museums/galleries | KCUR

museums/galleries

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City Artists Coalition Executive Director Janet Simpson this week announced her retirement after almost 30 years at the helm of the arts organization. 

"You know, it's time," said Simpson. "I wanted to leave before my assistant director felt the need to move on to find her next challenge. So I just felt like it was a good time."

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

For more than half a century, the huge star on top of a neon sign above Fun House Pizza and Pub served as a glowing beacon to cars passing by on 350 Highway in Raytown. But one morning in April, a crane took it down.

The sign had been mostly dark since last December when owner Gary Graham served his last pizza.

Thirteen-year-old Makenna Farnsworth had just been to the top of the Gateway Arch.

“It’s really cool to be up there,” she said, looking back at the stainless-steel monument looming above her, gleaming in the hot sunshine.

And she knew the answer to the top Arch trivia question: How tall is it?

“Six-hundred-thirty feet!”

That sums up all Makenna knew about the iconic monument, which on Tuesday will open a revamped museum with all new exhibits.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Olivia Clanton/Brandon Forrest Frederick

Sometimes, a work of art is just what its creator says it is. And sometimes, an art gallery is exactly the offbeat destination intended by its design.

Rarely do these two phenomena play together as though they were made for each other, but that’s what’s happening this month at Open House, a quasi-guerrilla space in a West Plaza house.

On display is an amusing and provocative project by Kansas City Art Institute graduate Paul Shortt, titled “How to Loiter” and made to encourage just that.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

People don't often think about preserving the valuable things they own on paper until it's too late. But when that time comes, one Kansas City man is often able to help.

Mark Stevenson is used to seeing paper in every state of disrepair. A professional paper conservator, he has spent the past 25 years restoring prints for prestigious museums both large, such as the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. and The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, and and small like The Fogg Art Museum at Harvard.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

Two times every year, a group of admittedly obsessive collectors gets together for a "show and tell." And sometimes, what the members of the The Print Society of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art are most excited about can end up on the walls of area museums.

Courtesy H&R Block Artspace

"I'm coming back as a minimalist in my next life," Dannielle Tegeder says. She offers a short, self-effacing chuckle and adds, "I can't wait."

She's talking to an invited group of 20 people previewing her new exhibition at H&R Block Artspace. The title, at least, is a mouthful: "Chroma Machina Suite: Forecasting Fault Lines in the Cosmos." And the show, slated to last into March, comes with an intimidating schedule of programs. There will be meditation. There will be dancing.

Courtesy Bill Haw Jr.

The Crossroads building recently vacated by the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art is being purchased by Kansas City civic leader Bill Lyons, who plans to lease part of it to an expanded Haw Contemporary.

Bill Haw Jr. plans to lease about 2,500 square feet on the east side of the building at 19th and Baltimore to allow him to grow beyond his current operation in the West Bottoms, Lyons said.

E.G. Schempf

Cardboard has a smell.

You notice it as soon as you walk into the glass-encased Kansas Focus Gallery at the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, where eight of May Tveit’s cardboard sculptures emerge from the walls like sentries, layers of flat, precision-cut cardboard stacked into pyramids arranged in various rectangles. You recognize the smell; you just weren't expecting it in an art gallery.

But why not? As Tveit's exhibition makes clear, cardboard is an evocative medium. 

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

When seven Kansas City poets read new work this weekend, it'll be inspired by colorful, layered collages — a pieced-together medium that holds deep meaning for one emerging area artist.

“I think about collage as a metaphor to describe black culture,” says Glyneisha Johnson, a recent graduate of the Kansas City Art Institute and Charlotte Street Foundation resident artist.

courtesy: Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art

The Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art's third location, Kemper at the Crossroads, has closed. 

"An exhibition on display there was scheduled to close on Saturday, December 2," says Breeze Richardson, director of marketing and communications. "It felt like the most appropriate way to frame the closing, not installing a subsequent exhibition."

A sale of the property has been negotiated but not finalized, she adds.

Erwin E. Smith Collection of the Library of Congress / On Deposit at the Amon Carter Museum

The worn-slick saddle encased in Plexiglas is not a standard fixture of the Kansas City Public Library’s grand, marbled entry hall. But it's not out of place, either, considering that the stately former First National Bank building, which opened in 1886, is a monument to how cosmopolitan the cattle industry once made our town.

Courtesy The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art announced on Wednesday that it had acquired more than 800 photographs thanks to a $10 million grant made two years ago by the Hall Family Foundation.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

It's not every day you see — well, hear about — a set of 17-foot-tall, 4 1/2-ton gilded doors, but today is that day. We broadcast live from the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, and get the rundown on just such a set of doors, originally sculpted in the 15th century by Lorenzo Ghiberti.

Courtesy Chris Ortiz

Samantha Beeson definitely does not like to be the center of attention. But that hasn't prevented her from being the subject of a photography exhibition.

Beeson lives with an array of difficulties that her partner, photographer Chris Ortiz, describes as “social anxiety disorder, depression, PTSD and panic attacks as a result of a past abusive relationship.” Her "everyday struggle to manage these disorders" is the point of his exhibit “Living With Sam.”

Paul Andrews / paulandrewsphotography.com

Julián Zugazagoitia came to Kansas City in 2010, to take a job as CEO and director of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. The new guy from Mexico by way of New York and Paris made a fast impression as a lanky intellectual with a worldly resume and a lot of energy.

The Midwest made an equally large impression on him.

"Coming to the Midwest definitely was as foreign a country as I have ever been," he jokes.

Kansas City initially felt like a tiny village.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Tiny works by 68 artists from around the world, on display this weekend at the National Museum of Toys and Miniatures, can help us understand "what defines us as humans,” according to the museum's director.

To host this special exhibit celebrating all things small, the museum partnered with the International Guild of Miniature Artisans for a juried showcase of fine-scale miniatures.

Cameron Wiley

Painter Melissa McCracken says ugly music does exist, but nothing that looks so bad she has to turn it off. It really only gets as homely as some brown around the edges of a twangy country song. Funk and soul are vibrant. Jazz is sparkly. Radiohead has a lot of layers.

Courtesy Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art

Land-locked Kansas City might not have obvious connections with the Caribbean Sea. But in creating her new wall-sized installation at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, an artist based in New York – by way of Haiti and the Dominican Republic – found connections that run deep.

Archives of American Art / Smithsonian Institution

Joe Jones doesn’t sound like the name of a great artist – it sounds like the name of a house painter, which is what Jones was during his early days in St. Louis. But an exhibition at the Albrecht-Kemper Museum in St. Joseph argues that Jones' name deserves to be as well known as his regionalist contemporaries: Thomas Hart Benton, John Steuart Curry and "American Gothic" painter Grant Wood.

Todd Feeback / ShadowLight Images

At his sculptor's stand, paleoartist Gary Staab adjusted the expression on a 125-million-year-old predator in pursuit of prey.

Danny Wood / KCUR 89.3

Visitors to art galleries usually aren't there to look at picture frames. But frames at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art recently got some unusual attention, and one independent art specialist says they should get even more.

Anonymous / AP

Half a century ago war, protests, and political scandal rocked the United States. Sound familiar? But, out of all that a small-time hoodlum from Butte, Montana rocketed into national prominence, on a motorbike. Evel Knievel's career took off like a rocket, but crashed even faster. Now a new museum celebrates all that is Evel.

As a new Evel Knievel museum opens in Topeka, we look back at the legacy of this all-American daredevil. 

Plus, a panel of local educators joins us to help make sense of civics and the separation of powers in the American government.

Guests:

SFS Architecture

The doors of the old King Louie West Lanes bowling alley and ice skating rink have been closed to the public since 2009. On Saturday, the iconic building will reopen, this time as the Johnson County Arts & Heritage Center.

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