Arts & Culture

Clockwise from bottom, Gerard Craft, Dave Bailey, Kevin Nashan, Nick Luedde
Ashley Gieseking | Sauce Magazine

What makes us choose favorite restaurants?

On the latest edition of Sound Bites, Sauce Magazine’s art director Meera Nagarajan explained that diners look for consistency. In other words, we want to know that when we go to a restaurant, we’re going to have a positive, delicious experience.

In Sauce Magazine’s annual Reader’s Choice Poll, St. Louisans identified the top four restaurateurs in the area:

The interior of 4562 Enright Ave. as it's being reconstructed inside the Pulitzer Arts Foundation
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

Anyone who has been through some of St. Louis’ oldest areas, particularly in mostly black neighborhoods, is likely to have been struck by the number of uninhabited spaces.

The architects from the German firm raumlaborberlin certainly were. When they received a commission to examine the urban landscape of St. Louis, they developed a project that would draw attention to all that unused space.

With that in mind, the company dismantled the interior of a home in the Lewis Place neighborhood and is remaking it inside the Pulitzer Arts Foundation building in Grand Center. The foundation will open its exhibit on the interior of the house at 4562 Enright Ave. on July 29.

Treasure Shields Redmond and her book, “Chop: A Collection of Kwansabas for Fannie Lou Hamer"
Kim Love / Shields Redmond headshot

As a child in Meridian, Miss., Treasure Shields Redmond donned special shoes nearly every Sunday — a black patent leather pair that skipped after her mother as they walked to the Baptist church.

By high school, she’d traded her Mary Janes for Nikes, and hymns like “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” for Public Enemy's “Party for Your Right to Fight.”

The daughter of East St. Louis Poet Laureate Eugene Redmond is now a poet and performing artist, and an English professor at Southwestern Illinois College.  In our latest Cut & Paste podcast, we talk with Shields Redmond about using language and song as tools for social justice and illuminating women’s lives.

Tony Rich, the executive director of the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis, with junior champion Jeffrey Xiong.
Austin Fuller | Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

Due to the continuous effort of the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis, the U.S. Junior Closed Championship has grown to be one of the strongest and most prominent junior tournaments in the world. The 2016 edition brought together 10 of the most talented players in the country, with a median rating close to 2550 USCF and an average age of only 16.

Kelly Moffitt, Wikimedia Commons

Everybody has that one song — that one song that immediately takes you back to a time, a place, a friend, a poignant memory. Now, try to imagine your life as told by a whole series of such important songs. That’s exactly what St. Louisan Dave Holmes, the runner-up in MTV’s inaugural “Wanna Be a VJ” contest in 1998, has done.

Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

Wanda Trotter, 68, thought about her childhood as she watched a play at the Missouri History Museum depicting the experiences of African-Americans traveling Route 66 before the Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlawed discrimination in public accommodations.

“I remember my parents packing our lunches and telling us that certain places you could not go to eat, or to use the bathroom facilities,’’ said Trotter. Her  family drove the famous highway from St. Louis to San Diego, Calif., in the early 1960s to visit her brother who was in the Navy.

Jacquelyne Craig founded a company called Blaq Séance, which produces locally-sourced fashion shows and arts events.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Jacquelyne Craig’s company, Blaq Séance, is known for producing fashion shows that feature up-and-coming St. Louis designers. She is also the organizer of First Friday Art Walks in North St. Louis.

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, Craig joined host Don Marsh to discuss her role in St. Louis’ fashion and arts community.

"I see life through art," Craig said. "I see everything through art. I think it can relate to anything, even radio."

Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

There are some 1 million Catholics in the United States who observe Catholicism in a way that is not formally connected to the pope in Rome. They practice in around 200 denominations, such as Ecumenical, Antiochian or Evangelical Catholics.

While these Catholic churches do not answer to the pope in Rome, they do practice apostolic succession, seven sacraments and devotion to saints.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited July 17, 2016 for “Joe Mancuso and Dave Black Interview + New Music.”  St.

Jun Bae, a graduate of Washington University and rising documentary filmmaker, made a documentary about Washington University professor Bob Hansmen's bus tours of St. Louis.
Kelly Moffitt | St.Louis Public Radio

When Jun Bae, originally from Tokyo, Japan, first came to Washington University, he didn’t come to make documentaries. And then the protests in Ferguson following the police-shooting death of Michael Brown happened. Because of that, Bae, now a graduate of the university, entered into the world of photojournalism.

What he saw? “A divided city,” Bae told St. Louis on the Air contributor Steve Potter. Bae said he sees this division in schools and resources that are divided unequally, but most blatantly in the look of the city itself.

Marilyn Maye is one of the featured performances of the St. Louis Cabaret Festival.
Marilyn Maye

Next week, St. Louis will play host to some stars from the national cabaret scene as the annual St. Louis Cabaret Festival returns to the area alongside the St. Louis Cabaret Conference.

Marilyn Maye, born 1928 with a voice of husky perfection, holds the singers’ record for performing 76 times on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show. She is one of the featured performances of the festival.

illustration of the St. Louis Swap Meet
Provided by St. Louis Swap Meet

The St. Louis Swap Meet is having a grand opening of its riverfront location below the Gateway Arch this weekend. The new monthly event is a partnership of the St Louis Swap Meet and Great Rivers Greenway

The vendors' fair will continue to meet every first and last Sunday of the month on Cherokee Street, where it started last year. It will be on the riverfront the third Saturday and Sunday through October.

A scene from "Menudo Pops," a spoofy  commercial for popsicles created from a traditional Mexican dish that's made from the stomachs of animals.
Mike Snodderley

This month, St. Louisans can experience something they’ve likely never seen or heard before: 90 minutes of local theater focused on Latino themes and characters.

Theatre Nuevo is staging a series of one-act plays in English, Spanish and a sprinkling of Spanglish, from the touching tale of a struggling family restaurant to a new take on “Little Red Riding Hood.”

The presentation is the brainchild of Anna Skidis Vargas, a local theater professional who wants to honor her heritage. Skidis Vargas, who's from Southern Illinois, has Mexican-American roots. She said the project gives all Latinos a chance for visibility.

A view inside the Museum of the Dog.
Stephen George | Museum of the Dog

Fine art. Puppies. Never the twain shall meet, right? Wrong, says the American Kennel Club’s Museum of the Dog, a St. Louis County museum which allows socialized dogs to stroll beside fine works of dog-themed art.

The museum was originally located in New York, but the American Kennel Club thought the museum would call more foot traffic in the Midwest than it would on the East Coast, and so St. Louis became all the more pet-friendly in the 1980s.

"The Splendid Table" and "On Being" will switch broadcast times.
St. Louis Public Radio

 St. Louis Public Radio will make a change to the Sunday programming schedule effective Sunday, July 17th, 2016. The broadcast times for The Splendid Table and On Being will be switched.  

The Splendid Table will now air at 7 p.m. every Sunday evening.   
On Being will now air at 1 p.m. every Sunday afternoon. 

Kayden Troff, standing, plays chess in Forest Park.
Austin Fuller | Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

Achieving the grandmaster title is a huge feat. The hours spent every day studying, the days spent in airplanes, buses and airports just to travel to tournaments, the weeks spent at tournament halls, the months trying to perfect every strategy, truly are countless. There is a reason many people dedicate their entire lifetime to this sport without ever being able to reach the coveted title.

Jack Grelle (left) poses with Patrick Haggerty, who wrote and performed Lavender Country
Jess Luther | St. Louis Public Radio

The first song off Patrick Haggerty’s 1973 album “Lavender Country" proudly proclaimed the recording’s intentions. It’s gay. It’s country. And it makes no apologies. 

“We were making it for ourselves, which allowed a certain freedom of expression because we weren’t cow-towing to anybody,” said Haggerty, who performs Friday in St. Louis.

Four decades ago, the country-music industry greeted the album with hostility. Haggerty’s recording career came to an end. But his seminal work is finding a receptive country music audience today. Two years after a small Philadelphia label re-released the album to critical acclaim, Haggerty is on his first-ever tour.

Edem and Pam Dzunu work in the Office of International Students and Scholars at Washington University.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

For Edem and Pam Dzunu, the desire to help others develop intercultural communication skills stems from personal experience.

In 2009, Edem, who is originally from Ghana, came to Missouri to meet his then-fiancé’s family for the first time. The couple was shaken when Pam’s family immediately rejected Edem and refused to even talk to him because of his racial and ethnic background.

One GCADD lot includes a crane sculpture and art truck by Christopher Carl
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

Last year Galen Gondolfi bought an entire city block in Granite City for roughly $75,000. The Fort Gondo Arts Compound founder bought the abandoned block to launch his new project: the Granite City Art and Design District.

“It’s exceeded expectations exponentially, there’s just been overwhelming support,” said Gondolfi. “We were a bit, you know, tentative about what to expect, and we’ve just been overwhelmingly pleased.”

Public Radio New Directors Incorporated (PRNDI)

  Public Radio News Directors Inc. and emcee Korva Coleman of NPR handed out 173 awards to 72 organizations at its conference in St. Louis this June for work done at stations and other outlets during calendar year 2015. St. Louis Public Radio is pleased to announce that we were the recipient of two of these awards.

You’re invited: On July 11, St. Louis on the Air will take you back to the beloved era of music videos with St. Louisan and former MTV host and runner-up in the network’s inaugural “Wanna Be a VJ” contest. His name is Dave Holmes, a graduate of Saint Louis Priory School, who recently wrote the book “Party of One: A Memoir in 21 Songs.”

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for July 10, 2016 is “The Music of Benny Golson.”  Tenor saxophonist, composer and arranger Benny Golson was born in 1929 in Philadelphia and is still performing at age 87.  He is best known for the Jazztet and his compositions like “Killer Joe,” “I Remember Clifford,” “Blues March,” “Whisper Not,” “Stablemates” and “Along Came Betty,” among others.  Groups heard on this show are the Phineas Newborn, Jr.

Freida L. Wheaton, Denise Ward-Brown and Sun Smith-Floret.
Mary Edwards | St. Louis Public Radio

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, contributor Steve Potter discussed Jacoby Arts Center’s multi-platform artistic exploration entitled “Social Justice: Both Sides of the River,” which opened earlier this July.

Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

Fans of the World’s Largest Catsup Bottle will hold their 18th annual festival on Sunday, their first gathering since the Collinsville landmark changed ownership last November.

Mike “The Big Tomato” Gassmann, president of the water tower’s preservation group, say he's relishing the occasion.

“We’re really happy with our new owner, and we’re really looking forward to the future,’’ said Gassmann, who wears a button on his cap that reads “I put catsup on my ketchup.”

Debby Lennon and Donna Weinsting in "Grey Gardens - The Musical."
Dunsai Dai

It is said that when “Little” Edith Bouvier Beale first saw a cut of “Grey Gardens,” the 1976 documentary by Albert and David Maysles about her life with her mother in a derelict mansion in East Hampton, NY, she said “Well, I like it, but I wish there was more singing and dancing.”

The composer of “Grey Gardens -The Musical,” Scott Frankel, said he took that as a posthumous blessing to transform the documentary about Jackie Kennedy’s most eccentric relatives into a musical.

Jeffery Xiong, a grandmaster, is the favorite in this year's juniors tournament.
Austin Fuller | Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

For the seventh consecutive year, the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis will host the U.S. Junior Closed Championship. The most prestigious junior event in the country will take place July 8 through July 17.

Melissa Parks sings the role of Katisha in Union Avenue Opera's season opening production of "The Mikado."
Union Avenue Opera

The curtain rises on Union Avenue Opera’s 22nd Festival Season on July 8 with a new adaptation of Gilbert and Sullivan’s classic, “The Mikado.” 

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, contributor Steve Potter was joined by mezzo soprano Melissa Parks who sings the role of Katisha in “The Mikado.” Also joining the program were Eric Gibson, who directs the production, and Scott Schoonover, Union Avenue Opera’s artistic director and conductor, to discuss the production and preview the two other productions in the 2016 season.

LWYang | Flickr |

Summer is in full swing and whether you’re looking for a book to read poolside, at the park, or just staying indoors to get away from the heat, we’ve got you covered.

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh talked with three local book experts about what they’re recommending as the top summer reads. We also heard from listeners who shared their favorite summer reads so far. 

Five suggestions from Kris Kleindienst, co-owner, Left Bank Books:


What's your name?

David Cazares

Where do you consider your hometown to be? 

Two towns: Indianapolis and Miami. I was born and raised in Indianapolis, and went to school around Indiana. But as much as I identify with my home state, for much of my adult life I have been rooted in South Florida, where I met my wife and my two daughters were born. I feel at home. I love the mix of cultures and languages there and consider it a part of the country that foretells coming changes to middle America. Indeed, I’ve seen and heard that happen, as whenever I fly back to Indiana, I hear Spanish at the airport there. A generation or two ago, that wasn’t the case.

Bjorn Ranheim of The 442s warms up while awaiting a collaborator.
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

When 15-year-old Caroline Luethy saw a lime-green piano in Forest Park, she was immediately taken by the chance to play in a lush setting.

Luethy, of Groton, Conn., approached the piano with a mix of anxiety and excitement. She sat down and started to improvise with chords, evoking a somber moment, like that of a movie soundtrack.