Arts & Culture | St. Louis Public Radio

Arts & Culture

Neal Bascomb is the author of "The Escape Artists: A Band of Daredevil Pilots and the Greatest Prison Break of the Great War"
Caitlin Lally | St. Louis Public Radio

When considering the pivotal moments of World War I, the Great Escape of 1918 is likely not the first incident that comes to mind. Indeed, the history of this truly remarkable episode has largely gone unnoticed in the 100 years since it transpired.

Neal Bascomb’s latest book “The Escape Artists: A Band of Daredevil Pilots and the Greatest Prison Break of the Great War” attempts to shed light on this central event in world history. Bascomb joined host Don Marsh for a conversation about the new book on this Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air.

Carmen Connors' tiny-bus house is about 200-square-feet total.
Photo courtesy of Carmen Connors

This interview will be on St. Louis on the Air at noon Thursday. This story will be updated after the show. You can listen live.

While some may see the trend of minimalism as a new fad in the developed world, living simply with few possessions is a practice that dates back to ancient times. Various interpretations of the lifestyle exist. However, they all share a common theme: eliminate excess and add purpose to one’s life.

From left, Marie-Hélène Bernard and Erik Finley look forward to the season opener of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra this weekend.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Founded in 1880, the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra begins its 2018-19 season this weekend.

“It’s an exciting time,” Marie-Hélène Bernard said on Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air in advance of the SLSO’s 139th season that features music director designate Stéphane Denève.

While Devène does not officially start as music director until the 2019-20 season, he will conduct four concerts, and Bernard explained his role this year with an analogy.

Lebanese photographer Fadi BouKaram is making a return trip through U.S. towns named Lebanon.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Fadi BouKaram is a Lebanese photographer who in late 2016 embarked on U.S. road trip to visit communities named Lebanon. There are more than 40 such towns and cities in the country that share the name of his homeland, a country in the Middle East that’s a bit smaller than Connecticut.

BouKaram is making a return trip to many of the communities he visited more than a year ago with stops planned in Lebanon, Illinois and Lebanon, Missouri.

Fiction writer Michael Nye (at left), Left Bank Books co-owner Kris Kleindienst (center) and Kathleen Finneran, a senior writer in residence at Washington University, are among those involved in this weekend’s festival.
Erica Ott & St. Louis Public Radio

Kris Kleindienst need only glance out toward the entrance to her bookstore at the corner of Euclid and McPherson avenues for some solid reminders of St. Louis’ literary legacy. The busts of four canonical writers adorn the intersection – T.S. Eliot, Tennessee Williams, Kate Chopin and William Burroughs, all of whom spent formative years in the city.

But Kleindienst is just as enthusiastic about St. Louis’ contemporary writing community as she is about the region’s historical claims to writerly fame.

“We’re a great literary town, and that – in my 44 years of bookselling – has really just become clearer and clearer to me,” the Left Bank Books co-owner said on Monday’s St. Louis on the Air during a discussion ahead of Bookfest St. Louis.

Harris-Stowe State University

Harris-Stowe State University’s historic Vashon Community Center is getting an upgrade.

The university has received a $500,000 grant from the National Park Service to renovate the interior of the 1936 building, along with $1.2 million from the state of Missouri. The building has most recently been used for storage, but after the $1.7-million renovations, the former public recreation center will again be open to the public.

Felicia Shaw, new executive director of St. Louis' Regional Arts Commission, said she had a sense that this community would now "be open to change" after the events of Ferguson.
Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Public Radio

The Regional Arts Commission envisions a more ambitious agenda for the St. Louis area’s cultural community. In a plan released late last week, the grant-making organization set out a series of priorities for the immediate future of the region’s arts scene.

Among the plan’s recommendations is that arts groups work with local organizations to help solve community problems. Arts groups can play a role with efforts to build affordable housing, improve public safety and other civic initiatives, RAC executive director Felicia Shaw said.

Dennis Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited  for September 16, 2018 will be “The Career of Buddy Rich.”  At age eight, Buddy Rich was in vaudeville and was known as “Traps, the Drum Wonder.”  His jazz career began with the swing bands in the late ‘30’s and went through Jazz at the Philharmonic, Norman Granz and Harry James until he formed his very popular big band in 1966 that lasted until his death in 1987.  In addition to his band, we will hear Rich with Bunny Berigan, Artie Shaw, Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong, Lester Young, Charlie Ventura, Flip Phillips, Dizzy Gillespie, Benny Carter, Teddy Wilson,

Felicia Shaw is the executive director of the Regional Arts Commission.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

The Regional Arts Commission is trumpeting what it claims is the first comprehensive regional planning effort of its kind in St. Louis.

Among other things, the 90-page report calls for more arts education and collaborations among groups that have previously not worked together.

The focus of the report is “how can the arts play a larger role in making St. Louis a better place to live,” explained Felicia Shaw, executive director of the Regional Arts Commission (RAC).

Shaw was St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh’s guest on Friday.

Hundreds of people participate in a die-in at police headquarters in downtown St. Louis during the fall 2017 protests against the Stockley verdict.
Eric Pan

Updated at 4:12 p.m. with clarification — When early photos of the 2014 Ferguson protests flashed across photographer Eric Pan’s phone and computer screen, he mainly saw active confrontation — and wondered if there was more to the story.­

Pan brought his camera to Ferguson, where protesters took to the streets after then-officer Darren Wilson, who is white, shot and killed Michael Brown, a black man. Three years later, he joined marches against a judge’s acquittal of former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley, who is white, in the death of a black man, Anthony Lamar Smith.

Pan’s perspective on both protests is the subject of an exhibition opening Saturday at the Griot Museum of Black History and Culture called “Civil Unrest in Review.”

The St. Louis-based literary magazine’s latest issue, which runs about 200 pages and includes some focus on immigration, features cover art by Tran Nguyen.
Boulevard

For nearly 35 years now, Boulevard magazine has been publishing works of fiction, poetry and nonfiction by both luminaries and emerging writers. Its hot-off-the-press 100th issue continues that tradition, offering readers a vibrant mix of contemporary literature penned by a wide range of writers.

On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh discussed the St. Louis-based literary magazine’s evolution and legacy since its founding in 1984.

Joining him for the discussion were the magazine’s editor-in-chief, Jessica Rogen, as well as celebrated writers Joyce Carol Oates and Carl Phillips.

Carmen and Isabel Garcia with a Clydesdale, on location in September 2017 at Grant's Farm for a promotional St. Louis Blues video.
Carmen Garcia

Updated Sept. 13, 2018 - Since we originally published this story, the mother-daughter duo of Carmen and Isabel Garcia have continued performing in musical theater separately and together.

In June they played a grandmother and granddaughter in Mustard Seed Theater’s “Luchadora”, a drama about Mexican wrestling.

On Chess: The Batumi Chess Olympiad

Sep 13, 2018
The 2018 U.S. Olympic team. Seated (left to right): Hikaru Nakamura, Fabiano Caruana, Wesley So. Standing: Ray Robson, John Donaldson, Sam Shankland.
Dilip Vishwanat / World Chess Hall of Fame

The Georgian resort city of Batumi, located on the Black Sea near the Turkish border, will host the 43 Chess Olympiad. More than 1,600 players from 185 countries will compete in the bi-annual event, which is separate from the Summer and Winter Olympics.

The two-week-long tournament, running from Sept. 24 to Oct. 6, will see the United States' team attempt to defend the gold medals it won as the top finisher in 2016 in Azerbaijan, its first victory in 40 years. Perennial powerhouses Russia, China and Ukraine, along with newcomers Azerbaijan and India, are among the other top-ranked teams in an event that traces its history back to 1927.

The Avett Brothers at LouFest 2015
File photo | Jess Luther | St. Louis Public Radio

When the organizers of LouFest canceled the event, the news came as a shock to many, though signs of the festival’s distress had been apparent. The festival’s promoter, Listen Live Entertainment, insisted that everything was fine until the moment it pulled the plug.

The announcement identified several causes including the loss of key sponsors, debt and expected rain. Organizers insisted the festival had been on target “until a bit of unfortunately timed media coverage caused many of our vendors and artists to demand up-front payment.”

Alongside the work of established artists and entertainers, artwork created through several outreach-oriented organizations - including these pieces by participants in Preferred Family Healthcare’s A.R.T.C. program – will be in the spotlight this weekend.
A.R.T.C.

Lorraine Reeb will be one of many individuals and organizations hawking their creative wares along St. Charles’ historic Main Street this weekend, and she’s excited about what her organization, Blank Canvas Studios, will have to offer passersby.

“Having a divergent way of interpreting the world makes really raw, uninhibited, amazing art,” she said on this Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air.

One of a handful of outreach-oriented nonprofits that will be showcasing work at the 24th Annual Mosaics Fine Arts Festival, Blank Canvas Studios provides an artistic outlet to adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities. Reeb is the program director, and she joined host Don Marsh for a conversation alongside Lauren Zeiger, regional coordinator of Preferred Family Healthcare’s A.R.T.C. program.

DeRay Mckesson poses in the trademark blue vest that he first wore in the early days of the Ferguson protests.
Adam Mayer

An educator who quit his job to join the Ferguson protests, and then became a nationally known activist is coming back to St. Louis on Thursday.

DeRay Mckesson will appear at Union Avenue Christian Church to talk about his book, “On the Other Side of Freedom: The Case for Hope.”

From left, host Don Marsh interviews Sonia Sotomayor at the Touhill Performing Arts Center.
August Jennewein | UMSL

From the Bronx in New York City to Yale Law School and now the nation’s capital, Sonia Sotomayor has made a name for herself despite the obstacles she’s encountered throughout her life.

“My life hasn’t been always easy, and yet I succeeded,” Sotomayor said in a conversation with St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh.

Growing up in poverty, learning English as a second language and being diagnosed with diabetes as a child, as well as grieving the death of her father when she was 9, are just a few of those obstacles.

Cameron Collins is the co-author of the third edition of "St. Louis Brews: The History of Brewing in the Gateway City."
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

The history of the beer industry in St. Louis is a winding one that goes back generations. Brewers named Lemp, Anheuser, Busch and Griesedieck played an important role on the local and national beer scenes.

While Anheuser-Busch is now a multinational company that’s no longer locally owned, the legacy of the beer that has its roots in St. Louis remains strong.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for September 9, 2018 will be “The Music of Lee Morgan.”  Trumpeter Lee Morgan hit the big time in 1956 at age 18 with the Dizzy Gillespie big band and his first album as a leader.  His star burned brightly through his tenures with Art Blakey, Jackie McLean, Andrew Hill, John Coltrane and others until it was extinguished at age 33 when he was shot and killed in Slug’s Saloon by his wife.  In addition, we will hear Morgan with Jimmy Smith, Wynton Kelly, Hank Mobley, Elvin Jones, Jackie McLean, Dr.

Brian Cohen (at left), the founder of LouFest, and St. Louis Public Radio’s Holly Edgell discussed the cancelation of this weekend’s festival.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Like so many St. Louisans this week, LouFest founder Brian Cohen was surprised and saddened to learn that the major St. Louis music festival set for this weekend had been canceled.

“It’s a sad day for sure, for a lot of people,” he told St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh. “I didn’t necessarily see it going down this way – it certainly was a shock to me, and we’ll just have to see if we can find some answers as to why it all happened this way.”

Cohen, who in 2016 sold his stake in the company that organizes the festival, didn’t speculate about possible financial mismanagement or poor decisions that may have led to this year’s issues. But he acknowledged that the music industry is a difficult one where it’s easy to run into trouble.

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