Arts & Culture | KCUR

Arts & Culture

KCUR’s Arts & Culture Desk covers arts news from music to visual art to dance and theater, with a focus on Kansas and Missouri.

Our reporters explore the behind-the-scene stories about newsmakers and emerging artists. We also take a look at the intersections of arts and technology, science and creativity, and present profiles of creative people. 

Kansas City Youth Jazz and conductor Leon Brady prepare for this Sunday's performance with legendary trumpeter Clark Terry at Unity Temple on the Plaza.

Bach Aria Soloists

Apr 24, 2008
photo: Laura Spencer, KCUR

For nearly a decade, the Bach Aria Soloists have highlighted some of the arias by the prolific German composer and organist Johann Sebastian Bach.

Kansas City, MO –

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Danish dancer and choreographer Ib Andersen visited Kansas City recently to help stage the Kansas City Ballet's full-length production of Romeo and Juliet.

photo: Drew Bolton, Kemper Museum

Kemper Museum Curator Christopher Cook interviews visiting artist Julia Oschatz about her room-sized installation Where Else, comprised of painting, sculpture, and video.

Kansas City, MO – Where Else is on view through July 6 at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art.

Traveler, educator and short story writer Xanath Caraza says she first started writing poetry when she was about six years old.

Kansas City, MO – Caraza writes in Spanish, her first language, and then translates her own work into English. Here, she reads a poem she wrote in Mexico to celebrate International Women's Day; it's called "Mujer."

This poem is published in the anthology called Primera Pagina: Poetry from the Latino Heartland.

Through May 18th, Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art is hosting the exhibition Biographical Landscape: The Photography of Stephen Shore, 1969 to 1979, a collection of images of America by the esteemed photographer.

Mila Vigdorova and Korey Ireland met at a tango marathon in Holland. The couple now teaches tango in Kansas City.

KANSAS CITY, MO – While growing up in Moscow, Mila Vigdorova studied classical dance. It wasn't until a trip to the United States that she fell in love with tango. Meanwhile, in Kansas City, composer Korey Ireland discovered tango at a performance by the local band Tango Lorca.

Two neighboring Kansas City museums are each offering major photography shows this spring focusing on American culture and landscape. Kemper Museum curator Christopher Cook and Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art photography curator Keith Davis discuss photographers Art Sinsabaugh and Stephen Shore and where the subject of their work intersects.

In the second part of their conversation, Kemper Curator Christopher Cook asked Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art Photography Curator Keith Davis to talk about Art Sinsabaugh's approach to his Early Midwest Landscapes, photographed from 1961-63.

Kansas City, MO – American Horizons: The Photographs of Art Sinsabaugh, on view through April 6 at the Nelson-Atkins, and Biographical Landscape: The Photography of Stephen Shore, 1969-1979, at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art through May 18.

There's a simple premise to the Love Hangover. Duos of musicians perform love songs celebrating the joy, pain, or humor of love. It's an annual event, now in its ninth year and third city, and travels this year for the first time to Kansas City.

Kansas City, MO (2008-02-27) – Love Hangover is presented as part of "Pairings in the Lounge," a new monthly series of music at bluestem .

photo: Robert Bingaman, Kemper Museum

Artist Nancy Hwang has been speaking with visitors in the Kemper Museum's Atrium for the month of February about her site specific project entitled This is not a couch.

Kansas City, MO – Nancy Hwang is seated on a couch waiting to connect with people. Her goal is to break down social barriers and build bridges between people in Kansas City.

photo courtesy of

Since moving to Kansas City from New Mexico, jazz drummer Brandon Draper has kept a busy schedule, playing and recording with artists like Ahmad Alaadeen, Harold O'Neal and Bobby Watson.

photo: Robert Bingaman, Kemper Museum

Artists Deb Sokolow and Nancy Hwang have site specific projects on view at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art. They met recently to discuss the similarities and differences in their work.

Much has been written about the live shows of the Kansas City band It's Over! One critic says when the band takes the stage, "you'd swear the lights in the room get brighter."

Laura Spencer/KCUR

Donald McKayle describes dance as "movement that lights the soul." In a career that's spanned 60 years, the five-time Tony Award nominated choreographer has crafted the steps for modern dance, Broadway musicals, film and television.

Kansas City, MO – Donald McKayle has also been recognized as a Master of African American Choreography at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC and named one of America's Irreplaceable Dance Treasures by the Dance Heritage Coalition.

Games (1951) is one of Donald McKayle's classic choreographic works. McKayle says it was inspired by his own childhood in New York City.

Kansas City, MO – The Kansas City Ballet presents McKayle's new work called Hey-Hay, Going to Kansas City February 21 - 24 at the Lyric Theatre before the company takes it to New York in March.

Local jazz fans gather this Sunday at Jardine's for a tribute to local singer Gregory Hickman-Williams who died just as his career seemed about to take off.

Kansas City, MO – Tribute to Gregory Hickman-Williams
with Sons of Brazil
Sunday, January 20, 5 - 10 pm

courtesy of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art recently acquired a rare daguerreotype of abolitionist John Brown. A daguerreotype is one of the earliest forms of photography and created a one-of-a-kind image. And this portrait is one of only six known daguerreotypes of the anti-slavery militant who's still somewhat of a controversial figure. Some view John Brown as a religious fanatic; others say he was a freedom fighter.

Miles Bonny first took up the trumpet because of his father. Francis Bonny, who now plays in Broadway musicals, instilled in his son a love of jazz and classical music that now influences Miles' work as a hip hop producer and performer.

photo: Beth Harris, Kemper Museum

Artist Christopher Ruckh?berle grew up in West Germany in the 1970s and 80s and then moved to the United States to study animation. He returned to Germany to study painting at the Academy of Art in Leipzig. Beth Harris, Curator of Education at the Kemper Museum, recently interviewed Ruckh?berle, whose paintings are included in the Life After Death exhibition. (image credit: Christoph Ruckh?berle, Theater, 2003; oil on canvas, 190 x 280 cm; Rubell Family Collection, Miami, Florida)

photo: Bruce Mathews, Kemper Museum event photographer

Listen and watch the audio slideshow, with images from opening night, here.

On the opening night of the exhibition Life After Death: New Leipzig Paintings from the Rubell Family Collection at the Kemper Museum, we asked some of the museum patrons to share their reactions.

Spencer Museum purchase: Peter T. Bohan Art Acquisition Fund

University of Maryland emeritus professor David Driskell discusses the life and work of Topeka-born artist Aaron Douglas, who was a leading figure in the Harlem Renaissance.

The artists from the "New Leipzig School" have been described as the 21st century's first artistic phenomenon. Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art Curator Christopher Cook and exhibition co-curator Mark Coetzee, curator of the Rubell Family Collection, located in Miami, Florida explore what drew the Rubells to the works.

In the second half of their conversation, Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art Curator Christopher Cook and exhibition co-curator Mark Coetzee, curator of the Rubell Family Collection, talk in more detail about the city of Leipzig and the teaching style of its Academy of Visual Arts.

photo: Bruce Mathews, Kemper event photographer

Kemper Museum Docent Winfried Wiegraebe was born and raised in West Germany, but after reunification, he lived in East Germany near Leipzig. Here, Wiegraebe describes the day the Berlin Wall came down on November 9, 1989, and some of the reactions to a united Germany. He also talks about his love for contemporary art.

In conjunction with the exhibition, the Kemper Museum presents a film series called Behind the Wall Film Classics. Dr. Larson Powell, assistant professor of German and film studies at UMKC, highlights the challenges of Eastern Bloc filmmaking.

Through an audio collaborative, KCUR and the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art will provide listeners with the voices and insights of living artists. Since its opening in 1994, the Kemper Museum has brought more than 100 artists to Kansas City. The collaborative project will present these artists' voices as well as community and curatorial voices to a broad range of listeners.

Charles Gatschet released his second album Step Lightly earlier this year. About half the album is made up of what Kansas City Star jazz critic Joe Klopus called "thought-provoking originals," including a bebop tune dedicated to Charlie Parker and a bossa nova for anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan.

For three years, singer Toni Gates has organized a show at Unity Temple on the Plaza, called the One by One Concert Series, which brings together a number of musicians who originally met as teachers at Paseo Academy of the Arts, like sound engineer Tom Ransom and percussionist Clarence Smith.