Arts & Culture

Deborah Gambill and Ronald Montgomery display their collaborative effort, "Let's Heal STL."
Áine O'Connor | St. Louis Public Radio

In November 2014 a St. Louis County grand jury ruled against indicting Ferguson Police officer Darren Wilson for shooting Michael Brown. Announcement of the decision sparked protest, and later on in the night, violence wracked Ferguson and parts of St. Louis.

Gallery 201 director Terry Suhre (left) talked with artists Brett Williams (middle) and Deborah Alma Wheeler (right) about their work in the exhibit "Exposure 18: Nervous Laughter."
Áine O'Connor | St. Louis Public Radio

A trio of St. Louis-based artists featured at UMSL’s Gallery 210. Their work examines—and prompts—the kind of anxious and inappropriate reactions we display when a situation feels like it’s gone awry.

The exhibit, “Nervous Laughter,” is meant to engender some degree of unease for viewers; critiques of medicine and society, discussions on homosexual guilt and reason, and commentary on pop culture and the self are made with dark humor and subtle subversion. But the ultimate aim of the artists’ works is to snap viewers to attention and incite them to think.

Brian Owens joined "St. Louis on the Air" in studio.
Áine O'Connor | St. Louis Public Radio

Soul singer Brian Owens has called Ferguson home for about nine years and encapsulates his experience there as “interesting, frustrating,” and ultimately, “hopeful.”

Now, Owens capitalizes the “hopeful” part by presenting a Labor Day weekend concert. The Soul of Ferguson Community Festival is based on a simple idea, Owens said: unifying the community with healing, peace and music.

Brian McConkey

This post has been updated with the details of Syer's memorial.  

In the mid-1970s a new theater group put on its first show in the then empty Union Station and changed the theater scene in St. Louis forever. The group was Theatre Project Company and its co-founder was Fontaine Syer.

Veselin Topalov at the 2015 sinquefield cup
Spectrum Studios

For someone to win an elite chess tournament a combination of elements must align. The player must be in top shape, his opening preparation must be sharp and up-to-date, his game has to be strong, his tactics good, his endgames subtle, and his decision making must be on-point. Even all of this may not be enough.

Festival of Nations International Institute Tower Grove Park
File photo | Rachel Heidenry | 2008

Those who are looking for something out of the ordinary run of entertainment in St. Louis have hit the jackpot this weekend. It’s time for the International Institute’s Festival of Nations

Food, games, craft demonstrations and, of course, music can be found in Tower Grove Park from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday.

Fabiano Caruana and Hikaru Nakamura
Provided by the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

St. Louis’ own chess tournament -- the Sinquefield Cup -- has established itself as a top tournament in the world of chess. The event itself continues to evolve. 

“The organizers have made it such an attractive place to be that everyone knows it and everyone wants to be here,” said commentator and Grandmaster Maurice Ashley.

New Music

Aug 26, 2015
Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for August 30 will be “New Music.”  New music will be heard on Jazz Unlimited to close the month of August.  This show will include the “Keys and Strings Hour.”  Some of the artists on this show will be our own Gateway City Big Band and Bosman Twins as well as Arturo O’Farril, Fred Hersch, Barry Harris, Kenny Werner, Keith Jarrett, Bill Evans, Ramsey Lewis, Gonzalo Rubalcaba and Charlie Haden, Kurt Elling, Sam Rivers, the Clusone 3 and Jacob Garchik with his album “The Heavens: The Atheist Gospel Trombone Album.”

Entrances to Forest Park will be clearly marked.
Provided by Forest Park Forever

Call them entry markers or portals or entrances or doorways — call them by any of those names, just don’t call these in-the-works architectural structures planned to start appearing around Forest Park in the spring “gates.”

Why?  Almost 14 years ago a grand plan for elaborately designed ceremonial gates fell into an unceremonious heap.

Clay Hilley as Siegfried, Alexandra LoBianco as Brünnhilde
John Lamb | Union Avenue Opera

On the way home Friday night from the Union Avenue Opera on North Union Boulevard, I landed in the middle of a beehive at the intersection of Euclid and Maryland avenues. The place is always busy, but on weekend evenings it's especially alive. However, this Friday the corner drew many more police officers than usual, including the chief, Sam Dotson.

Alderman Lyda Krewson was there; so were many worried longtime residents of the neighborhood. There were tourists from St. Louis County and beyond -- parents bringing their kids to college. Lots of folks were hanging out in the bars and outdoor cafes drinking up a storm. Gridlock-causing motorists, either just cruisin’ or looking for parking places or glimpses of civil disobedience, were in abundance.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright William Gottleib

Jazz Unlimited for Sunday, August 23 will be “The Norman Granz Labels-Part 3.”  Entrepreneur-Promoter Norman Granz founded the Clef, Norgran, Down Home, Verve and Pablo record labels.  Part 3 of this series presents recordings by Joe Pass, Lionel Hampton, Gerry Mulligan, Lester Young, Dizzy Gillespie, Ray Bryant, Lee Konitz, Betty Carter, Bud Powell, John Coltrane, Michael Brecker, Kenny Burrell, Benny Carter, Roy Eldridge and Billie Holiday, among others.

The Slide Show has my photographs of three of the artists heard on this show.

Courtesy Missouri History Museum

If you visit the new “Arch Perspectives” exhibit at the Missouri History Museum, take the time to read the story cards written by St. Louisans about the iconic riverfront monument. The personal thoughts range from joyful to angry:

Marilynne Bradley painted over 200 watercolors of St. Louis restaurants, parks, and other landmarks.
Áine O'Connor | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis has long been proud of its famous (and infamous) places: the Arch, Gaslight Square, The Fabulous Fox Theatre, Coral Court Motel. Marilynne Bradley’s “Once Upon a Time in St. Louis: An Illustrated Trip Through the Past” features 86 of those landmarks, painted in watercolor and accompanied by their histories.

Cast members of Insight Theatre Company's production of "Spinning Into Butter."
(Courtesy of Insight Theatre Company)

In line with its mission to “reveal the complexity of the human spirit,” Insight Theatre Company concludes its season with “Spinning Into Butter,” a performance exploring blatant and latent racism in university culture.

Clay Hilley as Siegfried, Alexandra LoBianco as Brünnhilde
John Lamb | Union Avenue Opera

Union Avenue Opera (UAO) concludes its 21st season along with its four-year production of Wagner’s ‘Ring cycle’ with the final opera in the series, “Götterdämmerung.”

Fabiano Caruana, left, defeated the inaugural cupholder Magnus Carlsen in the first round of the 2014 Sinquefield Cup.
Lennart Oots | Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

Starting next week, St. Louis will not only be the capital of chess in America – it will hold the attention of the entire world. At that time, the inaugural Grand Chess Tour will start its second leg: the Sinquefield Cup, now in its third year.

Last year's edition was the strongest tournament ever held, and this year's will host nine of the top 10 players on the globe.

The Festival of the Little Hills is taking place in St. Charles this weekend. For our family, that was the serendipitous festival.

Somehow, the day we would decide to go to St. Charles and check out Main Street would coincide with Little Hills. We never planned it. But here’s the alert so you can.

MoDOT archaeologists work at their most recent downtown excavation site.
Áine O'Connor | St. Louis Public Radio

This story was originally published Aug. 9 and has been updated to include audio and photos from "St. Louis on the Air."

In late November 1922, in the Valley of the Kings across the Nile from Luxor, Egypt, British archaeologist Howard Carter, accompanied by his patron, the Earl of Carnarvon, knocked a tiny hole in what he believed was the door to the tomb of the boy king Tutankhamen. His assumption was correct. Carter peered through the aperture. Lord Carnarvon asked if he could see anything.

“Yes,” Carter said. “Wonderful things.”

Just shy of a century later, a young archaeologist named Michael Meyer and his crew are working near another river of legend, the Mississippi, the better to provide for posterity facts about the social and material history of the place in which we live.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for Sunday, August 16 will be “The Career of Ray Brown.”  Oscar Peterson introduced him as “The Relentless Ray Brown.”  He was born in Pittsburgh in 1926 and began piano lessons at age eight.  When he got to high school, he began playing bass with Jimmy Blanton as his major influence.  He went to New York in at the age of 20.  He was soon invited to a rehearsal and the musicians there included Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Al Haig and Max Roach.  Dizzy hired him on the spot and Ray never looked back.  He participated in 900 recording sessions, 75 as a leader.  In his 57-ye

Ligaya Figueras, executive editor at Sauce magazine, joined "Cityscape" for her last Sound Bites segment.
Alex Heuer | St. Louis Public Radio

For 14 years, Sauce magazine has provided St. Louis readers with food news, tested recipes, and reviews of the best places to shop, drink, and dine.

Working first as a freelancer, Ligaya Figueras was first published in Sauce in January 2008. She then became a staff writer—and finally, the magazine’s executive editor. In that position, she joined “Cityscape” many times for the show’s monthly Sound Bites segment, in which she explored St. Louis dining with the people who know it best.