Arts & Culture | St. Louis Public Radio

Arts & Culture

Richie Camden and Dominic Rekart take the Breakaway Siberians dog sled team  out for a practice run on the Katy Trail near Weldon Spring, Mo., in January 2017.
Maren Leonard

It’s just after sunup on the Katy Trail in Weldon Spring, and musher Richie Camden is unloading his dog sledding equipment on the trailhead parking lot.

As he carries leads and adjusts harnesses, 11 blue-eyed Siberian huskies and one brown-eyed Gordon setter watch his every move through the truck windows.

Impatiently.

Nanook begins the whining. Jared the setter joins in with an excited bark. Soon, there’s a whole chorus of howls, ranging from baritone to soprano, echoing through the morning quiet.

Jan. 2, 2017 may well prove to be a landmark day in chess history as it marked the launch date of the new Universal Rating System (URS™). This exciting new system is expected to make it much easier for chess players across the world to achieve an international chess rating.

Development of the new rating system was co-funded by the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis and the Kasparov Chess Foundation. Its launch follows more than two years of research. The URS™ has already had a major impact on many of the world’s top players as the January 2017 rating list heavily impacted the selection of the 2017 Grand Chess Tour wild cards.

Elizabeth Vega is on the front porch of Art House in this February 6, 2017 photo, talking about a child's chalk drawing on the bricks.
Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis artist and activist Elizabeth Vega spends a lot of time in her home.

It’s a place in north St. Louis known as Art House, that she bought in 2015. There, she provides space for sign-making and other activities related to protest actions. She also works with local children to create kites, collages and other art to help them process their feelings. Recently, she spent five days and nights at Art House without leaving. An ankle monitoring device kept her tethered to her home.

Daven Anderson's "Last Light" captures life on a boat hauling 15 barges on the Ohio River at twilight.
Daven Anderson

Riddle me this: What surrounds us as Americans that most of us have never directly experienced?

If you guessed “our nation’s waterways,” you would be correct. Rivers and lakes are everywhere you turn in this country. This is perhaps no more so true than in St. Louis, which is cradled by the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers and their many tributaries.

So it makes sense that St. Louis-based painter Dave Anderson would turn his most recent gallery exhibition into a tribute to America’s aquatic arteries.

Singaporean filmmaker Mabel Gan has brought a version of the International Children's Film Festival she started in Singapore to St. Louis.
Alex Heuer | St. Louis Public Radio

There’s a new film festival in town, this time focused on films made by and for children. It is called the Big Eyes, Big Minds St. Louis International Children’s Film Festival and it is spearheaded by Singaporean filmmaker and festival director Mabel Gan.

“When I think of kids, I think of big eyes, big minds because they have bigger eyes and there is so much potential for their minds to grow,” Gan told St. Louis on the Air contributor Steve Potter on Monday’s program.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for  February 5, 2017 will be “Americans in Paris-Part 1.”  Paris has always been welcoming to American jazz musicians.  Many outstanding recordings with Americans have been made there starting in 1937 with recordings of visiting Americans with Django Reinhardt and Stephanne Grapelli and continuing with Mary Lou Williams, the Clifford Brown Big Band, Chet Baker, Dizzy Gillespie with Sarah Vaughan, the Duke Ellington Violin Summit & band, Gary Burton, Dexter Gordon and Bud Powell, Horace Silver, Oscar Peterson, Thelonious Monk, Circle, Larry Young, the Quincy Jone

Whether we are singing, dancing or drawing or whether we are watching a play or listening to a concert or reading a book or reciting a poem--the arts can heal and be transformative in one way or another.

Last summer, the Duane Reed Gallery of Art featured works presented by folks involved with the Arts as Healing Foundation. The exhibition was entitled "The Circle of Life."

Katherine Bernhardt, Untitled, 2015. Acrylic and spray paint on canvas, 96 x 120 inches. Courtesy the artist and CANADA, New York.
Katherine Bernhardt

Last Friday marked the opening of the new spring exhibitions at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, featuring a wide variety of work examining the body, the sky and a site-specific mural from St. Louis native Katherine Bernhardt.

David Robertson, the St. Louis Symphony's musical director, leads the orchestra in this file photo.
Scott Ferguson | Provided

The St. Louis Symphony will open its 2017-18 season with six Mozart piano concertos featuring Emanuel Ax.

Its season, which marks half a century in Powell Hall,  concludes with a performance of “Swing Symphony” in collaboration with trumpeter Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz from Lincoln Center Orchestra.

Russel Neiss, a St. Louis-based Jewish educator was one of the creators of the viral @Stl_manifest Twitter account, which recounted the lives of Jewish refugees turned away from the U.S. in 1939 aboard the M.S. St. Louis.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

It was Thursday night, the day before Holocaust Remembrance Day on Friday, Jan. 27, 2017. St. Louis-based Jewish educator and technologist Russel Neiss and his friend across the country, Rabbi Charlie Schwartz, had put their heads together.

Jacqueline Thompson plays the role of Esther in New Jewish Theatre's "Intimate Apparel."  She appears in this file photo.
Provided | Eric Woolsey

A play by New Jewish Theatre looks at the constraints placed on women in the early 1900s: the pressure to marry early, within their race.

In much of the United States, interracial marriage would be illegal for another 60 years. Miscegenation laws forbade blacks and whites from joining in wedlock until 1967.

But even as “Intimate Apparel” illustrates that taboo, it helps the theater company break out of its own limitations, given its history of largely white casts.  Four of the six characters in this play, produced by the Black Rep in 2005, are African-American. It’s the kind of opportunity New Jewish artistic director Kathleen Sitzer continually seeks.

Wesley So with the Sinquefield Cup trophy, which is one of the many tournaments he won in 2016
Chess Club & Scholastic Center of Saint Louis | Austin Fuller

Just last weekend, Wesley So won one of the most prestigious chess events, the Tata Steel Chess Tournament held in the Netherlands. So faced a difficult challenge, with World Champion Magnus Carlsen and World Championship challenger Sergey Karjakin participating but, in the end, he won the tournament with a convincing full point lead.

Summer Albarcha stands with friends at a rally to show support for immigrants and refugees outside Sen. Roy Blunt's Clayton office. This week, Blunt released a statement expressing support for President Trump's executive order on immigration. (Feb 2, 2017
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Protesters gathered outside Republican U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt’s office in Clayton Wednesday to voice their opposition to President Donald Trump’s executive order temporarily banning immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries.

Writer Kaitlyn Greenidge will talk about her novel at St. Louis Public Library headquarters at 7 p.m. on February 6.
Provided / St. Louis County Public Library

The idea of setting a special time for Americans to learn about black history began in 1926 from educator Carter G. Woodson. Concerned about lack of awareness about accomplishments of African-Americans, Woodson, the son of former slaves, set aside a week for students to learn about people who received scant attention in history books. Since 1976, every U.S. president has designated February as Black History Month. Other countries, including Canada and the United Kingdom, also devote a month to celebrating black history.

A burger from Hi-Pointe Drive In, one of the restaurants on Sauce Magazine's hit list.
Michelle Volansky | Sauce Magazine

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.

On Thursday, Catherine Klene and Matt Sorrell, the magazine’s managing editor and staff writer, respectively, joined St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh to discuss the openings and closings of restaurants you should know. Here's the full list with explanation from Sauce about why you should try the places they recommend.

Jazz pianist Alfredo Rodriguez
Photo by Betsy Newman. Courtesy of the artist.

Anyone who visits Cuba would be struck by two important musical currents: the streetwise character of modern dance music — and the elegance of classically trained performers adept at various genres.

 

St. Louisans this week have a chance to see both when pianist Alfredo Rodriguez, who hails from the Cuban Institute of Music, joins conga player Pedrito Martinez, who had no formal training. Since crossing paths in the United States in recent years, they’ve played together on stage and on recordings.

Their latest collaboration will be at Jazz at the Bistro, where they will perform fuse jazz and Afro-Cuban music, including timba, the fiery dance music that took the island by storm a couple of decades ago.

A Parkway School District and Mizzou Veterinary School grad, James Rollins, is a bestselling author of over 30 books, including the Tucker Wayne and Jake Ransom novels. He recently released his 33rd book, “The Seventh Plague,” the next book in the Sigma series.

On Tuesday, he joined St. Louis on the Air to discuss the novel, his writing process and how he has managed to become such a prolific author in so little time.

Music director David Robertson conducts the St. Louis Symphony.
Provided by the St. Louis Symphony

The St. Louis Symphony and its musicians have a five-year contract that will increase the minimum salary for musicians to $100,000 in the 2021-2022 fiscal year.

The agreement, signed seven months before the current contract expires, aims to improve flexibility with scheduling, make rehearsals more efficient, and update tour conditions for musicians.

It comes after several strong financial performances and a significant 2016 annual campaign that helped boost the symphony's endowment to more than $200 million.  The contract will establish a stable working environment over the next five years – one that helps attract top talent in classical music, according to Vicky Smolik, Musicians Association of St. Louis representative.

Nathaniel Ayers may not yet be a household name in classical music, but you surely know who he is. The  prodigy’s story was depicted in the 2009 film “The Soloist” by actor Jamie Foxx. It was Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez who discovered Ayers in 2005 and originally wrote a book about him, by the same title.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for Sunday, January 29, 2016 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.

This artist's rendering shows a renovated studio space at COCA.
Provided | COCA

Hammering and drilling will soon join the chorus of tap dancing and singing at the COCA arts center in University City.

The institution will launch an expansion and renovation in early 2018. It includes a 450-seat theater, more than 8,000 square feet of studio space, a community area and a 200-car parking garage. COCA expects to complete the work in late 2019.

After a controversial fall season overshadowed by community outrage over Kelley Walker's “Direct Drive,” the Contemporary Art Museum will unveil a spring season this weekend.

A selection of posters from the nominees for a 2017 St. Louis Theater Circle Award.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis Theater Circle on Friday released its 2017 award nominees for locally produced professional theater in 2016. This is the fifth year of the awards.

Max & Louie Productions’ “Grey Gardens,” received the top number of nominations, with 11, followed closely by The Rep’s “Follies,” with 10. Some 60 productions received nominations.

The production company leading nominations numbers was The Rep, with 24 nominations, followed by St. Louis Shakespeare, with 11 nominations. In total, 27 production companies had nominations.

This file photo of the painting "Exasperation" by local artist Fabio Rodriguez depicts people in his home of the Domincan Republic desperate for essentials like food and water. It was cut from an art exhibition for being potentially disturbing.
Provided | Fabio Rodriguez

St. Louis-area artist Fabio Rodriguez was devastated when a very personal piece of his work was removed from an exhibition. But did that action rise to the level of censorship?

Zac Adcox, the general manager of Blood & Sand.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

For eight years, Sauce Magazine has put together its “Ones to Watch” list, highlighting up-and-coming talent in the St. Louis dining industry. On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, we heard about some of the chefs, brewers, general managers and bakers.

Bill Greenblatt | UPI | File Photo

Since the Rams went west (and south, if you count their record), who did St. Louis pay attention to in the NFL this season?

Wesley So is the current lead of the Tata Steel Chess Tournament, pictured here at last year's London Chess Classic.
Saint Louis Chess Club and Spectrum Studios

Every year the first and longest elite tournament starts in January: Tata Steel!

The Wimbledon of Chess, as it is known, started Jan. 14 and ends Jan. 30. Traditionally held at the town of Wijk aan Zee in the Netherlands, this tournament attracts the best of the best. The event lasts for two weeks and 13 rounds, so physical fitness plays a crucial role in this prestigious tournament. 

What is the story behind Natural Bridge Road?
AA Roads

If you’ve ever wondered where in the world the “natural bridge” in Natural Bridge Road comes from, you’re not alone. The answer is tied to Missouri's abundance of caves and the underground world of St. Louis.

It’s a question Joe Light, vice president of the Meramec Valley Grotto and member of the Missouri Speleological Survey, gets asked all the time. Several Curious Louis questioners have wondered the same thing.

T.J. Muller, Kellie Everett and Kevin Belford joined St. Louis on the Air to discuss the Sidney Street Shakers.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

If you’re from St. Louis, you know that the region was the epicenter of the nation’s first pop music in the 1800s — ragtime. But St. Louis has contributed much more to the nation’s music legacy.

The Sidney Street Shakers, a local jazz group that solely plays St. Louis jazz of the 1920s, want to bring awareness to that legacy.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited  for January 22, 2017 will be “The Keys and Strings Hour + New Music.”  The first hour of Jazz Unlimited will feature some compositions and lyrics of Alec Wilder played by pianists Clarence Profit, Marian McPartland, Keith Jarrett, Rene Rosnes, George Shearing and Bill Charlap and sung by Carline Ray and Meredith D’Ambrosio.  New music will be heard in the second hour and will feature new albums by our own Pat Joyce and Ptah Williams along with saxophonist Bruce Williams, the Mamu Trio from Belgium, Freddie Redd, John Moulder, Clay Gibberson, Jane Bunnett &a

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