Cut & Paste | St. Louis Public Radio

Cut & Paste

"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.

Connor Wright seated on his trio of Stan Musial portraits at Ballpark Village. Wright used 5,980 Rubik's Cubes to make the piece.
Connor Wright | Provided

Baseball is a game of numbers: batting average , RBIs. ERA.

But Connor Wright had to come up with a different kind of number for a project honoring St. Louis Cardinals legend Stan Musial: how many Rubik’s Cubes it would  take to create a 205-square-foot mural with a trio of images of the famous #6.

Melissa Gerth and Arnela Bogdanic in rehearsal at Grbic Banquet Hall, where "Bosnian/American: The Dance for Life" plays April 15-16 before moving to Fontbonne University.
Traci Clapper

The generation gap is said to be narrowing as more millennials move back in with, and seek advice from, their parents. But in St. Louis, the chasm may be growing for one group of young adults.

Two decades ago, Bosnian genocide survivors arrived in St. Louis penniless and ravaged by war. In one generation, they’ve built businesses, bought homes and raised children who are succeeding at high school and college — and assimilation. A new Mustard Seed play, “Bosnian/American: The Dance for Life,” explores the lives of these young adults, weaving their story around a traditional Bosnian tale about a young sheep and a menacing wolf.

A still from William Morris' "Immediacy of Distance" shows, left to right, his grandmother Goldie Butler, cousin Dana Fox and aunt Lizzie Fox.
William Morris

A new experimental documentary provides a snapshot of what it was like to grow up in north St. Louis in the 1970s.

The project began when artist William Morris discovered in the basement of his family home 30 rolls of Super 8 movies, shot by his mother, Annie Morris. He paired them with original and existing music as well as audio interviews of her talking about growing up in a Mississippi sharecropping family in the 1930s and 40s.

Samples of work form (left to right) John Hendrix, Fox Smith, Vidhya Nagarajan
Provided by the artists

Illustrators are storytellers who synthesize thousands of words into just a few images, or even a single frame. We recently invited three prominent local illustrators to tell stories about drawing for a living, in the first live recording of our Cut & Paste arts and culture podcast.

These baseball caps (Cardinals, Pirates, two Orioles, KC Royals and Detroit Tigers) spell out "spookd" in a piece by artist Ryan Doyle.
Ryan Doyle

Make no mistake. As a white man, artist Ryan Doyle does not try to "explain" racism to anyone.

Doyle’s work is a way to explore his own experiences and the racist environment we all live in. Take his recent work using baseball caps. It features molds of the caps’ home team letters, spelling out "spookd."

The work in "Visualizing Life: Social Justice in Real Time" includes that of (left to right) Howard Barry, Annetta Bentil and Gundia Lock-Clay.
Freida Wheaton

What do you call a group of visual artists inspired by the death of Michael Brown and the social-justice movement it spawned? St. Louis curator Freida Wheaton calls them the “Sweet 16.”

It’s a nod to their numbers as well as a reference to their niche. On Feb. 26-27, you can see the work of these St. Louis artists at the Touhill, in conjunction with “New Dance Horizons IV.”

This piece is from Basil Kincaid's "Reclamation 2," showing at The Luminary through Feb. 27.
Willis Ryder Arnold / St. Louis Public Radio

It's no stretch to think that Basil Kincaid’s efforts to unite people of African heritage require travel. But pre-paid phone cards, vinyl sheets and a strong adhesive are also part of the process.

Erin Renée Roberts as Nina and Ron Himes as Kenyatta look at photographs of Nina's late mother in the Black Rep's "Sunset Baby"
Phil Hamer

Revolution is not for the faint of heart; neither is parenthood. In The Black Rep’s production of the play “Sunset Baby,” the character Kenyatta finds connecting with his grown daughter is perhaps more difficult a challenge than enduring years as a political prisoner.

Printmaker Tate Foley welcomes visitors to his home studio during the October 2015 Studio Tours held by the Contemporary Art Museum.
Jarred Geistreich

Making art involves creativity, of course. But for many artists, including St. Louis’ Tate Foley, exactitude is every bit as important.

Printmaker Foley is meticulous about following the necessary steps, in strict order. One of his first steps sometimes involves ordering from eBay, since Foley’s work explores consumerism using things like gum wrappers and trading cards.

Clockwise from left: Alcar, Nick Carlson, Alan Cleaver, Quincy

The arts in St. Louis are similar to the fabled elephant described by six men who cannot see: “It’s like a snake!” cried one who grasped the tail. “No, a tree trunk!” insisted another, as he rubbed a leg.

Art is a staged dialogue that makes you wince with recognition. It's a brushstroke that evokes sadness; a beat your toes can’t help but keep. And it's as unique as the artist, as we've learned in our first year of putting together the Cut & Paste podcast.

Soulstruck by Lyndon Barrois Jr. He said the gender-exploring figure is a compilation of his wife, their nephew and himself.
Lyndon Barrois Jr.

For multimedia artist Lyndon Barrois Jr., the different genres came together like a stack of building blocks.

As a child, he liked to draw, but he didn’t paint until his third year of college. Then in grad school, he began to embrace sculpture and other creative means. Soon he was making art with the idea that every work should take whatever form suits it best.

Antionette Carroll in a Faces of the Movement portrait
Antionette Carroll

St. Louis designer Antionette Carroll doesn’t know what might resolve thorny and multi-faceted problems like racism, stereotypical thinking and gentrification. But she thinks design professionals — and others like you and me — might have bits and pieces of solutions within ourselves.

An exhibition at the Griot Museum of Black History shows a mutiny on the deck of a slave ship.
Nancy Fowler / St. Louis Public Radio

A new $5 million donation will help the Missouri History Museum collect and exhibit St. Louis’ African-American history. But not everyone trusts a large, mainstream institution to tell these stories.

While the History Museum thrives through such contributions and with Zoo-Museum District funding, the Griot Museum of Black History struggles to even pay its utility bills. In the weeks ahead, we’ll have a detailed report of this languishing establishment.

Visual artist and musician Stan Chisholm
Durrie Bouscaren / St. Louis Public Radio

Having a conversation with Stan Chisholm is like looking through a kaleidoscope.

He seems somber and provocative. Then suddenly there’s a turn; oh wait, there’s a glimmer of humor. Another turn, and he’s somewhere in between.

Provided by the Contemporary Art Museum

What if you held a pub crawl but replaced the alcohol with art?

You’d have the Contemporary Art Museum’s Open Studios Tour. Or at least one of the many ways you can experience the Oct. 3-4 event, according to CAM director Lisa Melandri.

A scene from R-S Theatrics' "Mr. Burns: A Post-Electric Play," showing at the Ivory Theatre through Sept. 20
Michael Young / Proivded by R-S Theatrics

In a post-apocalyptic world, what do you have in common with the other survivors? Finding food? Making fire?

Doh! It’s your love of “The Simpsons” show, of course. Specifically, a 1993 episode called “Cape Feare,” according to a drama called “Mr. Burns: A Post-Electric Play,” by St. Louis’ R-S Theatrics. It’s a Russian Doll of a play, a spoof within a spoof, showing through Sept. 20 at the Ivory Theatre.

Actor Ben Nordstrom
Durrie Bouscaren

He’s a two-time Kevin Kline Award-winner, and a well-known star of the Muny’s “Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story" and numerous Stages St. Louis shows including “How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying.” Plus, he has years of New York and regional experience.

But actor Ben Nordstrom doesn’t hesitate to play second fiddle. Or third. Or a mere chorus guy named “Mike” in the The Muny’s current production of “Oklahoma,” which is also his home state.

Felicia Shaw, new executive director of St. Louis' Regional Arts Commission, said she had a sense that this community would now "be open to change" after the events of Ferguson.
Nancy Fowler

When new Regional Arts Commission (RAC) executive director Felicia Shaw realized her job at a San Diego foundation might be eliminated, she wondered what that might mean for her life.

“I was thinking about what new direction I wanted to go in,” Shaw said. “And then, Ferguson happened.”

Embarrassment, sadness, anger and guilt

Last August, when Shaw listened to the news coming from her hometown of St. Louis, she went through a gamut of emotions: embarrassment, sadness, anger and guilt. What she heard loud and clear were the very same issues that drove her to move San Diego — more than three decades earlier.

Clockwise from top left, Damon Davis, Freida Wheaton, Michael Castro, Brian Owens, Lee Patton Chiles, De Nichols
St. Louis Public Radio file photos

For the past year, a tragic and powerful muse has fed the energy and work of St. Louis-area artists.

The shooting death of Michael Brown and the unpeeling of issues that followed have inspired a bounty of work with a social-justice mission. As we near the Aug. 9 anniversary of Brown’s death, we talked with a number of arts professionals about their work in the wake of the turmoil:

Sara Sapp as Child B, Sarah McKenney as Child A and Steven Castelli as Clown in Theatre Nuevo's "This Is Not Funny"
Theatre Nuevo

A clown, a poet, two children and two newscasters walk … onto a stage.

It’s not a joke (although it has jokes). It’s a play called “This Is Not Funny,” by a new company named Theatre Nuevo, opening tonight at the Chapel off Skinker near Forest Park. But the name’s a contradiction, said founder and director Anna Skidis.

Karen Aroesty of the Anti-Defamation League leads a diversity awareness training for police cadets.
Nancy Fowler

A year of unrest and turmoil has yielded the beginnings of change in St. Louis — along with a whole lot of questions.

How do we untangle the deep, gnarly roots of racism? What is this thing called privilege? How do people of different races talk to each other about this stuff?

Local organizations that help people think through these issues report a significant increase in requests for diversity training since the Aug. 9 shooting death of Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer.

William Morris
Durrie Bouscaren

When William Morris was growing up in St. Louis in the 1970s, his mother was close behind with her Super 8 camera.

Joan Lipkin
Willis Ryder Arnold

"Uppity" is a word with a history of keeping women and minorities "in their place." But when Joan Lipkin named her theater company in 1989, she showed marginalized people that their "place" was in the spotlight.

Since then, That Uppity Theatre has celebrated the LGBT population and people with various abilities and addressed issues including abortion and racism. The work has provoked thought, fostered acceptance and won numerous awards.

Ted Mathys
Durrie Bouscaren

St. Louis poet Ted Mathys has “Math” in his name -- and his background.

“I started out college as a math major. I’m really interested in precision and exactitude,” Mathys said.

Poetry eventually won out as an occupation, but give the word a prefix and math is a close second: a preoccupation. Numbers still figure prominently in his work, including his book to be released June 12, called “Null Set.” So does child’s play.

Syna So Pro aka Syrhea Conaway
Durrie Bouscaren

Musician Syna So Pro, aka Syrhea Conaway, has a hot date Thursday night at The Sheldon.

The St. Louis artist is the special guest of the cutting-edge classical group Alarm Will Sound. It's part of the orchestra's effort to bring together artists from "diverse and unexpected backgrounds" to collaborate and produce new music.

Shaun Thomas, working on wood with acrylic paint markers, in front of student-made masks, which will also be on display
Edo Rosenblith

Many kids with severe autism can’t speak their minds. But when they communicate their thoughts and feelings through paint, paper mache, tin foil and beads, it can be a work of art.

Art by kids with autism is on display through June 6 at Cherokee Street’s beverly gallery, in a show called "Double Rainbow." The artists are students of Giant Steps, a private school for children, teenagers and young adults up to 21, who have autism.

Anna Skidis
Durrie Bouscaren

St. Louis’s Anna Skidis is an acclaimed actor and singer. She’s also a genius.

Skidis, 28, is obviously smart. But "genius" is what they call employees of Apple’s Genius Bar, who help people figure out how to make their devices work properly.

The St. Louis Repertory Theatre will include an original play about Ferguson in its 2016 "Ignite!"  festival of new plays.

Shualee Cook and Sara Burke
Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Public Radio

Since 2002, the Visionary Awards have honored 68 St. Louis-area women for contributions to the arts, but this year's list includes a first.

Shualee Cook, 37, a transgender woman, is honored as an Emerging Artist for her skills as a playwright. Cook’s “An Invitation Out” opens at Mustard Seed Theater Friday, April 17.

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