The chess boom in St. Louis may appear as though it has materialized out of thin air, but the Gateway City has a vibrant chess history.
Chess adds to a rich and developing cultural renaissance in St. Louis. And as we celebrate our city’s 250th birthday, I think it’s appropriate to take a look at some of the important names, events and places that have helped shaped our ever-growing chess culture.
This column explores the early days of chess in St. Louis and some notable champions and championships that placed St. Louis at the center of the chess universe.
In St. Louis’ first few years, more longtime residents of Cahokia, Prairie du Rocher, Mine La Motte, Old Mines, Mo., Ste. Genevieve and the area moved to Laclede’s fur trading post. Land-owning small farmers, fur traders, miners, merchants from the region’s French settlements all came to Laclede’s settlement.
“Religion was a very strong reason. They just didn’t want to live under the English,” said Margaret Kimball Brown, author “History as They Lived It: A Social History of Prairie du Rocher.”
Word spread quickly on social media this past weekend: Richard McDonnell, founder and president of the St. Louis-based MAXJAZZ recording label, had died.
One of the first tributes posted -- by Dean Minderman, editor of the respected music blog “St. Louis Jazz Notes” -- was put up to replace rumor with facts. Yes, McDonnell had suffered a stoke while attending a concert Feb. 7 at Jazz at the Bistro. He died the next day.
The Sheldon Art Gallery is hosting the exhibit, “Imagining the Founding of St. Louis,” which includes Oscar Edward Berninghaus, (American, 1874–1952), Laclede Landing at Present Site of St. Louis, c. 1914, watercolor, 10 x 14 inches, Private Collection, St. Louis
As all in the area should know by now, 14-year-old Auguste Chouteau and his band of 30 “mechanics” unloaded their boat a bit south of the legs of today’s Gateway Arch 250 years ago on Feb. 15*. People may not know that this middle stretch of the upper Mississippi Valley was already rich with French settlements on both sides of the river. Residents, especially the younger generation, of those settlements would help St. Louis grow quickly.
Jazz Unlimited for February 9 is “Live from the Village Vanguard-Part 1.” We continue our survey of New York jazz clubs with the first of two parts on the Village Vanguard. Max Gordon started the club in 1935 and ran it until his death in 1989. Since then, his widow Lorraine continues to run it. It remains the way it was when Max died. The featured artists for this show, guitarist Jim Hall, the Gerry Mulligan Concert Jazz Band, the Brad Mehldau Trio, Roy Eldridge, Coleman Hawkins, Earl Hines, the Steve Kuhn Trio, the J.J.
Two arts therapy organizations in St. Louis will receive an influx in donations thanks to upcoming charitable concerts. Proceeds from the 4th Annual Pazaz Gala 2014 Saturday, February 8 at the Touhill will go to the dance therapy program Drea’s Dream, and a concert Thursday, February 13 at the Sheldon based on the music of Al Hammerman will benefit the songwriting therapy program Kids Rock Cancer.
To celebrate the 250th anniversary of St. Louis, the Sheldon Art Galleries has organized a major exhibition depicting the founding of the city and the people involved. Imagining the Founding of St. Louis includes paintings, drawings, prints and sculpture by a variety of noted artists.
Sheldon Art Galleries Director and co-curator of the exhibit Olivia Lahs-Gonzales commented, “Obviously this all happened before the advent of photography so there was no photographer on the boat with the explorers, so it’s really left up to artists to kind of imagine what it was like.”