Arts & Culture

St. Louis rapper and producer Muhammad Austing poses with a picture of himself on his laptop.
Provided by Muhammad Austin

Muhammad Austin doesn’t have top of the line equipment or a world-class studio. He records most of his music in the basement of his parents Spanish Lake home. But that hasn’t stopped him from making some of the most innovative hip-hop in St. Louis — and people are starting to notice.

Over the past two years Austin, who goes by the stage name Mvstermind, has risen through the St. Louis music scene to become one of the dominant voices in the young hip-hop community. Today, he performs at Delmar Hall in support of his new album, “The Cusp.”

A photo of ramen noodles.
sharyn morrow | Flickr

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Local community leaders say a new website devoted to the Mississippi River will boost tourism up and down the river.

They gathered Wednesday at the National Great Rivers Museum in Alton to celebrate the launch of the Mississippi River Geotourism MapGuide, a website that highlights river towns, attractions and businesses. The project, which took more than two years to complete, is a partnership between National Geographic Maps, the National Park Service, the Army Corps of Engineers and regional organizations like the Mississippi River Connections Collaborative and the Meeting of the Rivers Foundation.

On Chess: Caruana thrives in St. Louis

Oct 19, 2016
Fabiano Caruana is now based in St. Louis. Here is playing during the 2016 Sinquefield Cup.
Austin Fuller | Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

When Grandmaster Fabiano Caruana decided to move to St. Louis in late August 2015, local chess enthusiasts rejoiced and looked forward to meeting the then world’s No. 5 at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis. Caruana chose the U.S. chess capital as it proved to provide the best conditions for the Miami-born superstar to improve his skills and eventually challenge World Champion Magnus Carlsen.

Even more important, the U.S. Chess Federation hoped that Caruana, the American No. 1, would successfully lead his countrymen at the 2016 Chess Olympiad. Well, Fabiano Caruana’s first year as a St. Louis resident is over and he satisfied everyone.

Jacqueline Thompson and Terry Weiss
Alex Heuer | St. Louis Public Radio

The Civic Arts Company’s mission is to use arts and education to encourage conversations about race and social injustice, as well as opportunities to remedy those injustices.

The company was founded late last year by Richard Shaw and Terry Weiss. For its first production, the organization chose Jamie Pachino’s theatrical adaptation of Studs Terkel’s book “Race,” which will debut at 3 p.m., Saturday, in the Missouri History Museum’s Lee Auditorium.

Common Thread Contemporary Dance Company

PNC Bank will distribute $1 million over the next four years to help fund arts groups in the St. Louis region.

The grants, part of PNC's Arts Alive funding initiative, have a larger focus than just keeping organizations afloat in the short term.  They aim to inspire lasting programs that reinvigorate arts organizations.

Since 2011, the Arts Alive program has distributed $2 million to established theater companies, museums and dance companies. Recipients include Dance St. Louis, Opera Theater of St. Louis and The Muny. 

The Art of Blakey

Oct 16, 2016

Jazz Unlimited for October 16, 2016 is “The Art of Blakey.”  Born un Pittsburgh in 1919, drummer Art Blakey began his career with the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra in 1939 and made his first recordings with the Billy Eckstine Band in 1944.  A tireless messenger for jazz he has said, “To pass through life and miss this music is to miss out on one of the best things about living” and "This is the music of my culture good, bad or indifferent. No America - No Jazz.

A flip page of a book.
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

Independent publishing projects are the name of the game this weekend at the third annual St. Louis Small Press Expo. Saturday the Grand Hall of the St. Louis Public Library's downtown location will host over 80 vendors with everything from lit-mags about architecture, art books about sexuality, publishing collectives run by Mayan artists and anti-oppression zines.  

Last year, Danielle and Kevin McCoy attended the St. Louis Small Press Expo as guests. The couple has been together for 13 years — eight of which have been dedicated to their art practice as WORK/PLAY. This year they’re presenting sketch books for artists and screen printed zines. They're also organizing the panel "Inside the Law with Glen Rogers," a retired police officer with more than 20 years of experience in the region.

Actor Dan Kelly aims his gun, as a cop in "You Try It" by Neil LaBute, part of the "Every 28 Hours" theater collaboration. Actors Joel Beard, Noble Montgomery and Theresa Masters look on.
Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Public Radio

Every day, in St. Louis or elsewhere, a black person shudders in fear after seeing a police officer approaching. Every day, a cop makes a lightning-quick decision that could mean life or death.

Author Candice Millard's book "Hero of the Empire" looks into Winston Churchill's exploits during the Boer War.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Originally published on September 29, 2016.

Winston Churchill sure didn’t make it easy to become a seminal figure in world history.

Before becoming Great Britain’s prime minister and leading his empire through World War II, Churchill was an extremely ambitious youngster who saw military glory as a pathway to political power. But this type of thinking almost got him killed in the Second Boer War, a late 1890s military conflict in what’s now South Africa.

A selection from Amy Reidel's "Radar Home: 11.8.13"
Willis Ryder Arnold

We’ve all been touched by cancer, through someone we love or admire, or even our own. Nearly 40 percent of us will be diagnosed with the disease in our lifetime.

Three years ago, St. Louis artist Amy Reidel found out her mother had cancer. Shortly after, first one aunt, then another, got a cancer diagnosis. In the middle of it all, Reidel’s grandmother died.

GM Maurice Ashley presents a ceremonial check to Dariusz Swiercz.
David Llada | Millionaire Chess

One of the most attractive and unique open tournaments in the world has just finished. From Oct. 6-9, Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City hosted this chess-revolutionizing event – the 3rd Millionaire Chess Open. Players from all around the world came to New Jersey to not only participate in the tournament, but to enjoy the electric atmosphere.

Countertenor Terry Barber
Terry Barber

Terry Barber is a  countertenor who performed for years with the vocal group Chanticleer and has worked with Grammy-winning artists like Madonna, Jewel, Chaka Khan and more. Recently, he moved to St. Louis from Florida, bringing along his non-profit, called Artists for a Cause, in order to be closer to family. That also means that St. Louisans are treated to a few more local concerts from Barber than they were before.

From left, David Pulkingham, Buddy Miller, Emmylou Harris, Steve Earle, and The Milk Carton Kids (Joey Ryan and Kenneth Pattengale) perform during the Lampedusa: Concerts for Refugees at the Rococo Theater in Lincoln, Neb., Oct. 9, 2016.
Christian Fuchs | Jesuit Refugee Service

Emmylou Harris and Steve Earle are two of the most revered American singer-songwriters performing today. The two longtime friends and performing buddies have also never been hesitant to express their political views — or throw their generous musical weight behind causes they believe in.

The two have recently reunited, along with several other musicians such as the Milk Carton Kids, Buddy Miller and David Pulkingham, to tour the country hosting benefit concerts, titled “Lampedusa,” to raise money for Jesuit Refugee Service. The Christian organization’s mission is to “accompany, serve and advocate for rights of refugees and other displaced persons.” JRS works in 45 countries across the globe to assist refugees’ educational, health and social needs.

Tonight, the benefit makes a stop in St. Louis at the Sheldon Concert Hall.

Visitors to the Contemporary Art Museum are now (Sept. 30, 2016) greeted by warning signs and a wall that went up in front of Kelley Walker's Direct Drive exhibit following criticism and outrage of the work.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 1:40 p.m. Oct. 10 — Chief curator Jeffrey Uslip is leaving St. Louis' Contemporary Art Museum for another institution.

Uslip's departure follows weeks of controversy over CAM's current solo exhibition by white artist Kelley Walker that some found demeaning to African-Americans. Three CAM employees and others had called the museum to remove Uslip shortly after the exhibition, "Direct Drive," opened Sept. 16.

In a news release, the Contemporary did not say where Uslip is going or whether he will remain in St. Louis.

Kansas Citians

Oct 8, 2016

Jazz Unlimited for October 9 will be preempted in the first hour by the Presidential debate and will resume at  10 pm for “Kansas Citians.”  Not only was it an important the center of a great period in jazz, but also Kansas City and its environs were and remain a nurturing place for the careers of many jazz musicians, including Count Basie, Charlie Parker, Lester Young, Pat Metheny, Karrin Allyson and others.  Please note that the first hour of this show will be pre-empted by the Presidential debate.  You can catch the first hour of the show by going the Archive  starting on Monday

Shoes and footwear have a long history varying from culture to culture and have been designed not only for comfort but often have an artistic flair with added elements such as buckles, bows and beads such as those used in Native American moccasins. Most of us have heard the infamous expression about St. Louis--First in shoes, first in booze and last in the American League. St. Louis has a rich history in the production of shoes. Companies such as Brown Shoe, now Caleres, and International Shoe Company helped our city to grow and put us on the map.

Playwright Dael Orlandersmith
Kevin Berne

Actress, poet and playwright Dael Orlandersmith is known for her moving works like “Beauty’s Daughter,” “Monster,” and the Pulitzer Prize finalist “Yellowman.”  The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis recently commissioned a work from Orlandersmith about Ferguson and St. Louis after the police shooting death of Michael Brown Jr. in 2014. It is called “Until the Flood.

Two immigrant men hang suspended in the air as window washers in the play "Spended"
Provided by ProPhotoSTL.com

As the St. Louis metro area continues to take note of the region's growing status as a magnet for newcomers from other countries, Upstream Theater will launch "Suspended," a play that aims to break down assumptions about immigrants.

Director Linda Kennedy said stories about the relationship between immigrants and longtime residents can strengthen both communities.

Annie Wang at the 2015 U.S. Women's Chess Championships
Spectrum Studios

2016 has been an exciting year for chess and the World Youth Championships are no exception. The World Youth Chess Championship, for children aged 18 and under, has sections for both male and female players who are under 18, 16, 14, 12, 10 and 8. However, with so many sections (12 in all) and with so many players, coaches, parents, arbiters and other officials, the World Chess governing body, FIDE, separated the events based on age.

The older group (under 18, 16 and 14) recently played the 2016 World Youth Chess Championship in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia.

Melinda Cooper performs with her band Town Cars
Jess Luther | St. Louis Public Radio

Local musician Melinda Cooper remembers the exact moment she fell in love with songwriting.  Decades ago, it was snowing outside and she was driving down Interstate 44 when Stephen Merritt’s song “Falling Out Of Love (With You)” began playing on her car radio.  She immediately changed course and drove to Vintage Vinyl to buy the album.

Cooper hopes submitting her music to the St. Louis County Library’s new local music initiative — which will allow music fans to stream local music on computers and eventually an app — gives someone else a similar feeling.

Bruno David in his empty Grand Center gallery
Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Public Radio

After Bruno David opened his gallery in Grand Center 11 years ago, he was a cheerleader for the area’s emergence as a major arts destination. Now Grand Center is so successful that David has to leave.

In late October, David is relocating his namesake gallery to Clayton, to a spot on Forsyth Boulevard near the St. Louis Artists' Guild. The move comes a month after inspectors deemed his Washington Boulevard location unsafe. A regularly scheduled assessment revealed that concrete walls in the back of the building were crumbling.

Dana Hotle and Adam Maness joined "St. Louis on the Air" to discuss the Chamber Project St. Louis' upcoming concerts.
Mary Edwards | St. Louis on the Air

The 442’s pianist and composer Adam Maness is a lifelong St. Louisan and, with that, he has something on his mind: socioeconomic and racial divisions in the city of St. Louis. He recently composed a piece called “The Delmar Wall” to address those issues.

Charlie Hoessle helped start the St. Louis Zoo's education department in the 1960s.
Courtesy of St. Louis Zoo

For St. Louisans of a certain age, the statue outside the herpetarium at the St. Louis Zoo depicts a familiar figure: Charles H. Hoessle — better known as “Charlie” — who taught them about snakes and exotic reptiles when they were schoolchildren in the 1960s.

Hoessle worked for the zoo for 40 years. He helped start the zoo's education department in 1964 and hosted the weekly “Saint Louis Zoo Show’’ on local TV from 1968 to 1978.

The Cliff Cave branch of the St. Louis County Library system reopened on Sept. 21, 2016, after renovation work. That included the children's area, pictured here.
(Photo courtesy of St. Louis County Library)

Phase two of a project to replace or renovate 19 of the 20 St. Louis County Library brancheis set to get underway this month.

The first phase of what’s called the “Your Library Renewed” campaign included 11 projects throughout the county. Kristen Sorth, library system director, says that work cost about $58 million, which came from a 2012 property tax increase. Phase two will cost about $79 million.

Apples and leaves.
NWY69 | Flickr

The Sound Bites team at Sauce Magazine is back and ready to help you plan your nights out at St. Louis restaurants during the month of October.

Catherine Klene and Heather Hughes, both managing editors at the magazine, joined St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh to discuss the openings and closings of restaurants you should know. 

The three they highlighted as 'must-try'? Narwhal's Crafted Urban Ice, Snow Factory and The Garden on Grand. Read more about them here

The Rep, The Muny, Stages St. Louis

Stages St. Louis hopes its current production of “Sister Act” will do what the Whoopi Goldberg character in the movie did for her Catholic convent choir: Shake it up — at least where its audiences are concerned.

The theater company’s patrons are not very diverse. Executive Producer Jack Lane, describes the Stages St. Louis audience this way: “suburban, white.”

Attracting more theater-goers of color, while addressing important social-justice concerns on the front burner in St. Louis right now, is important to St. Louis’ larger theater companies, which include the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, The Muny and Stages. Adding more minority patrons could help with the perennial issue of aging subscribers and donors. But it’s also a way to stay relevant at a time when St. Louis is more riveted than ever on race.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for October 2, 2116 will be “Adderley Compositions.”  The Adderley brothers, Cannonball and Nat, were not only world-class jazz instrumentalists, but also were composers of attractive tunes like “Sack O’ Woe,” “Work Song” and “The Jive Samba.”  We will hear their compositions played by themselves, Ray Bryant, the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra, Paul Chambers and Wynton Kelly, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, our own Kenny Rice, James Clay, the Louis Hayes Quintet, Antonio Hart, Quincy Jones, J.J.

Bjorn Ranheim
St. Louis Symphony

Cellist Bjorn Ranheim’s busy schedule rarely allows time for rest. If he’s not rehearsing or performing with the St. Louis Symphony, then you may find him with his colleagues in The 442s or playing chamber music in any of several ensembles. But one of his favorite roles is that of father to two beautiful little girls.

In a conversation with St. Louis Symphony Vice President of External Affairs Adam Crane, Ranheim talks about this weekend’s concerts highlighted by performances of John Adams’ Violin Concerto featuring Leila Josefowicz.

Local guitar duo Fine to Drive play onstage at a preview show at Delmar Hall the night before its grand opening.
Jess Luther | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis’ newest concert venue opens tonight in the Delmar Loop neighborhood. With Delmar Hall, Joe Edwards and Pat Hagin, co-owners of the Pageant concert hall next door, continue their push to make the neighborhood an entertainment hub.

“This is the live music corridor, center, of St. Louis and this just cements that,” Edwards said.

Delmar Hall will seat up to 800 people and focus on concerts, comedy and private business events. Edwards said up to 25 percent of the acts will be local performers with national touring groups making up the remaining shows. The opening weekend features Stir, Jay Farrar, and Hippie Sabotage.

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