Arts & Culture | St. Louis Public Radio

Arts & Culture

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 talk with seventh-generation Ozarker Kaitlyn McConnell, author of "Passport to the Ozarks.” She published the new guide book that lists 61 “out-of-the-way places to see, visit and experience throughout the Missouri Ozarks.”

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.

Each month, our partners at Sauce Magazine join us to hash out some of the top food and drink additions to the region. But 2019 has said its fair share of goodbyes to notable establishments in the St. Louis, from the tragic fire that shut down Goody Goody Diner to the closing of Piccione Pastry on the Delmar Loop after a seven-year run.

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, Sauce’s managing editor Catherine Klene and artistic director Meera Nagarajan will join the program to talk through some of the closings patrons miss most. 

Musicans Kev Marcus (at left) and Wil B. make up hip-hop violin duo Black Violin. Their performance at the Touhill Performing Arts Center on Nov. 17 was their final show of 2019.
Lara Hamdan | St. Louis Public Radio

Hip-hop violin duo Black Violin performed their final concert of the year last night at the Touhill Performing Arts Center. Concertgoers danced and vibed to a setlist fused with what Black Violin crafts well — classical music and hip-hop.

Violinist Kevin Sylvester, also known as Kev Marcus, and violist Wilner Baptiste, also known as Wil B., make up the group. They released their new album “Take the Stairs” earlier this month. PBS described the pair as “two former high school orchestra nerds who use their love of Bach and Beethoven to reimagine classical music and connect with new audiences.”

The classically trained musicians joined Sarah Fenkse on St. Louis on the Air alongside St. Louis artist Brandon McCadney, known as Mad Keys. McCadney is classically trained in violin and plays the piano. 

Felicia Shaw is the executive director of the Regional Arts Commission.
File Photo | Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 4:27 p.m., with comments from Mont Levy, chairman of the Regional Arts Commission — Felicia Shaw, executive director of the Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis, resigned today.

The organization announced Shaw’s departure Monday and named Celia Hosler as interim executive director. Hosler, former chief operating officer of COCA, will start immediately.

Shaw could not be reached for comment. RAC officials gave no reason for her departure.

Carmen Dence is the founder and director of Grupo Atlantico, Akif Cogo is the founder of St. Louis Bosnians Inc., and Anna Crosslin is the president and CEO of the International Institute of St. Louis.
EVIE HEMPHILL | ST. LOUIS PUBLIC RADIO

The International Institute of St. Louis has been a welcoming community for immigrants and refugees to the area for 100 years. Its mission is to foster a more connected community to benefit not only immigrants and their families, but the wider community as well. 

According to IISTL president and CEO Anna Crosslin, most of the organization’s events are “geared toward trying to demystify ‘the other,’ so that people are less fearful.”

“They can find out that there are, in fact, shared values and behaviors among people that go beyond the visible differences,” she said.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for November 17, 2019 will be “The Career of Drummer Lewis Nash.” Born in 1958 in Phoenix, Arizona, Nash was a professional by 1976.  He moved to New York in 1981 and has become one of the most recorded drummers in jazz, even surpassing the recordings of Art Blakey and Max Roach, according to the Tom Lord Discography.  We will present about five percent of his recorded output on Jazz Unlimited.  Nash is a drummer for all styles and seasons, being equally at home in styles that range from swing to bebop, hard bop, free bop and structured abstract improvisation.  We will featur

Reverend Elsie McGrath, photographed in her home on November 14, 2019, said becoming an ordained Catholic priest was "a monumental step forward in educating people about what the church really ought to be."
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Elsie McGrath never thought of herself as a rulebreaker. 

But in 2007, she broke one of the most fundamental rules in Roman Catholicism when she became an ordained priest. 

She was later excommunicated, along with fellow priest Rose Marie Hudson and Bishop Patricia Fresen, who ordained the two.

Women are barred from joining the Roman Catholic clergy, but McGrath is hopeful that will change. Last month, Pope Francis caused a stir when he said the Vatican would explore the possibility of female deacons, a class of ministry allowed to oversee weddings and baptisms but not provide Communion.

John Wolbers' adaptation of "It's a Wonderful Life" for Metro Theater Company is set at a fictional 1949 St. Louis radio station.
Jennifer Lin

Metro Theater Company’s Julia Flood was looking for a classic holiday show this fall — one that would also speak to Metro’s mission as a theater company inspired by the intelligence and emotional wisdom of young people. Her colleague John Wolbers’ fresh take on the story of George Bailey and the town of Bedford Falls aspires to fit the bill.

Set at a fictional St. Louis radio station 70 years ago and framed as a radio play within a play, the local playwright’s retelling of “It’s a Wonderful Life” aims to build a generational bridge. The 50-minute production opens this Sunday at the Grandel, with the cast introducing younger theatergoers — and audiences of all ages — to the golden age of radio as well as a long-beloved tale.

On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, Wolbers joined host Sarah Fenske to talk about his adaptation ahead of its opening matinee (performances run Nov. 17 through Dec. 15). Also joining the broadcast were cast members Alicia Revé Like, Abraham Shaw and Chris E. Ware. The trio presented a scene from the play during the talk show, complete with Foley sound artistry.

On Chess: Levon Aronian Wins In Romania, Grand Chess Tour Heads To India For Last Leg

Nov 14, 2019
Grandmaster Levon Aronian of Armenia won the 2019 Superbet Rapid & Blitz Tournament in November.
Lennart Ootes | Grand Chess Tour

The 2019 Grand Chess Tour is nearing its end, with the conclusion of its seventh leg, the Superbet Rapid & Blitz, held Nov. 6-10 in Bucharest, Romania.

After five days of electrifying rapid and blitz chess followed by a playoff, grandmaster Levon Aronian emerged as the winner, collecting 11 tour points and $31,250. 

The Karpeles Manuscript Library and Museum was badly damaged in the March 2019 fire in south St. Louis.
Andy Field | St. Louis Public Radio

A monthslong search for a new home is over for a nonprofit that maintains the history of St. Louis radio, television, newspapers and other media. The St. Louis Media History Foundation plans to move into Grand Center early next year after striking a deal with the Kranzberg Arts Foundation.

Monique Hines (left) teaches Janiaya Hubbard and Taniah Woods the basics of music production. November 6, 2019
Chad Davis | St. Louis Public Radio

For the past couple of months, 10-year-old Gregory Boyce, a fifth grader at North Side Community School, has gladly stayed after class — to learn the basics of music production.

Using music production software, Gregory has been experimenting with drum patterns. He hopes to add vocals to the mix soon.

“I like how it’s smooth,” he said of the tune he’s working on. “But sometimes you got to concentrate, and focus.”

That kind of attitude is exactly what the music professionals from Mentors In Motion are looking for.

Kyle Wernke conducts the Missouri S&T Orchestra.
John Francis

ROLLA — Kyle Wernke is an up-and-coming composer, but he doesn’t teach at a high-profile music school. 

There are no music majors in his orchestra, and the students spend more time on equations than they do on scales. Wernke teaches at Missouri University of Science and Technology, a school known much more for engineering than for performing arts.

Patrick Horine joined Wednesday's program.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

The weather outside may be frightful, but Patrick Horine, co-founder of the popular Tower Grove Farmers' Market, isn’t exactly closing up shop for the colder months these days. As he looks toward the final market of the season this weekend in the south St. Louis park, he’s also gearing up for its wintry equivalent — which is growing.

Initially launched in 2007 as a monthly affair, the Winter Market this year will take place weekly beginning Dec. 7. And it’s moving to the spacious Koken Art Factory in St. Louis’ Fox Park neighborhood to accommodate dozens of local vendors.

On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, Horine joined host Sarah Fenske for a sneak peek at the wintry offerings, which also will feature a holiday theme the first three Saturdays of the season. He also discussed farmers market trends in the region as a whole.

LaWanda Jackson, in a still from the documentary film "The Voice Within." The film follows a group of women participating in the Prison Performing Arts program. [11/13/19]
Mountaintop Films

Incarcerated people can often feel forgotten by the world outside. 

A documentary film that screens at the St. Louis International Film Festival on Saturday amplifies the voices of women at the prison in Vandalia, Missouri, formally known as the Women’s Eastern Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center.

“The Voice Within” follows a group of women as they worked with playwright Stacie Lentz to create a play partly based on their life experiences. They were participants in Prison Performing Arts’ New Plays Initiative. Lentz is also working with men at the Northeast Correctional Center in Bowling Green on an adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s 2016 novel, “Hag-Seed.” 

From left, authors Meg Cabot and Ridley Pearson joined Monday's program.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Parents and educators often look for various ways to engage kids in reading. Traditional novels are seen as the ideal, but graphic novels can be just as effective. While similar to comic books, graphic novels tend to be in a longer format, and the narrative is largely self-contained. With the combination of text and pictures, graphic novels have complex plots, characters and conflicts. 

DC Comics recently introduced a line of superhero-based graphic novels aimed at middle-grade readers, between the ages of 8 and 12.

St. Louisans will get to learn more about some of them by visiting the St. Louis County Library this week. Authors Ridley Pearson and Meg Cabot are in town Monday and Tuesday to promote their separate DC Comics graphic novels aimed at middle-grade readers.

Marissanne Lewis-Thompson | St. Louis Public Radio

A group of Florissant veterans will honor the service of the men and women in the U.S. Armed Forces on Veterans Day.

Ten members from the American Legion Florissant Valley Memorial Post 444 will perform military honors at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery. The tight-knit group is known as the honor guard. 

I was inspired by two art exhibitions at the Sheldon Art Galleries in Grand Center. The first was titled "Amazing Horns: Bridging Continents, Bridging Time.” The works were instruments from The Hartenberger Collection of Musical Instruments now owned by The Sheldon. Dr. Aurelia Hartenberger has been researching and collecting musical instrument and artifacts amassing more than 3000 items. 94 horns from the collection were on display in this exhibition.

Chris Clark (at left) and Ben Scholle joined Friday's talk show to talk about this year's St. Louis International Film Festival. Michael Bertin joined the conversation by phone.
Lara Hamdan | St. Louis Public Radio

The 28th St. Louis International Film Festival returned this week to offer local moviegoers the chance to view international films, documentaries, American indies and shorts over the course of 11 days. On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Sarah Fenske talked with Cinema St. Louis artistic director Chris Clark about some of this year’s highlights. 

Joining the discussion were two film directors whose works take a look at issues pertaining to the region, albeit vastly different ones. 

Discovery Of Bones At Relocated Black Cemetery In Washington Park Sparks Reaction

Nov 8, 2019
Community activist Malissa Blanchard, 69, of Washington Park, would like to see a monument or some other recognition for the old Douglas-Lawnridge Cemetery.
Teri Maddox | Belleville News Democrat

Malissa Blanchard doesn’t know if any of her ancestors were buried in the former Douglas-Lawnridge Cemetery in Washington Park, IL but she can’t rule it out.

She’s black, she grew up in nearby Lovejoy and the cemetery served black families from throughout the region until the 1940s.

Blanchard, 69, of Washington Park, has had an uneasy feeling since last month, when state officials discovered apparent human remains at the site while doing preliminary work for a highway project. The cemetery was supposed to be moved in the 1960s to make way for construction of Interstate 64.

Ai Weiwei and museum curator Sabine Eckmann examine "The Odyssey," a massive frieze in his exhibition at the Mildred Lane Kemper Museum. In the foreground is a detail of "Forever Bicycle," a sculpture made from 720 bicycles. [11/8/19]
Jeremy D. Goodwin | St. Louis Public Radio

When does a mirror selfie become high art? 

For artist and political activist Ai Weiwei, it happened in 2008 when he photographed himself inside an elevator. Chinese authorities arrested him to prevent him from testifying in the trial of a fellow activist. 

His now-iconic selfie, “Illumination,” is part of his exhibition at the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum in St. Louis. The work ranges from delicate ceramics fashioned with ancient Chinese techniques to a carefully stacked pile of rubble. 

The wide-ranging show reflects Weiwei’s deep interest in honoring the past, while reshaping it into something new. 

The Muny's 2020 season kicks off on June 15 with "Chicago" and concludes with "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" on Aug. 16. | The Muny
The Muny

The Muny’s 102nd season gets underway in June 2020, and it features musicals representing six decades of musical theater.

On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Sarah Fenske talked with Mike Isaacson, artistic director and executive producer of the Muny.

In addition to discussing the 2020 season, they discussed the Muny’s $100 million capital campaign and recent renovations, as well as local and national musical theater trends.

On Chess: A Journey Through Chess And Space

Nov 7, 2019
Greg Chamitoff plays chess in the Harmony Node of the International Space Station on July 19, 2008.
St. Louis Chess Club

Of all imaginable things that could have happened during my time in space, I had no idea that a chess match would be the most historic.

Officially, in the battle of the first-ever public Earth vs. space chess match, the winner was Earth, but this is not the whole story. In fact, this was not the first game. Even more, the winner may or may not be Earth. How could this be? Well, the unofficial story is a little more intriguing and a lot more amusing.

November 6, 2019 Pianos for People
Emily Woodbury | St. Louis Public Radio

Last month, Tom Townsend died at 60, just two weeks after being diagnosed with a rare, aggressive form of cancer. Just one year before, Townsend had survived being shot in an attempted carjacking. He was a much-loved figure in St. Louis.

One big reason for that was the organization he founded: Pianos for People. A retired advertising executive, Townsend had devoted the final seven years of his life to helping underprivileged students access both free pianos and free lessons in playing them. 

But Pianos for People continues its work. And on Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, executive director Matt Brinkmann explained how he’s helping to carry on without Townsend.  

"Michelangelo, God's Architect: The Story of His Final Years and Greatest Masterpiece" will be published on Nov. 19, 2019.
EMILY WOODBURY | ST. LOUIS PUBLIC RADIO

Most people are knowledgeable about the early accomplishments of Michelangelo, like his work on the Sistine Chapel ceiling in his 30s. But the artist and architect worked well into his 80s, at a time when the average life expectancy was about 40 to 45 years. In fact, he was still carving sculptures four days before he died.

Dennis C. Owsley / Copyright Dennis C. Owsley

Jazz Unlimited for Sunday, November 10, 2019, for “Composers Named Simon.” In addition to the well-known composer Paul Simon, there are eight composers with the same surname and one Simons presented on this show.  St.

A view of the area where LouFest's main stage would have been, days after the festival's promoter tweeted that it was "100% on track" to stage the event. 9/13/18
Jeremy D. Goodwin | St. Louis Public Radio

A former LouFest vendor, accused of sabotaging the 2018 festival in a since-abandoned lawsuit, has sued festival promoters, claiming the accusation damaged his professional reputation. 

In a lawsuit filed in St. Louis Circuit Court, Valley Park-based Logic Systems, a sound and lighting company led by Howard “Chip” Self, accused LouFest promoter Listen Live Entertainment and its principal, Mike Van Hee, of defamation, malicious prosecution and abuse of process. 

Glynis Brooks is a Harriet Tubman impersonator based in St. Louis.
EMILY WOODBURY | ST. LOUIS PUBLIC RADIO

There’s good reason the U.S. Treasury Department selected Harriet Tubman as the new face of its $20 bill. Tubman lived one of the nation’s most remarkable lives. Born into slavery in Maryland, she escaped by making her way to Pennsylvania — on foot. And then she returned, again and again, to rescue family members and other slaves via the Underground Railroad. 

Morning Edition turns 40 on Tuesday. Over the years, NPR's morning newsmagazine program has covered seven presidents, two Persian Gulf wars, the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and nine Star Wars movies.

But the show was almost canceled before it even started — and there were obstacles to just keeping it on the air.

"They did this pilot with the original staff, and it was awful," said Bob Edwards, who hosted Morning Edition from 1979 to 2004.

November 4, 2019 Kenny Kinds, Tina Dybal, Zach Gzehoviak
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis comedy scene is a busy one. Just about any night of the week, you can catch local comedians honing their sets at open mic night, improvising madly on stage with a troupe of their closest friends or battling each other with wit and good humor as local drunks cheer.

For the past three years, a three-day comedy festival has brought those disparate elements together. The Flyover Comedy Festival launched in 2017 and returns to the city’s Grove neighborhood beginning Nov. 7. It’s a showcase for local talent in the scene and also a chance for big names to show off their best stuff.

MADCO's new production "WallSTORIES" is a collaboration with UMSL's German Culture Center.
MADCO (Modern American Dance Company)

Nov. 9 will mark 30 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall that divided Germany from 1961 to 1989.

A dance production being staged this week by St. Louis’ Modern American Dance Company explores the personal stories behind the politics of that moment in time. The production, “WallSTORIES,” was choreographed by native Berliner Nejla Yatkin and is a collaboration between MADCO and the University of Missouri-St. Louis' German Culture Center. 

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