Kristen Sorth, Director and CEO of the St. Louis County Library System, stopped by to speak with Nancy about the goings on at the SLCL. ----
Among the happenings are the community outreach programs, including the diaper give-aways, and period supply give-aways for those that need them.----
Also discussed are the covid protocols and the ways the library has handled things during the pandemic, with curbside book programs, and online functions... as well as the massive renovation project happening within the system. ----
“I really believe I have the greatest job ever,” says Sorth, who celebrated 20 years with the St. Louis County Library in 2018. “All I have to do is walk into a branch and see the level of engagement between our staff and the community to know that all of our efforts are worth it.” When Sorth became Director in 2013 – the first woman to hold the title for the library system – she took over management of its more than 650 employees and $50 million annual budget and faced an enormous task ahead – a $120 million capital improvement project to renovate or replace 19 of the library’s 20 branches. (The project is on track for completion in 2022.).
Renée Franklin, Chief Diversity Officer for the St. Louis Art Museum, stopped by to speak with Nancy about her role at the Museum, and the Romare Bearden Graduate Museum Fellowship, among other topics.
Renée Brummell Franklin is the Chief Diversity Officer at the The Saint Louis Art Museum, a new position that will oversee the implementation of a report on diversity, equity, access and inclusion that was adopted in summer of 2020 by the museum’s board of commissioners. Franklin works closely with all museum departments to implement the report, which details immediate, actionable initiatives as well as longer-term considerations.
Franklin joined the museum as coordinator of community outreach programs in 1998. During her time at the museum, she has served in a sequence of roles of increasing responsibility. Most recently as director of audience development, Franklin led the museum’s efforts to expand and cultivate sustainable relationships with diverse audiences.
Franklin helped develop several successful initiatives at the museum, including the Friends of African American Art Collectors Circle, the Art with Us youth residency program, and the Teen Assistant Program, a mentoring program that includes paid, summer employment. Franklin has long overseen the Romare Bearden Graduate Museum Fellowship, a national model for increasing under-represented professionals working in museums.
Franklin received a master’s degree in education and master’s degree in business administration from Webster University and a bachelor’s degree in marketing and business administration from Towson University.
Professor Timothy G. Solberg of Washington University stopped by to speak with Nancy about a new course that aims to teach people about how to manage the arts as a business.
Tim Solberg has been appointed as the academic director for the business of the arts minor at WashU Olin. The business of the arts minor integrates specialized coursework, experiential learning and rich networking opportunities for undergraduate students looking to gain a deeper understanding of how business principles apply to a range of arts-related fields.
Launched in 2018, the program offers students a framework of business, financial, marketing and strategic approaches for managing a career out of their artistic pursuits.
Tim joined the Olin faculty in 2018. He is a professor of practice in finance as well as the academic director of the corporate finance and investments platform. He will lead the business of the arts minor program in opportunities that engage faculty, students, alumni, and community members.
The minor launched with a generous donation from Richard Ritholz, BSBA ’84, his wife Linda, who expressed a commitment to challenging students to practice their artistic endeavors with rigor and business savvy. The Ritholz’s donation is targeting the creation of new courses, experiential learning opportunities in the arts, scholarship funding and internship stipends, and paying for faculty members to teach and publicize the program.
“I am excited to be the academic director of the business of the arts program. I have always had a deep commitment to the arts, whether performing or design, or literature,” Tim said.
“We are designing a program that will have on-site experiential learning with fashion and garment design and creation, gallerists and museum managers, theater and media producers to learn the backstage operations methods. With my teaching experience in arts management at the premier arts and media management school in Chicago, Columbia College, and my own musical education, I am eager to mix finance and management with the arts and provide a hands-on experience for the students.”
In addition to his background in the arts, Tim has worked 30 years in finance, including as a corporate banker and investment advisor for endowment and foundation trustees on their asset allocation and spending policies.
ABOUT THE ROMARE BEARDEN GRADUATE MUSEUM FELLOWSHIP:
The Romare Bearden Graduate Museum Fellowship is a critical component in the museum’s long-established commitment to increase diversity among its professional staff. Past fellows have gone on to hold key positions at the Saint Louis Art Museum, as well as at other noteworthy museums and universities, including the Art Institute of Chicago, National Gallery of Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art and University of Texas at Austin.
Named for African-American artist Romare Bearden, the paid fellowship is designed to prepare graduate students of color seeking careers as art historians and museum professionals. Fellows gain valuable hands-on experience working throughout the Art Museum on specific assignments tailored to their background and interests. Since the program’s inception in 1992, Bearden Fellows have spent their year teaching, researching works in the collection, developing programming, writing gallery materials and assisting curators with the development of exhibitions.
This year’s expansion of the fellowship is funded in part by the Romare Bearden Fellowship Endowment, which was created with a $100,000 gift from the Frost family.
About SHAKA MYRICK
Shaka Myrick (2021-2023) earned a bachelor’s degree in painting at the University of Missouri in Columbia and spent the next decade working and interning at the NYCH Art Gallery in Chicago, the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver and the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City. She earned a master’s degree in art history from the University of Missouri–Kansas City, where she concentrated on West African culture and presence in Brazil. Last year, Myrick curated Real Black, the first exhibition featuring all Black artists at the UMKC Gallery of Art.
About DELYN STEPHENSON
Delyn Stephenson (2021-2022) earned a bachelor’s degree in art history and archaeology at the University of Missouri in Columbia and a master’s degree in history through the Museums, Public History, and Heritage program at the University of Missouri–St. Louis. While at UMSL, Stephenson worked with the Griot Museum of Black History to create the exhibition Still We Thrive: The Neighborhoods of Fountain Park, Lewis Place, and The Ville. She also completed an internship with the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis and worked at the National Blues Museum in St. Louis.
Susan Barrett, President of Barrett Barrera Projects, stopped by to speak with Nancy about BBP’s acquisition of the photographs of Ann Ray concerning the life and work of the late fashion designer Alexander McQueen, among other subjects
Ann Ray is a French visual artist. She is self-taught in photography, except for alternative processes, which she studied during her studies at Central Saint Martins in London. During the late nineties, she lived in Tokyo and London, where she forged an unbreakable relationship with Lee Alexander McQueen, whom she immediately recognized as a pure artist. This was the start of an intense friendship and artistic collaboration that was as prolific as it was unique. From 1997 until the designer’s tragic end in 2010, Ann Ray’s caring gaze captured the spirit of the man and the essence of his work in many intimate situations: portrait sessions, at work in the studio, during performances – images of truth that reveal McQueen’s creativity. Ray first revealed part of her work with McQueen to the public during the exhibition Les Inachevés: Lee McQueen, at the 2018 edition of the Rencontres d’Arles. In 2019, she presented the exhibition Blind Faith, at Ca’Pesaro in Venice, showing a series of portraits she took of different artists with their eyes closed. She is currently working on a creative documentary, a feature film, and she is preparing the publication of a collection of poems and images, as well as her first novel.
Lee Alexander McQueen is a British fashion designer who founded the iconic, eponymous label and served as chief designer of Givenchy from 1996 to 2001. McQueen was known for designing outside the conventions of the fashion world, often taking inspiration from avant-garde installations, theatre, performance art, and gothic fairytales. The immersive experience of his runway shows allowed fashion to transcend commodification. McQueen saw fashion as an artistic medium—one capable of evoking thesublime and providing commentary on identity, culture, values, and politics. His work has been shown at The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Victoria and Albert Museum in the solo exhibition Savage Beauty
Hannah Klemm, the associate curator of modern and contemporary art, curates the museum’s “Currents” and “New Media Series” exhibitions. Klemm previously was the Fisher Collection Graduate Curatorial Fellow at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, where she has worked on the contemporary German art collection. She holds a doctorate from the University of Chicago, a master’s degree in art history from the Courtauld Institute of Art and a bachelor’s degree in art history with honors from Sarah Lawrence College. Klemm has received several fellowships and awards, including a 10-month research fellowship from the German Academic Exchange Service at Humboldt University in Berlin.
About Currents 120: Jess T. Dugan - Through February 20, 2022
St. Louis–based artist Jess T. Dugan is known for their color photographs that explore the power of identity, desire, and connection. In Currents 120: Jess T. Dugan, the museum presents a selection of 20 recent works—portraits, self-portraits, and still lifes—many of which were created specifically for this exhibition. Within a framework of queer and nonbinary experience and from an actively constructed sense of masculinity, Dugan’s portraits examine intersections between individual identity and the search for intimate connection with others.
About Art Along the Rivers: Through January 9, 2022
The exhibition includes a surprising range of objects that vary widely in medium, function, and the prominence of their makers. For example, it brings together Mississippian sculpture, Osage textiles, architectural drawings for iconic landmarks, musical instruments, German and Creole furniture, African American decorative arts, prize-winning paintings from the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, and contemporary artists’ responses to these historic objects. While at first these works might appear to have few connections, the exhibition arranges them by theme rather than by culture or chronology to establish dialogues around the region’s geography, raw materials, and pressing social issues.
About Oliver Lee Jackson: Through February 20, 2022
Oliver Lee Jackson is known for creating complex and layered images in which figurative elements—or what he calls “paint people”—emerge from abstract fields of vibrant color. Jackson’s practice is informed by a deep understanding of global art history—from early modern European painting to African art. Yet his works do not aim to elevate a single message, narrative, or meaning. Rather, the works serve as an open invitation to slow and close looking, encouraging viewers to stake emotional claim on the paintings and not wait for instructions on what to see.
David Brinker, Director of the Museum of Contemporary Religious Art, stopped by to talk with Nancy about the museum as well as the current exhibition Tom Kiefer: Pertenencias / Belongings Sept. 3 – Dec. 19, 2021.
About MOCRA: Through exhibitions, collections and educational programs, MOCRA highlights and explores the ways contemporary visual artists engage the religious and spiritual dimensions. MOCRA serves the diverse Saint Louis University community, and the wider public, by facilitating personal discovery, experience and inspiration, while contributing to a wider culture of interfaith encounter and dialogue.
About Tom Kiefer: Pertenencias / Belongings
In July 2003, fine art photographer Tom Kiefer started working part-time as a janitor and groundskeeper at a U.S. Customs and Border Protection processing facility near Ajo, Arizona. In mid-2007, he was given permission to collect food confiscated from migrants and asylum seekers and donate it to a local food pantry. He was deeply moved at finding personal belongings in the trash bins along with the food. These items, necessary for hygiene, comfort and survival, were deemed “non-essential” or “potentially lethal” and seized and discarded by officials. Kiefer began to quietly rescue what items he could, and he resigned from his job in August 2014 to focus on photographing and documenting them in an ongoing project titled El Sueño Americano / The American Dream.
Museum of Contemporary Religious Art
Saint Louis University
221 N. Grand Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63103
Eddie Coffield, Artistic Director of The New Jewish Theatre, Stopped by to talk with Nancy about the theatre, in general, as well as the upcoming Season.
Eddie Coffield brings three decades of experience to the J, including 16 years with New Jewish Theatre as Associate Artistic Director. During this time, he has directed more than 15 productions including My Mother’s Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding, Yentl, and Driving Miss Daisy (original 2005 NJT production). Many of the productions have been Award-winning – The Immigrant, From Door to Door, Jacob and Jack and many others.
The New Jewish Theatre was an outgrowth of the long history of theatre programming of the Jewish Community Center. In 1997, the need was recognized to develop a professional theatre program with programming that reflected the Jewish experience. Since its inception, the theatre has continued to grow at an exponential rate, both in size and in quality. The original season of three productions of eight performances has expanded to the current season’s five productions of 12 performances each.
The New Jewish Theatre’s home is the state-of-the-art Marvin & Harlene Wool Studio Theater, located in the Arts & Education Building of the J’s Staenberg Family Complex.
Cabaret at the J: A Little Song, A little Dance, A Little Seltzer Down Your Pants! starring Eric Williams and Sharon Hunter Saturday, December 18, 7:30pm Sunday, December 19, 2pm
The Theatre is located at... 2 Millstone Campus Drive Creve Coeur, MO 63146
Ticket and information hotline: 314-442-3283
Aida Šehović is an artist and founder of the ŠTO TE NEMA nomadic monument. The project began as a one-time performance with a presentation of the first 923 collected porcelain cups (fildžani) in 2006. Since then, ŠTO TE NEMA has evolved into a participatory community art project organized in close collaboration with Bosnian diaspora communities in a different city each year. For the past 13 years, ŠTO TE NEMA has traveled throughout Europe and the United States, and currently consists of more than 7,500 donated cups (fildžani). This year Šehović worked with Bosnian diaspora communities in Switzerland to bring ŠTO TE NEMA to Helvetia Platz in Zürich on July 11, 2018.
Aida Šehović was born in Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and like thousands of fellow Bosnian Muslims, fled her country due to threat of systematic violence and persecution in 1992. She lived as a refugee in Turkey and Germany before immigrating to United States in 1997. Šehović earned her BA from the University of Vermont in 2002 and her MFA from Hunter College in 2010. She received the ArtsLink Award in 2006, the Jacob K. Javits Fellowship in 2007, the Emerging Artist Fellowship from Socrates Sculpture Park in 2013, and the Fellowship for Utopian Practice from Culture Push in 2017. She was an artist-in-residence at the Santa Fe Art Institute, the Vermont Studio Center, the Grand Central Art Center, and the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. Her work has been exhibited extensively including at Flux Factory, Socrates Sculpture Park, and Queens Museum in New York City, where the artist is based.
About ŠTO TE NEMA:
When Bosnia and Herzegovina declared its independence from Yugoslavia in 1992, ethno-national divisions plunged the country into war. In July of 1995, Bosnian Serb forces invaded a United Nations Safe Area that included the town of Srebrenica, where thousands of Bosnian Muslims had sought refuge from the surrounding violence. While Bosnian Muslim women and girls were forcibly displaced from Srebrenica following the invasion, the remaining 8,373 men and boys were systematically executed. In 2006, the International Court of Justice officially ruled that these events qualified as genocide. Today, ethnic divisions still divide the region. Serbian and Bosnian Serb leaders continue to deny that the Srebrenica Genocide ever took place.
In response to this denial, Bosnian-American artist Aida Šehović created ŠTO TE NEMA [lit. “Why are you not here?”], a nomadic monument commemorating the 8,373 Bosnian Muslims who died in the Srebrenica Genocide. Šehović has been collecting the porcelain cups traditionally used for coffee service in Bosnia and Herzegovina, with the goal of having one cup for each victim. For the past 13 years, on July 11th – the anniversary of the Srebrenica Genocide – Šehović partners with local communities around the world to organize the ŠTO TE NEMA monument in the public square of a new city.
Each successful annual rendition of the monument represents a triumph over the forces of rejection, exclusion, and denialism that encourage societies to look away from past atrocities and prevent vital communal remembrance and healing processes from taking place. Reflecting the inclusive and universal spirit of the monument, passersby are invited to participate in the construction of ŠTO TE NEMA by filling cups with Bosnian coffee and leaving them in the square, undrunk, in memory of the victims of the Srebrenica Genocide.
Amy Reidel, Independent Artist, and Margaret Rieckenberg, Associate Curator for Barrett Barrera Projects stopped by to speak about the happenings at the various galleries of BBP, and specifically about the exhibition "Stretch Marks" which has been extended through November 27th.
Amy Reidel is a St. Louis-based artist who has exhibited work regionally and nationally. She has been a resident artist at ACRE (Artists' Cooperative Residency and Exhibitions) based out of Chicago, the David and Julia White Artists’ colony in Ciudad Colon, Costa Rica and at the Luminary Center for the Arts in St. Louis. She has exhibited work at venues including the Contemporary Art Museum-St. Louis, ACRE projects gallery in Chicago, and the Amarillo Museum of Art. Her work can be viewed online in the curated artist registries and viewing programs at White Columns and the Drawing Center in New York City. In 2014, 2019 and 2020 Reidel was awarded Artists’ Support and COVID-19 relief grants from the Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis and the Washington University/Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum. In 2016 she received the Critical Mass Creative Stimulus award. Reidel is currently a faculty member at Washington University and St. Louis Community College as well as Co-Founder of All the Art: The Visual Art Quarterly of St. Louis (2015-2020).
Stretch Marks is an exhibition that highlights expressive mark-making as a means to explore the material in the maternal and the experience of having a body and therefore a mother. Representations in painting, drawing, photography, fiber, sculpture, and ceramics reveal bodies in transitional states, stretching themselves, often reaching through time toward other bodies that precede or continue their own material existence.
The artists in this exhibition investigate subjects that include the experience of being a mother; our relationship to the Earth; materiality and tactility; abjection and the grotesque; portraiture and self-portraiture; domestic space; familial relationships; cultural identities; and feelings of love, horror, faith, and loss as they relate to maternal bodies.
With many references to the landscape—and trees in particular—the images in these artworks allude to the longstanding conceit of nature and the Earth as a mother, as well as how we often envision family lineages as both branches of a tree and roots. Another repeating motif in the exhibition is images of hands, suggesting tactile manipulation and the presence of touch. Connecting these many images and ideas is a critical attention to generation—both as an act of creation and a form of inheritance—with works that reflect on time, family, birth, and making in their myriad incarnations.
One of Amy Reidel's Mombies
Natalie Baldeon: Reminders or Loss
About Arts as Healing:
The theory that art can play a significant role in the recovery process is at the heart of the Arts As Healing program. They provide a creative outlet for cancer patients, their loved ones, and those who care for them. The closed-session studio classes offer an inviting environment for artistic expression where patients are free to explore a new method of communicating their innermost thoughts. Through Arts As Healing, patients find a joyous release for untapped artistic expression and relief from focusing on their illness.
Studio classes are held every Tuesday and Wednesday from 10:00AM to 12:30PM at
their Arts As Healing Studio at 11804 Borman Drive, St. Louis, MO 63146.
Wunderlust: A collaborative work done by Artist Patients
Independent artist Mary Sprague stopped by to speak with Nancy about her long career both as a creator of art and as a teacher.
Mary Sprague, longtime Professor Emeritus of Art and Art History at Meramec Community College in St. Louis, draws, paints, and most recently thinks with clay. After completing her Bachelor and Master of Arts at Stanford University in California, she moved with her husband and four children to the Midwest and has been immersed in the St. Louis art community for the past forty-five years. Her persona has been described as, “a lively and openhanded mix of infectious friendliness” and “a woman who lives her life head on with gusto and good humor” (James Yood, on Mary Sprague).
With this in mind, Sprague’s expansive repertoire of style and content has included notable studies of mysterious domestic interiors, vibrant equestrians, and currently chickens with a certain extra amount of cluck. “Sprague’s big drawings, some are more than six feet tall, do what a lot of largescale drawings from nature fail to do – they preserve the spontaneity of small life sketches while offering up magnified views of beautiful natural forms” (Margaret Hawkins, Chicago Sun Times). Trained in an era of abstract expressionism, Sprague has been able to combine color and form from multiple eras to suit her own tastes and unique almost caricatures of domestic American scenery.
A few of Mary's works below:
Podcast Curator and Editor: Jon Valley with Technical Support by Mid Coast Media
Tamara H. Schenkenberg, Curator at the Pulitzer Arts Foundation, stopped by to talk with Nancy about an exhibition currently at the Pulitzer, namely, Hannah Wilke: Art for Life’s Sake. The exhibition runs through Jan 16, 2022.
Tamara H. Schenkenberg
American artist Hannah Wilke (1940–93) created innovative and provocative art to affirm life. Her work embraces the vitality and vulnerability of the human body as essential to experiencing life and connecting with each other. She explored this subject in sculpture, photography, video, drawing, and performance. Wilke used her art to challenge gender inequality and empower all of us to realize a more sensuous connection to life and a more liberated society.
Hannah Wilke: Art for Life’s Sake is the first major presentation of Wilke’s groundbreaking work in over a decade. This career-spanning exhibition encompasses the full arc of Wilke’s practice from the 1960s to her untimely death in 1993. It features some of the artist’s most iconic works in addition to some that have rarely been shown. This selection of nearly 120 works demonstrates Wilke’s versatility and innovative approach to materials. The exhibition offers new perspectives on this influential artist, revealing her to be a trailblazer who was as invested in advancing the position of women in society as she was in developing a unique artistic practice.
Some of the work in Hannah Wilke: Art for Life’s Sake
Podcast Curator and Editor: Jon Valley with Technical Support by Mid Coast Media
Amy Kaiser, Director of the St. Louis Symphony Chorus, stopped by to talk to Nancy about her 50 year plus long career, as well as the The Arts and Education Council lifetime achievement award that she recently received. Also discussed is her radio show, Musical Moments on Classic 107.3 fm.
Director of the St. Louis Symphony Chorus since 1995, Amy Kaiser is one of the country’s leading choral directors. She has conducted the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra in Handel’s Messiah, Schubert’s Mass in E-flat, Vivaldi’s Gloria, and sacred works by Haydn and Mozart, as well as Young People’s Concerts. Guest conductor for the Berkshire Choral Festival in Massachusetts, Santa Fe and at Canterbury Cathedral and Music Director of the Dessoff Choirs in New York for 12 seasons, she led many performances of major works at Lincoln Center.
Other conducting engagements include Chicago’s Grant Park Music Festival, Peter Schickele’s PDQ Bach with the New Jersey Symphony, and more than 50 performances with the Metropolitan Opera Guild. Principal Conductor of the New York Chamber Symphony’s School Concert Series for seven seasons, Kaiser also led Jewish Opera at the Y, and many programs for the 92nd Street Y’s acclaimed Schubertiade. She has prepared choruses for the New York Philharmonic, Ravinia Festival, Mostly Mozart Festival, and Opera Orchestra of New York.
Kaiser is a regular pre-concert speaker for the SLSO and presents popular classes for the Symphony Lecture Series and Opera Theatre of St. Louis. A former faculty member at Manhattan School of Music and The Mannes College of Music, she was a Fulbright Fellow at Oxford University and holds a degree in musicology from Columbia University. A graduate of Smith College, she was awarded the Smith College Medal for outstanding professional achievement.
Podcast Curator and Editor: Jon Valley with Technical Support by Mid Coast Media
Gina Grafos, Director of Visual infrastructure for the Kranzberg Arts Foundation, stopped by to talk with Nancy about the happenings around the galleries associated with The KAF, including the exhibition "Lost Library" by Stan Strembicki at the High Low Literary Arts Center. Also discussed was the new KAF space, Sophie's Artists Lounge.
For the exhibition “Lost Library” at the High Low, Stan Strembicki photographed books from a flooded library in the Lower Ninth Ward — a historic, Black neighborhood hit hard by the storm — that were scattered in a field. For three years, Strembicki visited the location every few months and documented the books as they decayed.
One of the Photographs from "Lost Library"
Sophie’s Artist Lounge and Street art gallery is an immersive art lounge servicing up high fidelity audio-visuals with a cocktail-focused menu. You can Immerse yourself in their street art gallery and listen to Resident DJs provide the music. Open Wednesday- Saturday from 5:00 PM- 1:30 AM w/ St. Louis and International DJ’s from 9:00 PM- 1:00 AM.
A photograph of Sophie's Artists Lounge
Podcast Curator and Editor: Jon Valley with Technical Support by Mid Coast Media
Melissa Wolfe, Curator of American art at the St. Louis Art Museum, stopped by to talk about the new exhibition, Art Along the Rivers, which runs October 3rd, 2021 until January 9th, 2022. Other happenings at the museum are also discussed.
Melissa Wolfe joined the Art Museum in 2015 as curator and head of the Department of American Art. She oversaw an extensive reinterpretation of the museum’s American art galleries that opened in 2016.
Melissa previously was curator of American art at the Columbus Museum of Art, where she has worked for 14 years on a succession of important exhibitions, catalogues and collection development. Her projects “George Bellows and the American Experience” (2013), “George Tooker: A Retrospective” (2008) and “In Monet’s Garden: The Lure of Giverny” (2007) were awarded significant funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Henry Luce Foundation and Terra Foundation for American Art.
Wolfe received undergraduate degrees from Stephens College in Columbia, Mo., and a master’s degree and doctorate in the history of art at The Ohio State University, where she also served as adjunct professor.
In conjunction with the 200th anniversary of Missouri’s statehood, Art Along the Rivers: A Bicentennial Celebration explores the remarkable artwork produced and collected over 1,000 years in the region surrounding St. Louis. The exhibition presents more than 150 objects from Missouri as far north as Hannibal, west to Hermann, and south through the Old Mines area. It also encompasses the Illinois region along the eastern bank of the Mississippi River, from Cairo north through Carbondale and Alton. Although the region that has shaped the exhibition’s objects is small, it has played an outsize role in the history of North America due to the confluence of powerful rivers and major trails and routes within its borders.
Art Along the Rivers includes a surprising range of objects that vary widely in medium, function, and the prominence of their makers. For example, it brings together Mississippian sculpture, Osage textiles, architectural drawings for iconic landmarks, musical instruments, German and Creole furniture, African American decorative arts, prize-winning paintings from the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, and contemporary artists’ responses to these historic objects. While at first these works might appear to have few connections, the exhibition arranges them by theme rather than by culture or chronology to establish dialogues around the region’s geography, raw materials, and pressing social issues.
The exhibition is curated by Melissa Wolfe, curator of American art, and Amy Torbert, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Assistant Curator of American Art.
Joe Jones 1909-1963 We Demand, 1934 Oil on Canvas 48x36
Attributed to Anna Jane Parker, American, c.1841–1918; “Quilt Top, Pieced Log Cabin”, 1875-1900
Podcast Curator and Editor: Jon Valley with Technical Support by Mid Coast Media
Los Angeles based artist, Alicia Piller was born and raised in Chicago and received her Bachelors in both Fine Arts (Painting) & Anthropology from Rutgers University in 2004. While working in the fashion industry; living a decade in NYC and three and a half years in Santa Fe, NM, Piller cultivated her distinctive sculptural voice. Continuing to expand her artistic practice, Alicia completed her MFA focused on sculpture and installation from Calarts in May of 2019.
As a method to locate the root of human histories, Alicia merges the new and discarded, experimenting with a wide range of materials to construct large scale works that mimic forms of cellular biology. Piller envisions historical traumas, both political and environmental, through the lens of a microscope. Piller’s mixed media practice is as much about materiality as it is about content. Attempting to reconcile questions about the current state of our times; she works on a macro/micro level, breathing life into materials that have been removed from their ‘natural’ environment. Manipulating things like resin and latex balloons (stemming from her background as a clown); each work becomes a biological unfolding of time, examining the energy around wounds societies have inflicted upon themselves and others.
Alicia Piller investigates place. She believes a city, a country, or a specific location can be seen as an object that can be held, explored, dissected and mended back together. “Tracing humanity’s roots has always been at the forefront of my interests,” states Piller. “Most recently, focusing on my own roots and the Americana in general.” Piller’s studio practice focuses on one place and dives deep into how the earth connects with humanity and how humans connect with the earth. Centering her investigations on history, Piller draws references from both the political and environmental traces of a city. When invited to have a solo exhibition at Craft Alliance, St. Louis became the catalyst for her work.
Piller has always been fascinated with fossils, minerals and botanicals. These earthly elements are where she begins her studies of a new place. Much like a hidden gem, St. Louis started to reveal herself to Piller; stories of how we interacted with the land began to unfold, and tales of struggles and resilience revealed themselves. In this exhibition, Piller leads us on a journey starting at the Cahokia Mounds, speaking to the impact this early civilization had on our history. Identifying native botanicals, fossils and land formations, Piller weaves this imagery into her multi-material sculptures.
Piller examines St. Louis race relations in relation to the natural landscape of the region. This juxtaposition is the root of her work. “This show is meant to get people to think about the intricacy of existence, to examine and discover the connectivity of the past to the present,” Piller explains. “Highlighting the St. Louis area chronologically through photographic imagery and other mixed media materials, I want the viewers to touch down on moments in time. Examining the inhabitants of a Missouri once covered by ocean, look back to ancient civilizations wiped out and forgotten; recognizing colonial invasion and its effects on society, while presenting a sense of resilience from an American city through tragedy and activism.”
Piller’s work brings us through the creation of Mound City, to the Dred Scott case, the St. Louis 1917 race riots, Delmar Divide, Mike Brown, and ends with hopeful voices of current activists. Her work moves us through the past and the present, reminding us that we are connected to the earth by paralleling history with native botanicals from the area. We are connected to each other and to the land. “This work is a moment of hope and growth, an explosion of positive energy and transformation. From each work, I want people to get a feeling of movement, a feeling of progression, a feeling of time expanding and moving. In this way, I want the works to feel like organisms shifting and changing, shedding their skin."
Remains. Tectonic Forces. Vanishing Seas.
Pedals Fall. Seasons Change.
Podcast Curator and Editor: Jon Valley with Technical Support by Mid Coast Media
Jess T. Dugan stopped by to talk about their new photographic exhibition, Currents 120: Jess T. Dugan, on display at the St. Louis Art Museum from September 17th, 2021 through February 20, 2022. Also talked about is their career in general, and the exhibition/book To Survive on this Shore, among other topics.
Jess T. Dugan
Jess T. Dugan (American, b. 1986) is an artist whose work explores issues of identity through photographic portraiture. They received their MFA in Photography from Columbia College Chicago (2014), their Master of Liberal Arts in Museum Studies from Harvard University (2010), and their BFA in Photography from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design (2007).
Dugan’s work has been widely exhibited and is in the permanent collections of over 40 museums, including the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, the International Center of Photography, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the Minneapolis Institute of Art, the St. Louis Art Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Photography, and the Library of Congress.
Dugan’s monographs include To Survive on This Shore: Photographs and Interviews with Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Older Adults (Kehrer Verlag, 2018) and Every Breath We Drew (Daylight Books, 2015). They are currently working on a new book, Look at me like you love me, to be published by MACK in the spring of 2022.
They are the recipient of a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant, an ICP Infinity Award, and were selected by the Obama White House as a 2015 Champion of Change.
Dugan’s editorial clients include the ACLU Magazine, The Guardian, The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, and TIME.
Dugan teaches workshops at venues including the Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Snowmass Village, CO, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, MA, and Filter Photo in Chicago, IL. In 2015, they co-founded the Strange Fire Collective to highlight work made by women, BIPOC, and LGBTQ artists. Dugan is currently the 2020-2021 Henry L. and Natalie E. Freund Teaching Fellow at Washington University in St. Louis.
From Currents 120: Jess T. Dugan, photo by Jess T. Dugan
From To Survive on this Shore, photo by Jess T. Dugan
From Every Breath We Drew, photo by Jess T. Dugan
Podcast curator and editor: Jon Valley, with recording assistance by mid-coast media.
Jack Lane, Co-founder and Executive Producer of Stages St. Louis, stopped by to talk with Nancy about the History of Stages, as well as the 2021-2022 season, which includes "Jersey Boys" and "The Karate Kid (The Musical)." Jack Lane was an actor in New York when he heard Co-Counder Michael Hamilton talk about his dream to found a theater troupe in St. Louis, and together they made that dream come true 35 years ago.
Stages Co-Founders: Michael Hamilton (left) and Jack Lane (right)
STAGES opened in 1987 with a budget of $50,000 and a part-time seasonal staff of eight. Today, the company employs a full-time staff of 25 overseeing a budget of $4.7 million. During the performance season, an additional 150 actors and crew members bring the productions to life. To date, STAGES professionals have produced 103 musicals, with nearly 3,400 performances, playing to more than one million patrons. The STAGES audience includes patrons from a spectrum of ages and socio-economic levels from more than 238 cities located in 30 states. Audience members represent over 160 zip codes from the state of Missouri alone. All productions are fully accessible to individuals with disabilities and each season STAGES provides hundreds of complimentary tickets to underserved populations, including low-income seniors. STAGES annual Theatre for Young Audiences production is a regional treasure that encourages multiple generations to attend professional, live musical theatre together on family-friendly schedules.
In April of 2013, the STAGES Performing Arts Academy and the administrative offices relocated to a new 22,000-square-foot-facility in Chesterfield, which is enabling STAGES to meet a growing need for arts education programs in a larger, more flexible state-of-the-art facility. The Kent Center for Theatre Arts includes a performance hall with flexible seating to be used for main stage rehearsals, dance classes, educational presentations, donor and community events, and special performances.
Sara Burke, Founder of the City Studio Dance Center and Katherine Dunham Dancer, stopped by to speak with Nancy about her career as a dancer, including her work with the legendary Katherine Dunham. She also shares two writings she has done recently, “I Bear Witness To” and “Musings on Creativity.”
Sara Burke at the City Studio Dance Center
“Sara Burke is the owner and director of The City Studio Dance Center in St. Louis, Missouri which she founded in 1986. Sara is a choreographer, dancer, dance instructor, photographer, and author and arts diversity consultant. Sara consults for local dance companies and works with young dancers helping them start Company’s. Sara relishes her role as “mentor”. She has danced around the world. One of her biggest goals and accomplishments was to learn Dunham Technique from the legendary Katherine Dunham. She studied with Miss Dunham in East St. Louis in the 1970’s and danced with the Dunham Company. Sara’s experiences studying and dancing Dunham Technique changed her life and she has been committed to promoting diversity through the Arts ever since.”
The City Studio Dance Center features ongoing classes in Jazz, Dunham Technique, Hip Hop/Street Jazz, Pilates & Yoga.
The City Studio Dance Center
William Roth, Founder and Artistic Director of the St. Louis Actors Studio, stopped by to talk with Nancy about the upcoming season of St. Louis Actors Studio, which is housed in the Gaslight Theater.
William Roth's acting career began in 1972 at the Theatre Guild of Webster Groves—where his dad had acted in the mid-60s—in a performance of South Pacific, in which he had a horrible case of stage fright, refused to sing and choose instead to dance behind the curtain. Twenty years later, after a six-year stint in the Marines and other distractions, he moved back to St. Louis from California and performed in a student-directed one-act festival at the University of Missouri-St Louis. He then returned to the Theatre Guild of Webster Groves to get his picture on the wall with his father, playing Clive in Alan Ayckbourn’s Season's Greetings.
Over the past 20 years he has appeared in countless Shakespeare productions, including: Julius Caesar, Hamlet, Macbeth, Othello, Comedy of Errors, Titus Andronicus, Cymbeline, As You Like It, Romeo and Juliet, Richard III, The Winter’s Tale, King Lear, Troilus and Cressida and Antony and Cleopatra.
St. Louis Actors' Studio was founded to bring a fresh vision to theatre in St. Louis. Housed in The Gaslight Theater in historic Gaslight Square, STLAS is committed to bringing engaging theatrical experiences to our community of actors, writers, producers, filmmakers and all patrons of the arts; and to provide a strong ensemble environment to foster learning and artistic expression.
Upcoming Productions by St. Louis Actors Studio:
The Zoo Story, The Dumb Waiter by Albee, Pinter, Directed by Wayne Salomon
September 17 – October 03 2021
Comfort by Neil LaBute, Directed by Assoc. Artistic Director Annamaria Pileggi
December 03 – December 19, 2021
Hand To God By Robert Askins, Directed by Assoc. Artistic Director John Pierson
February 18 –March 6, 2022
8th Annual LaBute New Theater Festival
July 08 – July 31, 2022
Chris Hansen, Executive Director of the Kranzberg Arts Foundation, stopped by to talk with Nancy about the upcoming Music at the Intersection festival happening in the Grand Center Arts District (September 10th through 12th, 2021). They also discuss the Kranzberg Arts Foundation's works and venues in general.
Music at the Intersection celebrates St. Louis’s rich and diverse musical heritage. From Jazz to Blues, Soul to Hip Hop, and everything in between this festival will highlight over 60 acts on six world-renowned stages over three days throughout Grand Center’s Arts District.
The mission statement of the Kranzberg Arts Foundation is... "Through the development of artistic venues, studios and workspaces, short and long-term residencies, and community-based programming, the Kranzberg Arts Foundation provides essential infrastructure for the arts to thrive in the St. Louis region.
Taking an arts-based approach to community development, the Foundation ensures we are aligning our investments with the needs and vision of the broader community. Committed to a diverse, equitable, and inclusive approach, we further economic development and cultural sustainability, while helping to establish St. Louis as a premier arts and entertainment destination."
Poster for Music at the Intersection with all the musical acts slated to perform.
St. Louis just can’t stay quiet. The region has produced legends who are on a first-name basis worldwide, like Ike & Tina, Miles, Chuck, and Nelly. It’s been home to the “Velvet Bulldozer” Albert King, the “Black Venus” Josephine Baker, and the original “king” of pop music, Scott Joplin. And don’t forget world-class songwriters like John Hartford, Jay Farrar, Jeff Tweedy, and Willie Mae Ford Smith. Few cities anywhere can claim so many leading lights in such a wide range of style.
St. Louis Sound examines contributions to American popular music. This exhibit serves as your introduction to that music—it can’t cover everything, but inside you’ll find familiar tunes, deeper cuts, and a new musical outlook on the city you love. So lend the city your ears.
Cynthia Prost, President and CEO of the Arts and Education Council of St. Louis, stopped by to speak with Nancy about the organization and its works.
The Arts and Education Council of Greater St. Louis is a unique asset in our community. The Arts and Education Council is our region's only united arts fund supported by private contributions from individuals, corporations, foundations and institutions committed to the value and benefit of the arts to our community.
The Arts and Education Council serves as the base - the root, if you will - through which funding, training and collaboration happens for nearly 100 arts organizations that enrich the cultural landscape of St. Louis each year.
Arts and Education Council grantees not only produce and present great art, they also maintain viable, impactful arts education and outreach programming for K-12 students throughout the bi-state area. Research continues to show that children who participate in the arts enjoy greater academic success, higher self-esteem, improved discipline, higher graduation rates and broad, creative thinking skills necessary for advancement in the world beyond school.
The Centene Center for the Arts, an arts incubator owned and operated by the Arts and Education Council
Cynthia Prost has over twenty years of nonprofit leadership experience and currently serves as President and CEO of the Arts and Education Council since 2008. In this role she oversees all institutional matters including fundraising and grant making. She received her bachelor of arts (magna cum laude) and a master of arts in management from Fontbonne University in St. Louis. Prost is an adjunct faculty member at Fontbonne University in the Nonprofit Management graduate program, teaching courses in fundraising, philanthropy, grant writing, strategic planning and board governance and management.
Carrie Houk, Executive Artistic Director of the Tennessee Williams Festival St. Louis, stopped by to talk with Nancy about the festival details for 2021, which runs August 19th through the 29th.
This year's theme for the festival is "The Moon and Beyond," and features an outdoor performance of "The Glass Menagerie," Williams’ greatest, most famous, and most personal play. The performance will be at the actual site that inspired the writing of the play, The Tennessee, at 4633 Westminster Place in St. Louis. Performances are August 19, 20, 21, 22, 26, 27, 28, 29 at 8:00PM. Other topics covered include panel discussions and a walking tour of sites in the Central West End associated with Tennessee Williams.
About Tennessee Williams: Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tennessee Williams’ renowned work reflects his two decades of coming of age in St. Louis, and his creations range from the famed classics, to adaptations for film and opera, to dozens of newly discovered plays and writings that have been continuously documented, performed and studied around the world. Considered by many to be America’s greatest playwright, Williams is best known for his award-winning powerful plays, “A Streetcar Named Desire,” “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” and “The Glass Menagerie.”
About Carrie Houk: Carrie Houk has spent her professional life as an actor, casting director, producer and teaching artist. Educated at HB Studio in NYC and the Conservatory of Theatre Arts at Webster University, she began her acting career at the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis and from there worked in NYC, LA and Chicago. She has cast over thirty films, numerous television shows and countless national commercials and has worked with directors Steven Soderbergh, Robert Altman, Alexander Payne, Howard Franklin, among others. She started her casting career in Chicago thirty five years ago and from there settled back in St. Louis to raise her daughter. She has produced two films and the critically acclaimed production of Tennessee Williams’s “Stairs to the Roof” directed by Fred Abrahamse. Adjunct professor of casting and acting at Webster University, Houk has also taught at Washington University and Columbia College Chicago.