse. Forty-five people were arrested, the majority for misdemeanor offenses.

Tear gas was used in Ferguson. Nov. 24 2014
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

Protesters and law enforcement officers may have hoped for calm. But reaction to news of the grand jury’s decision to not indict Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson in the August shooting death of Michael Brown ended in arson, looting and tear gas.

Kim Massie Live at The Beale on Broadway, Nov. 19, 2014
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.

Dan Stewart, transgender University of Missouri St. Louis student
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.

St. Louis rapper Tef Poe.
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.

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.

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.

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