Nancy Kranzberg | St. Louis Public Radio

Nancy Kranzberg

Who hasn't enjoyed a comic strip in the newspaper or a comic book or a cartoon in the "New Yorker" at one time or other?

St. Louis has many beautiful and special art museums, but few people would list the Missouri Botanical Garden as one of them and yet what an art museum it is. The garden often referred to as Shaw's Garden has many dimensions. 

Founded in 1859, the Garden is the oldest botanical garden in continuous operation in the country and is listed as a National Historic Landmark. It is on 79 acres of beautiful and varied gardens.

There are dozens of specialty gardens within the Garden itself such as:

St Louisans are welcoming many new faces to head up some of our city's most prestigious arts and cultural institutions.

David Robertson will pass the baton to Stéphane Denève who will serve as the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra's 13th Music Director beginning with the 2019/2020 season.

Tattoo art is not unique to this time or place

Jul 6, 2018

Everywhere I look, I see people of all ages with tattoos.

When I think back in time, I remember being fascinated with Academy Award winner for best actress, Anna Magnani in "The Rose Tattoo" and I secretly wanted a rose tattoo on my breast as well. And of course Popeye the Sailor man was my ideal as the real "he-man." 

The arts heal and allow us to express our inner most desires and feelings. The LGBTQ community is finally coming to the fore and being accepted and melded into the community as a whole. The arts are one of the most driving forces behind this positive move.

A year or so ago, I was inspired by the magnificent Ostergaard Glass Galleries in the Palm Springs Art Museum in Palm Springs, California. I went on to talk about the wonderful glass pieces and a marvelous video documentary titled "Pilchuck: A Dance With Fire" which was playing just outside the glass galleries. The video told of how Pilchuck, the famous glassmaking center outside Seattle, was founded by the iconic Dale Chihuly and a few art friends in the counterculture days of the early 70s.

Whether you are a lover of musical theater or not, one can't help but notice that it surrounds our culture. Last year "La La Land" won academy awards galore and this year we have "The Greatest Showman" up for awards in the major film award shows. And you would have to be living in a vacuum to not know something about "Hamilton,” the big Broadway bash which is currently playing at the Fox and travelling around the country, and of course we are about to celebrate the 100th anniversary of The Muny.

A few evenings ago, my husband and I had dinner with two creative and inspiring senior citizens. Frank Schwaiger at age 78 continues to design buildings, build sculptures, paint and be creative in every way, shape and form. Our mutual friend, Leslie Laskey, 96, professor emeritus at Washington University, is still a revered artist and teacher. When Laskey spoke at the Bruno David Gallery a few weeks before, every eye, heart and mind was enraptured by his words and enthusiasm.

St. Louis is filled with many fine museums both large and small. Of course the St. Louis Art Museum located atop art hill in beautiful Forest Park leads the pack and the Kemper Art Museum is close by at Washington University. Saint Louis University has several museums on its campus and MOCRA (the Museum of Contemporary Religious Art) is a true gem nestled in the campus. There's the St. Louis Blues Museum, The Eugene Field Museum, The Campbell House Museum and the list goes on for pages more. 

Commentary: St. Louis is a strong literary city

Jan 5, 2018

Last week I had a morning filled with culture. I first went to the Eugene Field Museum in downtown St. Louis. In March 2007 the Eugene Field House was designated as a National Historic Landmark by Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne. 

Eugene Field was best known for his children's poetry and humorous essays. I think of the light-hearted "Wynken, Blyken, and Nod." The museum has a wonderful library filled with Field's works and has special exhibitions and a wonderful collection of antique toys.  

If an art museum exhibition had the name of artist Monet, Picasso or Raphael in it, that would probably be enough to draw a crowd, but that's not usually the case. Unique titles are a huge draw for attendance at museum exhibitions.

 I give the award for best titles for visual art exhibitions to Art Saint Louis, a local art institution in downtown Saint Louis whose mission is to enrich lives through creative activity of our region's contemporary visual artists.

When I googled the word "opera," Wikipedia says, "Opera is a key part of Western Classical Music tradition. It started in Italy at the end of the 16th century and soon spread through the rest of Europe." The article goes on to discuss the history of opera up to the present time, but our own Timothy O'Leary, General Director of Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and Chairman of Opera America, has words to describe opera best.

We see and hear art at our many art venues around town and most, both large and small institutions and venues, have exciting education programs. I'll just highlight a few of them.

Theater in St. Louis is not only alive and well, it's getting stronger than ever. There are over 25 professional theater groups and oodles of community theater groups, some of which have been around forever. Our region has the well-known larger groups such as The Muny, The Rep, The Black Rep and Fox Associates which produces Broadway plays that win Tony Awards and gives us the power to get the best Broadway shows right here in St. Louis.

It's nice to visit an art museum to view beautiful and exciting art exhibitions or to see and hear music, dance or poetry from a stage, but the walls and stages are not always essential to feel and hear the excitement of a work of art. Take for example Desert X in Palm Springs, California.  

In general, many women have broken the glass ceiling and occupy very prestigious positions not only in our city, but throughout the country and the world. We finally have a female mayor in St. Louis.

Women are finally being given their due in the arts as well. Just looking at the visual arts, the museums I have frequented recently have featured women.

In March I attended the True/False Documentary Film Festival in Columbia, Missouri. The festival takes place yearly at the end of February or beginning of March. What a unique and festive atmosphere with each film featuring music before the film and contemporary pieces of sculpture all over town. The festival was founded in 2004 by Paul Sturtz and David Wilson and draws thousands of people from all over the country.

Commentary: Hats have a long history as art

May 5, 2017

Hats off to the St. Louis Art Museum for presenting "Degas, Impressionism, and the Paris Millinery Trade." When I think of Degas, I think of young dancers, but this exhibition is the first one to explore Degas' fascination with the subject of millinery. The museum calendar booklet described the exhibition as focusing on the intersection between the artist's avant-garde work and a remarkable golden age in the history of millinery in Paris in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Grand Center is truly the center for the arts in St. Louis.

How many of us have gone sledding down Art Hill in Forest Park or biked or walked along its many paths. We all love the park and use it, but many miss one of the city's true gems looming high on the hill, the St. Louis Art Museum.

When speaking to Brent Benjamin, the director of the museum, he reminded me that the St. Louis Art Museum is not only one of the country's top premier encyclopedic art museums, but is one of a handful of museums of its kind that is free and open to the public. This, of course, is due to the generosity of the tax payers.