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.

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.

chef taste 2014
Provided by Taste of St. Louis

Taste of St. Louis begins today and closes Sunday. This year, the festival announced a change in location from downtown St. Louis to Chesterfield. The event’s relocation has been a hot-button issue for some St. Louis residents. Former school teacher  and lifelong Ferguson resident Jerry Benner, 70, believes the change redefined the event.

“It’s not taste St. Louis. It’s taste of Chesterfield,” Benner said.

The Kemper Center For Home Gardening at the Missouri Botanical Garden
Laila Wessel | Missouri Botanical Garden

The Missouri Botanical Garden has been awarded a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services for $140,605. The money will go toward developing the Botanical Garden’s IMAGINE program. IMAGINE stands for Innovative Modeling Across the Garden to Investigate Neighborhood Ecology. The project will form a partnership between the Botanical Garden and nearby schools to teach kids about environmental issues in their communities.

Steve Pozaric
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

Fair Saint Louis Foundation and the city of St. Louis announced Wednesday that Fair St. Louis 2015 would be returning to Forest Park. The fair was held in the same location this year. New General Chairman Steve Pozaric hopes to top this year’s estimated attendance of 250,000 people. He attributes the draw to the fair’s rich history.

From left, Lubaba Abdullah, Donna Fisher and Rori Picker Neiss
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

The veil can be a contentious symbol in American culture and is often portrayed as a garment of oppressive fundamentalism. Wednesday night three women gathered to share personal stories about their choice to embrace or relinquish the veil. They addressed the complicated cultural perception of the veil.

Detail from the poster for Purlie
The Black Rep website

The musical "Purlie" is a “biting satire” about race relations according to The Black Rep founder Ron Himes. Himes is adamant about the show’s contemporary relevance in view of the Ferguson protests.

“The play deals with civil rights issues; it deals with racial bigotry; it deals with Southern white privilege and a community that is not willing to change and integrate; and that all sounds very familiar,” he said.

The one and only Cake lights up the stage at the 5th Annual Loufest Saturday Night
Brian Villa | Special to St. Louis Public Radio

This weekend an estimated 36,000 people from out of state and the surrounding area gathered in St. Louis for LouFest 2014, the little music festival that could. In just four years, the weekend-long concert has grown so much that founder Brian Cohen partnered with production company C3 Presents to help handle logistics, bring in bigger names and expand concert amenities.

Fabiano Caruana
Provided by the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

Saturday night, Italian Grandmaster Fabiano Caruana finalized his first place standing in the Sinquefield Cup. Caruana established himself quickly in the tournament, working methodically through a seven-game winning streak. This streak was halted by an 8th round draw with the Norwegian reigning world chess champion, Magnus Carlsen. 

Flaming Lips at LouFest 2012
St. Louis Beacon file photo

Since 2010, LouFest has grown from local festival into a nationally known music experience. LouFest returns this weekend to Forest Park. The two-day national music festival includes headliners Arctic Monkeys and Outkast and local bands Pretty Little Empire and Big Brother Thunder and the Master Blasters. Festival Founder Brian Cohen said he expected this type of growth.

“I didn’t think about a small little indie festival, I thought about a national draw for St. Louis,” said Cohen.

The flood wall is being prepped and will be filled with new graffiti art.
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

This weekend kicks off the second year of the Paint Louis’ reboot. Over the next three days, graffiti artists from around the country will gather in St Louis to paint the flood wall protecting downtown The original event began in 1995 and ran through 2001. It was shut down after too many artists painted in unsanctioned areas. One of the original organizers and graffiti artists Jona Anderson, better known as Stun or Stun1, has returned to the city. Although he now lives in Minneapolis, he’s glad to be back in St. Louis.

Department of Justice official Rita Valenciano speaks to people assembled at St. Paul A.M.E. Church in St. Louis.
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

Two representatives of the Community Relations Service of the Department of Justice, Eric Dean and Rita Valenciano, stressed they were reporting the needs of the St. Louis community to their superiors.  Although the goal of the evening was set as a time for community members to ask questions of the two representatives, little insight emerged as to their roll. Valenciano stressed she was in Ferguson Aug. 10 and immediately began working with community groups to facilitate dialogue with law enforcement and government agencies.

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, left, and Magnus Carlsen played to a draw in their first game in the Sinquefield Cup.
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

This year’s Sinquefield Cup chess championship is underway here in St. Louis and it’s billed as the strongest chess tournament in the history of the sport. The tournament features six of the top nine players in the world and takes place at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis. The compete for a first place prize of $100,000. Before the end of the tournament, each player will play every other player twice.

Tef Poe performed at the benefit for Brown family August 2014
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

The Aug. 24 benefit concert for Michael Brown’s family featured some of St. Louis’ best young hip hop talent. Organized by the S.L.U.M. Fest organizers and held at midtown club Plush, the public face of the concert focused on raising money for Michael Brown’s family. Yet event organizers wanted the event to be more than just a tool for gathering donations.

Marshall Peeples joined the measured protests that went on Friday night.
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

In Ferguson Friday night, displays of frustration gave way to reflection and thoughts of building something from tragedy. Protesters came out, but the numbers were down and the focus of many shifted to plans to provide food and educational resources to local kids and registering voters.

Nathan Grey, 25, was out to support Ferguson through voter registration. He sees voting as a tool to combat issues he feels led to the past week’s events in Ferguson.

RAC member organizes and discusses artist ideas for actions regarding the death of Michael Brown.
Willis Ryder Arnold/St. Louis Public Radio

The first artists meeting held to discuss artists organizing around death of Michael Brown at the Regional Arts Commission was filled with discussion of racial divide and catharsis. The second meeting, held one week later, focused on planning and displayed a higher level of organization.

“We really had to come in and declare here this is what we’re ready to do. Let’s roll up our sleeves!” said Ed Reggi, 43, artist and actor. Reggi is the primary facilitator of the event. He noted a change in tone from one week to the next.

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