Arts & Culture

Balloons are released in commemoration of what would've been Mike Brown's 20th birthday.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Family, friends and neighbors gathered at Canfield Green Apartments Friday afternoon to celebrate what would’ve been Michael Brown Jr.’s 20th birthday.

Michael Brown Sr. and his nonprofit, Chosen for Change Foundation, hosted the party to provide a moment of remembrance and joy for a community that organizers say is still dealing with grief.

“We just want everybody to have a great time, and a nice time, and enjoy themselves and bring smiles and some type of comfort back to their home,” Brown said.

The Griot Museum of Black History at 2505 St Louis Ave.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The Urban League of St. Louis and the Griot Museum of Black History are forming an alliance that the museum’s founder hopes will keep the museum going for generations.

Audio Agitation
Laura Heidotten | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis music scene is a tangled mess of collaborations, established bands, one-off projects, guest spots, and unexpected guest spots.  It’s an atmosphere that contributes to some of the best music emerging from the city but makes less-hot projects easy to ignore.

Robert Duffy speaks with St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh about his career in journalism.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, Robert Duffy said goodbye to St. Louis Public Radio. In conversation with host Don Marsh, he looked back on his years at the station, his founding of the St. Louis Beacon and his years reporting at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

A crowd takes in a performance at the Opera Theatre of St. Louis.
Courtesy Opera Theatre of St. Louis

Forty years ago this week the lights went down on the Loretto-Hilton Theatre in Webster Groves. A special brand of illumination radiated that first night, shining optimism, hope and artistic authority on a new opera scene. It rose like a fiery dawn in late Midwestern springtime.

This week, that light continues to shine on Opera Theatre of St. Louis, which opens its new season Saturday with Giacomo Puccini’s “La bohème.”

Michael Brown Sr. and organizers with his Chosen for Change Foundation talk outside the Ferguson Community Center after the City Council's vote to approve the terms of the Department of Justice's consent decree.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Michael Brown Jr. would be 20 today if he’d survived the Aug. 9, 2014, shooting by former Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson. On what would have been his son’s birthday, Michael Brown Sr. is choosing to focus on his son’s life, not just his death.

Shaun Tamprateep of Fenton wants to explore St. Louis' cultural diversity. He studied Tourism and Hospitality in his father's home country of Thailand, and works as a driver for Metro Transit’s Call-A-Ride service.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Shaun Tamprateep grew up in Fenton, playing in the woods with a gang of neighborhood boys and sometimes landing at a friend’s house for dinner.

He noticed other families ate more hamburgers and fewer spicy dishes. But he didn’t pay much attention to the differences in his home — until he was almost a teenager.

Sam Sevian was previously the youngest grandmaster time to earn the title during 2014 Saint Louis Invitational.
Austin Fuller | Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

Chess, unlike most other competitive sports, maintains a system of titles granted to players of exceptional skill and talent. The highest title awarded in the world of bishops and knights is International Grandmaster (GM). While it sounds mysterious, the title’s origins are tied to the conception of mastery, like that of an artist or craftsman who has attained the highest level of achievement recognized by one’s peers.

Paul Sableman / Flickr

State and federal law prohibits businesses from discriminating against people based on race, religion, sex, ancestry, or disability. But, denying service based on age is fair game and the St. Louis area boasts dozens of bars and lounges where the minimum for entry is at least 30 years old.

The Karpeles Manuscript Museum-St. Louis is one of fourteen locations across the United States that hold the world's largest private collection of original manuscripts.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

The first draft of the Bill of Rights. The paper Einstein’s E=Mc2 was written on. Noah Webster’s first dictionary. These are three influential documents that are included in collector David Karpeles’ largest private collection of original manuscripts in the world — three of over one million such documents.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for Sunday, May 22, 2016 will be “The Keys and Strings Hour + New Music.”  The Quieter Side of Jazz will present John Lewis, a pianist and composer whose style resided at the nexus of jazz and classical music.  We will hear him in settings ranging from the blues (“Pyramid” [“Blues for Junior”]) to Joaquin Rodrigo’s “Concierto de Aranjuez.”  New music will feature a recording of our own Clark Terry and Ernie Wilkins that has a vocal from Dexter Gordon, the Brazilian Trio Da Paz, Florida pianist Lynne Arriale, Philadelphian Duane Eubanks and DE3, Sonny Rollins’ latest

Diva sweat girls perform at the 2016 Annie Malone Children and Family Service Center's annual May Day Parade.
Wiley Price | St. Louis American

It was clear that John and Carol Hampson had never seen anything like the Annie Malone Children and Family Service Center’s annual May Day Parade as it passed through downtown on Sunday, May 15.

Their eyes beamed with wonder as the British tourists used words like “brilliant” and “quite lovely” – and sometimes “quite brilliant” – to sum up their thoughts as the parade proceeded down Market Street.

Saadiq Mohhamed and Sa'ad Hussein are two Somali soccer stars that have started a new life in St. Louis after leaving their war-torn home. They are pictured here working with children at a St. Louis soccer park.
J.R. Biersmith

There was a point late into the filming of “Men in the Arena” that director and St. Louis native J.R. Biersmith realized his relationship with the documentary’s subjects was fundamentally altered. A journalist by trade, this was a different challenge than he was used to — but then again, everything in Somalia, where Biersmith had traveled to shoot the documentary about the national soccer team, was a challenge unlike anything he was used to.

Obituary: Thelma Cook, arts, education and animal advocate

May 16, 2016
Thelma Cook
Wiley Price | St. Louis American

Civic and community leader Thelma V. Cook succumbed to cancer May 16, 2016.  She was 77.

Cook spent decades in the St. Louis region and elsewhere advocating for broadening educational opportunities and increasing access to cultural institutions. She came to St. Louis from Jefferson City in the mid-1980s to administer the national minority and public affairs programs of The Seven-Up Co. She moved from there to Anheuser-Busch Cos., serving as executive assistant to the vice president of corporate affairs and director of corporate community relations.

Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

On a warm spring afternoon, Italian archaeology students from the University of Bologna were painstakingly sifting through mud from a pit they’re excavating at Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site in Collinsville.

Heading the group is Imma Valese, 29, who’s been coming to Cahokia Mounds for six years. She has written her master’s thesis on the ancient Mississippian culture that thrived at Cahokia 1,000 years ago. Now, she’s working on her doctorate.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for Sunday, May 15, 2016 will be “The Music of Mary Lou Williams.”  Piano prodigy Mary Lou Williams taught herself piano at the age of six and was playing professionally by age seven.  Discovered in Kansas City in 1929, she wrote hundreds of compositions and arrangements for many bands as well as playing powerful jazz piano.  In the early 1950’s, she became a devout Catholic and wrote three masses (two unrecorded).  Her “Mass for Peace,” also known as “Mary Lou’s Mass,” was commissioned by the Pontifical Commission on Peace and Justice in March of 1969.  We will hear

A series of Stratocaster style guitars rendered in dark purples and bright greens splashes across the page.
Laura Heidotten | St. Louis Public Radio

It can be hard to keep guitars sounding fresh in the face of so much experimentation in contemporary music. Guitars are often paired with electronics or heavily processed when they appear in pop music, if they appear at all. Yet, three St. Louis groups have released excellent songs in the past month that place the guitar front and center.

Beardy Eric Hall stand with coffee cup
Provided by RJ Hartbeck

Dogs barking, water boiling and being poured, and rough recordings are not the sounds most listeners associate with musical powerhouse Alarm Will Sound. Yet its current collaboration with local electronic musician Eric Hall incorporates those ambient sounds in new project. 

Hall’s composition explores the messiness of digital communication. To that end, Hall asked the group's members to take an unexpected approach to recording.

Catherine Klene, Bill Cawthon and Jamie Cawthon joined "St. Louis on the Air" to talk about food trucks in St. Loui
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Sauce Magazine recently released their list of the six best new food trucks that have arrived on the St. Louis scene between April 2015 and April 2016. Sauce’s managing editor Catherine Klene said her staff sampled the fare of 30 different trucks in an effort to narrow the field down to the six best new food trucks in the area.

"Is that Kafka?" cover and Kurt Beals
Kurt Beals | Provided

Even if the iconic German-language writer Franz Kafka doesn’t cross your mind on a regular basis, you may still hear the adjective “Kafkaesque” from time to time and think: gloomy, nonsensical.

But a St. Louis translator says Kafka was darn near a jolly, optimistic fellow.

Chess Painting No. 2 (Duchamp vs. Crepeaux, Nice, 1925), 2009
Provided by the World Chess Hall of Fame

There is a conversation that exists between living artists and their predecessors. Marcel Duchamp, arguably the most influential artist of the 20th century and whose impact is still remarkably present today, began many of these conversations during his prolific career as both an artist and a chess player.

Alex Heuer | St. Louis Public Radio

If you don’t know the name Jill Sobule, you certainly know her voice: she sang "Supermodel," the most famous track from the 1995 classic film “Clueless.” Now, Sobule is lending her songwriting chops to New Jewish Theatre’s production of “Yentl,” which opens this week.

David Gonsier as an owl and Levi Hernandez as Papageno in Opera Theatre of Saint Louis 2014 production of The Magic Flute.
Ken Howard | Opera Theatre of St. Louis

Today was a good day for St. Louis arts organizations. PNC Bank’s Arts Alive funding initiative announced it will distribute $250,000 to nine local groups.  The National Endowment for the Arts also announced it would split $120,000 among three other groups.

The PNC funding will support innovative programming and improved accessibility to the arts. One recipient, the St. Louis Symphony, will use its $40,000 to create an app that teaches kids about classical instruments.

Henry Schvey and Carrie Houk, of Tennessee Williams Festival St. Louis.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Tennessee Williams was not the world’s biggest fan of the town he grew up in. But that’s not stopping the first-ever Tennessee Williams Festival St. Louis from happening here in tribute to one city's greatest playwrights and most beloved iconoclasts.

President Harry Truman signed this official portrait during his first term in office. The autograph reads: To the Key Club, a great organization in a great city, St. Louis, with best wishes and happy memories. Harry S Truman
Harry S Truman Library & Museum

If you're surprised to find some courts and state offices in Missouri closed Monday, you might not know about Truman Day — an official state holiday celebrating the president who was raised in Independence, Mo. 

Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

To most St. Louisans, the name Annie Malone conjures up images of a large parade in May. But the organization that hosts that parade, the Annie Malone Children and Family Service Center has been providing services to at-risk children and families for more than a century — 128 years to be exact.

(Courtesy: Chaumette Vineyards & Winery)

Updated May 9, 2016 at 10:40 a.m. with new information

The National Park Service has completed a multiyear study and is recommending that parts of Ste. Genevieve be included in the national park system. Before the land could become an NPS unit, either a law must be passed by Congress and signed by the president, or executive action must be taken by the president.

A sailor in the sky with a Navy parachute
John Krzesinski|Flickr

Monday is the start of Navy Week in St. Louis. Like New York’s Fleet Week, that means there will be a surge of men and women walking the streets in their sailor uniforms.

But unlike Fleet Week, there won’t be rows of ships docked at port. Instead the Navy is showcasing its people in other ways.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for May 8, 2016 will be  “Compositions Associated with Miles Davis.”  Trumpeter Miles Davis was one of the most important and innovative figures in jazz from 1947 until his death in 1991.  But, throughout his career and up until today, the provenance of some of the compositions he claimed as his have been in dispute.  We will hear his compositions along with those that are in dispute.  They will be played by Miles himself, Charlie Parker, Ray Bryant, J.J.

Nanette Boileau, Dakota Territory (still), 2015. HD video, color, sound. Courtesy the artist.
Provided by CAM

Each artist in this year's Great Rivers Biennial addresses individual aspects of living in the Midwest and the influence of various economic factors on those experiences.  

Jeffery Uslip, the Contemporary Art Museum's deputy director for exhibitions and programs, said the artists stake claims to individual and complex portraits of living in the broader Midwest.

“When you’re in this region the challenges one faces and the issues that come to the fore are so raw and real, they’re not mediated, they’re very local and very specific and very immediate,” Uslip said.

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