Arts & Culture

Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

In 1997, St. Louis jazz vocalist — legend, some do say — Denise Thimes lost her mother to pancreatic cancer. In the wake of that loss, Thimes launched the Mildred Thimes Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer. While she’s held an annual Mother’s Day concert for the past 20 years to pay tribute to her mother, her rock, the reason Thimes sings could be applied to anyone who has lost their mother: maternal sacrifice.

"One Year in Ferguson"
St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis Public Radio | 90.7 KWMU has been named a recipient of the inaugural Peabody-Facebook Futures of Media Awards for the project “One Year in Ferguson.”  The award is a new and separate award from the traditional Peabody Awards and is given to the Top Five Stories in Digital Spaces.  This new award is judged and given by the Peabody Student Honor Board, a group of 16 undergraduate honor students at the University of Georgia who work in conjunction with the Peabody Awards program. The award ceremony will take place on May 20, 2016, in New York at the Paley Center for Media.

Wesley So and Garry Kasparov
Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

The 2016 U.S. and U.S. Women’s Championship ended April 25 but the chess tournament in St. Louis had one more surprise for the fans all over the world: the Ultimate Blitz Challenge! In what could easily be considered the most anticipated blitz event in the world, Garry Kasparov was summoned by the patriarch of modern chess, Rex Sinquefield, to take on the best players in American chess and arguably in the world. It was an exciting return from someone who many be considered the best chess player who ever played the game.

Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis  author John O’Leary wasn’t supposed to survive the burns that covered 100 percent of his body when he had an accident at age 9. No one thought he would walk, write with a pencil, or play a piano ever again. O’Leary, now 38, is not only able to do those things, he also found love, married and fathered four children.

The Isamu Noguchi ceiling, which had been hidden for years under a drop ceiling at the U-Haul building on Kingshighway, has finally emerged for all to see. Click through the slideshow to see more views of it.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

A late autumn's promise has bloomed in the spring: a once-hidden architectural gem in St. Louis is open to the public at last.

U-Haul International Inc. has made good on its commitment to uncover and repair a sculptured ceiling created for the main lobby of its mid-20th century facility on South Kingshighway by the late American artist and designer Isamu Noguchi.

A jockey rides a horse back past the finish line after a race on opening day at Fairmount Park.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

There were 30 minutes until the first race of the day and the locker room at Fairmount Park Racetrack buzzed with activity. Jockeys flipped through race programs and flicked their whips through the air. Television sets perched on cluttered shelves flashed scenes of the track outside, where fans filled the stands for opening day of the Collinsville racetrack's 91st season.

As announcers counted down in anticipation, the jockeys helped each other tape up aching joints and teased each other playfully. Some said a quick prayer.

sirmichael | 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 May.

Meera Nagarajan and Heather Hughes, the magazine’s art director and managing editor, respectively, joined St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh to discuss the openings and closings of restaurants you should know.

On their list? (Read the full post here)

Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that if a writer makes reference to Jane Austen in her works, she could likely incur what we’re calling “the wrath of the Janeites.” Or, at least, that’s some of what author Curtis Sittenfeld has experienced since the release of her novel “Eligible,” which is a modern retelling of Austen’s most famous book “Pride and Prejudice.”

Re-enactors walk quietly through the woods at Busch Memorial Conservation Area in St. Charles County.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

As a production crew carried lights, cameras and generators into a thicket of pine trees at Busch Memorial Conservation Area on a recent morning, Jeremy Turner stood on the bed of his pickup and surveyed the small group of friends and acquaintances he'd recruited to join him on set.

UMSL students Qianling Ye, Charis Railey, Robbie Wade, John Hood, Lalitha Jilakara and Tony Marr perform with their classmates during the dress rehearsal for their spring concert.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

This weekend is the last time those studying dance at the University of Missouri-St. Louis will put on a performance.

After this semester both UMSL dance professor Ronderrick Mitchell and the students who want to make dance into a career will be gone.

Devin Lawson of south St. Louis County works to dry out the boilers in the Wabash, Frisco and Pacific Railroad Association's 12-inch gauge steam engines.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The volunteer crew at the Wabash, Frisco and Pacific Railroad Association in far west St. Louis County is back on track after it was almost derailed by severe floods along the Meramec River late last year.

The ridable miniature railroad in Glencoe opens for the season this Sunday, the first time it will run for the public since the flooding. 

Laura Heidotten | St. Louis Public Radio

Pop music often falls into the tropes of love, desire, and wanting things you can’t have or had and lost. In real life these feelings can lead to inertia, melancholia, and ennui.

So what happens when those sentiments are expressed through huge melodies and danceable beats? 

There’s a group of young St. Louis-born musicians who have toured the country and developed strong online fan bases, despite having released only handfuls of tracks.  Their songs are connected stylistically and thematically by this exploration of pairing propulsive beats with a sense of want.

Rep. Mike Colona, D-St. Louis, speaks against SJR 39 during Wednesday's House Emerging Issues committee meeting.
Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

In our weekly "Behind the Headlines" segment, St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh discussed the top news stories that caught St. Louisans’ attention this week, with the people that produced them and contributed to them.

This week, we discussed the defeat of SJR 39, the “religious shield” proposal, in Missouri and explored the experiences of local transgender people.

Joining the program:

Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

For the first time this week, when severe weather rolled through the St. Louis metropolitan area, neither Cindy Preszler nor Mike Roberts had a newsroom to check in with or viewers to inform about breaking weather alerts.

“Sitting home and watching it on TV was tough,” Preszler told St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh. “I wanted to be there.”

Weather is still top-of-mind for both meteorologists, who are also personal friends.

Ron Campbell's Blue Meanie reclines on the words "all you need is love" whith the Yellow Submarine in the background.
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

The Beatles seem to be invading St. Louis once again. This summer Paul McCartney will perform at Busch Stadium, to mark the 50th anniversary of the Beatles's legendary performance at the old stadium. This weekend provides a chance to meet an artist who helped build the group's legacy, Ron Campbell.

“The Beatles fans, they spend their whole life remembering,” said Campbell, who also worked on popular kids cartoons. “Then there’s all the fans of the cartoons; the "Scooby-Doo" fans and all the childhood memories that they have.”

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for Sunday, May 1, 2016 will be “The Career of Jimmy Cobb.”  Best known for his associations with Miles Davis and the Wynton Kelly Trio, drummer Jimmy Cobb is now 87 and still going strong.  He was born in Washington D.C.

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

The 2016 U.S. Championship and U.S. Women’s Championship that concluded April 25 will not only go down in the history books as the strongest event but also as arguably the one with the most dramatic finale. Entering the final round, both tournaments had one clear leader as well as one or more players trailing by half point. The tournaments were reaching their crowning moment, the players’ nerves were at their peak, and the tension could be felt in the air.

Connor Wright seated on his trio of Stan Musial portraits at Ballpark Village. Wright used 5,980 Rubik's Cubes to make the piece.
Connor Wright | Provided

Baseball is a game of numbers: batting average , RBIs. ERA.

But Connor Wright had to come up with a different kind of number for a project honoring St. Louis Cardinals legend Stan Musial: how many Rubik’s Cubes it would  take to create a 205-square-foot mural with a trio of images of the famous #6.

Rachel Knickerman | Flickr |

April is National Poetry Month and before we flip the calendar page, St. Louis on the Air wants to celebrate two local organizations working to make sure that poetry continues on in the lives of young people.

Listen to the full interview and hear poetry from the young poets themselves:

UrbArts VerbQuake Poetry Slam

Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

The term ‘non-audition’ as it applies to choral endeavors may conjure up images of off-key singing and uncoordinated dance moves. That’s certainly not the case with CHARIS — The St. Louis Women’s Chorus, said the group's president, Sharon Spurlock.

Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

A musical collaboration between the International Institute of St. Louis and the St. Louis Symphony will have the sounds of Syria, Somalia, Palestine, Bosnia, Congo and Cuba streaming from the gym at the institute come May 3.

The purpose of Music Without Boundaries is to make immigrants new to the area feel welcomed by connecting them to the sounds of their homeland.

For Maureen Byrne, the director of community programs at the St. Louis Symphony, the collaboration was a logical fit.

Billy Busch enters the court building to attend a hearing on the sale of Grant's Farm
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

Five of six Busch siblings were in court Tuesday over the potential $26 million sale of Grant’s Farm from the Busch Family Trust.

Billy Busch has offered to buy Grant's Farm. His siblings, Gertrude Busch Valentine, Peter W. Busch, Andrew D. Busch, and Beatrice Busch von Gontard, have made a competing offer. Yet, in court the family sat on the same bench.

The Missouri Belting Company, considered one of the most endangered buildings in St. Louis by the Landmarks Association of St. Louis.
Paul Sableman | Flickr |

St. Louis is home to a vast array of architectural marvels. Whether you’re looking for art deco gems or modernist icons, you’ll find plenty of examples within city limits. But not all buildings are well preserved. What are the most endangered historical buildings in St. Louis? And what buildings are symbols of a preservation job well-done?

Morgan DeBaun, co-founder and CEO of Blavity.

Morgan DeBaun is co-founder and CEO of Blavity, a media startup that seeks to be the “voice of black millennials.” She says the organization got the name from a phenomenon she witnessed while attending Washington University.

A St. Louis Start

DeBaum, St. Louis native, said that if you head to the Danforth University Center on campus, you’ll find a bunch of tables with a big, round table in the middle.

The Conservative movement's Committee on Jewish Law and Standards recently decided that abstaining from legumes during Passover is more of a long-standing tradition and not a rule.
Gilabrand | Wikipedia

Barbara Shamir’s Passover table may get one new addition this year, to accompany the tender brisket, rich potato kugel, gefilte fish with a horseradish sidekick, and ubiquitous flourless chocolate cake.

It's tehina -- also called tahini -- once banned, now welcome at her table, thanks to a rabbinical dispensation.

In previous years, Shamir, of Olivette, would not allow her husband, Amos, to prepare or serve this sesame seed-based sauce during the holiday. That’s because the condiment contains “kitniyot,” foods that include legumes, certain seeds and peas. For many Ashkenazi Jews, or those of Eastern European descent, kitniyot is not kosher to eat during Passover.

The documentary Major! features Major Griffin-Gracy, a long-time transgender activist.
Cinema St. Louis | Provided

When QFest debuted in 2008, its schedule of LGBT films was more about the “G” than any other letter. Few male or female characters were people of color.

But things are different now, according to Cinema St. Louis’ Chris Clark.

“The true minority of all, honestly, is white, gay men,” he said.

Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Singer-songwriter Donny Hathaway was born in Chicago but grew up in St. Louis. Known for songs like “The Ghetto” and “This Christmas,” Hathaway began singing in his grandmother’s church choir and playing the piano at age 3. Hathaway was a prolific musician but also grappled with mental illness throughout his life.

Image of gridded room with free-floating squares that look like screens into another universe.
Laura Heidotten | St. Louis Public Radio

Destruction, reinvention and the Anthropocene. Adult Fur’s, all-too prescient new album MYU tackles these concerns while acknowledging that the time may be too late for us humans.  In a recent RFT review by Christian Schaeffer the album is characterized as “dystopic” and in this age of political and ecological sturm und drang we decided to lean into that classification and see what other “dystopic music” is burbling up through the city’s pavement.

Bishop Derrick Robinson and Rev. Rebecca Ragland place a candle on the spot where 15-year-old Jorevis Scruggs died after being shot by a police officer.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Clergy members, activists and community members gathered Thursday to mourn the death of 15-year-old Jorevis Scruggs, who was fatally shot by police earlier this week. Police say the teen was shot after he pointed a gun at an officer who gave chase as Scruggs jumped out of a suspected stolen car.

About three dozen people attended the vigil, placing teddy bears and “Black Lives Matters” signs in the residential alley where Scruggs died near St. Louis Avenue and Bacon Street. They lit candles, prayed and called for changes in community-police relations.

Author Gail Pellett of "Forbidden Fruit: 1980 Beijing" spoke with "St. Louis on the Air" host  Don Marsh.
Alex Heuer

Author Gail Pellet recently released a new memoir called “Forbidden Fruit: 1980 Beijing,” which details her experience working for Radio Beijing as a foreign expert.

“I was hired as the first experienced broadcast journalist to work at Radio Beijing,” Pellett told host Don Marsh.  

Pellett discussed her experiences in China as well as her connection to St. Louis — she was a student at Washington University during the late 1960s and early 1970s.