Arts & Culture | St. Louis Public Radio

Arts & Culture

Busch Stadium, home of the St. Louis Cardinals, is located in the heart of downtown.
Joe Penniston | Flickr

Attending a baseball game at Busch Stadium in the middle of downtown St. Louis is quite a different experience from going to a game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, where the stadium is surrounded by parking lots.

In her new book, historian Connie Sexauer argues that a stadium in the midst of the city brings people of different socioeconomic backgrounds together, and it shapes the culture of the businesses and neighborhoods that reside nearby.

Mary Engelbreit is speaking at BookFest this Saturday.
Mary Engelbreit

Before she became a household name for her internationally acclaimed illustration work, Mary Engelbreit was a typical young adult finding a way to make a living in St. Louis. In her late teens and early 20s, she worked at a local art store and an ad agency — and then landed a job as an editorial artist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

She was let go during her probation period, she told listeners during an interview with St. Louis on the Air Wednesday. The newspaper’s unceremonious goodbye came after she challenged the fact that men were paid much more than women. 

This interview will be on “St. Louis on the Air” over the noon hour Tuesday. This story will be updated after the show. You can listen live.

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Sarah Fenske will sit down to discuss a fast-food favorite of many Missourians: Lion’s Choice. 

The locally based chain was recently named the state’s best fast food by Food and Wine Magazine’s David Landsel, who cited its classic roast beef and fifty-cent cones. 

The Greater St. Louis Hispanic Festival celebrates its 25th year with the 2019 event.
Familia Barrera Foto & Video

National Hispanic Heritage Month runs from Sept. 15 through Oct. 15. Begun in 1968 as a week-long recognition of the contributions of people with roots in Spanish-speaking countries, it was expanded to a month in 1988 by President Ronald Reagan.

The starting date recognizes five Latin American countries that declared their independence on Sept. 15 and 16, 1821: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.

James Brandon is the author of "Ziggy, Stardust & Me."
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

“Soul Train” was on TV. Groovy teachers were teaching “Jonathan Livingston Seagull” to the high school English classes. David Bowie stopped by Kiel Auditorium to promote a little album called “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.” Was there a more idyllic time to be a teenager than Creve Coeur in the early 1970s? 

For Jonathan, the protagonist of James Brandon’s new young adult novel “Ziggy, Stardust and Me,” it isn’t quite that simple. Sure, the music is incredible. But Jonathan is gay. And in St. Louis in 1973, that means intense and even painful therapy.

Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air included a conversation about the novel, which has its hometown launch party Wednesday evening. Brandon, a St. Louis native who makes his fiction debut with “Ziggy, Stardust and Me,” discussed his book as well as his personal journey on the show.

September 17, 2019 Bill McClellan
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Bill McClellan has been entertaining and enlightening the readers of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch for 39 years, all but three of them as a columnist. In recent months, even as he battles cancer for a second time, he has continued to file regular dispatches that probe the city’s past and its future with insight and good humor.

McClellan joined us on Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air to talk about the future of daily newspapers, the columns he’s lived to regret and the reason he continues to write, despite enduring regular chemotherapy treatments. 

“It’s fun. I still have this thin veneer of being a reporter. It’s getting thinner and thinner, admittedly,” he said. “But I can still call people up and say, ‘Why did you do this?’ And I can still go to trials. If I didn’t have this thin veneer of being a reporter, I’d just be another nosy old guy.”

This interview will be on “St. Louis on the Air” over the noon hour Thursday. This story will be updated after the show. You can listen live.

On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Sarah Fenske will explore a monthly tradition that takes place at Whiskey Ring on Cherokee Street.

Western Wear Night began late last year when four St. Louisans dressed to impress in Western-themed outfits for the fun of it. With more and more friends started joining in on the shenanigans, it became a third-Tuesday-of-the-month festivity. 

Marie-Helene Bernard and Stephane Deneve joined host Sarah Fenske in advance of the SLSO's 140th season.
Emily Woodbury | St. Louis Public Radio

As the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra opens its 140th season this Saturday, its new music director, Stéphane Denève, is calling the season a gift to St. Louis.

“We will try to build an arch of the Franco-American friendship,” said Denève, a native of France. Selections from French composers Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel are featured as part of the first concert, as is George Gershwin’s “An American in Paris.”

St. Louis Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo raises the Stanley Cup above his head during the downtown championship celebration.
Hockey Hall of Fame Archive

The St. Louis Blues’ summer of celebration is coming to an end. Training camp for a new season is underway, and the team’s time with the Stanley Cup is nearly over — at least for now.

“The Stanley Cup champion gets approximately 100 days to travel with the cup,” said Phil Pritchard, whose official title is vice president and curator of the Hockey Hall of Fame but is better known as the "Keeper of the Cup."

“That name kind of came around by hockey fans,” he said. “It just got created.”

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for September 15, 2019 will present “The Keys and Strings Hour Plus New Music.”  The quieter side of jazz will present quartets without horns.  We will hear music from the Ralph Sutton & Jay McShann “Last of the Whorehouse Piano Players Group,” Gary Burton & Stephane Grappelli, Laurindo Almeida & Charlie Byrd, Geri Allen’s Timeline, Bill Charlap & Ted Rosenthal, Jim Hall, Bach to the Future, Monty Alexander, Patricia Barber and Billy Bang with Sun Ra.  New music for September Duke Ellington singing a composition commissioned by NASA for the first moon

Mason Javier Chacon positions a brick during the regional Bricklayer 500 competition in Bridgeton, Missouri, on Sept. 12, 2019.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Building a brick wall isn’t typically considered a competitive sport — but try telling that to Terry Daniel.

Wiping sweat from his eyes, the Wentzville mason spreads a thick layer of mortar with his trowel and slaps a brick on top, working as fast as he can. 

“It’s a marathon, not a sprint,” said Daniel, who competed Thursday in the regional Spec Mix Bricklayer 500 in Bridgeton, Missouri. 

While he did not perform as well as he hoped, Kasparov scored some nice wins on day four of the 2019 Champions Showdown.
St. Louis Chess Club

While none of the matches truly went down to the wire, the players did an excellent job of entertaining the audience with exciting games from Sept. 3 through Sept. 5.

Garry Kasparov may have been out of the match since Day 3, but he continued to fight admirably and picked up some nice wins for his efforts. 

Stephanie Syjuco, seen far right, puts together an installation for "Rogue States," her exhibition at CAM. [9/13/19]
Contemporary Art Museum

Artist Stephanie Syjuco bought some black-and-white photographs a couple of years ago of what she thought were Filipinos seen in everyday moments. 

But when she looked a little closer, she realized the photos were staged. They were actually photos of the Filipino village at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis, where people from around the world were displayed in so-called living exhibitions.

A collection of altered photos from that event are part of her exhibition on view at Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis.

Richard Ivey (Left), and Bailey Gettemeier (Right) wearing shirts that say Darkness Saint Louis.
Alexis Moore | St. Louis Public Radio

Tomorrow is Friday the 13th, and it’s the first time the full moon will be visible in the U.S. on Friday the 13th since the year 2000. It’s also the opening date of The Darkness, the St. Louis haunted house celebrating its 26th year in business.

On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Sarah Fenske was joined by Richard Ivey and Bailey Gettemeier, the actor managers of The Darkness and Creepyworld, respectively. They talked about running haunted houses, getting punched in the face on the job, and what it means to work as a scare actor. 

“It’s an honor for us to make somebody soil themselves,” says Ivey. He says it in jest, but it’s a commitment the actors take seriously.

“We always tell people to check their embarrassment at the door,” said Gettemeier. “You just have to kind of embrace it. If you’re confident in whatever you do, it’ll translate well.”

September 12, 2019 Stephen Fried
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Dr. Benjamin Rush is not yet the subject of a Ken Burns documentary, but he surely ought to be. The Philadelphia physician was a signer of the Declaration of Independence, an anonymous polemicist who helped inspire the Boston Tea Party and the editor of Thomas Paine’s wildly influential “Common Sense.” And, as detailed in a new biography by Stephen Fried, he both treated and became a close friend to several U.S. presidents. He personally brought Thomas Jefferson and John Adams back together after their friendship seemed permanently ended.

On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, Fried discussed “Rush: Revolution, Madness, and the Visionary Doctor Who Became a Founding Father.” Published last year, the book is just out in paperback. 

Two pictures next to each other: Anthony Anderson and Kayla Thompson in front of a gray wall.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

A lot has been said about music streaming, from its power to shift consumer habits to its role in shaping how artists get paid. For better or worse, it’s completely disrupted the music industry.

GF Music Group, a local company founded by Anthony Anderson, focuses on aiding independent artists taking advantage of this disruption. Joining the ranks of services like DistroKid and TuneCore, the new digital distribution company connects artists with streaming services like Spotify, AppleMusic and Tidal.

Local artist KVTheWriter (aka Kayla Thompson) distributed “The Ratchet Tape” using GF. On the heels of “hot girl summer," a term coined by Houston Rapper Megan Thee Stallion, "The Ratchet Tape" integrates sex positivity, early 2000s nostalgia, and a reclamation of the word “ratchet.” It’s a project that’s primed for the zeitgeist, and it's her first with GF after switching from DistroKid.

Comedian Rhea Butcher will perform at the Ready Room this Sunday evening.
Rhea Butcher

L.A.-based comedian and podcaster Rhea Butcher is well aware that there are some bad things going on in today’s world. But the focus of Butcher’s current “Good Things Comedy Tour” lies elsewhere: with the good stuff.

“To only look at the bad would be to give in to the bad, I feel like, in these times,” the Midwest native told St. Louis Public Radio’s Kae Petrin in a conversation that aired during Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air. “And so to have a good time, or to spend time in goodness and having fun and being kind and being joyous and happy, is not to ignore the bad things. It’s actually a form of self-care and growth and invigoration to take care of each other, I’ve found.”

That’s the kind of vibe that eventgoers of all ages can expect at the Ready Room this Sunday. Butcher will perform at the venue in St. Louis’ Grove neighborhood at 8 p.m. that evening.

Tarek Husseini is one of three young bakers competing in Food Network's "Kids Baking Championship" final that premieres on Monday, Sept. 16.
Courtesy of Food Network

Thirteen-year-old St. Louisan Tarek Husseini spent four weeks in Los Angeles this past summer competing for a $25,000 prize. Now, for the last six weeks, viewers of the Food Network’s “Kids Baking Championship” have watched Husseini and other up-and-coming bakers impress the judges with one kitchen creation after another.

The Ladue resident made it through the semifinal episode that premiered on Monday.

Then, on Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, he talked with host Sarah Fenske ahead of next week's final episode.

This daguerreotype by Thomas M. Easterly shows the last of one of the final big mounds in St. Louis as it was being destroyed in 1869.
Missouri Historical Society, St. Louis

A multitude of truncated earthworks — more commonly known as mounds — once dotted the St. Louis landscape. For the ancient Mississippian people who constructed them many centuries ago, these structures were full of meaning and purpose.

The mounds also drew the interest of European newcomers to the region long after the mounds were built. But by the late 19th century, most of these sacred Native American places had been destroyed — the Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site in Collinsville, Illinois, being a significant exception. 

On Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Sarah Fenske talked with Patricia Cleary, a St. Louis native who is currently working on a book about the mounds that she plans to publish leading up to Missouri’s bicentennial celebration of statehood in 2021. Cleary’s visit came in advance of her James Neal Primm Lecture at the Missouri History Museum, set for Monday evening.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for September 8, 2019, presents “The Career Bred Mehladau.”  One of today’s major piano players, Brad Mehldau, was born in Jacksonville in 1970 and was recording by 1991.  Over his career, he has recorded with a variety of artists and is also interested in nineteenth century German Romanticism, and electronic music.  We will hear him with his own trios, Joshua Redman, Warren Wolf, Lee Konitz & Charlie Haden, Pat Metheny, Chris Potter, Jimmy Cobb, Dayna Stephens, Charles Lloyd, Michael Brecker and Wayne Shorter.

Family of Miles Davis celebrated his life and legacy at his childhood in East St. Louis on Sept. 5, 2019.
Chad Davis | St. Louis Public Radio

The first phase of a project to restore the childhood home of famed trumpeter Miles Davis in East St. Louis is now complete.

The House of Miles East St. Louis opened its doors in June 2018. The first phase included the creation of a Miles Davis museum, an art gallery and a classroom setting for musicians and children. The space, which includes concert posters and artifacts, is a fitting tribute to the jazz musician, his family and friends said this week.

The Big Mak is among the offerings at new restaurant Utah Station.
Michelle Volansky | Sauce Magazine

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Sarah Fenske checked in with the team at Sauce Magazine to discuss the latest restaurant additions — as well as upcoming concepts and some closings — within the St. Louis region’s food and beverage community. 

Joining her for the discussion were Catherine Klene and Meera Nagarajan, managing editor and art director, respectively.

The magazine's two picks for new restaurants to try this month are Turmeric (6679 Delmar Blvd., University City, MO, 63130) and Utah Station (1956 Utah St., St. Louis, MO, 63118).

Performance art is usually multi-disciplinary. It can include dance, music, visual arts, poetry or the spoken work, drama and more. Lately, I've noticed how the visual arts and sound are often combined.

Festival goers relax in between sets at LouFest 2015
Jess Luther | St. Louis Public Radio

The LouFest Music Festival became a St. Louis tradition for the weekend after Labor Day. In the wake of the event’s abrupt cancellation last September, the city’s cultural calendar now has a hole in it. 

With no similar event rising to take its place, fans, musicians and other participants in the St. Louis music scene are left without a signature festival.

Photos of Wassan Al-Khudhairi, Bethany Collins and Stephanie Syjuco side by side.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

The Contemporary Art Museum in St. Louis is using art to engage with history and contextualize the present. Chief curator Wassan Al-Khudhairi joined St. Louis on the Air with artists Stephanie Syjuco and Bethany Collins to discuss CAM’s fall exhibitions. 

Ding Liren of China upset the favorites to win the top prize at the 2019 Sinquefield Cup.
St. Louis Chess Club

The 2019 Sinquefield Cup came to an exciting conclusion on Aug. 29, in a tiebreak match between Ding Liren and Magnus Carlsen.

The day kicked off with two rapid games, both of which concluded in draws. In the first game, the world champion had to resort to passive defense to save the half-point with the white pieces, then went on to draw comfortably with the black pieces.

Local author Amanda Doyle (right) signs a copy of one of her books for Charlie Wunderlich, age 8, at the Missouri Athletic Club after the STL Storytelling Live event Aug. 29.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

The legacy of George B. Vashon. The history of the St. Louis Browns. The special moments that took place at the Top of the Tower. A handful of local authors and historians revisited all of this and more during last week’s STL Storytelling Live event at the Missouri Athletic Club in downtown St. Louis.

Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air featured highlights from the evening, with stories running the gamut from the humorous, to the surprising, to the hopeful. The storytellers included Bill Clevlen, Carol Shepley, Amanda Doyle, Ed Wheatley, Calvin Riley and Cameron Collins.

The event was sponsored by St. Louis Public Radio, Reedy Press and the Missouri Athletic Club.

Hana Sharif, new artistic director at the Rep, has plans to enhance the theater company's reach into the neighborhoods of the region. [9/4/19]
Cheshire Isaacs

When the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis begins its season this week, it welcomes Hana Sharif as its first new artistic leader in decades. 

Sharif said that, historically speaking, American theater audiences are predominantly white and well-off. One of her top priorities is to expand the reach of the Rep and attract more people of color and audience members of modest means.

Rain Stippec (at left) and Paige Walden-Johnson joined Tuesday's talk show to talk about the third annual CommUNITY Arts Festival.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Paige Walden-Johnson originally founded the CommUNITY Arts Festival out of the need to support her friend Rain Stippec, a dancer who was shot eight times in the back while in a parked car in the south city Soulard neighborhood. Stippec survived, but it severely affected her mobility. 

In the first 48 hours after being shot, Stippec was given a 5% chance of survival by doctors. But now, with support from the community and physical therapy, Stippec will perform for the first time in the two years since the shooting. 

September 3, 2019 Kathryn Bentley and Tom Ridgely
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

All the world’s a stage, Shakespeare instructed us in his beloved romantic comedy “As You Like It.” And in its new production of that very show, Shakespeare Festival St. Louis plans to put that to the test in both the streets of Pagedale, Missouri, and the farmland of Calhoun County, Illinois. Its remix of the classic play, titled “Love at the River’s Edge,” transports audience members across the Mississippi River to examine the urban and rural divide. 

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, Shakespeare Festival St. Louis executive producer Tom Ridgely discussed the new production along with its director, Kathryn Bentley.

“It’s unusual. This is a whole new ballgame for us, too,” Ridgely said. “But it all goes back to what Shakespeare in the Streets is all about, which is about trying to bring visibility to communities around St. Louis. How we can use theater to bring people together, to bring them across some of those boundaries they’re not used to crossing, and maybe have them listen to the stories of the people who live there, is what Shakespeare in the Streets is all about.”