Arts & Culture

The Cliff Cave branch of the St. Louis County Library system reopened on Sept. 21, 2016, after renovation work. That included the children's area, pictured here.
(Photo courtesy of St. Louis County Library)

Phase two of a project to replace or renovate 19 of the 20 St. Louis County Library brancheis set to get underway this month.

The first phase of what’s called the “Your Library Renewed” campaign included 11 projects throughout the county. Kristen Sorth, library system director, says that work cost about $58 million, which came from a 2012 property tax increase. Phase two will cost about $79 million.

Apples and leaves.
NWY69 | Flickr

The Sound Bites team at Sauce Magazine is back and ready to help you plan your nights out at St. Louis restaurants during the month of October.

Catherine Klene and Heather Hughes, both managing editors at the magazine, joined St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh to discuss the openings and closings of restaurants you should know. 

The three they highlighted as 'must-try'? Narwhal's Crafted Urban Ice, Snow Factory and The Garden on Grand. Read more about them here

The Rep, The Muny, Stages St. Louis

Stages St. Louis hopes its current production of “Sister Act” will do what the Whoopi Goldberg character in the movie did for her Catholic convent choir: Shake it up — at least where its audiences are concerned.

The theater company’s patrons are not very diverse. Executive Producer Jack Lane, describes the Stages St. Louis audience this way: “suburban, white.”

Attracting more theater-goers of color, while addressing important social-justice concerns on the front burner in St. Louis right now, is important to St. Louis’ larger theater companies, which include the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, The Muny and Stages. Adding more minority patrons could help with the perennial issue of aging subscribers and donors. But it’s also a way to stay relevant at a time when St. Louis is more riveted than ever on race.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for October 2, 2116 will be “Adderley Compositions.”  The Adderley brothers, Cannonball and Nat, were not only world-class jazz instrumentalists, but also were composers of attractive tunes like “Sack O’ Woe,” “Work Song” and “The Jive Samba.”  We will hear their compositions played by themselves, Ray Bryant, the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra, Paul Chambers and Wynton Kelly, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, our own Kenny Rice, James Clay, the Louis Hayes Quintet, Antonio Hart, Quincy Jones, J.J.

Bjorn Ranheim
St. Louis Symphony

Cellist Bjorn Ranheim’s busy schedule rarely allows time for rest. If he’s not rehearsing or performing with the St. Louis Symphony, then you may find him with his colleagues in The 442s or playing chamber music in any of several ensembles. But one of his favorite roles is that of father to two beautiful little girls.

In a conversation with St. Louis Symphony Vice President of External Affairs Adam Crane, Ranheim talks about this weekend’s concerts highlighted by performances of John Adams’ Violin Concerto featuring Leila Josefowicz.

Local guitar duo Fine to Drive play onstage at a preview show at Delmar Hall the night before its grand opening.
Jess Luther | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis’ newest concert venue opens tonight in the Delmar Loop neighborhood. With Delmar Hall, Joe Edwards and Pat Hagin, co-owners of the Pageant concert hall next door, continue their push to make the neighborhood an entertainment hub.

“This is the live music corridor, center, of St. Louis and this just cements that,” Edwards said.

Delmar Hall will seat up to 800 people and focus on concerts, comedy and private business events. Edwards said up to 25 percent of the acts will be local performers with national touring groups making up the remaining shows. The opening weekend features Stir, Jay Farrar, and Hippie Sabotage.

A crowd packed the Contemporary Art Museum for a panel discussion on artist Kelley Walker's use of black bodies.
Wills Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

On Friday’s “Behind the Headlines,” we took a deep dive into the controversy around Kelley Walker’s “Direct Drive” exhibit at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis.

We heard from St. Louis Public Radio reporters Jenny Simeone and Willis Ryder Arnold, who have been reporting on the issues surrounding the exhibit and public outcry over its depiction of black bodies. Some have called for the exhibit to come down in its entirety and others have said that would constitute an act of censorship.

Alexandra Noboa takes pictures for social media as reporters conduct a pre-game interview at Busch Stadium. Noboa, the Cardinals' Spanish translator, launched the @cardenales Twitter account.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

This week, for the first time in team history, two St. Louis Cardinals' games will be broadcast in Spanish. It’s one of the biggest nods to the local Latino community, and comes during what has been a big year for Spanish speakers in Major League Baseball.

Jason Wilson, CAM board member, and Shanti Parikh, anthropology and African Studies assistant professor
Kelly Moffit | St. Louis Public Radio

An exhibition that opened at the Contemporary Art Museum Sept. 16 continues to draw fire for images that some say are demeaning to African-Americans. The issue has hit home with many St. Louisans including Shanti Parikh, an anthropology and African Studies associate professor, and her husband Jason Wilson, who’s on the board at CAM.

Chris Hebert.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Angels of Detroit” is author Christopher Hebert’s second novel.  It delves into the fictional lives of those experiencing Detroit’s decline and redevelopment. 

Hebert joined St. Louis on the Air on Thursday to discuss the book and the parallels between Detroit and St. Louis. 

Hebert lived in St. Louis in 1998 after finishing college.

"It was brief but meaningful," Hebert said.

Lonely Mountain String Band played last year's An Under Cover Weekend and came back for this year as well.
Provided by Corey Woodruff and Michael Tomko

As Libby Swanger raised her viola and began Jimmy Page’s solo from Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir,” there was no way for her to anticipate the crowd reaction.

“People were like screaming for me, and as a violist, that has never happened ever," she said. "People don’t scream for us, and it was just like a shining moment that came out of last year.”

Swanger’s performance took place with the bluegrass group The Lonely Mountain String Band during An Under Cover Weekend, St. Louis’s annual tribute band festival.  This weekend, the event celebrates its 10th anniversary.

An insect chess set
Provided by the World Chess Hall of Fame

Dr. George and Vivian Dean have been fascinated with chess sets for more than half a century. Their collection of more than 1,000 sets and diverse singular pieces stretches from the 8th century to the present, with examples from as many different cultures and eras as they have been able to find.

Their criteria for selecting works have been: aesthetic beauty, quality and diversity of materials, and quality of craftsmanship. In assembling an exhibition from their collection – titled Animal Vegetable Mineral: Natural Splendors from the Chess Collection of Dr. George & Vivian Dean – one question that had to be addressed was what rational guide could  be used to select the works.

The Kabbalah Centre St. Louis opened five years ago, but has outgrown its space. It will hold a grand re-opening Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016.
The Kabbalah Centre St. Louis via Facebook

A St. Louis spiritual center that is only the second facility of its kind in the Midwest is growing, even as its students say many people in St. Louis don't know about it.

Portraits hang at the Museum of Contemporary Religious Art as workers finish setting up Erika Diettes' exhibit.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 3:20 p.m., Sept. 28 with Erika Diettes and Terry Dempsey's interview on St. Louis on the Air.

As the daughter of a Colombian general, Erika Diettes grew up fearing FARC rebels would one day kill her father. The rebels routinely made death threats and killed several government officials over decades. Though her father survived the conflict, and Diettes' fear dwindled, those thoughts stayed with her.

When she became a photographer, Diettes dedicated herself to examining how that violence affects individuals. Her portraits capture women as they recall watching rebels torture or kill loved ones during the half-century battle between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. The photos  will be on display Sunday at the Museum of Contemporary Religious Art at Saint Louis University.

Jessica Alvarado and Cecilia Nadal joined "St. Louis on the Air" to discuss Gitana Productions' play based on the lives of local refugee women.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Gitana Productions, a local nonprofit that advocates global healing through the arts, is performing a one-act play titled “New World” this weekend as part of the St. Louis Arts Experience. The play is based on the lives of three St. Louis women who are also refugees from Bosnia, the Republic of Congo and Afghanistan.

De Nichols | Facebook

The National Museum of African American History and Culture opened in Washington, D.C., to the public this past weekend. Unlike many of those in the crowd at the opening ceremony, St. Louis artists De Nichols, Marcis Curtis and Mallory Nezam made artwork that is in the museum’s collection.

The trio made the 13-hour trip by car from St. Louis to see The Mirror Casket’s new home. After touring the exhibits, the group left confident that the Smithsonian will carefully display the life-sized casket covered in shattered mirrors. The sculpture asks audiences to reflect on their role in the struggle for social justice.

A art piece by Kelley Walker depicting a civil rights-era protest is splattered with melted dark, white, and milk chocolate.
Kelley Walker, Black Star Press | Paula Cooper Gallery

Updated Sept. 29 with a statement from Jeffrey Uslip — The Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis will not remove Kelley Walker’s controversial artwork from its walls. 

Some St. Louis residents called for a boycott of the museum and three of the museum’s black employees called for the removal of four works  — and for chief curator Jeffrey Uslip to resign — on the grounds that Walker’s exhibit demeaned black people. CAM director Lisa Melandri said Monday that removing the work would be censorship.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

The September 25  Jazz Unlimited show will be a three-part show.  The “Keys and Strings Hour “ will feature pianist Gene Harris in the first hour.  The second hour will be “Remembering Toots Thielemans.”  The Belgian harmonica player and sometime guitarist will be heard with George Shearing, Cleo Laine, Kenny Werner, Mongo Santamaria, Judy Niemack and Joe Lovano.  New music for September in the third hour will feature Tim Warfield, John Scofield, the Bad Plus, the pianist Lang Lang, Enrico Pieranunzi, a duet between Andrew Cyrille and Bill McHenry and Quest.

You Are My Reflection by Erin Rachel Hudak. Installed with the help of St. Louis Community College students at Paul Artspace
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

Two north St. Louis County groups are bringing together local and visiting artists.  Paul Artspace and Sculptureworks Ferguson founders said they’re united by a common cause.

“We’re looking to go into the community, use the exhibition as this kind of mechanism to create conversations, to create networks, to introduce people from outside the community to people inside the community,” said Michael Behle, founder of Paul Artspace founder.

Meera Nagarajan, Andrey Ivanoff, and Glenn Bardgett discussed wine on "St. Louis on the Air."
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

While many people may envision St. Louis as a beer town, the city and surrounding region is also home to many restaurants (and wineries!) contributing to the area’s cachet as a tasty space for wine lovers.

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, the team from Sauce Magazine joined us for the next edition of Sound Bites. We discussed wine: wine lists, wine types and what you need to know about ordering a glass in St. Louis.

What do you want to know about St. Louis?

Maybe you've seen a local custom that is quirky, or a legend that is mysterious. Our question generator below is meant to get your creativity going by helping you think of things you're curious about in our region.

Watch the words roll by, or lock in one or both words to try different combinations. When you've thought of a question, fill in the form below to submit your question, and maybe one of our reporters can track down the answer.

An art piece by Kelley Walker uses a floor-to-ceiling cover of a female rapper from men's magazine. It is smeared in tooth paste.
Jenny Simeone | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Sept. 23 with statement from Kelley Walker — The Contemporary Art Museum’s display of a controversial exhibit by artist Kelley Walker — and how the administration handled public objection — has shadowed the museum in tension. The exhibit uses the images of black people in ways some St. Louisans consider disrespectful and offensive.

Three members of the museum’s administrative staff who are black have called for the museum to remove Walker’s “Direct Drive” exhibition. In the letter to the museum's senior directors published Thursday on Facebook, De Andrea Nichols, Lyndon Barrois Jr. and Victoria Donaldson also said chief curator Jeffrey Uslip should resign and issue a formal apology.

On Chess: An ordinary set, an extraordinary rivalry

Sep 22, 2016
A chess set used in a game between GM Reuben Fine and GM Samuel Reshevsky
Austin Fuller | Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

In August 1986, a game of quick chess was played at the U.S. Open in Somerset, N.J. The board was vinyl, the pieces were plastic, and a Jerger wooden chess clock sat next to the board. While the set may have been common, the players were most certainly not.

Playing with the white pieces was GM Reuben Fine.  GM Samuel Reshevsky played black. Both were legends, second only to Bobby Fischer in American chess history.

The timing for this specific game on this chess set was also notable: It was the first induction ceremony for the U.S. Chess Hall of Fame. It is only fitting that the Hall of Fame was opened by a game between two of its most illustrious inductees.

Agnes Wilcox and Freeman Word
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Agnes Wilcox and Freeman Word are the co-directors of a new performance opening this weekend titled “Then, and Now Again, a Worker’s Opera.” The performance is more of a “labor cabaret,” according to Wilcox, and it explores St. Louis’ labor history, connecting workers’ rights and civil rights.

“We’re looking at labor history in St. Louis, which is rich, and we’re approaching it with music and sketches and all sorts of approaches so that we can talk about the history of St. Louis without being boring,” said Wilcox, the former artistic director of Prison Performing Arts.

Tabari Coleman
Tabari Coleman

Tabari Coleman is not originally from St. Louis. His father was in the Air Force and the family traveled all over the country and even to Guam with him.

“I had the chance to be around a whole bunch of different cultures,” Coleman told St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh. “[St. Louis] is more segregated than any place I’ve lived.”

The phenomenon of murmuration.
James West | St. Louis Public Radio

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

This weekend, Murmuration Festival will make its debut in the Cortex Innovation District. On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, we heard from the festival’s founder, Brian Cohen (who also founded, and later sold Loufest), about what to expect from the festival.

Here’s what you should know:

A art piece by Kelley Walker depicting a civil rights-era protest is splattered with melted dark, white, and milk chocolate.
Kelley Walker, Black Star Press | Paula Cooper Gallery

Walk into the Contemporary Art Museum today and you will be greeted with brick paintings, light boxes, laptop sculptures, and a 4-by-4 chocolate disco ball. It’s Kelley Walker’s first U.S. solo museum show, Direct Drive.  

Walk deeper into the main galleries and you’ll see works from the Georgia-born artist’s past shows, most notably Black Star Press, and Schema. They include a floor-to-ceiling print of the model and rapper Trina scantily clad on the cover of KING magazine coated in digital scans of smeared toothpaste. Another uses a 1963 image of Birmingham police and dogs attacking a civil rights protester. The print is splattered with different shades of chocolate. Both works have garnered Walker, who is white, a reputation for commenting on race in America — and fierce criticism of his use of the black body.

2Pac (Tupac Shakur), Ice Cube (O'Shea Jackson Sr.) and Eazy-E (Eric Lynn Wright).
Wikimedia Commons

St. Louis-based journalist and author Ben Westhoff has written for outlets such as Rolling Stone, Vice, NPR, and the Wall Street Journal. He also wrote for the Riverfront Times and is the former music editor of L.A. Weekly.

Chef Rob Connoley will open a St. Louis restaurant devoted to foraging in 2017.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Chef and James Beard Award Semi-Finalist Rob Connoley recently returned to his hometown of St. Louis after many years spent away in the southwestern United States. There, he became known for his skills in the art of foraging and preparing food from what he foraged.

2016 Online Journalism Awards
Online News Association

The Online News Association Awards were presented on Saturday night in Denver and St.