Arts & Culture | St. Louis Public Radio

Arts & Culture

Provided by The May Day Orchestra

A Missouri musician and his band are making music that challenges listeners to confront their own complicity in exploitative labor practices and foreign policy while celebrating those who would change things for the better.

Tim Rakel launched The May Day Orchestra in 2008. The band creates self-described folk operas that aim to honor histories of social change. This month, the band returns with its third album, “Wake,” which melds together the story of a 17th century sultan turned pirate in what is now Kenya and Rakel’s knowledge and experience in modern-day Kenya .

Award-winning filmmaker and media-artist Jill Evans Petzall talks about her interactive art exhibit at the Sheldon Art Galleries.
Lara Hamdan | St. Louis Public Radio

Two people can look at the same photo and interpret it completely different. Filmmaker and media-artist Jill Evans Petzall recognizes that and incorporates it in her artwork.

Wendel Patrick

On Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, we profiled The Ville, a historic black neighborhood in St. Louis. The stories of the people who live there are shared in a new podcast episode that’s part of a collaboration between St. Louis Public Radio’s “We Live Here” and the podcast “Out of the Blocks,” from Baltimore’s public radio station, WYPR.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for December 10, 2017 will be “The Career of Don Pullen.”  Pianist/organist Don Pullen was born in Roanoke, Virginia on Christmas Day, 1941.  He was one of the more imaginative players in jazz from 1973 until his death from cancer in 1995.  He co-led the Don Pullen-George Adams quartet, one of the great jazz groups of the 1980’s and then explored connections between jazz, African and Brazilian music in the 1990’s.  He will be heard with his own trio, on solo piano, and with David Murray, Conjure, Maceo Parker, Roy Brooks, the group Shakill’s Warrior, the group Roots,

Norm White dedicated his life to changing the way people viewed children "immersed in risk."
File |Véronique LaCapra | St. Louis Public Radio

Saint Louis University criminal justice professor and Ferguson activist Norman White died suddenly of a heart attack on Wednesday. He was 64.

He and his wife Elizabeth “Liz” White were getting ready to leave their Belleville home for an evening rehearsal of a Christmas play they were performing in when he had the attack and died soon afterwards.

White, a New York native, called himself a “developmental criminologist,” and he spent his life working to change the way people viewed and treated children who are “immersed in risk,” as he phrased it.

The Spanish Harlem Orchestra
Spanish Harlem Orchestra

Oscar Hernandez has been playing Latin jazz and salsa music for more than four decades, and in that time he’s performed with some of that music’s greatest performers, but also seen people turn away from their musical heritage.

So when Hernandez gets a chance to share the Latin music tradition that emerged from New York with a multigenerational crowd, he counts his blessings.

“I always say thank God for the intelligent, discerning fans that go beyond the commercial [music] that they’re fed continually in this country,” Hernandez said recently. “They go out and seek something better than that. And that’s who our audience is. That’s who our fans are.”

Missouri S&T senior Dajae Williams is helping other students learn a complex math equation through rap.

In a YouTube video uploaded on the Rolla campus’ official channel, Williams mixes her passion for music and numbers into a track explaining the quadratic formula:

Rough Shop

The holidays are often a time of many mixed emotions – from happiness and excitement to grief from missing a loved one. Local band Rough Shop captures all of those emotions in their Christmas albums.

On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, producer Alex Heuer talked about the local band’s unique take on Christmas music. He was joined by two members of Rough Shop, guitarists and vocalists Andy Ploof and John Wendland.

Justin Wang (left), playing against Luis Torres. Wang, 12, was the youngest player in the event and achieved his first international master norm. 2017
Eric Rosen

For six days, 20 players from all over the world battled it out through nine strenuous rounds of chess at the 2017 St. Louis Invitational. The event featured two 10-player round-robin sections in which players competed for a chunk of the $15,000 prize fund. More importantly, many of the players strived to earn grandmaster and international master norms, which would bring them closer to attaining the respective titles.

Provided | Anthony Volkman

For seven years, Ackerman School music teacher Anthony Volkman has spent his summers creating the school's annual holiday program on a budget likely to make The Grinch flinch.

“We had $400,” Volkman said. “We had basic costuming; we made sets out of cardboard and paper.”

But this year, the program will be more elaborate, thanks to a $3,000 grant from the Maritz marketing company. It's not a huge amount — enough for props for kids in wheelchairs, professional lighting and more microphones — but the impact on the kids in this K-8 Special School District building in Florissant is incalculable.

Metro Theater Company

This month, Metro Theater Company will turn the Grandel Theatre into an ice rink set in Amsterdam. Their production will bring to life the classic tale of “Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates” starting Dec. 6.

On Tuesday‘s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh talked to the production’s playwright Laura Eason and Metro Theater Company’s artistic director Julia Flood. St. Louis will be the second city to see this play.

Chris Martinez, the manager of media archives and digital assets at the Missouri History Museum, talks about the museum's latest project to preserve historic television ads.
Lara Hamdan | St. Louis Public Radio

In the middle of the 20th century, St. Louis was a hub during the so-called “golden age of television and advertising.”

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh talked about an effort underway at the Missouri History Museum to preserve a massive film collection that includes television advertisements from the 1950s through the late 1970s.

Monique McRipley Ollie and Ronald Maurice Ollie are based in New Jersey. They donated 81 works to the art museum.
Adger Cowans

The Saint Louis Art Museum today announced an extraordinary collection gift from New Jersey-based collector Ronald Maurice Ollie and his wife Monique McRipley Ollie that adds significant depth and breadth to the museum’s holdings of works by African-American artists.

Left to right. Chorus members Samantha Madison, Kelli Lowe, Melissa Pickens, Khalid McGhee, De-Rance Blaylock, Robert Crenshaw, Duane Martin Foster, a NYC chorus member and Gheremi Clay in the October production of The Drum Major Instinct.
Provided | Theater of War

A theatrical performance coming to St. Louis on Friday ties the words of Martin Luther King Jr. to recent protests here, with the goal of getting people to talk about racism, gun violence and policing.

“The Drum Major Instinct” is based on a sermon King delivered in  February 1968, in which he encouraged followers to work not for individual glory, but collective justice. The New York company Theater of War Productions is staging the dramatic reading and choral event.

Jazz Unlimited for Sunday, December 4 is "The Career of Max Roach."  One of the founders of bebop drumming, Max Roach’s 69 year performance career included sideman work with Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker, leading his own groups, most notably Brown-Roach, Inc., pioneering civil rights work, choral music, symphony music and his own percussion ensemble, M’Boom.  Other musicians heard on the show will be Coleman Hawkins, Miles Davis, Bud Powell, George Wallington, Thelonious Monk, The :Lighthouse All-Stars, Herbie Nichols, Jazz at the Philharmonic, J.J.

If an art museum exhibition had the name of artist Monet, Picasso or Raphael in it, that would probably be enough to draw a crowd, but that's not usually the case. Unique titles are a huge draw for attendance at museum exhibitions.

 I give the award for best titles for visual art exhibitions to Art Saint Louis, a local art institution in downtown Saint Louis whose mission is to enrich lives through creative activity of our region's contemporary visual artists.

People gather inside a giant inflatable bubble to listen to presentations about art
Provided by Gavin Kroeber

As the sun sets, several people circle around giant plastic disk laid out behind the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts. The disk inflates and attendees are invited to walk back and forth as it grows into a massive bubble.

Adults giggle as performers run around the inflated orb before inviting people inside for an installment of “At the Edge of Everything Else,” a creative soiree hosted by artist and organizer Gavin Kroeber. It’s part of a project to highlight art rooted in the urban fabric of St. Louis.

Magnus Carlsen (right) and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, the two grand masters battling for the Grand Chess Tour 2017 crown
Lennart Ootes | Grand Chess Tour

The nine annual London Chess Classic will take place in the Olympia Exhibition Center in London from Dec. 1-11. Once again, it will be the final stop of the 2017 Grand Chess Tour and will produce this year’s winner. It has all come down to this event as the players will battle it out one last time for tour points, a $300,000 prize fund and a $150,000 bonus for the top two finishers of the tour. Of course, the much coveted titles of tournament winner and GCT champion will be on the line as well.

The word Monaco is laid out across a photo of a large 1-story brick and glass building.
Provided by Monaco

Fourteen St. Louis artists are opening a gallery that will put them directly in touch with art buyers. The space will be run by the artists and will function somewhat like a co-op.

But instead of seeking non-profit status as artist run spaces  typically do, Monaco will be a commercial gallery. Exhibiting artists keep 100 percent of their proceeds. 

CAM St. Louis' chief curator Wassan Al-Khudhairi talks about Iraqi artist Hayv Kahraman's orchestrated perfomance.
Lara Hamdan | St. Louis Public Radio

Iraqi-born artist Hayv Kahraman creates performance based on collective memories

This segment will be on "St. Louis on the Air" at noon on Wednesday. This story will be updated after the show. You can listen live.

On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh talked to Wassan Al-Khudhairi, chief curator of the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis (CAM) about an orchestrated performance by Iraqi-born artist and refugee Hayv Kahraman.

Jane Pauley

On Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, producer Alex Heuer spoke to journalist and author Jane Pauley about her journalism career, fake news and more.

Pauley hosts CBS’ "Sunday Morning." She began her network career in 1976 as co-host of "Today" on NBC, a tenure spanning 13 years. She also co-hosted "Dateline" and many other news programs.

Pauley will be in St. Louis as part of the St. Louis Speakers Series on Dec. 5.

Author Mark Leach details discoveries of St. Louis' ancient Native American civilzation.
Lara Hamdan | St. Louis Public Radio

When it comes to ancient civilizations, St. Louisans can find one in their own hometown. Centuries ago, a well-established society left wonders, most notability, the Cahokia Mounds.

On Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh talked with author Mark Leach, a Native American mound preservationist.

Leach’s latest book, "The Great Pyramids of St. Louis: An Ancient Metropolis” details the history of the mounds and the culture of the Native American population.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited FOR Sunday, November 26, 2017 will be “The Keys and Strings Hour (Jim Hall) Plus New Music.”  I have always been fascinated by the sound and conception of guitarist Jim Hall, who will be featured on the “Keys and Strings Hour.”  Hall will be heard in duos, a trio, piano quartets and a quintet featuring such artists as Ron Carter, Charlie Haden, Pat Metheny, Hampton Hawes, Geoff Keezer and Red Mitchell, who will be playing cello.  New music will be heard by the Canadian pianist Nick McLean, Bill Charlap, Cecile McLorin Salvant, Joey Alexander, Christian McBride and hi

Indoor golf is coming to The Sheldon Art Galleries in summer 2018.
Provided | Scott MacLeod | Flickr

A St. Louis institution known for displaying paintings will temporarily change its focus to putt-putt next summer.

In June, all 6,000 square feet of The Sheldon Art Galleries will become a mini golf course.

Visitors can actually play the course, Sheldon Director Olivia Lahs-Gonzales said.

“Usually, you go into an art gallery and you’re not allowed to touch anything,” Lahs-Gonzales said. “This is an opportunity to be immersive, to have an immersive experience.”

Several suits made of different fabric types, including plastic and cloth, hang over individual florescent lights.
Provided by Michael DeFilippo

As you walk down the street, you might not realize that you’re on a giant rock hurtling through the galaxy at amazing speeds. That is to say, you’re standing in space. An show at Projects+Gallery, 4733 McPherson Ave., could help viewers confront this reality.

“Where you’re standing right now, you are not separated from outer space,” artist Christine Corday, said with a laugh. “You are absolutely positively in outer space.”

Parishioners pray during a Sunday morning Mass at Our Lady of Guadalupe in Ferguson on Nov. 19, 2017.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

In this week when many St. Louisans and others around the country gather for the Thanksgiving holiday, before they dive into the turkey and pumpkin pie, they will pray.

But why? Why does prayer remain so important to many people at a time when, according to the Pew Research Center, the number of U.S. adults who do not identify with any organized religion is growing?

It’s mostly because prayer is a given for people who follow almost any faith tradition, according to Shane Sharp, an associate professor of sociology at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb.

St. Louis poet Mary Jo Bang discusses her latest poetry work, "A Doll for Throwing."
Alex Heuer | St. Louis Public Radio

On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh talked with author and Washington University professor Mary Jo Bang about her work and new poetry collection, “A Doll for Throwing.”

(L-R) Fran Hamilton, Christan Perona and Kharis Perona discuss The Grannie Annie organization's mission to preserve family stories.
Alex Heuer | St. Louis Public Radio

Often times, when a person passes away, their story dies with them. But a local non-profit organization hopes to keep those memories alive. 

On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh talked about The Grannie Annie Family Story Celebration and the role it plays in encouraging young people to preserve their families' stories.

The organization helps children discover, write and share stories from their family's history, and then publishes illustrated collections of their work.

Two blue faces framed by jagged wood pieces rest on a bed of brick laid across a pedistal.
Provided by St. Louis Lambert International Airport

Holiday travelers will have a chance to see new art at the St. Louis Lambert International Airport this week.

At a time when many likely view the city as divided divided along political, economic and social lines, the exhibit in Terminal 1 aims to draw attention to the camaraderie and collaborative spirit that dominate the city’s art scene.

Sauce Magazine is out with their 2017 Guide to the Holidays.
(Courtesy: Sauce Magazine)

Thanksgiving Day is one of the biggest days of the year for cooking and entertaining. Our friends at Sauce Magazine are back for our monthly edition of Sound Bites and have tips for cooking, hosting and attending events this Thursday.

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