Deadline Extended: U City youth! Enter our 2017 photo contest and show us why you love U City!

May 12, 2017

lion with cap-camera

NOTE:  The deadline for photos has been extended to September 10!

U City Youth:  Why do -you- love U City?  Show us. Enter the 2017 U City photo show contest sponsored by the Municipal Commission on Arts & Letters of University City and the City of University City.  The theme is

Why I Love U City

With such a diverse city, the best shot is just around your corner. A favorite texture in the Loop, a great brick wall, people, music, shadows in the evening light, a profusion of flowers, the moon over the shimmering swimming pool? The choice is yours and we want you to shine.

This year’s contest is open to all U City youth from pre-school through 12th grade. The top 13 entries will be featured in the 2018 City of University City calendar.

Here’s what you need to know:

• Entries will be accepted through Sunday, September 10, 2017
• Submission is by digital file only/300 dpi and above
• Photos may be made with a traditional digital camera, a smart phone, an iPad or other device
• Submissions may be color or black and white
• When submitting your photo, include your name, grade, school,
age and parent/guardian contact information, plus anything you’d like to say about your photos.
• Submit info and your photos to as an attachment.

The awards ceremony and reception is scheduled for later in the fall. The top three entrants and their photos will be awarded prizes. The photos are judged by the Municipal Arts & Letters Commission members. All decisions are final.

Questions?  Ask us, at


Poet Michael Castro chosen for 2017 Tradition of Literary Excellence Award

October 24, 2017

Michael Castro has been chosen as the recipient of the 2017 Tradition of Literary Excellence Award. The award, which was created in 2014, funded by the Municipal Commission of Arts & Letters of University City, and conferred by the Saint Louis Literary Consortium is given “to honor the work of a living local author whose literary achievement has won national and international acclaim and, in so doing, has contributed to the distinction of the St. Louis area, upholding its tradition as a center of literary excellence.”

Castro, called “a legend in St. Louis poetry” by Charles Guenther in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, is a widely published poet and translator. His poetry has appeared in many literary magazines and anthologies, as well as in eleven books and chapbooks. “We Need to Talk: Selected Poems 1970-2016” is due out in November 2017 from Singing Bone Press. Castro is a founder of the literary organization and magazine River Styx, which has been in continuous operation since 1975. He has spread the word of poetry off the page for decades, organizing readings and hosting three literary radio programs. He has read his poems on four continents, including many collaborative performances with musicians. His aural/oral work is recorded on seven albums. With his fellow poet, Gabor G. Gyukics, he has translated modern Hungarian poetry, resulting in five books.

Castro is the recipient of the Guardian Angel of St. Louis Poetry Award from River Styx and the Warrior Poet Award from Word in Motion, both for lifetime achievement. In 2015 he was named St. Louis’s first Poet Laureate. As Poet Laureate Castro promoted the art of poetry by developing the Unity Community, a coalition of literary artists from all over the region that resulted in the Unity Community and Poet Tree reading series, and the St. Louis Brick City Poetry Festival that just completed its third year.

Castro will receive the award on Friday evening, October 27, 2017, at the Tradition of Literary Excellence Award ceremony. The event will take place on the fifth floor of University City’s historic city hall (6801 Delmar Blvd.) at 7:00 p.m. The ceremony will also recognize the new St. Louis Youth Poet Laureate and two local literary organizations.

The public is invited to attend the award ceremony and may purchase tickets ($25/person), which cover beverage, reception, and live music, at Brown Paper Tickets, And to support the Saint Louis Literary Consortium, an alliance of local literary groups, with a financial donation, please visit

Starlight Concerts begin again, Saturday June 5!

May 30, 2017


Tell your friends and family, get your lawn chairs and blankets ready! The annual Starlight Concert series is almost here!

All Monday night concerts begin at 6:30 p.m. and will take place on the south side of Heman Park at the Midland/Shaftsbury entrance. A special Saturday, July 15, concert with Denise Thimes and the Teddy Pendergrass Revue and Tim Cunningham is set for 4 p.m.

The 2017 concert lineup is:

–June 5, Jeremiah Allen with a tribute to Steve Wonder

–June 19, the Jeff Anderson Band with a tribute to Phyllis Hyman and Peabo Bryson featuring Courtney Loveless and Samuel Huddleston

–June 26, Good 4 The Soul

–July 10, Will Robinson

–July 15, Denise Thimes, Teddy Pendergass Revue and Tim Cunningham

–July 24, The Convertibles

–July 31, Black Diamond

–August 7, Coleman Hughes Project featuring Adrianne

Call for artists, for Olive Blvd, deadline May 26

May 15, 2017


Calling all artists!  The City of University City’s Department of Community Development invites artists to submit designs to be painted on Olive Boulevard Traffic Signal Boxes and Photocell boxes. The theme for the art work is Diversity. These works of art will contribute to the vitality and attractiveness of Olive Boulevard in University City. For more information on Olive Boulevard, visit

A total of twelve boxes will be painted. Eight are Traffic Signal boxes (TSBs) owned by the Missouri Department of Transportation and four are Photocell boxes (PBs) owned by the City of University City.

A document with all the details on this competition, along with a list of the box locations, can be found here.   The submission deadline is May 26th.


2017 Public Arts Series answers the question “What is Mound 28?”

April 22, 2017

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UPDATE:  The April 29 reception noted in the article below has been postponed because of the rain.  The new date will be Saturday, May 6, from 1 to 3 p.m.

What is Mound 28? It’s the title of this year’s Public Arts project, selected for the 2017 Public Arts series which is scheduled to open April 29 on the south side of Heman Park along Vernon Avenue.  An on-site reception is open to the public that day from 1 to 3 p.m.

The 31st annual collaboration between the Municipal Commission on Arts & Letters of University City and Washington University’s Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts, this year’s project was the creation of four university students to fit the theme of “Uncommon Common Grounds.”

Mound 28 is an earthworks sculpture — an artwork created from natural elements in the landscape — and is designed to reimagine that side of Heman park as a “river of earth” according to the students, and reflects on University City’s relationship with the River Des Peres. They point out that there were once 27 mounds in the St. Louis area and conceived this piece as a contemporary 28th mound.

Unlike recent years where individual artists put together proposals, the 2017 project was designed by a group who will also take charge of its installation. This team — consisting of Washington University students Jenn Brown, Erin Darnauer, Fin Roy-Nyline, and Jon Young — first got approval for their proposals from the University City Parks Commission before getting final approval from the Arts & Letters Commission.

Some of the public art project’s past pieces, like Rain Man by the Post Office, have become icons of the University City landscape. Funding for the project is made possible in part by the generosity of the Marvin Levy Family, as well as the City of University City.

Send questions on the program to the commission by email, to

Award-winning local children’s author Patricia McKissack passes away

April 11, 2017


The Municipal Commission on Arts and Letters of University City is sad to hear that famed local author Patricia McKissack passed away this last weekend. Among the author’s many honors was the 2016 Tradition of Literary Excellence Award, presented to her just last October at the Gala Opening Event of the Lit in the Lou festival in our city hall. More information on her life and works can be found in the obituary at the link below.

2017 Returning Artist Dr. Stan Ford honored February 22 at public reception in UCHS

February 16, 2017


The Commission is pleased to present University City High School graduate and internationally respected concert pianist Dr. Stan Ford as our 2017 Returning Artist.   The public is invited to attend a special reception to honor him at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, February 22 in University City High School, 7401 Balson Avenue.

A 1975 graduate, he was inducted into the University City High School Hall of Fame in 2000. Dr. Ford is a professor of music at the Universität Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria. He holds degrees in music performance and education, piano pedagogy and chamber music and balances a very busy teaching schedule with solo and chamber music concerts throughout Europe, North and South America and parts of Asia.

Dr. Ford will work with school children through the week of the reception and encourage them to investigate careers in the arts.

Since 1994, the Returning Artist program annually features artistically renowned graduates of University City High School who return to share their fields of work.

Returning Artist Marlon West honored by St. Louis International Film Forum

October 18, 2016


The Municipal Commission on Arts and Letters of University City congratulates animator Marlon West, UCHS alum, who will receive the 2016 St. Louis International Film Festival’s Cinema St. Louis Award for his achievements in animation. West has worked on over a dozen animated features for Disney, including “The Lion King,” “Mulan,” and “Frozen.”

He was also our first participant in the Returning Artist Program, in 1994, which features artistically renowned graduates of University City High School who return to the school system to share their fields of work with students.

More information on his latest honor can be found at the film festival’s website,

Literary festival returns October 21

October 17, 2016


Children’s author Patricia McKissack has been chosen as the recipient of the 2016 Tradition of Literary Excellence Award which will be presented at the Gala Opening Event of the Lit in the Lou festival, 7 p.m. October 21 at University City Hall’s fifth floor.

The award, which was created in 2014 and is funded by the Municipal Commission of Arts & Letters of University City, is given “to honor the work of a living local author whose literary achievement has won national and international acclaim and, in so doing, has contributed to the distinction of the St. Louis area, upholding its tradition as a center of literary excellence.”  Previous recipients of the award were poet Jane O. Wayne in 2015 and author William Gass in 2014.

McKissack, a former teacher and editor of children’s books, began her full-time professional writing career in the early eighties in partnership with her late husband Frederick, with whom she wrote more than 100 children’s books. Among her most well-known works are: Goin’ Someplace Special, a Coretta Scott King Award winner; The Honest-to-Goodness Truth; Let My People Go, recipient of the NAACP Image Award; The Dark-Thirty, a Newbery Honor Book and Coretta Scott King Award winner; and Mirandy and Brother Wind, recipient of the Caldecott Medal and a Coretta Scott King Honor Book.

Tickets to the gala are $25 on line with or at the door. Food and drink and included. Parking is on the west rear of the building along with handicap parking and entrance. Additional parking is at the University City Library just east of city hall.

On Saturday, October 22, activities will include a children’s book festival during the day, set at Jackson Park Elementary School in U. City, and an evening literary pub crawl for adults. The Kids’ Book Fest, with activities for both elementary school age children and teens, is free and open to the public. It will feature visiting authors Marc Brown (creator and illustrator of the PBS character, Arthur the Aardvark) and Jacqueline Woodson (award-winning author of Brown Girl Dreaming), as well as a host of beloved children’s authors who live and work in St. Louis. The Literary Pub Crawl—a ticketed event—boasts venues in and around the U. City Loop where adults can snack and sip while savoring the work of our region’s favorite authors.

For more details about Lit in the Lou, or to support Lit in the Lou with a financial donation, visit

Starlight Concert returns to Heman Park for 2016

June 3, 2016


The annual Starlight Concert series returns Monday, June 6 in Heman Park.  This long-running favorite, sponsored by the Municipal Commission on Arts & Letters of University City, features free weekly concerts by local musicians.

This year’s schedule:

June 6 – Brock Walker’s Earth, Wind and Fire Tribute Band

June 20 – Brian Owens

June 27 – Rhoda G

July 11 – AJSR/Mother’s Children

July 18 – Jeff Hardin

July 25 – Theo Peoples

August 1 – Monya

August 8 – Denise Thimes

August 15 – Jeremiah Allen’s Tribute to Stevie Wonder

Each concert runs from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Monday evenings, and takes place at the concert stage near the Heman Park entrance at Midland and Shaftesbury.  Concessions are usually available at the show, sold by the University City PTO.

Questions about the event may be sent to the commission, at