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. 

J Aeionic / Flickr

Folk singer and songwriter Danny Cox has been a fixture of the Kansas City music scene since he moved here from Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1967. Cox played at classic venues like the Vanguard Coffee House in the 1960s, and the Cowtown Ballroom in the '70s. 

And he's still performing. When Cox recently turned 75, KCUR's Fish Fry host Chuck Haddix spoke with Cox about his life and career, starting with his song "Kansas City":

Anne Kniggendorf / KCUR 89.3

A somewhat mysterious, and certainly enduring, fact of the music industry is that male musicians far outnumber female musicians. A group of women wants to change that, in Kansas City at least.

Singer-songwriters Julie Bennett Hume, Leah Watts and four others have started a new organization called Women on the Rise.

A black and white aerial photo from 1945. It shows a swimming pool filled with people and a parking lot filled with cars.
Missouri Valley Special Collections

When the director of Open Spaces, the upcoming city-wide arts festival, came to Kansas City to explore the selected hub location, all he saw was something “spectacular”: A large piece of land that lived up to its designation as the “crown jewel” of Kansas City’s park system.

Paul Andrews / paulandrewsphotography.com

It's okay not to be okay. That's the essential message of a new book for young adult readers by Kansas City author Adib Khorram.

Darius The Great is Not Okay follows a boy with an Iranian mom and teutonic, white-guy dad through the cruelty and tenderness of adolescence. Darius lives in Portland. He struggles with depression. He's bullied at school, and he's unsure of his place at home. He doesn't speak Farsi, like his mom and sister, and he's convinced he's a disappointment to his dad. His only comforts come from hot tea and Star Trek

Kansas City Public Library

Singer-songwriter Krista Eyler may be best known around Kansas City by her alias: Funky Mama. As Funky Mama, she’s released eight CDs and played at kids events around the metro since 2005.

Lately, she’s been up to something new.

“I love the Funky Mama connection to all things, but this is a far departure,” Eyler says of her new project. “People go, ‘Oh, Funky Mama writes orchestral music?’ Well, I do, and it’s very, very fun.”

Food Critics: The Best Tacos In Kansas City In 2018

Jul 17, 2018
A pile of soft corn tortilla tacos on a bright blue plate.
Ricos Tacos "Lupe" / Facebook

A decade ago, when Guadalupe Marcela Banuelos moved her taco operation to Southwest Boulevard, her grandmother was worried that the authentic, soft shell street tacos Banuelos planned to serve at Rico's Tacos "Lupe" would be too different from the  hard shell tacos many people in the region were used to eating. 

Her response?

"You know grandma, they're going to have to get used to it."

And, they did. These days, Banuelos has a loyal following, especially from those who crowd into her restaurant on Tuesdays for the $1 taco special. 

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

The historic Savoy Hotel in downtown Kansas City, Missouri, re-opened Tuesday with a new name: 21c Museum Hotel Kansas City.

“We never dreamed that there’d be more than one when we started,” says founder Steve Wilson, who launched the first 21c Museum Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky, in 2006, with his wife, Laura Lee Brown. 

There are now eight boutique hotels in the chain, and each includes curated gallery spaces and site-specific installations of 21st century art.

Netflix

Updated 3:55 p.m., Friday, July 13

Wonder no more: Netflix’s “Queer Eye” is coming to Kansas City, Missouri, and will start shooting Monday.

Nicholas Prakas/Creative Time

The Spencer Museum of Art and The Commons at the University of Kansas in Lawrence released a joint statement Friday supporting freedom of expression after a piece of art depicting the U.S. flag with black marks on it was moved inside the museum.

Mike Peyton

It's a stormy summer afternoon in Columbia, Missouri, when the writer Ibtisam Barakat arrives at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute for a book group discussion. She's wearing boots, a colorful skirt, and large hoop ear rings, carrying a large tray of manakish, a Palestinian traditional flatbread.

Courtesy of Lucky Garcia

Two years after the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida, gun control remains in the headlines. But the conversation surrounding race, sexuality, and privilege has faded, something that a Kansas City-area collective of queer poets of color is working to change.

Helix Architecture + Design, Inc.

The Kansas City Art Institute broke ground on new student housing Thursday across the street from the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art. 

"The last time we did this was 1968 when we built that," said Art Institute president Tony Jones, pointing to the current residence hall. "To say that it's a little bit out of date ... would be an understatement." 

The old dorm will be repurposed for academic space, said Jones, and a "brand new living center" will be created to better fit the needs of contemporary students in art, design, craft, and technology.     

Suzanne Hogan / KCUR

Phillip Jackson — better known by his stage name, Eems — grew up in what he reluctantly calls "the hood."

"I mean, single-parent household, went to Kansas City, Missouri, public schools, and just living in, I don't want to call it the hood, but, the hood," he said on Central Standard on July 6.

Now, he's a touring musician with fans all over the country, a new EP and a unique sound that defies genre: a mix of hip-hop, R&B and lots of ukulele. That's right: ukulele. 

University of Kansas

Brandon Draper will not be getting a summer vacation this year.

Draper is a percussion and music business instructor at the University of Kansas, and this month, for starters, he's touring Italy and France with KU's top jazz ensemble.

Bill Ingalls / Wikimedia Commons

Janelle Monáe will headline “The Weekend” performance in Swope Park on Oct. 13, according to an announcement today by Kansas City Mayor Sly James.

“The Weekend” is part of Open Spaces KC, a two month effort to attract visitors to Kansas City and host art events.

Monáe released her latest album, Dirty Computer, in April along with an accompanying short film. She’s created two other albums. Her hit songs include Yoga, Make Me Feel and Q.U.E.E.N. The Kansas City, Kansas native also starred in Moonlight and Hidden Figures.

Jerry Jay Cranford

A couple of weeks before opening night of the hit Broadway musical "Newsies," two dozen young actors were flipping and twirling on stage at the Jewish Community Center’s White Theater. They ranged in age from 14 to 22.

The Arch grounds reopening is happening again after photos of the initial ribbon-cutting on Tuesday showed a lack of racial diversity.

As the common saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. The photos showing city officials and guests cutting the ribbon at the ceremony organized by Gateway Arch Park Foundation were worth three: “Arch So White,” or #ArchSoWhite on social media.

Collection of Civil Rights Archive / CADVC-UMBC Baltimore Maryland

“Let the world see what I’ve seen.”

These were the words of Mamie Till Mobley, mother of Emmett Till, when she allowed the media to use an infamous photo of her 14-year-old son’s mutilated body upon his death in 1955.

More than half-a-century later, a traveling exhibition inspired by Mobley’s declaration has taken up residence at the Black Archives of Mid-America in Kansas City. “For All The World To See: Visual Culture and the Struggle for Civil Rights” is an exploration of visual imagery in the civil rights era from the 1940s to the 1970s.

Restaurant Owner Brings Mom’s Brazilian Cooking To Kansas City

Jun 29, 2018
Anna Yakutenko

Cristian Maciel’s mom laughed when he called her asking for help creating the recipes for a restaurant.

“She was like ‘what?’ Because I never, never cooked in my life,” Maciel said. “You know, so like 'Cristian are you sure you want to open a restaurant?’”

Maciel was sure. After struggling to find authentic Brazilian food in Kansas City, he opened Taste of Brazil with his partner in 2013 and expanded his business last year with a food truck.

Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3

Three Kansas City Symphony musicians recently performed their final concerts with an arts organization they've been with since its inception. 

Principal tuba player Steve Seward, bassoonist Marita Abner and oboe and English horn player Ken Lawrence retired after the Symphony's season ended last weekend. All three were hired by the Symphony in 1982, when the orchestra was founded by R. Crosby Kemper, Jr.

Spire Chamber Ensemble

A few times a year, select musicians from all over North America come together in Kansas City.

Assembling with a few of their locally based colleagues just a few days before show time, they pull off an impressive feat: a concert encompassing centuries-worth of styles, and techniques both ancient and modern.

Paul Andrews / paulandrewsphotography.com

In the early 2000s, Tim Finn was raising two young daughters while working as The Kansas City Star's full-time pop music critic. His wife, Lauren Chapin, was the paper's food critic. They were eating in restaurants, bringing home tons of free music and going to shows all the time. He still wonders whether his daughters thought that was just how people lived.

"They must have thought, 'Wow, this is ... you know, what a glorious life.' And it was."

The 13th annual Symphony in the Flint Hills event took place on June 9 in Butler County. KMUW’s Ascha Lee files this Audio Postcard, featuring music from the Kansas City Symphony and voices from Gov. Jeff Colyer and special guest singer Aoife O’Donovan.


LaBudde Special Collections, Miller Nichols Library

Who in Kansas City remembers AIDS activists smashing vials of HIV-positive blood in City Hall, and abortion opponents trying to display fetuses in coffins at Planned Parenthood protests?

It was 25 years ago, so you’d have to be a certain age to remember. And you’d need to have been paying attention to the news.

Kansas City Business Journal

Kansas City's long-vacant Luzier Cosmetics Building may soon have a new tenant: The Nelle, an urban social club for women.

Although a lease hasn't yet been signed, Nelle co-founder Sierra Miramontez said she and her business partner, Lauren Saks, have been in talks with the building's owner and developer Butch Rigby since last year. They plan to occupy about 15,000 square feet inside 3216 Gillham Plaza and open in the fall or early 2019.

Peter Borsari / Kansas City Business Journal

A nondescript building in the Kansas City area is home to something that many in the art world can't believe exists in a Midwest city, according to the man tasked with selling it, according to the Kansas City Business Journal.

Original 18th-century engravings by William Hogarth. Photos by pioneering photographer Weegee. Millions of photographs, plates, line drawings and ephemera, such as posters, broadsides and tickets. And it's all on the market at the fire-sale price of $15 million.

Libby Hanssen / KCUR 89.3

When you see a stranger on public transit, what's your usual reaction? Do you make eye contact, even small talk, or studiously ignore them and play Pokémon Go on your phone?

Traveling with Megan Karson's The Stranger on the Train, reactions are a little different. When The Stranger trundles onto the #801 at the Kansas City Streetcar stop at Union Station, passengers stare, then laugh, at the surprising addition to their ride.

Danny Wood / KCUR 89.3

Decades after most of the buildings were dismantled, newspaper articles raved about the beautiful vistas from a hilltop in Clay County: “One of the finest views of Missouri River countryside in all directions that may be found,” the Kansas City Journal wrote in 1941.

Smallcakes

Kansas City will be the first to get a taste of a new concept from Smallcakes founder Jeff Martin: Southern Charm Gelato.

A trip to Italy less than two years ago inspired the idea, the founder of Overland Park-based franchising company Sweet Brands told the Kansas City Business Journal.

Brian Collins

Kansas City's annual summer ritual, the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival, is upon us. This year's production is the comedy “Much Ado About Nothing.” 

This also means it's time for another annual ritual at KCUR: tracking down Geraldo U. Sousa, a professor of English at the University of Kansas, who has written several books on Shakespeare.

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