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. 

Fidencio Fifield-Perez

As a second grader growing up in North Carolina, Fidencio Fifield-Perez was the school cartoonist. He won a few awards and certificates, and a local newspaper wrote an article about him. He’d newly immigrated to the United States from Mexico.

Years later, when he needed proof that he’d grown up in the United States in order to gain DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) status, his early art skills came in handy because those awards and the newspaper story provided documentation of his childhood.

Pirate's Bone / Facebook

Vegetarian options pop up on a lot of Kansas City menus, from high-end restaurants to brand-new coffee shops … and yes, even at barbecue joints.

“Now, it’s just part of everybody’s diet. You don’t have to ask for something vegetarian. It’s just a dish without meat or fish or whatever,” KCUR food critic Mary Bloch told host Gina Kaufmann on Central Standard.

courtesy: Susan Emshwiller

Is Robert Altman’s 1996 film “Kansas City” responsible for the preservation of the 18th & Vine jazz district?

Jazz historian and KCUR Fish Fry host Chuck Haddix says the answer is yes.

Anne Kniggendorf

Rob Hill was pretty sure he had the makings of the fabled great American novel. But the retired Army lieutenant colonel isn’t much of a writer, so his idea for a story about who was buried in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers didn’t pan out.

He did have a creative outlet, though, one that led Hill to think he could tell the post-World War I story through song. A member of the Heartland Men’s Chorus, Hill took his idea to Artistic Director Dustin Cates.

Wikimedia Commons

Hulu is casting the pilot for a TV show called "Kansas City," which will be filmed in Atlanta, Georgia. 

The concept for the show is dystopian. According to KMBC, it will be set in Kansas City, in a future in which the city is deeply divided between liberals and conservatives with a wall between the two sides.

Cynthia Levin / Unicorn Theatre

A particular role in the Unicorn Theatre's newest production is perfect for Kansas City actor Ahafia Jurkiewicz-Miles.

“I've always wanted to play someone like me on stage,” Jurkiewicz-Miles told host Gina Kaufmann on Tuesday's episode of KCUR's Central Standard. “The fact that I get to do that now makes it so exciting to go into work every day.”

Bloch News / UMKC

Fashion designer Kate Spade, 55, was found dead in her New York City apartment on Tuesday. The Associated Press reports that she died by suicide. 

She was born Katherine Noel Brosnahan in Kansas City, Missouri, and graduated from St. Teresa's Academy. She went on to attend the University of Kansas, and switched to Arizona State University. That's where she met her future husband, Andy Spade.

Belger Arts Center

When it comes to the relevance of her artwork in the post-Obama political landscape, no one could blame Renée Stout for saying she warned us.

Centric Projects/Kansas City Repertory Theatre

A $50 million funding proposal for a new building for the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance, sponsored by Rep. Noel Shull, R-Kansas City, never made it out of committee during the Missouri General Assembly session that just ended.

Shull proposed the legislation after now-former Gov. Eric Greitens' 2017 veto of $48 million in state bond funding for a downtown Conservatory campus (also sponsored by Shull).

Marco Pavan

“Nobody gets out alive on planet Earth,” says Cannupa Hanska Luger.

He's stating the obvious, of course, but the New Mexico-based artist is also talking about the title of his show in Kansas City: “Life is Breathtaking.”

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

When First Fridays started in Kansas City, the whole point was to bring more people to the Crossroads to experience art. But for years now, critics have been saying the festive scene has lost all focus on art.

“Most contemporary artists in Kansas City have a tendency to hate or just throw vitriol at First Friday because they think it’s an annoying touristy trap of everyone from the suburbs,” said Melaney Ann Mitchell, an artist who runs a website called Informalityblog, where art critics write about what’s happening in area galleries.

Ubah Kariye

With the instant and reliable nature of cell-phone photography, most people have little need for disposable cameras. The old-school tools proved perfect, however, for a group of refugees documenting their new lives in Kansas City.

A show of their photography opens Friday at the Kansas City Public Library, in an exhibition called "Indisposable: KC Cultures."

The photographers originally came from countries including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, and Syria. Many of them settled in Kansas City less than a year ago.

Adam Vogler / Kansas City Business Journal

As Andrews McMeel Universal looks to the future of comic strips, it's working to attract a new generation of talent and reimagine what comics could be, the Kansas City Business Journal reports.

Part of the Kansas City-based company's vision involves tapping into short-form animated videos, and it's kicking off that initiative with a GoComics Short Shorts Animation Contest open to the U.S. and Canada.

YouTube

Kansas City likes to boast that it’s internationally recognized for jazz. A concert at the Gem Theater on Thursday provides some evidence.

“Our musicians are everywhere in the world. We are pretty famous for our musicians,” says vocalist Deborah Brown, a Kansas City native and one of the instigators of Jazz Sister Cities, a partnership between musicians in Kansas City, Missouri, and Szczecin, Poland.

Kansas City already has civic relationships with 13 sister cities around the world, but this is the first purely musical relationship, unrelated to City Hall.

Mary Ellen Matthews / NBC

Last weekend wrapped up yet another season of Saturday Night Live.

For cast member and Kansas City native Heidi Gardner, it was an incredible debut.

Gardner was one of three new cast members who joined the show last September.

Now that the season is over, she had time to Skype with Central Standard guest host Michelle Tyrene Johnson about what it was like to work on NBC’s legendary show.

C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3

Maybe what Kansas City’s slow-to-redevelop 18th and Vine district has needed all along is The Popper.

The entrepreneurial rapper, whose real name is Walter Edwin, recently opened a storefront just south of the historic street corner. True to his hometown cheerleading, the name of the shop echoes the title of his signature song: It’s called I’m KC.

Nan Goldin / The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

They’d been promised “gritty expression.”

But the two dozen members of The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art’s Society of Fellows who’d gathered at the southern tip of the Bloch Building did not appear in search of any such thing. Just past the end point of “The Big Picture,” the Nelson’s recently opened showcase of photos from the Hall Family Foundation, the smartly dressed patrons sipped wine and listened to cocktail jazz.

Paul Andrews / www.paulandrewsphotography.com

As a kid growing up on his family’s farm in Louisburg, Kansas, David Wayne Reed just wanted to perform.

He wore his mom’s heels, a cinched-up shirt as a dress, and a wig to entertain visiting seed salesmen. He also choreographed dances for the hay crew.

“As kind of a slightly effeminate little kid, (farming) was hard, it was masculine, and I didn’t know that I really fit in. I kind of felt like a little bit of a square peg,” Reed told guest host Brian Ellison on KCUR’s Central Standard.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

Lee Hartman wants to show a few hundred musicians from as far away as Australia and Great Britain that Kansas City isn't flyover country.

Hartman gets his chance next week, when Kansas City’s Mid America Freedom Band, of which he is artistic director, plays host to 30 concert bands and marching bands coming to Kansas City for the Lesbian and Gay Band Association's annual conference.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include developments at Thursday's City Council meeting.

This week marked the deadline for Kansas City's troubled American Jazz Museum to respond to the city's request to change its staff and board leadership in order to be eligible for city funds.

Joshua Wiener

Merriam City Council members on Monday approved a new public art project by a close vote of 5-4.

The sculpture, "Hmmm..." is designed by Colorado-based artist Joshua Wiener. A nine-foot tall caterpillar stands next to a 12-foot cairn, a stack of granite river boulders, with a butterfly perched on top. Weiner's proposal was selected by a resident-led arts committee that reviewed 45 submissions. 

Paul Sableman / Flickr - Creative Commons

Besides being refuges for book lovers and places to surf the Internet and check out music and movies, libraries are increasingly becoming entrepreneurial hubs. 

Nichelle Lankes/Children's Mercy

Tell any child that you need her consent to perform an endoscopic biopsy and want her on board with a “future use provision” and see what sort of look you get. Try to convey the same idea to a child and her parents in a West African nation with no written language and you’re out of luck.

Susan Abdel-Rahman has played out this scenario many times in her role as a doctor and researcher for Children’s Mercy Hospital.

715 Restaurant / Facebook

Noodles are having a moment Kansas City.

“There’s an awful lot of chefs in the city right now with small pasta menus within their main menu,” Jenny Vergara told host Gina Kaufmann on KCUR’s Central Standard. “It’s because they’re making it in-house and they’re very proud of it.”

Vergara, along with fellow food critics Mary Bloch and Charles Ferruzza, searched out the best noodle dishes in and around town.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

Bill Shapiro wanted to be a disc jockey. And as host of KCUR's long-running popular-music program, “Cyprus Avenue,” he managed to do that for 40 years (though he never quit his day job as an attorney).

After wrapping the show’s final episode, and ahead of a special event in his honor with Kelly Hunt at the Folly Theater on Friday night, Shapiro sat on the other side of the microphone for a conversation with “Up to Date” host Steve Kraske.

Jessica Wohl

Artist Jessica Wohl searches for what everyone has in common — even if it’s a testy desire to be heard.

By looking at the seven quilts she’ll show in Weinberger Fine Art’s new exhibition, “Thoughts And Prayers,” it’s hard to say what Wohl’s political leanings are. But she contends that her particular opinions are not the point of this collection.

Peggy Lowe / KCUR 89.3

They say you can’t go home again. But what if you bring drones, quilts and a marching band?

On a warm, sunny Saturday last October, David Wayne Reed was in a machine shed on his family’s farm near Louisburg, Kansas, giving instructions to about 60 people who were helping him film his movie “Eternal Harvest.” Reed had gathered friends, family members and the Louisburg High School Marching Band. He’d had asked the band to  leave their instruments at home and wear a specific type of clothing.

Helix Architecture + Design

The University of Missouri-Kansas City on Thursday announced the merger of two arts programs: the Conservatory of Music and Dance and the Department of Theatre. 

The theater department will move from the College of Arts and Sciences to a school in the Conservatory, according to an email to faculty and staff written by UMKC Interim Chancellor and Provost Barbara Bichelmeyer.

Kevin Willmott

The National Endowment for the Arts on Wednesday announced nearly $82 million in funding for arts organizations across the country. Of the 1,071 grants awarded, 14 are in Missouri and two are in Kansas. 

“The variety and quality of these projects speaks to the wealth of creativity and diversity in our country,” NEA Chairman Jane Chu said in a news release. 

Svetlana Yeager

This year, for the first time, people in Kansas City will officially and publicly celebrate an important day in history along with the millions of others who already do. They've been celebrating privately for decades.

Pages