Arts & Culture

St. Lou Fringe Festival is back for a fifth year, running Aug. 19-27 in Grand Center, and features everything “avant-garde, independent and brand-new” that “you wouldn’t see in other theaters here in St. Louis,” said Matthew Kerns, the festival’s new executive director.

This year’s Fringe features acts from Colorado, Nashville, as well as those native to St. Louis. All the acts are one hour or under.

The start of the marathon race at the 1904 Olympics, held in St. Louis.
Missouri History Museum | http://bit.ly/2bqId2E

As the Rio 2016 Olympics begin to wind down, it is worth remembering that St. Louis once played host to the Olympics: the 1904 Olympics, the first to be held on U.S. soil — and they were a mess. Doping, shameful “Anthropology Days” competitions among “savages” and minimal international participation were a recipe for a games that the Wall Street Journal once dubbed “Comedic, Disgraceful And 'Best Forgotten.’”

Ironically, St. Louis wasn’t even supposed to host the 1904 Olympics. As Sharon Smith, Curator of Civic and Personal Identity at the Missouri History Museum, relayed it on Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air: “St. Louis took those Olympics from Chicago.”

St. Louis-based author Ridley Pearson.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis-based author Ridley Pearson has written over 50 suspense and adventure novels but his latest, “White Bone,” is tackling an issue that is close to him: illegal wildlife poaching in Africa.

Em Piro founded St. Lou Fringe in 2011.
Em Piro

From a modern-day operatic tribute to “The Goose That Laid the Golden Egg” to a woman interacting with a toy chicken, St. Lou Fringe offers entertainment that can’t be found on any other local stage.

But can the Fringe still fly without its original founder? Em Piro is leaving the organization after its fifth festival, which opens Friday.

In our latest Cut & Paste podcast, we talk with Piro about her collaborative approach, how the festival has grown in step with St. Louis’ arts community and the future of Fringe.

Grandmaster Garry Kasparov, from left, with Grandmaster Wesley So, winner of the 2016 Sinquefield Cup, and Jeanne and Rex Sinquefield.
Lennart Ootes | Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis.

The third leg of the Grand Chess Tour, the 2016 Sinquefield Cup, took place at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis from Aug. 4-16.

With the first edition taking place just four years ago, the Sinquefield Cup has expanded from four players to include 10 of the world’s best. Furthermore, the cup joined other elite events around the world in 2015 to create the Grand Chess Tour. As usual, the tournament featured the top players in the world, as well as a wild card, giving an opportunity to a talented player who otherwise would not have made it by rating.

Meghan Baker and Michael James Reed play the husband and wife in "Love's Labor."
Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Public Radio

The Pulitzer Arts Foundation will take on new role this weekend — as the stage for an original play.

The Pulitzer and Shakespeare Festival St. Louis are teaming up to present a play called “Love’s Labor.”  The production weaves together words from the Bard and  modern-day language in a story about a couple on the brink of divorce.

Elise Quagliata and Christine Brewer in Union Avenue Opera's production of "Doubt."
John Lamb | Union Avenue Opera

August 19 will mark the first time the opera version of “Doubt” is performed in its full glory after its Minneapolis premiere in January 2013. Famed soprano Christine Brewer will reprise her role as Sister Aloysius, the principled nun whose unwavering certainty begins to buckle over suspicions of a parish priest’s improper relationship with an eighth grade student.

Provided by The Maness Brothers
Provided by The Maness Brothers

The Whiskey War Festival, a homegrown day of music celebrating contemporary Americana, blues and rock groups from the Midwest, turns 5 on Saturday.

This year the festival is moving from its home base in St. Charles to the South Broadway Athletic Club in the Soulard neighborhood. Jake Maness, who founded the festival with his brother David, said the show is a chance to share the music they’ve found while touring the Midwest.

Robert Tebbe, Darcella Craven, and Sheila Suderwalla joined Don Marsh on Tuesday to discuss how their organizations are serving the veteran community.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Military veterans often face significant challenges in re-acclimating to ‘normal’ life in the United States. These challenges may be rooted in mental, emotional and psychological issues resulting from the trauma and stresses of war. Physical injuries can be seen, but internal struggles (what Humans of New York photographer Brandon Stanton calls “invisible wounds”) frequently remain hidden from the outside world.

Robyn Browning, Carla Fletcher and Carolyn Randazzo joined "St. Louis on the Air" to discuss the Ferguson Readings on Race book group.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

This interview, initially scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 11, will be on "St. Louis on the Air" at noon on Monday; this story will be updated after the show. You may listen live.

Karen Downey as Betsy Boss, left, and Allison Harris as Emily Lickinson, right, speed through a quick arm wrestling match during a dress rehearsal at the Heavy Anchor bar.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

As the lights dim, wrestler Hulk Hogan’s theme song will rise and Betsy Boss will strut onstage in her American flag bikini. Her biceps flexed, and with a sewing kit tucked under her arm, the newest St. Louis Lady Arm Wrestler will be ready to rumble.

Her motto: She leaves you red, white and boo hoo.

Betsy Boss — local fitness instructor Karen Downey — makes her debut tonight at the group’s latest Grease-themed bout — “Summer Shovin.”

The St. Louis Lady Arm Wrestlers — also known as SLLAW — describe themselves as "a philanthropic conglomerate of awesome," with a mission to “empower women and strengthen the community through theatre, philanthropy and the pure power of ladyhood.”

J Freivogel, Sara Sitzer and Dana Hotle discussed the Gesher Festival on "St. Louis on the Air."
Mary Edwards | St. Louis Public Radio

In Hebrew, the word “gesher” means bridge. The theme of this year’s Gesher Music Festival, which runs through Aug. 21, is taking that title to heart by bridging divides over immigration using chamber music.

This is the festival’s sixth year and features a variety of events, including three main concerts around St. Louis all around the theme “American Dreams.”

Provided by Phaedra Phestival. Photo by Wilson Webel.
Provided by Phaedra Phestival. Photo by Wilson Webel.

The Arts and Education Council has launched a new crowd-sourcing platform called stARTup-StL  aimed at uniting its existing donor base, new donors and arts projects in the metro area. 

Much like Kickstarter or Indiegogo, the fundraising tool will help organizations and individuals raise money. But fees are far less than those charged by larger services. The council will only collect credit card fees for processing donations. All other funds will stay in the St. Louis region.

Keyboardist and singer Ashley Underwood, on the right in red, was only 9 when he saw the Beatles in St. Louis. Pam Strasser, a third-grade teacher, was 14.
Nancy Fowler / St. Louis Public Radio. Ticket stubs provided by Steve Adams and Barbara Ward

In 1966, the civil rights movement was in full swing, protesters marched against the escalating war in Vietnam, and the Beatles were revolutionizing the U.S. music scene.

But for good Catholic girls like Pam Strasser, it was still a time of relative innocence. She and her friends used their babysitting money to buy their tickets when the Beatles came to St. Louis.

Alejandro Ramriez (the author) and Fabiano Caruano play on the giant chess board outside the World Chess Hall of Fame.
Courtesy of Lennart Oots | Chess Club and Scholastic Center

St. Louis has established itself, without a doubt, as the capital of chess in America. The most important series of tournaments annually, the Grand Chess Tour, has its only North American stop here for the Sinquefield Cup, and the club hosts such important events as the U.S. Championship and U.S. Women's Championship, which results in great talent migrating to St. Louis.

St. Louis-based writer Jacqui Germain shared her poetry on "St. Louis on the Air."
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

“I think of St. Louis as a place in which people are right next to each other and trying not to see each other at the same time,” said writer and poet Jacqui Germain, who has made her home here since moving from Ohio in 2008 to attend Washington University.  Germain has stayed in the area and her changing relationship with St. Louis is an integral part of her work, as is her activism.

Miles Davis' childhood home is without siding. Workers are installing a new roof.
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

Inside the shell of a modest house in East St. Louis, there is nothing to let a visitor know that one of the nation’s most noted musicians once called it home.

The interior of the one-story structure is skeletal — all bare studs and dust. But when Lauren Parks and Jasper Gery Pearson are inside, they can see the space where a young Miles Davis got his start in life, years before creating the music that would make him one of the biggest names in jazz. They hope to turn the trumpeter’s childhood home into a museum and educational space that will inspire children.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for August 14, 2016 will be “The Career of Teddy Edwards.”  Tenor saxophonist Teddy Edwards would have been better known had he lived in New York.  His 58-year playing career was mostly in the Los Angeles area.  He was a soloist with his own groups, the big bands of Gerald Wilson, Onzy Matthews and Joe Castro and worked in studios.  In addition to the above, he will be heard with his own quartet and tentette, Howard McGhee, Dexter Gordon, Helen Humes, Benny Carter, Frank Butler, the first Brown-Roach Inc.

Michael Brown Sr. stands at the back of the Ferguson Community Center's event space during the public comment portion of Tuesday's city council meeting.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Tuesday, Aug. 9, marked two years since the police shooting death of Michael Brown. What's changed over those two years? What hasn't? What feelings does the day bring up for you?

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh and Pastor F. Willis Johnson, of Wellspring Church in Ferguson, reflected on the day and listened to your thoughts, two years later, about policing, protest, Ferguson, St. Louis and how our nation has changed since the death of Michael Brown.

Roy Sorenson, Washington University philosophy professor, boggles our minds with riddles, puzzles and mind-bending tricks on "St. Louis on the Air."
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Washington University philosophy professor Roy Sorensen knows your true philosophical quandary: ‘Which came first, the chicken or the egg?’ We asked him to answer this question and share some of his trickiest puzzles, riddles and audio mysteries for our listeners to sort through on Monday’s St. Louis on the Air.

“I’m an egg man myself,” Sorensen said. Not all of you agreed, however.

St. Louis' Catholic Archdiocese held a "Mass for Peace and Justice" on August 20, 2014, shortly after the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson. The Archdiocese's Peace and Justice Commission is continuing its work with a lecture on "Black Lives Matter."
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

The Catholic Archdiocese of St. Louis is hoping to help people unpack the meaning of the “Black Lives Matter” movement and recruit more members to its Racial Equity task force during an event Monday night.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for August 7, 2016 will be “The Career of Louis Hayes.”  Drummer Louis Hayes was born in Detroit in 1937 to a musical family and was leading a group in Detroit clubs by age 16.

Commentary: Fashion has value as art

Aug 5, 2016

Even if you are not one to know much about high fashion--haute couture, you most likely have heard of Coco Channel, Oscar de la Renta or Pierre Cardin.

The St. Louis History Museum has a fabulous exhibition entitled, "Little Black Dress: From Mourning to Night.” The exhibition includes dresses by all three of these designers and much more.

Fabulist bat is sucking the life out of a downed soldier
Provided by St. Louis Art Museum

Francisco de Goya’s “Disasters of War” is considered one of the most personal and influential print series in the Western canon. This will be the first time the complete series will be shown in St. Louis. Elizabeth Wyckoff, the art museum's curator of prints, drawings and photographs, says the work that was created more than 200 years ago remains relevant today.

Kelsey Proud started at St. Louis Public Radio in 2010, six years ago, as a temporary web producer. Over the years, she contributed to the station in many different ways, lastly, as our Digital Innovation Editor. This week marks Kelsey’s last with us, as she leaves St. Louis to take on the role of Managing Editor of Digital at Washington, D.C.’s WAMU 88.5.

Peace Through Pyramids participants at the JCC Maccabi Games, a Jewish Olympic-style event in St. Louis.
Jessica Hentoff | Circus Harmony

The night before the St. Louis-based Circus Harmony troupe left for Israel in 2014, the deadly conflict between Israel and Gaza broke out. Over 2,000 people in Gaza and Palestinians and Israelis were killed between July and August of that year in the conflict.

Metro Transit's Jessica Mefford-Miller and Reliance Bank's Allan Ivie IV unveil the Adopt-a-Stop signage. The bank is committed to cleaning the bus stop regularly for one year.
Stephanie Lecci | St. Louis Public Radio

MetroBus passengers may notice some cleaner bus stops around the St. Louis region in the coming months.

Metro Transit is launching an effort to keep its bus stops tidy by partnering with businesses, community groups, non-profits and even individuals in St. Louis, St. Louis County and St. Clair County. 

Detail of Katherine Dunham in Choros, undated
Missouri History Museum | Provided

Before Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat, before Freedom Riders headed to segregated bus stations, before Martin Luther King Jr. led his first march, there was Katherine Dunham.

The dancer and choreographer stood up to discrimination as far back as 1944. She railed against a system in which hotels wouldn’t book her and theaters wouldn’t let her black and white fans sit together, according to Washington University professor Joanna Dee Das. Das has written a book about the legendary artist and activist who lived in East St. Louis off and on starting in the mid'60s. The book, “Katherine Dunham:  Dance and the African Diaspora,” is set for release early next year.

Levon Aronian, left, defending Sinquefield Cup Champion and Fabiano Caruana, defending 2016 U.S. Champion play in last year's Sinquefield Cup.
Lennart Ootes | Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis

As athletes from all over the world are headed to Rio for the summer Olympics, the best chess players in the world will gather in the chess capital of the U.S. to battle it out over 64 squares. The Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis will once again host the Sinquefield Cup. This year, the tournament runs from Aug. 5-16 and has a prize fund of $300,000.

Chess Pieces
Adrian Askew | Flickr | http://bit.ly/2ad3M7e

The game of chess has a rich and somewhat elusive history. Where did it come from? Who invented it? Perhaps most intriguingly: What makes it so special? Why has it continued to exist when other games have not?

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