Arts & Culture | St. Louis Public Radio

Arts & Culture

The trains are the stars of Dan Schmidt's annual Christmas display in Overland in December 2017
Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

Six-year-old Adam Messmer watched wide-eyed, as a model train pulled freight cars and tankers through a Christmas landscape that takes up every inch of Dan Schmidt’s front yard in Overland.

“There it is. There it is. There it is,’’ Adam called out, as the red and silver Santa Fe engine reappeared from a tunnel and chugged past a little church and a drive-in theater showing a video of “A Miracle on 34th Street.”

Adam has toy trains of his own, and this is one of his favorite Christmas displays, said Amie Messmer, his mother. They live nearby in Maryland Heights.

Pat Woods talks about her efforts to re-open the sit-down eatery in her College Hill neighborhood in north St. Louis.
Lara Hamdan | St. Louis Public Radio

Earlier this month, Fresno's Diner on E. Grand Boulevard suffered extensive damages when a pickup truck ran into the side of the building. Members of the community have started a campaign to help re-open the establishment.

On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh talked with the local restaurant’s owner, Pat Woods, about her efforts to improve the College Hill neighborhood in north St. Louis.

Fabiano Caruana and Ian Nepomniachtchi in the playoff round of the 2017 London Chess Classic
Lennart Ootes | Grand Chess Tour

The last super tournament of 2017 ended with American grand master Fabiano Caruana edging out Russian Ian Nepomniachtchi in a tiebreak to claim victory at the London Chess Classic, ahead of World Champion Magnus Carlsen. This is a significant victory for Caruana, who struggled in tournaments at the beginning of the year.

Circus Flora executive director Larry Mabrey talked about the circus' upcoming changes.
Lara Hamdan | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis’ hometown circus is set to move prior to its upcoming season – but only a half block away. Previously, the circus took place on the lot next to Powell Hall. But last year, Circus Flora partnered with the Kranzberg Arts Foundation to help develop a permanent site for the circus.

On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh talked about the changes to Circus Flora, including the new location and its new season dates for 2018. Joining him for the discussion was Circus Flora executive director Larry Mabrey.

The central corridor illumination art project on these grain elevators was tested briefly on Dec. 12.
Provided | Raven Fox

Many St. Louisans pack the family into the car, drive around, and ooh and ah over lighting displays during the Christmas season.

They might want to do it again in February.

That’s when the next phase of a huge, colorful, illumination art project will be briefly visible in St. Louis’ central corridor — and for miles around. The “canvas” consists of a series of grain silos that sit less than 200 yards from the IKEA store between Sarah Street and Vandeventer Avenue.

Kae M. Petrin | St. Louis Public Radio

The owners of Reedy Press are fighting to recover from a Nov. 15 fire that gutted the warehouse containing all the publisher’s printed books.

An estimated 200,000 books burned, nearly all the unsold copies. The publisher is coordinating with dozens of authors to reprint the books.

“The misery of this — if you want to go that far — is having to do everything over again,” Co-owner and Publisher Josh Stevens said. “I’ve spent the last few weeks looking for a more permanent warehouse, buying warehouse equipment that I already bought once upon a time. I joke to people that it’s like groundhog day.”

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: November 12, 2008 - Documentary filmmaker Greg Kohs first saw the Milwaukee-based act "Lightning & Thunder" performing at a biker convention he was filming for Harley-Davidson, and though they never made it onscreen in that project, he was sufficiently impressed to choose them for his next subject. And who wouldn't be? Mark Sardina ("Lightning") and his wife Claire ("Thunder" - and yes, they really do call themselves by those names even at home) were long-time sensations on the state-fair-and-convention circuit.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: November 12, 2008 - Tim Liddy's "Stratagem" at the William Shearburn Gallery is the kind of thing only a painter of Liddy's caliber should ever take on.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for December 17, 2017 will be “The Keys and Strings Hour (Ornette Coleman Compositions) + New Music.” Saxophonist, composer Ornette Coleman was one of the great writers of short melodies in all of jazz history.  Jazz Unlimited’s “Keys and Strings Hour” will present seven of these gems played by pianists Frank Kimbrough, Hampton Hawes, Bobo Stenson and Paul Bley.  Guitarists Pat Metheny and Jeanfrancois Prins and the Modern Jazz Quartet will also be heard.  The second and third hours of the show will have new music presented by our own Kent Miller, Paul Gaill

Sidney Keys III, the founder of Books N Bros.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Earlier this year, we spoke with 11-year-old Sidney Keys III and his mother Winnie Caldwell about Books N Bros, a book club Keys founded to encourage boys to read.

Dan Donovan

For much of the first half of the last century, Florence Foster Jenkins was a sensation. She was a tone-deaf socialite who featured herself as an opera singer.

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh talked about Max and Louie Productions' presentation of "Souvenir," a fantasia on the life of Florence Foster Jenkins.

The head of a developer with strong St. Louis ties is hoping his commitment to the Loop Trolley will help lift a cloud that has been hanging over the project.

ClayCo Chief Executive Officer Bob Clark says his company decided to make a $750,000 commitment after sensing the initiative was getting a "toxic" reputation.

"It's indicative of a place that is kind of stuck. All of this negativity all of a sudden becomes reality if somebody doesn't do something about it. So, I felt very strongly that it can be exciting," Clark said. "It can be a winning thing."

A. Dennis Sparger (left) and Melissa Payton (right) talk about the Bach Society of St. Louis' annual Christmas Candlelight Concert.
Lara Hamdan | St. Louis Public Radio

On Dec. 19, the Bach Society of St. Louis will perform their annual Christmas Candlelight Concert. The BBC Magazine considers the colorful concert one of the top holiday events in North America.

On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh talked about the concert and the Bach Society of St. Louis’ new Christmas CD.

St. Louis Public Radio's arts and culture reporters Willis Ryder Arnold and Nancy Fowler talk about their most memorable reports of 2017.
Lara Hamdan | St. Louis Public Radio

On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, we did a year-in-review of the top arts and culture stories of 2017. Joining host Don Marsh for the discussion were St. Louis Public Radio reporters Nancy Fowler and Willis Ryder Arnold.

“It’s been a really exciting time to be covering St. Louis arts in the last couple of years,” Arnold said.

Fabiano Caruana, right, winner of the 2017 London Chess Classic, with tournament organizer Malcom Pein.
Lennart Ootes | Grand Chess Tour

The last leg of the 2017 Grand Chess Tour, the London Chess Classic, produced not one, but two winners. For the first time, the winner of the London tournament wasn’t also the overall tour winner. After a dramatic last round, St. Louis resident Fabiano Caruana won the playoff against Ian Nepomniachtchi from Russia to be crowned the winner of the London Chess Classic.

World Champion Magnus Carlsen, winner of the 2017 Grand Chess Tour, tied for third place in London.

Kristin Cassidy spent weeks getting this set ready for the encore production of Remnant.
Provided | John Lamb

You can often find St. Louis artist and set designer Kristin Cassidy on the banks of the Mississippi River, picking up stones, metal and even animal bones.

Pizza Head was the no. 9 choice on Sauce Magazine's best 12 new local restaurants  of 2017.
Sauce Magazine

With the year coming to an end, Sauce Magazine has selected the best 12 new local restaurants of 2017.

Joining host Don Marsh on Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air for our monthly Sound Bites segment were Sauce Magazine’s managing editors Heather Hughes and Catherine Klene and art director Meera Nagarajan.

Catholic speaker and former model Leah Darrow talks about why she left modeling and how she hope to change popular culture's perception of beauty.
Lara Hamdan | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis area resident and former model Leah Darrow has changed her definition of “beauty” over the years. Now, she defines beauty in two basic words – holiness and wholeness.

“It’s looking at ourselves for who we are and being happy and accepting that,” Darrow said. “True beauty is nothing that we can put on ourselves … it’s the beauty of the soul. That’s the beauty that actually changes hearts and transforms the world.”

An ancient stature lies half exposed from the ocean bed, it's face and shoulders exposed to water.
Provided by St. Louis Art Museum

Sixteen-foot sculptures depicting humans and gods will live among the St. Louis Art Museum’s collection this spring.

Museum officials are calling it “the most significant exhibition of ancient Egyptian art undertaking in St. Louis in more than 50 years.” The show, titled “Sunken Cities: Egypt’s Lost Worlds,” will feature massive sculptures and antiquities from ancient cities Thonis-Heracleion and Canopus. 

A sculpture of Winston Churchill delivering his famous "Iron Curtain" speech.
Alex Heuer | St. Louis Public Radio

Following World War II, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, in 1946, delivered one of the most famous speeches of the 20th century. Known officially as the “Sinews of Peace,” Churchill’s speech came to be known as the “Iron Curtain” speech, and it foreshadowed the Cold War.

William Gass teaches a class at Washington University in 1984
Herb Weitman | Washington University

Updated Dec.12 — On Tuesday's St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh discussed the life and legacy of noted author and Washington University professor William Gass.

Joining him for the discussion were Lorin Cuoco, co-founder and former associate director of the International Writers Center at Washington University, Stephen Schenkenberg, creator and curator of the website Reading William Gass and author and publisher of "The Ears Mouth Must Move: Essential Interviews of William H. Gass" and William Danforth, chancellor emeritus and member of the Board of Trustees at Washington University.

Gass died on Dec. 6 at his home in St. Louis. He was 93. The former Washington University professor was known for his contributions to fiction, criticism and philosophy. 

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.

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