Arts & Culture

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.

The Kursk Root Icon is annually venerated at Orthodox parishes across North America.
St. Basil the Great Orthodox Church | Facebook

Several Orthodox Christian churches in the St. Louis area are hosting a centuries old icon over the next few days.

The Kursk Root Icon is a painting of the Virgin Mary, known as the Theotokos, that is said to date to the 13th century in its namesake town in Russia. The icon, associated with miraculous healings and events, annually travels to the North American parishes that are part of the Russian Church Outside of Russia (which is now a reconciled part of the Russian Orthodox Church).

After seeing a couple of dazzling special exhibitions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, I walked over to the galleries of musical instruments. The galleries’ collection of these instruments include approximately 5000 examples from six continents and the Pacific Islands and are from 300 B.C. to the present. The galleries illustrate the development of musical instruments from all cultures and eras. The text panels said that the instruments may be understood in a number of ways: as art objects, as ethnographic record, and as documents of the history of music performance.

Judi Hampton joined St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh.
Alex Heuer / St. Louis Public Radio

When it premiered in 1987, the 14-hour documentary series “Eyes on the Prize” was the definitive story of the civil rights movement from 1954 to the mid-1980s.

Nearly 30 years later, the documentary series is making a resurgence due, in part, to the efforts of Judi Hampton, whose late brother, Henry Hampton, produced “Eyes on the Prize.” The Hamptons grew up in St. Louis and Judi Hampton continues to live in the area part time.


The split record is a chance for bands to unite fan-bases, reduce album costs, and produce one-off collaborations.

Sometimes it’s a chance for well-known groups to support lesser known acts.

Lindy Drew sits at a bus stop on North Grand Boulevard. with St. Louis resident Bryan Gordon after approaching him about her social media photo project, Humans of St. Louis.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis photographer Lindy Drew spends her days talking to strangers.

If they’re up for it, Drew asks questions like, “What’s the nicest thing anyone has said to you lately?” before asking to take their picture. If you’re on Facebook, you’ve probably seen her project: Humans of St. Louis, also known as HOSTL (pronounced “hostile”).

Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

In 1997, St. Louis jazz vocalist — legend, some do say — Denise Thimes lost her mother to pancreatic cancer. In the wake of that loss, Thimes launched the Mildred Thimes Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer. While she’s held an annual Mother’s Day concert for the past 20 years to pay tribute to her mother, her rock, the reason Thimes sings could be applied to anyone who has lost their mother: maternal sacrifice.

"One Year in Ferguson"
St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis Public Radio | 90.7 KWMU has been named a recipient of the inaugural Peabody-Facebook Futures of Media Awards for the project “One Year in Ferguson.”  The award is a new and separate award from the traditional Peabody Awards and is given to the Top Five Stories in Digital Spaces.  This new award is judged and given by the Peabody Student Honor Board, a group of 16 undergraduate honor students at the University of Georgia who work in conjunction with the Peabody Awards program. The award ceremony will take place on May 20, 2016, in New York at the Paley Center for Media.

Wesley So and Garry Kasparov
Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

The 2016 U.S. and U.S. Women’s Championship ended April 25 but the chess tournament in St. Louis had one more surprise for the fans all over the world: the Ultimate Blitz Challenge! In what could easily be considered the most anticipated blitz event in the world, Garry Kasparov was summoned by the patriarch of modern chess, Rex Sinquefield, to take on the best players in American chess and arguably in the world. It was an exciting return from someone who many be considered the best chess player who ever played the game.

Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis  author John O’Leary wasn’t supposed to survive the burns that covered 100 percent of his body when he had an accident at age 9. No one thought he would walk, write with a pencil, or play a piano ever again. O’Leary, now 38, is not only able to do those things, he also found love, married and fathered four children.

The Isamu Noguchi ceiling, which had been hidden for years under a drop ceiling at the U-Haul building on Kingshighway, has finally emerged for all to see. Click through the slideshow to see more views of it.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

A late autumn's promise has bloomed in the spring: a once-hidden architectural gem in St. Louis is open to the public at last.

U-Haul International Inc. has made good on its commitment to uncover and repair a sculptured ceiling created for the main lobby of its mid-20th century facility on South Kingshighway by the late American artist and designer Isamu Noguchi.