Culture club

cultural club

The St. Louis art scene offers something for everyone.

Consider musical offerings, reminiscent of a jukebox, with one catchy song often leading into another. President Barack Obama named folk singer Tonina Saputo’s song “Historia De un Amor” one of his favorites of 2018. Indie musicians Beth Bombara and sleeping kitty also gained loyal followers. Then there are the more forward-thinking ones, including collective HEARding Cats and experimental group New music circle. You can even find some household names, such as St. Louis native and Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy, who still frequents his hometown.

And at National Blues Museum— hailed as a travel destination by The New York Timesthe Smithsonian and CNN – you can see interactive exhibits, then stick around to hear the real deal from Jeremiah Johnson, Skeet Rodgers, Kim Massie and Marquise Knox, who also perform often at the famous Broadway Oyster Bar and BB’s Jazz, Blues and Soups.


What’s old is new

Even the oldest arts institutions in St. Louis are experiencing a flow of new faces and ideas.

A little over a century ago, The Muny has never been so beautiful. Against all odds (marauding raccoons, rapid rehearsals and 1,000 moving parts), we managed to bring one of the greatest outdoor musical theaters in the world to life for a solid century. Broadway stars come here and sing their hearts out because our audiences re-energize us. The Muny is cooler every minute, literally, thanks to the giant fans, but also because of the new high-tech sets and top-flight talent.

At Powell Hall, French conductor Stéphane Denève recently took the baton, bringing a new perspective. The president of the Orchester symphonique de Saint-Louis, Marie-Hélène Bernard, describes Denève as “someone who brings a lot of joy on stage. He makes you forget how hard life is and connect to what matters… What he wants is for you to love music. He wants to break down the barriers that people so often put on themselves.

Shakespeare Festival St. Louis executive producer Tom Ridgely is also working to remove these barriers, whether through the organization’s schools, streets or parks. And the recently launched In the Works festival adds new productions beyond the bard – a timely idea that Shakespeare would likely have embraced.

new general manager of the Opera Theater of Saint Louis, Andrew Jorgensenalso believes in “constantly exploring and redefining…to keep the art form fresh.” It does just that with the help of talented additions like Damon Bristo, Director of Artistic Administration for OTSL, and Patricia Racette, Artistic Director of Young Artist Programs.

And at the Repertory Theater in St. Louis, new Artistic Director Hana Sharif ushers acclaimed theater into a new era. She kicked off the inaugural season with Tony Kushner’s Tony-winning Angels in America and recently directed Christopher Baker’s adaptation of the classic Pride and Prejudice. As she said when she first stepped into the role, “I hope that together we can create stories and voices that truly reflect the evolution of our society and our city. .”


Art as a bridge

In 2018, Luminary co-founder James McAnally wrote an item for VICE titled “A Radical Black Arts Revival Reshapes a Fractured St. Louis,” highlighting the profound work of Damon Davis and Katherine Simóne Reynolds.

That same year, the Saint Louis Art Museum featured the work of Kehinde Wiley, the renowned artist who painted Obama’s portrait for the Smithsonian National Gallery. For the SLAM exhibit, Wiley traveled to St. Louis and invited people he met in the northern neighborhoods of St. Louis and Ferguson to pose for him. The exhibition was such a success that the museum subsequently purchased one of the portrait painter’s large-scale works from the exhibition, Charles Ibased not on the 1633 portrait of the English monarch but inspired by St. Louis resident Ashley Cooper.

Saint Louis Art Museum director Brent Benjamin noted that the exhibition was “closely connected to our collection and our city, and that it encouraged each of us to examine the artistic traditions, the actuality and the power of art to unite our community”.

With Lion Forge, David Steward II is also reshaping art, shattering stereotypes and reinventing the superhero. The St. Louis-based comic book company is more progressive than the big guys; Lion Forge finds ways to break stereotypes, engage a diverse mix of creators, and challenge assumptions. This revolution is also fun, with nifty graphic novels, cutting-edge comics for adults, and whimsical comics that open up whole worlds to little kids. Best of all, the superheroes are flawed and real, which makes their triumphs even cooler.


support the arts

St. Louis also seeks out local artists in other ways.

The Kranzberg Arts Foundation recently announced its second class of musical artists in residenceproviding support and space for musicians in the Midwest.

Similarly, Craft Alliance offers a artist residency program. Not only does it provide emerging and mid-career visual artists with space and support, but it also encourages artists to teach classes, host programs, and connect with the community.

And the Kranzberg Arts Foundation recently opened the High Low, a literary tie to Midtown. “St. Louis has a strong tradition in the literary arts,” said Chris Hansen, executive director of the Kranzberg Arts Foundation. “The High Low seeks to elevate and nurture this strong tradition, ensuring that there is always a space, a time and a place where the literary arts can begin and graduate.”