Arts & Culture

Bundesarchiv Bild | Wikimedia Commons

Lithuanian-American young adult author Ruta Sepetys has known her whole life of the trials faced by refugees fleeing war. Her father fled from Lithuania when the Soviets occupied the country following World War II and spent nine years in refugee camps before he was able to come to the United States.

Vita Kryvoruchko is the resident grandmaster for the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis.
Nicole Halpin | Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis

The Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis hosted the 8th Annual Metro St. Louis Tournament on Feb. 6. I was very glad to participate in the event, which was the first time I played in the Chess Club. Every section played in different rooms, which was good because it was quiet and comfortable. The Master’s section had eight strong players: two grandmasters, three international masters and myself, a woman grandmaster.

Volunteers got a chance to enjoy drinks and snacks and socialize while volunteering at Operation Food Search's December Rap N Pack event.
Stephanie Lecci | St. Louis Public Radio

Not all of the food at Operation Food Search one evening last December was going to needy families.

Rather, some were appetizers to be paired with wine and beer and enjoyed by the volunteers at the University City-based food bank, as part of its "Rap N Pack" event that mixes socializing with volunteering.

Poet and spoken word artist Cheeraz Gormon has felt great pain.

She grew up in the north St. Louis neighborhood of College Hill and remembers what it was like to hear the first gun shots ring out in her neighborhood in the late 1980s and the gang wars that erupted thereafter. She remembers when her brother, six weeks home from Kuwait, was murdered in Olivette. She remembers, most recently, when her baby brother was murdered on August 13, 2013, defending a woman who was the victim of domestic abuse. She most certainly remembers years of systemic racism she faced as an executive in the advertising industry and daily life as a black woman and activist.

But Gormon has also approached this pain with great love: a fuel for her poetry and spoken word performances that are capturing the hearts and minds of people around St. Louis.

Jessica Witte will launch a seed-art project, similar to this August 2015 one in Belleville, along the St. Louis riverfront June 3-5.
Jessica Witte

St. Louisans will get to participate in a massive art project on the riverfront this summer, thanks to a new public art grant.

The local Critical Mass for the Arts announced the winner of its first-ever public works endeavor today. The group awarded multimedia artist Jessica Witte $10,000 for her “Seed the Change” idea.

Rembrandt van Rijn, Dutch, 1606–1669; The Three Trees, 1643; etching, drypoint, and engraving; image: 8 5/16 x 10 15/16 inches; Saint Louis Art Museum, Museum Purchase
Provided by the St. Louis Art Museum

Ten years ago, the St. Louis Art Museum carved out an institutional work of art in the World’s Fair-era Cass Gilbert building on Art Hill. This architectural artistry is a bright and comfortable place for research and reflection, dedicated not only to scholars but also to you and to me, the general public. It is called the study room for prints, drawings and photographs and is run by a friendly, accommodating staff upstairs in the East Wing.

Grand Center vice president Michelle Stevens and National Endowment for the Arts chairman Jane Chu in the Public Media Commons on Olive Street.
Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis is on the right track, according to the head of the nation’s largest grant-making organization for the arts.

Jane Chu, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, visited St. Louis Monday as part of a tour of NEA grant recipients. Her stops included the Grand Center Arts District,  which has received two “Our Town” awards totaling $125,000 to help with plans to make the area more walkable and attractive.

Susannah Lohr | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis has so many Americana acts that choosing three to highlight is almost a joke. There are perennial  favorites like Pokey LaFarge and the Bottle Rockets.  There are the alt-country "grandfathers" Uncle Tupelo.  But here are a couple of St. Louis Public Radio’s current favorites. Thanks to  Tim Lloyd, one of the hosts for We Live Here, for pointing Audio Agitation in the right direction.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for February 7 will be the first of a five-part series on “Jazz Families: Blood Relatives.”  There are an amazing number of jazz musicians who have blood relatives (mothers, fathers, siblings) who are also jazz musicians.  This show will feature music by the Dodds brothers, the Buckner brothers, the DeParis brothers, the Goodman brothers, Albert Ammons and his son Gene, Cannonball and Nat Adderley and Nat’s son Nat Adderley, Jr., the Clayton family, the Candoli brothers, the Brecker brothers, the Cole brothers, the Barron brothers, the Bryant brothers, Kenny Drew and

Who hasn't enjoyed a comic strip in the newspaper or a comic book or a cartoon in the New Yorker at one time or another? 

What a treat it was to enter the Ojai Valley Museum in Ojai, California and see an exhibition titled "Sergio's Cartoon Collection.” 

Julia Flood, the artistic director of Metro Theater Company, and Trigney Morgan, who plays Cassius Clay in “And In This Corner…Cassius Clay.”
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Picture this moment: A Louisville mother and her two sons are huddled in a hug after hearing the news about the murder of Emmett Till. There are tough questions about why and no clear answers to be had.

The official "Puppy Bowl" portrait of Ellie aka Puddin' Pop. You can see her play fpr Team Ruff at 2 p.m. Sunday.
Stray Rescue

There’s a doggone good reason to watch TV on Super Bowl Sunday, even if you’re not a football fan — or still bitter about the Rams.

St. Louis may not have a home team anymore, but we do have a dog in this fight -- an actual dog, from Wentzville, who’ll take the field in the Animal Planet channel’s annual “Puppy Bowl” on Sunday afternoon.

Courtesy of Butterscotch Shenanigans

Sam Coster had an unusual inspiration for his hit computer game – his fight against cancer.

“The game is designed specifically to deliver a feeling of awe and wonder and immersion so it’s literally designed to be the place that I wanted and needed to go during cancer treatment,” Sam said.

This piece is from Basil Kincaid's "Reclamation 2," showing at The Luminary through Feb. 27.
Willis Ryder Arnold / St. Louis Public Radio

It's no stretch to think that Basil Kincaid’s efforts to unite people of African heritage require travel. But pre-paid phone cards, vinyl sheets and a strong adhesive are also part of the process.

Photograph of Nona Gaprindashvili in Gisela Gresser’s Photo Album from the 1961 Vrnjačka Banja, Yugoslavia (present-day Serbia), Women’s Candidates Tournament, c. 1961. John G. White Collection at the Cleveland Public Library.
Michael DeFilippo | World Chess Hall of Fame

Georgia has always held a special place in the chess world. Its women have been especially strong, having once held the Women’s World Chess Champion title for just under 30 consecutive years.

The first pioneer and a phenomenal success of women’s chess in Georgia was Nona Gaprindashvili, who in 1962 became the Women’s World Chess Champion at the age of 21.

Storyteller Bobby Norfolk's 'Take the A Train' opens Jan. 10, 2015.
Courtesy of Bobby Norfolk

To Bobby Norfolk, three-time Emmy Award-winning television host, standup comedian, living history park ranger with the National Park Service and storyteller on the national scene, storytelling is no laughing matter.

“It is missionary work,” Norfolk told Steve Potter on Thursday’s “St. Louis on the Air.” If you go into storytelling, it is a serious, serious endeavor.”

Adam Kloppe, a public historian with the Missouri History Museum joined Don Marsh to discuss the museum’s new exhibit "Spies, Traitors, Saboteurs: Fear and Freedom in America," and the St. Louis connections to that world.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

The NSA, Edward Snowden, homeland security, terrorism … none of these terms are far from any American’s mind these days. But they are founded in historic events that have emerged through the United States history.

On Wednesday’s “St. Louis on the Air,” Adam Kloppe, a public historian with the Missouri History Museum joined Don Marsh to discuss the museum’s new exhibit "Spies, Traitors, Saboteurs: Fear and Freedom in America," and the St. Louis connections to that world. The exhibit comes to St. Louis from the International Spy Museum, located in Washington D.C.

Mardi Gras 2012
Provided by Clementines

The 37th Annual Bud Light Grand Parade in Soulard is just around the corner. The Mardi Gras celebration will take off from Busch Stadium at 11 a.m. Saturday, winding its way to the Anheuser-Busch Brewery. The parade route is 1.6 miles long, and normally takes around two hours to complete.

Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

James Beard Award-winning chef Gerard Craft is known for some of St. Louis’ most beloved restaurants which produce cutting-edge and taste-bud-tingling food. So when restaurateurs heard his newest venture was going fast-casual, they did a double-take.

Despite the initial shock, the restaurant has opened to lines out the door:

Drone warfare has spread from the battlefields to TV and movie thrillers. And now it’s spread to the fine art world. The Kemper Art Museum at Washington University is hosting one of the first museum shows critically examining drones. Yet, say the show’s curators, the art isn’t bogged down in political rhetoric. It's visually engaging and firmly grounded in contemporary art.

Michelle Volansky | 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 February.

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.

A 1963 photo of the Congress of Racial Equality demonstrating at the Jefferson Bank & Trust Company over the issue of jobs.
Arcadia Publishing

The author of a new book called “African American St. Louis” hopes images of the past will help people better understand the issues of today.

Lead author and educator John Wright Sr. grew up in St. Louis in the 1940s and '50s. His book, written in collaboration with his sons John Wright Jr. and Curtis Wright Sr., contains 170 color and black-and-white photos from the 1960s through the present.

Wright said many of the pictures are unique images you won’t see in museums, libraries, newspapers or online.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for Sunday, January 31, 2015 will be “Jazz Giants Born in January and February.”  Jazz Giants are those musicians whose individuality makes them both instantly recognizable by their sound and revered for their inspiring playing. Among these giants are Henry "Red" Allen, Mildred Bailey, Frank Butler, Big Sid Catlett, Kenny Clarke, Curtis Counce, Tadd Dameron, Buddy DeFranco, Roy Eldridge, Jimmy Forrest, Stan Getz, Benny Golson, Dexter Gordon, Wardell Gray, Bobby Hutcherson, Milt Jackson, J. J. Johnson, James P.

Rev. Osagyefo Sekou performs at a listening party for “The Revolution Has Come” on January 26, 2016. The album will be released January 31, 2016.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Inspired by the Rev. Osagyefo Uhuru Sekou’s forthcoming album “The Revolution Has Come,” we decided to look around St. Louis to find other interpretations of gospel music in the region. 

St. Louis has a rich tradition of gospel music, and our inquiry brought us to some unconventional interpretations. But let's start with what prompted this edition of Audio Agitation.

A selection of posters from the nominees for a 2015 St. Louis Theater Circle Award.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis Theater Circle released its 2015 award nominees on Friday. The productions leading the nominations were Stages St. Louis’ production of “Anything Goes,” with nine nominations, and Stray Dog Theatre’s “The Mystery of Edwin Drood,” with seven nominations. The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis led all companies with 30 nominations.

In all, 21 companies were nominated in the fourth year of the awards, judged by 15 local theatre critics. All professional St. Louis productions are eligible; touring shows are not.

Saint Louis Science Center

A new interactive exhibit is opening at the Saint Louis Science Center called “Above and Beyond.” It explores the science of flight and what innovations are happening today that are shaping the future of aerospace.

On Chess: Tiny feet take big steps in chess

Jan 28, 2016
Chess at 3 kids play at the chess club and scholastic center of St. Louis on Jan. 23, 2016.
Provided by the Goddard School

On Saturday, Jan. 23, a chess tournament was hosted in the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis. No grandmasters at this one. Goddard School students age 3 to 5 participated in the tournament.

It was quite the spectacle as more than 30 children and nearly 100 adults, including parents, grandparents, extended family, family friends and siblings, observed the tournament.

Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Lou Baczewski joined “St. Louis on the Air” last year to discuss his plans to document his grandfather’s World War II service to benefit veterans’ organizations. Now, he’s returned from a bicycle tour in Europe, where he retraced the route of his grandfather’s division during the war. He biked over 400 miles and raised $5000 for veterans’ organizations during the process.

Rev. Osagyefo Sekou and Jay-Marie Hill pose for a portrait. The two wrote 11 songs together in six days just days after meeting at a demonstration.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The pulpit, streets full of protesters and a recording studio don’t have much in common.  But for the Rev. Osagyefo Uhuru Sekou, these three environments offer the chance to spread a gospel of equality.

“What are the ways that we’re going to wrestle with saving the democracy? Music can do that; the pulpit can do that; and engaging in the rich tradition of civil disobedience can do that,” said Sekou.

kylesteed | Flickr, Creative Commons | http://bit.ly/1K9dLqp

When it comes to the graffiti art scene, St. Louis has quite a bit going on.

“I’ve traveled the world and St. Louis, by far, is similar to the Super Bowl,” said Brian Van Hoosier, a graffiti artist and committee member with Paint Louis, an event that covers two miles of flood wall in downtown St. Louis with sanctioned art from national and international graffiti artists each year.

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