Arts & Culture | St. Louis Public Radio

Arts & Culture

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited on Sunday, October 20 will present music from the 56-year of Armando “Chick” Corea.  Chick was born in the Boston area and was working professionally by his late teens.  His career includes straight-ahead jazz, avant-garde jazz, jazz-rock fusion and classical music.  We will hear music from his groups Return to Forever, Origin, his duets with Gary Burton and his own trio.  He will also be heard with Herbie Hancock, the Donald Byrd/Pepper Adams group, Miles Davis and the Joe Henderson Big Band.  Many of his compositions are now jazz standards and some of them will be played an

Sauce Magazine founder and publisher Allyson Mace.
R.J. Hartbeck

Each month, staffers at Sauce Magazine join our program for a regular Sound Bites segment that showcases the area’s latest food trends and highlights local chefs, farmers, restaurateurs and more. But during Friday’s show, the topic wasn’t just the people and places covered within the magazine. It was the publication itself.

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Sarah Fenske delved into the history of Sauce, which first launched as a website in 1999. Twenty years later, Sauce Magazine is still going strong. A huge reason is publisher Allyson Mace, who remains with the publication to this day. 

B'nai Sholom temple was built in the late 1860s. Congregants of the Quincy synagogue hope another religious organization will purchase and preserve the historic building.
File Photo | Shahla Farzan | St. Louis Public Radio

B’nai Sholom temple has stood on a quiet, tree-lined street in Quincy, Illinois, for almost 150 years.

But the historic Jewish synagogue — one of the oldest in the state — could soon be reduced to rubble.

The temple has sat empty since May, after its dwindling congregation was forced to confront a difficult reality: The members had to sell the building because they could no longer afford to maintain it. While they’re holding out hope that another religious organization will purchase the temple and preserve it, they’re preparing for the worst. 

October 18, 2019 Jane Smiley
Derek Shapton

Jane Smiley recently came back to St. Louis for her 50th high school reunion. But unlike many of us, the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist wasn’t content simply to explore what had changed around town. Smiley also wrote an essay about the city, and her travels here, for The New York Times.

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, Smiley discussed her essay, detailing her abiding love for St. Louis, particularly its foliage and its wonderful old houses. 

She said she loved growing up in Webster Groves, where she lived until she was 11. “The wonderful thing about Webster is that it has all different kinds of neighborhoods all kind of smashed together, and so as you’re walking along, you’re seeing all these different houses, all these kinds of people,” she said. “It was a fascinating place to grow up and explore.”

Smiley added that she wasn’t one of those kids who dreamed of fleeing St. Louis for the big city. “I appreciated it even at the time,” she said. 

(L-R) Jennifer Owens, Ning Lun and Luzmila Buechler joined Thursday's "St. Louis on the Air" to talk about Forai's efforts to help connect St. Louisans with refugees.
Lara Hamdan | St. Louis Public Radio

For 10 years, an organization based in Maplewood has helped refugees attain the skills they need to earn an income, often without leaving their homes. It all began when Jennifer Owens and her family hosted some refugees from Nepal for Thanksgiving dinner. Her church had sought American families willing to connect with newcomers for the holiday. Owens was happy to help.

Inspired by her conversation with the single mother at her dinner table, Owens started an effort that would eventually become the nonprofit organization Forai, an acronym for Friends Of Refugees And Immigrants. From humble beginnings, it’s helped dozens of refugee women in St. Louis make friends — and money — through sewing and making jewelry. 

This interview will be on “St. Louis on the Air” over the noon hour on Wednesday. This story will be updated after the show. Here are some ways to listen live.

Chef and restaurant owner Katie Collier is getting ready to celebrate nine years of sobriety. After struggling with alcoholism and going through multiple treatment centers, she opened up Katie’s Pizza & Pasta Osteria. The business is now in its sixth year of operation.

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

Shortly after Andrew Kersten joined the University of Missouri-St. Louis last year as its dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, he and a group of colleagues put out a campus survey listing about 20 different books. “Which book should we choose for the UMSL Common Read?” they wanted to know.

Before long, as Kersten remembers it, one particular novel rose to the top among the 300 responses to the survey: James Baldwin’s “If Beale Street Could Talk.” And from there, what he and others thought would amount to a public lecture and a few classes “took off like wildfire.” More than 50 faculty members opted to incorporate the book into their courses this fall.

On Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Sarah Fenske will talk with Kersten and with Associate Professor of History Priscilla Dowden-White about how Baldwin’s 1974 novel about Tish and Fonny is resonating across campus and the broader St. Louis community, decades after it was written. The conversation will also include the perspectives of several UMSL students and faculty members.

On Chess: Not Particularly Beautiful

Oct 17, 2019
Jennifer Shahade and Daniel Meirom created the "Not Particularly Beautiful" chessboard to expose the many insults women chess players have endured over time.
Crystal Fuller | World Chess Hall of Fame

"Not Particularly Beautiful" is a chessboard I created with Daniel Meirom, in homage to women players who endure backlashes as they find new power, inspired by the chess queen.

The queen was once the weakest force on the board, only able to move one square diagonally. Games were long and tedious, as it was much harder to checkmate without the chief executioner.

]Senegalese artist Modou Dieng's work titled, "la rue du fleuve," references scenes near his childhood home in Saint-Louis, Senegal.
Modou Dieng

Thousands of miles across the Atlantic — 7,505 miles, to be exact — is a city St. Louisans can feel a connection with. In the West African country of Senegal, there is a bustling coastal arts city named Saint-Louis. Known to locals as Ndar, it’s the oldest colonial city on Africa’s western coast. 

A new contemporary art exhibition opening this week at Barrett Barrera Projects in the Central West End surveys the art scene in Senegal’s Saint-Louis — and notes the parallels between the two cities named for St. Louis the King. 

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 27, 2013 - There's an exhilarating, shocking, painfully human movie about international Formula One auto racing out there. It played here in 2011, and it was called "Senna." The documentary tells the story of Brazilian champion driver Ayrton Senna and focuses on his memorable and dangerous duels with French champion Alan Prost in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 27, 2013 - When 19-year-old Pelagie Green kicked up her heels in the Muny chorus during the 1962 season, she was the first African American to do so.

Her history-making debut came nearly 50 years after trees and shrubs had been cleared between the giant oak trees in Forest Park for the performance of Shakespeare’s As You Like It.

Suzanne Michelle White is a member of the Choctaw Tribe of Oklahoma and a descendant of Cherokee, Delaware, and Lumbee nations/tribes.
EVIE HEMPHILL / ST. LOUIS PUBLIC RADIO

Today is Columbus Day, and it also marks a holiday that more and more cities and organizations are formally recognizing: Indigenous Peoples’ Day. 

Indigenous Peoples’ Day was first proposed in 1977 by a delegation of Native nations to the United Nations, and it’s meant to honor Native Americans with a recognition of their histories and cultures.

St. Louis Art Museum acquired Elizabeth Catlett's "Seated Woman." [10/11/19]
St. Louis Art Museum

Visitors to St. Louis Art Museum will soon be able to see a newly acquired sculpture by an acclaimed black artist. 

The museum acquired a wood sculpture by the late artist Elizabeth Catlett on Tuesday. It spent $389,000 on the piece, which sets a record for a Catlett piece purchased at auction, according to ARTnews.

The sculpture, “Seated Woman,” will go on view at the museum in early 2020.

Free Verse: Annie Finch

Oct 11, 2019

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 12, 2013 - As our days grow shorter and our nights longer, here’s a little song that won’t lend much comfort or cheer to those disturbed by a nightmare. The rhyme scheme and repetition make this short lyric feel particularly claustrophobic.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

The Sept. 13 Jazz Unlimited show will present “The Music of Thelonious Monk.”  By his early teens, Thelonious Monk was a promising classical pianist.

However, he left this music for jazz because of the freedom of expression it brought him.  This show will present his idiosyncratic piano playing along with 22 of his compositions, all of which are played today by many musicians.

On Chess: Mizzou Hosts Its First Chess Tournament

Oct 10, 2019
Mizzou fielded its new team comprised of woman grandmaster Gulrukbegim Tokhirjonova, three grandmasters and a newly minted national master in Oct. 2019.
University of Missouri Chess Team

The University of Missouri entered the world of competitive collegiate chess at the beginning of this year, announcing the inception of its inaugural chess program under the banner of its College of Arts & Science.

One of the program’s main goals is to provide opportunities for its players to train and compete at the most challenging levels, while maintaining high academic standards. 

Leonard Slatkin conducts the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra in April 2019.
Dilip Vishwanat

This weekend’s concerts at Powell Hall are a homecoming for Leonard Slatkin in more ways than one.

In addition to returning last year to live in the St. Louis area, the conductor laureate of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra is taking the podium, in part, to revisit his SLSO sendoff in 1996.

Slatkin will be conducting the world premiere of variations on a theme of Paganini composed for his recent 75th birthday. The compositions update five original themes inspired by the Italian-born composer that were first performed when Slatkin’s 17-year tenure with the SLSO was ending.

A visitor looks at pieces on display at the St. Louis Art Museum's 'The Shape of Abstraction: Selections from the Ollie Collection' exhibit. Oct. 9, 2019
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Lamerol A. Gatewood developed an interest in art in the early 1970s, when he was a student at University City High School.

The art class so captured Gatewood’s imagination that he started scultpure work and painting a few years later.

In the decades that followed, Gatewood’s career took him across the U.S. and abroad. But he considers his recent inclusion in a collection of African American abstract art donated to the St. Louis Art Museum a crowning achievement.

Gatewood hopes a growing interest in African American abstract art will give him and other black artists their due.

The Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum's new facade is 34 feet tall and made of pleated stainless steel.
Jeremy D. Goodwin | St. Louis Public Radio

Washington University’s Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum once sat at the edge of a parking lot, shielded from passing traffic by a row of trees. 

Following an expansion project that closed the museum for a year and a half, it’s back open and much more visible. 

A gleaming, 34-foot-tall facade made of pleated stainless steel now calls attention to the museum of modern and contemporary art. Behind that facade are new galleries that increase the museum’s exhibition space by 50%. 

Ray Brown played and recorded with Dizzy Gillespie from 1945 to 1980.
Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for Sunday, October 6 will be  “The Music of Dizzy Gillespie.”  Trumpeter, raconteur, composer and sometime vocalist John Birks “Dizzy” Gillespie was one of the founding fathers of the jazz style known as bebop, a style whose variants remain the main jazz style today.  Bebop influenced many other music genres, including film scoring and bluegrass.  Dizzy also was instrumental in bringing Latin rhythms into jazz.  We will play music recorded between the years 1939 and 1987, along with some of his compositions played by others.  In addition to Gillespie, Woody Herman, Gonzalo R

Lately, the guitar seems to be taking center stage.

The St. Louis Science Center recently closed an exhibition titled "Guitar, the Instrument that Rocked the World." It appealed to all ages and featured more than 70 guitars including acoustic, electric and antique guitars,15 hands-on STEM interactives that demonstrated the science of sound and music,100 historical artifacts,10 video displays, listening and viewing environments for different musical genres and photos, posters, graphics, illustrations, banners and more.

The patio at Bluewood Brewing, located on Cherokee Street in south St. Louis.
Lauren Healey | Sauce Magazine

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Sarah Fenske talked with guests from Sauce Magazine about the latest additions to the St. Louis region’s food and beverage community. 

Among the establishments that made it on this month’s Hit List are Taco Circus on the Hill and Bluewood Brewing on Cherokee Street. Joining Fenske to discuss the full list were Catherine Klene and Meera Nagarajan, Sauce’s managing editor and art director, respectively.

October 4, 2019 Gene Dobbs Bradford Tom Ridgely
Emily Woodbury | St. Louis Public Radio

The late, great jazz composer and bandleader Duke Ellington once said, “Whether it be Shakespeare or jazz, the only thing that counts is the emotional effect on the listener.” 

In the summer of 1956, Ellington found himself seriously digging the bard. Inspired by his encounters with the Stratford Shakespeare Festival while on tour in Stratford, Ontario, he composed a 12-part suite titled “Such Sweet Thunder.” The title comes from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” but the title track is actually about “Othello.” This work, suffice it to say, is complicated.

A collaboration among Shakespeare Festival St. Louis, Nine Network of Public Media, Jazz St. Louis and the Big Muddy Dance Company, the new production of “Such Sweet Thunder” incorporates Ellington’s music with Shakespeare’s words. It premiered Thursday in Grand Center. And on Friday, Gene Dobbs Bradford, president and CEO of Jazz St. Louis, and Tom Ridgely, executive producer of Shakespeare Festival St. Louis, shared the story behind this new “Such Sweet Thunder” on St. Louis on the Air

Susan Walker is a great-niece of the late Mary Ranken Jordan.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Growing up in Great Britain, Susan Walker heard bits and pieces about her great-aunt Mary Ranken Jordan, who had immigrated to the U.S. from Northern Ireland in the late 19th century. But several years ago she became determined to learn more about this distinguished yet mysterious relative.

She knew of her lasting impact in St. Louis, and now Walker’s research into Jordan’s life and legacy has her traveling overseas herself to the Gateway City. 

On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Sarah Fenske talked with Walker about the children’s hospital Jordan founded in 1941, what she’s learning through her research — and what she’s still hoping to discover about her great-aunt from others.

On Chess: Fashion, Climate And Chess

Oct 3, 2019
A Michael Drummond design. The St. Louis native has a local boutique and appeared on the Lifetime television series Project Runway in 2010.
Attilio D'Agostino | World Chess Hall of Fame

With his head down and the sound of a harpsichord rhythmically chiming in the background, artist and fashion designer Michael Drummond slides from one part of his at-home studio to another, masterfully and meticulously bending, shaping and attaching bra underwires to a vinyl form.

Instead of his usual layers of chiffon, knits and leather strappings, Drummond has stocked up on a variety of found materials — some typical, most not — for a new selection of works he will present at the World Chess Hall of Fame.

Fans watch as the Stanley Cup championship banner is raised to the rafters at Enterprise Center.
Alex Heuer | St. Louis Public Radio

The rafters at Enterprise Center have gained what St. Louis hockey fans have long sought — a Stanley Cup championship banner.

In a ceremony prior to Wednesday night’s season opener, St. Louis Blues fans roared as the team raised the banner before a capacity crowd.

Jessica Kopecky primes one portion of a wall before adding color to it on Sept. 28, 2019. This is the fourth outdoor mural the Wisconsin native will complete.
Eric Schmid | St. Louis Public Radio

BELLEVILLE — Paint-splashed walls of four downtown buildings are bringing the first elements of a mural project in the city closer to fruition.

Over the next few weeks, artists from around the country will arrive in Belleville and complete large and colorful paintings around the community.

“It’s taking Belleville from a bedroom community, sleepy suburb and making it its own destination,” said Emily Smith, a Belleville Mural Project committee member. 

Projects Plus Gallery is owned by Barrett Barrera Projects. The organization will move its office space from projects+gallery to 4739 McPherson Avenue.
Barrett Barrera Projects

A St. Louis arts organization is building new exhibit spaces to better showcase local, national and international exhibits.

Barrett Barrera Projects wants to give St. Louis art lovers easier access to traveling exhibits. The company, which owns projects+gallery, will open projects+exhibitions on Manchester Avenue on Saturday.

It also will move to a new office space and open a guest house for traveling artists and curators, both on McPherson Avenue in the Central West End.

Members of the Chickasaw Nation Dance Troupe demonstrate stomp dance at Cahokia Mounds in Collinsville on Sept. 21. The tribe traces its ancestry to the ancient Mississippians who built the mounds 1,000 years ago.
Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

COLLINSVILLE – As Angelia Griffin delved into her family’s Native American ancestry in recent years, she developed a deeper respect for the cultural importance of Cahokia Mounds.

“I used to come here as a child when I was in school, on a field trip,’’ said the Belleville resident, who visited the state historic site on a recent Saturday. “I’m looking at it in a different light.’’

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, March 8, 2013 - Brooks Brantly, a Belleville native who plays a veterinary officer in 'War Horse' at the Fox Theater, helps students from Grand Center Arts Academy meet Joey. 

As a Belleville East High School student, Brooks Brantly was into martial arts, not musicals. But as a freshman at Atlanta’s Morehouse College, he signed up for an acting course. It turned into a passion, the pursuit of an advanced degree, then a career.

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