Angela Mitchell, a student in the MFA in Creative Writing program at UMSL, and UMSL alumnus Peter Pranschke, BFA studio art 2003, are recipients of the Riverfront Times' 2011 MasterMind Awards. (Photos by Jennifer Silverberg/

For the fourth year, the Riverfront Times has announced recipients of the MasterMind Award. The winners are, according to the St. Louis alternative weekly, “People (or partnerships) doing all they can to engage us, getting by mostly on passion or aspiration.” And two of this year’s four honorees have ties to the University of Missouri­–St. Louis.

They include writer Angela Mitchell, a student in the MFA in Creative Writing program at UMSL, and artist Peter Pranschke, a UMSL alumnus who earned a BFA in studio art in 2003.

An RFT profile of Mitchell touched on how she turned to writing later in life, the lessons she’s gained as a creative writing student at UMSL and her short stories and forthcoming debut novel, “Travelers.” The RFT wrote that the novel is about a group of Great Arkansas Flood survivors who have lost everything and resorted to scavenging the river bottoms for anything worth selling.

“Right from the beginning, (“Travelers”) was gripping, original, lively, funny and scary,” John Dalton, director of the MFA in Creative Writing program, told the RFT. “It’s a little bit Southern, a little bit larger than life. It’s going to find a future audience.”

In the article, Dalton also described Mitchell’s writing as “funny, unnerving and gracefully composed. And entertaining. That’s not the same as ‘light’ or ‘frivolous.’ Readers want to be entertained. ‘Entertaining’ is a very high compliment, by my way of thinking.”

The RFT profile on Pranschke chronicles the artist’s long battle with a kidney disorder and praise he’s received for work exhibited at St. Louis-area galleries like Fort Gondo Compound for the Arts, Mad Art Gallery and the Contemporary Art Museum.

Dan Younger, professor of art at UMSL, has known Pranschke since he was a student in Younger’s Comic and Cartoon Illustration course. He’s followed Pranschke’s success over the years since he’s graduated.

“I always attend his receptions of his exhibitions, and have tried to buy as much of his work as I can afford,” Younger said. “I find his work charming, intelligent and challenging. It builds on things he did here at UMSL, yet strikes out in directions that indicates that Peter continues to grow as a professional artist.”

Pranschke’s exhibit “The Lonely Rainbow” can be viewed through Sept. 10 at the Sheldon Art Galleries, 3648 Washington Blvd. Visit for more information. And you can read Mitchell’s prize-winning short story, “Animal Lovers,” via the Colorado Review:

Ryan Heinz

Ryan Heinz