Nancy Fowler | KBIA

Nancy Fowler

Nancy Fowler is a veteran journalist whose career spans television, radio, print and online media. Her passions include the arts and social justice, with a particular delight in the stories of people working in that intersection.

She received a regional Emmy Award for news writing at WXYZ-TV in Detroit, and the Pride St. Louis' Felton T. Day Award for service to St. Louis' LGBT community. Her numerous fellowships include USC Annenberg’s NEA Arts Journalism Institute in Theater, and the Wake Forest University Addiction Studies Program for Journalists.

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Follow her on Twitter: @NancyFowlerSTL

Many of psychotherapist Carol Robinson’s clients were doing well in early March, when COVID-19 was more of a distant concern than a reality. But now that their everyday lives are upside down, many are struggling.

Stay-at-home orders have turned parents into teachers and homes into offices. People whose work takes them into health care facilities and busy stores risk infection every day. Families are apart during birthdays, births and deaths. Robinson is starting to see the mental health of even well-functioning clients unravel. Their emotions run the gamut.

Some of Dorothy Matejka’s favorite days are when she gets to enjoy music therapy in her south St. Louis apartment. She never tires of songs like “On the Good Ship Lollipop” and “Goodnight, Irene” that recall special moments of her 93 years.

“I’ve had a very good life and a lot of laughs, a lot of good times and a lot of memories,” Matejka said.

Matejka wistfully anticipates leaving a special memory for her family after her death: a song that includes her own heartbeat and lyrics drawn from family stories. The song is part of the Heartbeat Project, which music therapist Alison Cole started three years ago with hospice patients after hearing about it in other cities.

When 76-year-old Mary Sennewald of St. Louis was a young woman, she was profoundly depressed and suffered from migraines. Therapy and medication weren’t working, and she decided to try LSD.

It was a time when Americans saw psychedelics as part of an emerging culture that questioned authority and sought deeper meaning. Today, psychedelic substances like LSD and “magic” psilocybin mushrooms are often still seen as a vestige of that hippie culture or even a dangerous threat.

But a growing number of recent studies at Johns Hopkins University and other institutions show psilocybin can treat depression, addiction, PTSD and other mental health concerns.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 10, 2013 - It’s 1913. Thirteen-year-old pencil factory worker Mary Phagan is dead, and Atlanta politicians need a scapegoat. Factory supervisor Leo Frank is a Cornell-educated Northern Jew, a square-peg in a round-hole South. If you know your history, you know who gets indicted, then convicted, then lynched. If you don’t, it’s easy to guess, as the wheels of justice turn in tandem with the rumor mill, powered by political winds.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, March 8, 2013 - Brooks Brantly, a Belleville native who plays a veterinary officer in 'War Horse' at the Fox Theater, helps students from Grand Center Arts Academy meet Joey. 

As a Belleville East High School student, Brooks Brantly was into martial arts, not musicals. But as a freshman at Atlanta’s Morehouse College, he signed up for an acting course. It turned into a passion, the pursuit of an advanced degree, then a career.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 8, 2013 - The booming voice of St. Louis-born-and-raised actor Ken Page has been showcased far and wide.

Originating "Old Deuteronomy" in "Cats," he's prowled and meowed across the stage from New York to London. He's played God in two different productions. He’s most famous nationally as the voice of Oogie Boogie in Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” and St. Louisans are familiar with his fabled elocutions from his many summers at The Muny.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, April 5, 2013 - You might not think someone the size of “The Blind Side” character Michael Oher would have a problem with bullying. But Quinton Aaron, who played Michael to Sandra Bullock’s Leigh Anne Tuohy in the 2009 Academy Award-winning film based on a true story, was once afraid to walk home from school.

Now 28, Aaron is telling his story with the launch of the Quinton Aaron Foundation’s 31-city Anti-Bullying Tour. On Sunday, April 7, the tour stops in St. Louis for a bowling event at AMF Dick Weber Lanes in Florissant.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 1, 2012 - Tuan Lee was born in Vietnam but raised in Florissant. He works in St. Louis as well as Los Angeles. He’s a commercial photographer but his photos may soon also hang in an art gallery.

Swashbuckling across a diverse array of worlds, Lee relishes planning the next photographic adventure with his creative mates.

When Alana Marie was growing up in Hazelwood, she listened to stories of her father’s happy childhood in nearby Kinloch during the 1970s and '80s. 

By the time she was born in 1990, Kinloch had deteriorated. Now, the African American city that formerly boasted thousands of residents is home to just a few hundred.  

Marie’s curiosity about the family’s roots drove her to make a documentary about the once-vibrant city. Its demise came after schools were desegregated in the 1970s and the Kinloch school system closed.

Five years after a white Ferguson police officer shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown, a black man, there is no permanent, local display of the art sparked by the protests. 

Designer and activist De Nichols wants to change that. Through a Harvard University fellowship, she will study how to transform the Griot Museum of Black History in north St. Louis into such a space.

Nichols is known for the sculpture the Mirror Casket, a reflective casket-shaped piece she created with six other artists. It won such acclaim that it is now exhibited at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. 

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, May 11, 2012 - Joining the strings that lure music lovers to Powell Hall will be strings of a different color -- 20,000 feet of them.

The multicolored lines are attached to a metal maze that is the bones of a new piece of public art piece going up on the corner of Grand Boulevard and Samuel Shepard Drive. Installation of A Chromatic Confluence began last week and will be an integral part of the Friday night, May 11, Grand Center Art Walk that runs from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, April 2, 2012 - Seven proved to be a lucky number and red a lucky color for the Repertory Theatre Company tonight. The Rep won seven awards in this year’s seventh annual Kevin Kline ceremony on its home turf in the Loretto-Hilton Center, three of them for “Red.”

A respected St. Louis journalist will join St. Louis Public Radio soon as host of its signature talk show.

Sarah Fenske brings more than two decades of experience as a reporter and editor, most recently as editor-in-chief of the Riverfront Times. She will begin working at the station on July 15 and begin hosting St. Louis on the Air by early August.

Fenske will serve as a host and producer and plans to hold thoughtful conversations with guests about news, arts and ideas. She replaces longtime host Don Marsh, who abruptly resigned in March after his managers challenged him on at least three occasions about his comments regarding women.

When Scott Lokitz was a gay teenager, his mother and grandmother took him to march with dozens of other gay and lesbian St. Louisans down Lindell Boulevard in the city’s first Pride parade.

Marching in a Pride parade was a bold move in 1980, a time when state and national laws forbade consensual same-sex relationships. But Lokitz felt right at home at St. Louis’ first Pride celebration, four decades ago. His mother had come out as lesbian and his grandmother was a member of PFLAG, an organization for those with a gay or lesbian family member.

When a Ferguson police officer killed Michael Brown in 2014, St. Louisan Brittany Ferrell left nursing school to join the protests. Five years later, she’s pouring her activism into another outlet: a film project.

“You Lucky You Got a Mama” focuses on how African Americans are three times as likely to die from pregnancy-related complications and childbirth as white women.

Ferrell wants to show people that the higher risk to African Americans is a complicated situation with a simple cause.

“Let’s name it for what it is, and it’s racism,” Ferrell said. “It’s racial bias.”

A St. Louis urban farming operation is getting ready to open a grocery store and takeout place across from Crown Candy Kitchen later this month, nearly two years after winning a startup contest.

In August 2017, Good Life Growing won the competition with an idea to offer locally grown produce and takeout meals at a new enterprise, Old North Provisions.

But construction and marketing challenges delayed the opening at 2720 N. 14th St., now planned for late June. The experience has been more complicated than the “if you build it, they will come” mindset that many contestants had, according to co-founder James Forbes.

The St. Charles Pride Festival has become so popular that five years after its launch, the organization behind it is adding a parade down historic Main Street.

When Pride St. Charles announced its first festival, the group expected pushback in the largely conservative area. Jason Dunn, a vice president, said the community instead welcomed the idea.

“When we started, we were honestly a little concerned,” Dunn said. “But the first question we got was, ‘What time is the parade?’”

A downtown St. Louis sculpture park is marking its 10th anniversary with three new installations.

People living in the disparate municipalities of St. Louis often struggle to relate to each other. But members of a local dance troupe believe the first step toward having meaningful conversations can be taken without words.

On Saturday, MADCO will hold a free community performance at Central Studio, 5617 Pershing Ave., designed to get people with opposing views and politics to talk to each other.

MADCO’s “The Unity Movement” began with listening to people open up about their communities. The company worked with Washington University researchers to go way beyond the stereotypical, “Where did you go to high school?” Managing Director Emilee Morton said.

Ngone Seck, a first-generation college student from Florissant who received a full scholarship to Washington University, is smiling bigger after getting her teeth fixed. But the long hours she spent working toward that goal have taken a toll.

After St. Louisans learned that her dental problems and heavy work schedule made college a struggle, dozens reached out to the Italian immigrant of West African heritage.

Some offered money, others free dental services. Seck took a Ladue dental clinic up on its offer of treatment and surgery, and completed the work this spring.

But after falling behind in her classes, Seck took a leave of absence from Wash U. Although she’s disappointed, Seck retains her full scholarship.

Don Marsh, the longtime host of St. Louis Public Radio's talk show, resigned after his managers challenged him on at least three occasions about his comments regarding women.

Marsh acknowledges that he has said things that others consider inappropriate, but he doesn't think he has done anything improper.

The veteran journalist’s departure has caused a stir in St. Louis, where many listeners of St. Louis on the Air have expressed outrage that the station did not try to keep him, and Marsh said he is the victim of an overly sensitive staff. The episode points to the changing standards in an evolving workplace.

For two decades, Lois Conley, founder of St. Louis’ Griot Museum of Black History, has struggled just to pay the bills, hoping the roof, heating and air conditioning will last another season.

But a recent donation is giving Conley some breathing room. The money is from a longtime supporter who died last year and remembered the Griot in his will.

Conley declined to reveal the name or an amount. But it’s enough to cover a year’s worth of expenses, which includes paying an executive assistant, she said.

The abrupt resignation of longtime St. Louis Public Radio talk-show host Don Marsh last week has left many in the region with unanswered questions.

On Friday, the station announced that Marsh, who has hosted the St. Louis on the Air talk show for 13 years, was stepping down. Station leaders have not explained the events that led to Marsh’s departure. But former KSDK news anchor Karen Foss, who appeared on the talk show a day before he resigned, wrote in a Facebook post that she heard Marsh was rebuked by radio-station management in a meeting, after he commented on her appearance. But station leaders say they had no issue with Marsh's comment.

Even after 40 years on stage, St. Louis actor Joe Hanrahan still relishes the nervous anticipation of opening a show. Each time he prepares to step into the spotlight, he asks himself, “Can we pull this off?”

Hanrahan, who co-founded the Midnight Company theater ensemble in 1997, has spent much of his career starring in one-person shows or playing multiple roles in shows with small casts. He thoroughly enjoys the prospect of rapidly switching between different characters onstage, say, from a 12-year-old girl to a misogynist older man.

It’s thrilling and also terrifying, especially just before the curtain goes up, like taking that first step onto a tightrope.

St. Louis’ Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum will reopen this fall with a big artistic bang: an exhibition by celebrated Chinese artist and political activist Ai Weiwei.

The Kemper closed last April for a $12 million renovation, part of $280 million campus project. The work significantly increases the museum’s display space.

The Sept. 28 opening will feature three dozen Ai Weiwei pieces, including some created for the exhibition and others never before seen in the United States.

Ro Kicker realized a few years ago that keeping up with a large backyard was very time-consuming.

Last spring, Kicker all but parked the lawnmower, and with the help of volunteers, began transforming the Bevo neighborhood yard into a vegetable garden. They named it the Feed the People Garden Project to reflect its mission: giving away food.

This spring, the garden area will double in size to include a small orchard. But one thing that isn’t changing is the garden’s reliance on the honor system.

All artists use their unique abilities and experiences in their work. Chris Worth is no different.

But Worth’s art is informed by a more complicated set of realities than most. Born in Connecticut along with a twin brother, Worth was diagnosed at birth with cerebral palsy. When he was 1, his mother had a stroke.

At first, a family friend cared for him. After that, he bounced through several foster families and an educational system that put him on a path toward unskilled labor. At 11, he was adopted by a West Virginia couple who saw his potential as a student and artist.

But even in a stable home, he was confused by his attractions toward women and men, an orientation for which he now uses the word “queer.” "Disabled" is the one-word description he prefers in talking about his cerebral palsy. They're part of a long list of identities folded his art.

When Ngone Seck graduated as Riverview Gardens’ valedictorian in May — the first in her family bound for college — it seemed nothing could slow her down.

A few weeks later, the Italian immigrant with West African roots began her classes at Washington University on a full scholarship.

But long-simmering and costly dental problems threaten the trajectory of the musically talented engineering major from Florissant. She lives with pain while working full time to pay for her dental care, and her grades are suffering.

Many St. Louisans are dismayed by a U.S. Supreme Court decision to reinstate President Donald Trump’s ban on transgender people serving in the military.

The decision by the justices on Tuesday allows the Pentagon to stop people who’ve transitioned from enlisting in the U.S. armed forces. It also permits the military to require those already serving to present as the gender on their birth certificate.