It’s raining poetry in University City!

April 29, 2019


April is National Poetry Month, and University City is celebrating in style! The city’s Arts & Letters Commission is sponsoring a combined literary and public art project, called Raining Poetry, and is getting the whole community involved.

Designed both to extol poetry and to recognize our area’s rich literary heritage, the activity involves spray painting lines of poetry from the works of four poets with Missouri ties—Langston Hughes, Howard Nemerov, Mona Van Duyn, and Maya Angelou—for display at sites around University City.

Studio arts students at U. City High School, under the direction of art teacher Marnie Claunch and visual artist Adelia Parker-Castro, are using stencils and a special paint—visible only when it rains—to produce the poetry text and create a bit of poetic magic at the high school’s entrance.  The students were inspired to take part in the project after a visit from Jane Ellen Ibur, the newly installed Poet Laureate of St. Louis, who helped the students to write their own poetry.

Poetry will also be displayed at the Market in the Loop (6655 Delmar); Centennial Commons, University City’s recreational center (7210 Olive); and at the University City Public Library (6701 Delmar), where those curious to know more about the four chosen poets can find collections of their work.


Public Art Project 2019 opens Saturday April 27 in Mooney Park

April 23, 2019


An exploration into the history of Mooney Park and its neighborhood is the focus of the 32nd collaboration between the Municipal Commission on Arts & Letters of University City and Washington University’s Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts.  A parade and reception to open this year’s exhibit will be held at the park from noon to 1 pm this Saturday, April 27, at the playground in the park.

Flags, banners, and other types of signage will reflect what the students learned through research and visits to the park and meetings with some of the residents.  Citizens can meet with the artists during the reception.  Their work will remain up through May 4.

This year’s project is the effort of 15 Washington University students — consisting of Amy Chen, Blaize Daniels, Libby Evan, Katie Ewald, Zoe Finkelstein, Taylor Fulton, Marina Gallegos, Rosa Jang, Byron Otis, Faith Pang, Jack Radley, Georgia Slattery, Madeleine Underwood, Rylie Walter, and Grace Zajdel — and is led by their faculty Sage Dawson.

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

Reminder: Mannequins on the Loop 2019 Deadline April 20!

March 4, 2019


A message and reminder from our friends at Mannequins on the Loop:


Become a contestant for this annual event! Adorn a mannequin out of recyclable materials to be displayed on one of the most traveled streets in America, the Delmar Loop!

1st Place $1200
2nd Place $700
Audience Favorite $500

Increase your winnings….

LOOP BUSINESS BUCKS PRIZES (Bucks must be redeemed at participating businesses in the Delmar Loop):
1st Place: $250
2nd Place: $150
3rd Place: $100

APPLICATION FEE: $200 (non-refundable)

KICKOFF-April 20, 2019
MANNEQUINS ON DISPLAY-May 18, 2019 – June 9, 2019
FINALE June 9, 2019

For more information about Mannequins on The Loop contact:
Audrey Jones
Phone: 314.527.3093/816.308.9424

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