Arts & Culture | St. Louis Public Radio

Arts & Culture

This image combines two portraits by different artists in the Metro Trans Umbrella Group's "Transcending the Spectrum" art exhibition.
Metro Trans Umbrella Group

Over the past five years, the Metro Trans Umbrella Group art show has more than doubled in size. This year’s event at Koken Art Factory in south St. Louis on Saturday boasts 35 visual artists and 25 stage performers.

The exhibition has expanded as more transgender artists feel safe to show their creations, according to curator Alex Johnmeyer and artist Eric Schoolcraft. But, they noted, growing visibility also highlights the dangers of being seen. To address that, organizers put a safety team in place to escort attendees to and from their cars.

Chess joins the esport arena

Apr 26, 2018
Watching the PRO Chess League, an online rapid chess league, can be an intense experience.
Eric Rosen

Pressure is a major element in chess. Pressure to find the right move. Pressure to use your clock time wisely. Pressure to beat your opponent. Pressure to win the tournament.

The PRO Chess League, an online rapid chess league, has used these elements to provide a great viewing experience on its weekly Twitch.tv stream.

Taking a programming cue from the fantastically popular esports world, PRO Chess recently hosted its second finals in San Francisco with the top four teams — the Ljubljana Turtles, Chengdu Pandas, Armenian Eagles and Saint Louis Archbishops.

Business owners in Jeffrey Plaza on Olive Boulevard say they have not been receiving updates about a proposed development that would displace them.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis once had a thriving hub for Chinese immigrants moving to the city. Historical records show in 1894 there were about 1,000 people of Chinese heritage living in St. Louis, many of whom had moved to the region from California in the middle part of the century.

A St. Louis Public Radio listener wanted to know how so many Chinese businesses came to exist at Olive Boulevard near Interstate 170 in University City. The listener also wanted to know why hasn’t there been more expansion of Asian businesses there. 

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for April 22, 2018 will be “New Music Plus A Tribute to Cecil Taylor.”  It will mark my 35th Anniversary of presenting jazz on St.

Gary Gackstatter (at left) composed "Symphony Chaco: A Journey of the Spirit." Choral director Jim Henry  (at right) and renowned Native American flutist R. Carlos Nakai are helping him bring the piece to the Touhill stage next week.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Jim Henry has yet to visit New Mexico’s Chaco Canyon, the hallowed, high-desert landscape once home to ancestral Pueblo tribes. But the choral director has already fallen in love with the place, as have his music students at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

That’s due to a new symphony inspired by Chaco from local composer Gary Gackstatter, who is a music professor at St. Louis Community College-Meramec. On Monday, April 23, about 200 singers and instrumentalists from UMSL and from STLCC will perform the symphony during a free concert at the Blanche M. Touhill Performing Arts Center.

“When I [first] played this piece for my students, they just could not wait to get on the stage,” Henry told host Don Marsh this week on St. Louis on the Air.

Curious Louis question-asker Rachel Duncan, left, and St. Louis Public Radio reporter Shahla Farzan, center, speak with Bill Houston of the Saint Louis Zoo.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Rachel Duncan doesn’t remember the first time she visted the St. Louis Zoo, but she’s pretty sure she was an infant.

“There’s not a summer in my life that I have not come to visit the St. Louis Zoo and enjoyed what it has to offer,” said Duncan. “It’s a part of my entire life.”

Like many St. Louisans, she feels personally connected to the animals at the zoo. That prompted her to ask our Curious Louis reporting series: What happens when an animal passes away at the zoo? Do they have a funeral? And how does it impact the workers?


Hannibal native Melissa Scholes Young is the author of "Flood."
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri native Melissa Scholes Young has fond memories of growing up in Hannibal.

“It is a welcome community, it is a place where I’m really proud to be from,” Young told St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh on Thursday. “It is what I still consider my hometown even though I left there when I was 17. I always return to my roots and I’m very aware of the way that being raised in a place with hardworking people ... how that has affected where I’ve gone in the world and the way I live my life.”

Carl Kasell throws out the first pitch on April 14, 2010, at Busch Stadium.
File photo | Bill Greenblatt | UPI

In tribute to NPR’s Carl Kasell, who passed away earlier this week, Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air included a segment in remembrance of the longtime newscaster and much-beloved radio personality.

The broadcast featured portions of a 2006 conversation between Kasell and St. Louis Public Radio host Steve Potter. During the interview, Kasell reflected on his decades in the radio business and the growth of NPR since he first joined the organization in 1975.

Cuzin Grumpy's Pork Chop Revue is among the new acts featured in Circus Flora's 2018 season.
Circus Flora

For more than 30 years, Circus Flora, a one-ring circus that makes St. Louis its home, has offered a circus show that’s best described as live theater. It’s an intimate setting that is in stark contrast to the images some people might conjure of the large Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus which performed for the last time 10 months ago.

Two things are significantly different about this year’s Circus Flora season.

File photo: Esther, played by Jacqueline Thompson, and Mr. Marks, played by Jim Butz, examine a bolt of fine fabric in a scene that simmers with largely unspoken feelings.
Eric Woolsey

The emphasis is on the “new” for incoming New Jewish Theatre artistic director Edward Coffield.

In July, Coffield will take the reins from founder Kathleen Sitzer who launched the company 22 years ago.

Coffield plans to shake things up by including a family show every year, collaborating with other companies and working with themes that encompass issues well beyond the realm of Judaism.

After serving as Sitzer’s assistant for 16 years, Coffield acknowledges he’s building on the work of a St. Louis theater icon.

The day I met Carl Kasell, in 1998, he just reached out and shook my hand and said my name. And then he said it again. I think he knew how exciting it is for all of us public radio nerds to hear your name, spoken by that voice, and he wanted to give me a gift.

I met Carl when he was in his early 60s, already an institution in the news business, at an age when he could think about retiring. But instead, he started a second career.

A stretch of Martin Luther King Drive that houses two furniture-and-appliance stores is seen from atop the old J.C. Penney building between Hamilton and Hodiamont avenues.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

On just about any day, a stream of customers arrives at Jaden’s Diner at 4251 Dr. Martin Luther King Drive in The Ville neighborhood of north St. Louis. For people from the neighborhood, and for those from other parts of St. Louis, there’s one big draw.

“We’ve got one of the best soul-food places in St. Louis city,” exclaimed Iris Crawford, a cook at the restaurant.

The restaurant can get crowded, especially on Sundays. That’s when the diner offers a glimpse into the once-bustling community of then-Easton Avenue — decades ago an economic powerhouse. Its glory days are long gone, but proud residents hope improvements will come.

McCluer North High School students Dacia Slater, Dylan Bozeman and Payton Woodruff sang an original piece about Thomas Paine in front of 3,900 students and the touring Hamilton Cast at the Fox Theatre on April 11.
Lara Hamdan | St. Louis Public Radio

Outside the Fox Theatre in St. Louis on April 11, lines of students and teachers eagerly awaited to watch the hit Broadway musical, “Hamilton.”

They were among students from 42 schools across the region participating in the Hamilton Education Program created by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. The program, also known as EduHam, allows public high schools from lower-income areas the opportunity to see and learn American history through "Hamilton."

Elsa Hart’s third historical mystery featuring librarian-turned-detective Li Du, titled “City of Ink,” is set for release this August. A fourth novel is also in the works.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

When Elsa Hart moved to St. Louis and set out to earn a law degree from Washington University, becoming a novelist wasn’t at the top of her agenda. But then neither did Li Du, the protagonist of her since-published historical mysteries, expect to morph into a detective.

Trained as an imperial librarian in early 18th-century China, the fictional character winds up solving crimes in the midst of an ancient eclipse of the sun and other unexpectedly fraught adventures. Li Du is the central character in both Hart’s debut, “Jade Dragon Mountain” (2015), and its sequel, “The White Mirror” (2016), and still more surprises await him and his associates.

The Minner Arena fan cave is in the basement of O'Fallon photographer Dennis Minner.
Dennis Minner

An O’Fallon, Missouri, resident might have the coolest basement around — especially if you are a hockey fan. Dennis Minner has converted the space into a mini-Scottrade Center, with much of it devoted to his love of the St. Louis Blues hockey team.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for Sunday, April 15, 2018 will be “Grammy Winners in My Collection-Part 3.”  In it’s early days, the jazz Grammy Awards were not awarded for great music, but by the popularity of the musicians and the Hollywood-Centric voters.  Great music began to creep in by the late 1960’s.  We will play selections from the 80 Grammy winning jazz recordings in my collection from 1959 to the present.  In all of the Jazz Grammys, there is no Miles Davis’s “Kind of Blue,” John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme,” Dave Brubeck’s “Time Out,” not one Blue Note label or Prestige label 1960’s ja

Ashe-Hudlin Park is located next to the former home of Richard Hudlin where Arthur Ashe also lived and practiced.
The City of Richmond Heights

International tennis player Arthur Ashe and his coach Richard Hudlin, who both broke racial barriers in the sport, are getting their own park right next to the place that started it all.

The city of Richmond Heights and the Richmond Heights Historical Society dedicated the Ashe-Hudlin Park on Sunday. The small park is located at the intersection of Bennett Avenue and Laclede Station Road, next to Hudlin’s former home at 1221 Laclede Station Road where Ashe also lived and practiced.

Shakespeare Festival presented "Winter's Tale" as its 2017 mainstage production in Forest Park.
Shakespeare Festival

Shakespeare Festival St. Louis has named Tom Ridgely of New York to fill the post of  executive producer, which includes both artistic and leadership roles.

Ridgley comes to St. Louis from New York City’s Waterwell theater company, which he founded in 2002. He replaces Rick Dildine, who headed Shakespeare Festival St. Louis for eight years.

Omega Jones plays Jesus in Stray Dog Theatre’s “Jesus Christ Superstar.” This rendition is set in a dystopian world and portrays Jesus as a complicated human.
Stray Dog Theatre

Growing up in and out of foster care, St. Louis singer and actor Omega Jones managed to find a silver lining: self-reliance.

It’s a trait that helps him confront racism as a young black man — and handle  the ups and downs of musical theater.

“I know at the end of the day, I’m taking care of me; no one else is,” he said.

2017 U.S. Chess Champion, GM Wesley So and the 2017 U.S. Women's Chess Champion, Sabina Foisor.
Austin Fuller | St. Louis Chess Club

It’s that time of the year again. The best chess players in the United States will once again reunite in the world capital of chess, St. Louis, as they get ready for the most important national competition of the year: the 2018 U.S. Championship & U.S. Women’s Championship.

The tournaments are scheduled to start April 17 and conclude on April 30, when the winners in each section will be declared the 2018 champions.  Both tournaments will include the 12 best players this nation has to offer in their respective sections, as they compete for the highest laurels in a round robin format.

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