Returning Artist for 2018: musician Jeffrey Anderson, UCHS Class of 1975

November 9, 2018

The Returning Artist honoree for 2018 is musician Jeffrey Anderson, University City High School Class of 1975.  Anderson was chosen by the Municipal Commission on Arts and Letters of University City for his extensive experience in the world of music and education.

Anderson holds a Masters degree in Jazz Performance from the University of Southern Illinois at Edwardsville and is currently an adjunct faculty at Washington University in St. Louis.  A more complete biography may be found at the School District’s website.

The public is invited to meet Anderson, and hear of his experiences, at a special reception at 7 p.m. on Wednesday November 14th at the University City High School Pruitt Library, 7401 Balson Avenue.

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

Typically, one artist is invited per school year, and all visiting alumni artists have established careers in their fields.  Program activities are concentrated at University City High School in a variety of classes.  Some activities take place in middle school and elementary school classes in both public and non-public schools.

There are two goals of the program:  to encourage students to investigate careers in the arts and to enrich the schools’ art programs.

Returning artists have included visual artists, glassblowers, photographers, writers, filmmakers, graphic designers, videographers, animators, instrumental musicians, composers, actors, singers and dancers.  A complete list of the honorees can be found here.

2018 Literary Gala on Saturday, October 27 honors writer Gerald Early and others

October 18, 2018

Gerald L. Early will receive the 2018 Tradition of Literary Excellence Award at a special reception on Saturday, October 27 in University City’s City Hall. (Photo by James Byard, Washington University in St. Louis.)

The annual Tradition of Literary Excellence Award will be given to noted writer Professor Gerald L. Early of Washington University in St. Louis, in a special ceremony at 7 p.m., Saturday, October 27 in the fifth floor of University City’s City Hall.  Also honored that evening will be retiring children’s librarian LaRita Wright of the University City Public Library, and the journalism students of University City High School who were recognized last spring for their outstanding achievements.

Early is the fifth annual recipient of the award, which was created in 2014 and is funded by the Municipal Commission on Arts & Letters of University City “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 were William H. Gass, Jane O. Wayne, Patricia McKissack, and Michael Castro.

Early is a professor in — and currently the chair of — the African and African American Studies Department at Washington University, where he has taught since 1982. He has an appointment in the university’s American Culture Studies Program, a program for which he has also served as director. He was the founding director of the Center for the Humanities. He is currently the faculty director of the Henry Hampton Film Archive and the executive editor of The Common Reader, Washington University’s new interdisciplinary journal.

Early is a noted essayist and American culture critic. His collections of essays include Tuxedo Junction: Essays on American Culture (1989); The Culture of Bruising: Essays on Prizefighting, Literature, and Modern American Culture, which won the 1994 National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism; This is Where I Came In: Essays on Black America in the 1960s (2003), and, most recently, A Level-Playing Field: African American
Athletes and the Republic of Sports (2011). He is also the author of Daughters: On Family and Fatherhood (1994). He was twice nominated for Grammy Awards for writing album liner notes, and he is a prolific anthologist. His most recent edited books are the Best African American Essays 2010 with guest editor Randall Kennedy and Best African American Fiction 2010 with guest editor Nikki Giovanni.

He has served as a consultant on several Ken Burns’ documentary films—Baseball; Jazz; Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson; The War, The Roosevelts: An Intimate History, and an upcoming fi lm on the life of Jackie Robinson—all of which have or will be aired on PBS.

Early will receive the award on Saturday evening, October 27, 2018, 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 public is invited to attend the awards ceremony and may purchase tickets ($25/person; $40/couple), which cover beverage, reception, and live music, at To find out more about the event, contact Winnie Sullivan,, (314) 447-3888.

Starlight Concert series returns to the Heman Park concert stage, Monday, June 3

May 31, 2018


Tell your friends and family, get your lawn chairs and blankets ready!  Tiffany Elle returns to Heman Park to open the 2019 Starlight Concert season on Monday, June 3.

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.   Coming up later in June:  the hip-hop pop of Flirt on June 17, and the rock, pop, and country sounds of Convertables on June 24.  The complete schedule after June is:

  • Flirt and the No ID Band – Monday, July 1 (rescheduled from June 17) – hip-hop pop
  • Skeet Rodgers and the Inner City Blues Band with The Dr. Philgood Band – Saturday, July 6 – Blues and Dance music
  • Jazz All Stars – Monday, September 9 – Jazz
  • J-Rob – Monday, September 16 – Motown, R&B, and Dance music
  • Orquestra Chevere – Monday, September 23 – Latin, Pop, and Dance music

Questions about the concerts may be sent to the commission at

Call to Artists: Mannequins on the Loop 2018 deadline March 30

February 20, 2018

Last year’s Mannequins on the Loop winner, Visual One Displays Representing Blueberry Hill.

Another great call for art! Please share with the artists and designers in your circle…


Are you ready for a challenge? Do you have the artistic skills to showcase your talent on one of the most traveled streets in America, the Delmar Loop? Become a contestant in this annual event!

For this tenth anniversary of the Mannequins on the Loop Project they’re looking to highlight the importance of recycling and ask that prospective artists incorporate recyclable materials into their mannequin design.

First Place $1,000
Second Place $500
Third Place $250

Application fee: $125 (Non-Refundable)
Application Deadline: March 30, 2018

For more information, or to sign-up now, visit …

Phone: 314.527.3093

Call to Artists: Olive (Boulevard) Link Bench Painting Project, due March 23

February 13, 2018

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Attention artists and art groups:

The City of University City is seeking artists for bench painting on Olive Boulevard. Benches include those next to bus stops between Midland Boulevard and 82nd Street.

Official call to artists for the project is available here, the specifications for the benches is here, and examples of other bench art is here.

The official call to artists, bench specifications and example photos are attached.

Applications and templates are due Friday, March 23Electronic submissions can be emailed to Adam Brown at, and hard copies can be mailed or dropped off at the Department of Community Development, fourth floor City Hall, 6801 Delmar Blvd, University City, MO 63130.

We encourage everyone to share this information with artists they know. This is a great opportunity for original designs to be displayed in the Olive Link!

Raquel Hunter, Class of ’96, named 2018 Returning Artist — reception February 8

January 31, 2018

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The Commission is pleased to present University City High School graduate and children’s author Raquel Hunter as our 2018 Returning Artist.   The public is invited to attend a special reception to honor her at 7 p.m. on Thursday, February 8 in University City High School’s Pruitt Media Center, 7401 Balson Avenue (the Jackson Park entrance).

A 1996 graduate, Ms. Hunter has published the well-received book,  Diary of a Diva’s Daughter with a DO-IT-ALL Dad starring Brave Rave.

Ms. Hunter 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.

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

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.