Willis Ryder Arnold

Willis Ryder Arnold is an Arts and Culture Reporter for St. Louis Public Radio. He has contributed to NPR affiliates, community stations, and nationally distributed radio programs as well as Aljazeera America, The New York Times blogs, La Journal de la Photographie, and LIT Magazine. He is a graduate of the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism and a recipient of the Society of Professional Journalist’s award for Radio In-Depth Reporting.

A Missouri musician and his band are making music that challenges listeners to confront their own complicity in exploitative labor practices and foreign policy while celebrating those who would change things for the better.

Tim Rakel launched The May Day Orchestra in 2008. The band creates self-described folk operas that aim to honor histories of social change. This month, the band returns with its third album, “Wake,” which melds together the story of a 17th century sultan turned pirate in what is now Kenya and Rakel’s knowledge and experience in modern-day Kenya .

Updated Dec.12 — On Tuesday's St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh discussed the life and legacy of noted author and Washington University professor William Gass.

Joining him for the discussion were Lorin Cuoco, co-founder and former associate director of the International Writers Center at Washington University, Stephen Schenkenberg, creator and curator of the website Reading William Gass and author and publisher of "The Ears Mouth Must Move: Essential Interviews of William H. Gass" and William Danforth, chancellor emeritus and member of the Board of Trustees at Washington University.

Gass died on Dec. 6 at his home in St. Louis. He was 93. The former Washington University professor was known for his contributions to fiction, criticism and philosophy. 

As the sun sets, several people circle around giant plastic disk laid out behind the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts. The disk inflates and attendees are invited to walk back and forth as it grows into a massive bubble.

Adults giggle as performers run around the inflated orb before inviting people inside for an installment of “At the Edge of Everything Else,” a creative soiree hosted by artist and organizer Gavin Kroeber. It’s part of a project to highlight art rooted in the urban fabric of St. Louis.

Fourteen St. Louis artists are opening a gallery that will put them directly in touch with art buyers. The space will be run by the artists and will function somewhat like a co-op.

But instead of seeking non-profit status as artist run spaces  typically do, Monaco will be a commercial gallery. Exhibiting artists keep 100 percent of their proceeds. 

As you walk down the street, you might not realize that you’re on a giant rock hurtling through the galaxy at amazing speeds. That is to say, you’re standing in space. An show at Projects+Gallery4733 McPherson Ave., could help viewers confront this reality.

“Where you’re standing right now, you are not separated from outer space,” artist Christine Corday, said with a laugh. “You are absolutely positively in outer space.”

While selecting images for the art show “On the Street Where I Live,” Amanda Verbeck of Pele Prints saw certain themes emerge in artists submissions: impermanence, restlessness, transition and instability.

She wants the show at Webster Arts to explore the places where people live and their relationships with their neighbors.

A common refrain among protesters who took to the streets of St. Louis in recent weeks has been “I know that we will win!”

Many are confident that the demonstrations that took place following a judge’s decision to find former St. Louis officer Jason Stockley not guilty in the death of Anthony Lamar Smith will help win the fight to stop police from killing black people.

The kitchen table can be a place for conversation, nurturing and sustenance. Two St. Louisans are making the intimate space the source for an ambitious podcast.

With “Who Raised You?” Treasure Shields Redmond and Karen (Jia Lian) Yang hope to explore a variety of experiences.

U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay said Friday that he won’t support the year-end spending bill necessary to keep the government running unless it includes provisions to protect undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children from deportation.

As he drove down Delmar Boulevard in September, Tony Borchardt was struck by what he saw. Numerous painted boards lined the street in anticipation of more protests over a judge's decision to find former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley not guilty of murder in the death of Anthony Lamar Smith.

Hours earlier, a dean at Fontbonne University asked if Borchardt could organize an exhibit of art related to the event.  Looking around him, Borschart knew he’d found his show. 

The exhibit “Protest and Peace,” at the Fontbonne University Fine Art Gallery, features those painted boards from the Delmar Loop.

St. Louis International Film Festival artistic director Chris Clark’s office walls in Grand Center are crowded with film posters. Marketing materials are stacked neatly on the front of his desk. In the final push before the festival’s opening night, Clark is confident that the entries this year deliver on its very clear mission.

“What we look for is the best, newest, freshest stories told from unique perspectives,” he said. 

After the demonstrations that followed a Ferguson police officer’s fatal shooting of Michael Brown in 2014, the 16-member Ferguson Commission came up with a list of recommendations to address policing and the region’s disparities in jobs, education and policing. But many African-Americans say elected leaders have yet to adopt those proposals —and that has helped fuel a new wave of protests.

In the three weeks that followed a judge’s decision to acquit former St. Louis officer Jason Stockley of first-degree murder in the death of Anthony Lamar Smith, people have again taken to the streets. The Rev. Starsky Wilson and others say the latest protests — including Tuesday night’s shutdown of Interstate 64 — are acts of social disruption aimed at compelling regional leaders to act.

Four decades ago, a young Bob Reuter walked into the T&D Lounge, a south St. Louis dive bar, just as the country band on stage announced the end of its run at the club. Reuter, then in his mid-20s, walked up to the bar and talked the bar manager into offering him the performance slot. But there was just one problem. He didn’t have a band.

So Reuter reached out to three friends and formed the Dinosaurs, which he claimed was the city’s first punk band. It wasn’t, but over the next three months, the band played a weekly four-hour gig at the bar, combining covers with original tunes that sounded too punk for  rock ‘n’ roll and too rock for punk.

Big Muddy Records has refocused attention on the late guitar player, singer and DJ with its release of the band’s first self-titled album. That early music established the brash Reuter as an enduring force in St. Louis’ underground music scene.

Police departments are standing by their officers’ response to protesters after days of civil disobedience throughout the St. Louis region.

Although three lawsuits have been filed against the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, officials are confident the majority of their officers complied with the department's use-of-force policy, which establishes guidelines, though one area law professor argues those guidelines are up for interpretation.

 

Originally published on September 20, 2017. Updated with audio from Don Marsh's discussion with Jeffrey Mittman on "St. Louis on the Air."

This past week, hundreds of people took to the streets to express outrage at a judge’s decision to find former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley not guilty of first-degree murder in the 2011 death of Anthony Lamar Smith.

The protests largely have been peaceful. But police have made numerous arrests since the demonstrations began. On Sunday alone, police made 123 arrests — largely on a charge of failure to disperse. They also charged a few people with the destruction of property or assault. 

LouFest 2017 reached another set of milestones, selling out Saturday.

Music Record Shop handled sales of the performers' recordings and provided space for festival-goers to meet artists.

The festival also held its first concurrent art exhibition, overseen by TechArtista. It featured wooden triangle constructions to be repurposed after the festival. Check out our photos of LouFest highlights.

The annual LouFest music festival will be anchored in part this year by a celebration of St. Louis rock 'n' roll legend Chuck Berry.

A tribute Saturday, titled “Hail! Hail! Chuck Berry!” will feature musicians from national acts The Roots, Spoon, Huey Lewis, and St. Louis’s own Pokey LaFarge, Bryan Greenberg and Chris Chew. Berry’s grandsons Charles Berry III and Jahi Eskridge also will share the stage. The event will take place on the main Bud Light Stage from 8 to 9 p.m., before headliner Snoop Dogg performs.

As the sun set over the Transgender Memorial Garden in the Tower Grove neighborhood late last month, members of St. Louis’ transgender community, supporters and advocates expressed frustration, sadness and a strong will to resist as they gathered to mourn the death of Kenneth “Kiwi” Herring, a black transgender woman.

Updated at 5:35 p.m. with information on charges against the driver — The St. Louis Circuit Attorney's Office has issued warrants against a St. Louis man who drove his car into a group of people protesting the fatal police shooting of a transgender woman.

Prosecutors filed warrants against Mark Colao for resisting arrest/detention/stop by fleeing, leaving the scene of an accident and operating a motor vehicle in a careless and imprudent manner.

After a Ferguson police officer fatally shot Michael Brown Jr., local artist Damon Davis hit the streets. What he saw there conflicted with TV news reports and social media posts he’d seen that emphasized clashes between protesters and police.

“It was absolutely nothing like what was being portrayed by the media,” Davis said.

Instead of clashes with police, he noticed people exercising their first amendment rights. So when budding filmmaker Sabaah Folayan contacted Davis about collaborating on a documentary about the protests, he felt compelled to work with her. That documentary, “Whose Streets?” will be released locally and across the nation tonight. 

Updated at 5:40 p.m. Wednesday with comments from Mayor Lyda Krewson – The day after a recent four-alarm fire engulfed the historic Clemens House on Cass Avenue, neighbors got together with brooms and shovels to start cleaning up the debris left scattered across their yards.

“We started talking and started looking and then we decided — wait a minute, we don’t know what we’re sweeping up here,” said Larry Chapman, a retired carpenter who lives on Helen Street.

When Paul Rucker received a call inviting him to bring his work confronting racism and white supremacy in United States to a Ferguson gallery, he knew he had to make the trip.

Rucker, of Baltimore, is a Guggenheim Fellow and has shown the work throughout the country. But he saw the opportunity to show his work in Ferguson as a way to address the continuing presence of racism.

Updated 2:30 p.m. July 13 with comment from Monsanto — Farmers can resume using the herbicide dicamba, the Missouri Department of Agriculture announced Thursday.

The new restrictions come less than a week after the department issued a temporary ban on the sale and use of the controversial herbicide. Missouri has received more than 100 complaints this year of drifting herbicide, which had damaged crops.

Music played an important role in the civil rights movement that helped transform the nation. Songs such as Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come” and “We Shall Not Be Moved” by Mavis Staples inspired black people to push for change — and moved the hearts of others.

What would you do with $2,500 and three pallet loads of brick? Four St. Louis art groups and collaborators will soon have an answer in the next phase of a year-long public art project overseen by the Pulitzer Arts Foundation and the Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Art.

Early on election night last November, artist Bunny Burson looked to New York City’s Javits Center ceiling, expecting confetti to fall to celebrate Hillary Clinton becoming the nation's first woman president. But the confetti never fell.

Crushed by Clinton’s loss to President Donald Trump, Burson began an almost two-week journey to track down the confetti, which she thought would make great material for artwork.

People in the St. Louis region will soon have a chance to let arts advocates and funders know how to better connect with the public.

Last week, the Regional Arts Commission, or RAC, launched an initiative to bridge the gap between area residents and the arts community. 

“It’s really more about just being more aligned with what is relevant for the community today and not just based on the way we did business more than 30 years ago,” RAC Executive Director Felicia Shaw said.

On April 30, Francis Rodriguez, the owner of Yaquis on Cherokee, was drawn to his apartment window by a commotion outside on Cherokee Street. Rodriguez lives above the pizza parlor and, as shots rang out, he and his wife dropped to the floor. After a pause, he ran downstairs to check on the restaurant, where people didn’t immediately recognize the sound of gunfire.

“They're still playing music in here. They didn't hear the shots upstairs that are right outside the door,” he said. “But just as I open up the back door from our apartment and hear people start raising the alarm in here [Yaquis] and so people started screaming and falling onto the floor.”

The Arts and Education Council of Greater St. Louis will honor two performing arts advocates with lifetime achievement awards during the 2018 St. Louis Arts Awards.

For more than 40 years, bassist Jim Marsala toured with Chuck Berry. They played together in the Kremlin in Moscow, on the beaches of Rio de Janeiro, and at Berry’s regular Duck Room show at Blueberry Hill in the Loop.

In the early 2000s, Berry’s son Charles Berry Jr. joined the band. Berry then began music, writing piano lines, lyrics and guitar parts for what would be his final work — tapping Marsala and his son on guitar.

Those recordings will be released today in the rock icon’s final album, “CHUCK.” The younger Berry says it’s a classic, and shows that late in life his father remained a gifted songwriter with a knack for making people dance.

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