Arts & Culture | St. Louis Public Radio

Arts & Culture

On April 7, the world lost Patricia McKissack, a famed children’s book author who made her home in St. Louis. She died of a heart attack at age 72.

Joseph Leahy | St. Louis Public Radio

Hundreds of church bells of the St. Louis Archdiocese and other local congregations have hung silent since Holy Thursday, but will sound again, as is tradition, for Easter Vigil on Saturday. For generations, the handmade metal signals have called on local communities to mark the significant moments of life.

Kat Reynolds is pictured in a file photo of a self-portrait shown recently at The Militzer Art Gallery in St. Louis.
Provided | Kat Reynolds

Photographer Kat Reynolds is having a moment.

In the past few months, Reynolds has exhibited at five St. Louis venues. She was named this year’s Emerging Artist by the local Visionary Awards, a prize she’ll accept April 24 at the Sun Theater in Grand Center. She’s also wrapping up a residency program at Paul Artspace, north of Florissant. Her work primarily features young people of color, friends, people she encounters on the street, or people she finds through social media.

Reynolds works all these activities around a full-time customer relations job. In our latest Cut & Paste podcast, we catch up with this busy artist, who strives to genuinely connect with her subjects.

Gene Jackson started his professional performing  career at 15 when his mom signed a waiver allowing him to perform at the Midnight Lounge on Dr. Martin Luther King Drive in the mid-1970s.

Older musicians took him under their wings, showing him the ins and outs of St. Louis’ rhythm and blues, and initiating him into a fellowship of performing musicians determined to keep soul music alive.

Roland Johnson entered the scene years earlier, started his career singing with groups at sock hops and youth dances before entering the realms of bars and clubs.

2017 U.S. Chess Championship winner Wesley So and 2017 U.S. women's champion, Sabina Foisor.
Lennart Ootes | Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis

Between March 29 and April 10, the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis hosted the 2017 U.S. Chess Championship and U.S. Women’s Chess Championship, two of the most exciting events in the American circuit. This year, the events were stronger than ever, with three players out of the world’s top 10 participating in the open section, making it the strongest national championship in the world.

U.S. Championship

David Carson, photojournalist with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, joined St. Louis on the Air to discuss drone journalism.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Last month, with the launch of the aptly-titled “Weatherbird One,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch made a foray into a new newsgathering realm: drone journalism.

On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, we discussed the ethics of drone journalism with David Carson, photographer with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and Mickey Osterreicher, general counsel with the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA).

Here’s a glance at what that looks like: 

Patricia McKissack
Photo provided | The St. Louis American

With the death of Patricia McKissack on Friday, the world lost the surviving partner of one of the most prolific duos in literature.

McKissack suffered a heart attack and was taken to an area hospital, where she was pronounced dead. She was 72.

Patricia McKissack and her husband, Fredrick McKissack embarked on their collaborative literary lives nearly 35 years ago, with the intention of being the change they wanted to see. The couple decided that little black boys and girls deserved positive images of themselves and a broad scope of their people’s rich history as they turned the pages of books.

Dipstick the goat chomps away on honeysuckle at Willoughby Heritage Farm in Collinsville. April 2017
Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

“What can we do about the massive spread of bush honeysuckle? It spreads greatly and destroys ground-level wildflowers.”

That was the question the Rev. James Brobst of Belleville recently put to Curious Louis.

Pallbearers guide the casket of Chuck Berry out of The Pageant following a viewing and celebration of life event for the rock 'n' roll legend and St. Louis native. (April 9, 2017)
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

A line of fans formed around the block outside the Pageant Theater in the Delmar Loop Sunday to say goodbye to rock 'n'roll legend and St. Louis native Chuck Berry.

They joined a capacity crowd of dignitaries, family and friends inside for a funeral that broke the mold — much like the legendary entertainer himself.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for April 9, 2017 will be “The Compositions of Charles Mingus.”  Bassist Charles Mingus left us with many interesting and challenging compositions.  They will be played by the composer himself, vocalists Mark Murphy, Judy Niemack and Kevin Mahogany, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, the Mingus Big Band, Maceo Parker, Dave Brubeck, Junko Onishi, the George Adams/Don Pullen Quartet and Hal Wilner.

The Slide Show contains my photographs of some of he artists heard on this show.

The Audio Archive of this show will be available until the morning  of April 17, 2017.

Grand Center is truly the center for the arts in St. Louis.

Organizer Yusra Ali sits in the CAIR Missouri office in Clayton
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

Yusra Ali, a student at St. Louis Community College, was a shy child, and took to drawing and painting at an early age as a way to express herself.

As a young adult, and practicing Muslim, she hopes to harness that communicative power of art to help people better understand the nuanced identities of Muslims.

Concerned that people in the larger community tend to lump all Muslims together, Ali organized an exhibit she hopes will help others see people who are Muslim as individuals. Creativity and Identity: A Muslim American Art Exhibition takes place tonight at Third Degree Glass Factory.   

(From left) Arthur Woodley as Emile Griffith, Jordan Jones as Little Emile Griffith and Denyce Graves as Eelda Griffith
Ken Howard | Opera Theatre of St. Louis

Update 4:17 PM: this piece was updated to better reflect the use of NEA/NEH funding at the Missouri History Museum.

When acclaimed trumpeter Terence Blanchard’s jazz opera opened at the Washington National Opera last month, it was heralded as new hybrid in contemporary opera that fused musical traditions and audiences. 

The Big Muddy Dance Company's Erin Warner Prange and Robert Poe.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

This weekend, The Big Muddy Dance Company will celebrate the ends of its sixth year in show business. Since its inception, the company has grown and begun touring the Midwest.

On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, contributor Steve Potter chatted with members of the troupe about upcoming efforts. Erin Warner Prange, the company’s executive director, and Robert Poe, a dancer with the company, joined the program.

Missouri History Museum

One hundred years ago, on April 6, 1917, the United States entered World War I.

To mark the occasion, several thousand people will attend a national commemoration in Kansas City, home to the National World War I Museum and Memorial.

In St. Louis, an exhibit opens today at the Missouri History Museum. It focuses on the role St. Louisans played — on the battlefield and the home front.

The Saint Louis University chess team engaged in chess matches with the Webster University team.
Courtesy Vanessa Sun

Collegiate chess is a subject that has cropped up often in this column, and rightfully so. The explosion of interest that this rather niche market has attracted is not without merit. One of the trend setters in this field was certainly the University of Texas at Dallas, incidentally. This university's first chess team arrived in the fall of 1996, and started the idea of offering “chess scholarships.”

Since chess players are usually known for their brain power, it was seen as a perfect way to increase the brand of the university while attracting some of the brightest minds to its campus. As for the students, they would have the opportunity to attend college basically for free.

Roasted chicken at Snax Gastrobar.
Michelle Volansky | Sauce Magazine

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 April.

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

On their list to try?

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for April 2, 2017 is “Jazz From London-Part 2.”  A lot of exciting jazz was recorded in London by visiting American and other jazz musicians including British musicians and expatriates from other countries.  We will present music from Duke Ellington’s Third Sacred Concert, John McLaughlin, Keith Jarrett and the Mahavishnu Orchestra, Oscar Peterson & Dizzy Gillespie, Cleo Laine, Quadrant, Stan Getz.

The grounds crew prepares the field at Busch Stadium for the Cardinals home opener on Sunday night. Photo was taken on March 29, 2017.
Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 10 p.m. Friday, March 31, with details of pregame ceremony.

Sorry, Cardinals fans. There’s no reason to sneak out of work early to celebrate Opening Day in St. Louis this year.

Instead of the usual Monday afternoon game, the Cardinals will open their 2017 season against the Chicago Cubs, their National League division rivals, on Sunday in a nationally televised game that starts at 7:35 p.m. at Busch Stadium.

The Milliners, c.1898; oil canvas; 29 5/8 x 32 ¼ inches; Edgar Degas, French, 1834-1917
Saint Louis Art Museum

A new, exclusive exhibit showcasing works by impressionist painter Edgar Degas is open at the St. Louis Art Museum. The exhibit features several works that have never been displayed in the United States.  

The featured paintings and pastels reflect Degas’ perception of the Parisian Millinery Trade of the late 1800’s, when there was a booming demand for exquisite head-wear. Many paintings portray young women who were milliners, or hat makers. Also part of the exhibit are several hats carefully preserved in glass cases.

A file photo of Augusten Burroughs accompanies this image of the cover of his new book, "Lust and Wonder."
Christopher Schelling

From the beginning of his writing career, Augusten Burroughs was determined to be honest, even if writing about his often messy life would be a daunting process.

In his memoir “Running with Scissors,” and his later works, Burroughs has engaged in self-reflection, an approach that has won him a loyal following and inspired a hit movie. He continues that process in his latest book, “Lust and Wonder.”

“That’s really the key: to understand what happened to you, what your role in it was,” said Burroughs, who speaks tonight at the Schlafly Branch of the St. Louis Public Library. “Just becoming more and more and more truthful with yourself.”

the winning bracket after the PRO Chess League finals
PRO Chess League

Chess, like other games, is being revolutionized by the world of streaming online. Using platforms like Twitch.tv, players have jumped at the chance to promote live chess and engage viewers in real time. This weekend saw the championship match of the Professional Rapid Online (PRO) Chess League featuring the Norway Gnomes and the Saint Louis Arch Bishops.

Chuck Berry
Bill Greenblatt | UPI | File Photo

Upated March 29 — The funeral  for Chuck Berry will take place on April 9. A visitation open to the public will be held from 8 a.m. to noon at The Pageant Concert Club, 6161. Delmar Blvd., St. Louis.

It will be followed by a closed funeral service for family and close friends.

Berry, the legendary singer, songwriter and guitarist who duck-walked his way into rock and roll history, died March 18. He was 90.

Pastor F. Willis Johnson of Wellspring Church in Ferguson.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

If the Rev. F. Willis Johnson were to distill the message of his new book, “Holding Up Your Corner: Talking About Race in Your Community,” into a single phrase it would be: acknowledge, affirm and act.

Actor and singer Nicholas Rodriguez will take the stage this Wednesday and Thursday in this year's edition of Muny Magic at The Sheldon with a show titled, "My 70s Show – A Night with Nicholas Rodriguez."
photo provided

Singer and actor Nicholas Rodriguez is no stranger to St. Louis. He’s also effusive in his love for the city and The Muny, where he’s performed in five productions since 2010.

Rodriguez most recently portrayed the Tin Man in last year’s Muny production of The Wizard of Oz. He also has played the title role in Tarzan and Beast in Beauty and the Beast.

“It’s awesome. More than any theater I’ve worked with in the country, The Muny just takes such great care of us,” Rodriguez told St. Louis on the Air contributor Steve Potter.

Two eyes peer out of a red field and an alligator rests below celestial machinery in the collaged cover of Rhizomatic St. Louis 5
Provided by Nathan Cook

For electronic musician Nathan N. Cook, abstract soundscapes, nature recordings interwoven with voices, and harsh noises, aren’t just intellectual experiments in audio editing. Instead, he finds them places of human connection.

Five years ago, Cook decided to mix those elements into recordings that capture a community of local musicians — and to share that connection with others. He launched the Rhizomatic St. Louis series, an annual album release of 10 distinct, avant-garde and experimental musicians.

Jazz Unlimited for March 26, 2017 will be “The Keys and Strings Hour + New Music.”  The Keys and Strings Hour” or the quieter side of jazz will play piano music from the Storyville and Steeplechase with Mary Lou Williams, Freddie Redd, Duke Jordan, Doug Raney, Albert Dailey, Horace Parlan and Joe Bonner.  New music for March will feature Lisa Parrott, an Australian saxophonist, piano duets between Bruno Canino & Enrico Pieranunzi, vocalist Virginia Schenck in a tribute to Abbey Lincoln, the Idrees Sulieman Quartet recorded in Tangier, the Mingus Big Band, the Mingus Dynasty.

Red and blue, circular logo of the American Cricket Academy & Club.
American Cricket Academy & Club

A cricket field opening Saturday in St. Charles County signals how much the sport is growing in the region.

The venue at BaratHaven Park in Dardenne Prairie will, for the first time, give the American Cricket Academy and Club of St. Louis a dedicated home to practice and play.

Local enthusiasm for the sport has been largely driven by Indian and other immigrant communities, said ACAC founder and executive director Ajay Jhamb.

This is the marketing image for "The Boys in the Band," released in 1970. It is one of two classic films to be shown in this year's QFest.
Provided | Cinema St. Louis

When St. Louis' QFest of films officially launched, people in the LGBTQ community were barred from institutions ranging from the military service to marriage.

A decade later, LGBTQ citizens can both serve and marry.  The 10th annual festival, which opens March 29, includes a dozen films that reflect a restricted past and progressive present.

On Chess: US Chess is rising and So is the competition

Mar 23, 2017
Fabiano Caruana in a match with Hikaru Nakamura at the 2016 U.S. Championship
Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis | Lennart Ootes

It’s that time of the year again. The time when St. Louis dresses up in its white and black gown and welcomes the best chess players the nation has to offer. The 2017 U.S. Chess Championship & U.S. Women’s Championship will take place from March 28 to April 10 at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis and it will feature the highest prize fund in history, with $194.000 for the U.S. Championship and $100,000 for the U.S. Women’s Championship.

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