Visual Arts | KCUR

Visual Arts

For the past two decades, artist Mike Lyon has worked in a three-story building near 20th and Broadway in Kansas City, Missouri, creating monumental portraits using computer numerical control — or CNC — machines to automate the drawing process.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

After seven years of service in the Marine Corps ended with an injury, Joe Williams felt lost until he decided to become an artist

KC Zine Con

Often printed on photocopiers and distributed at in-person conventions, most zines reach fewer people than a post on Facebook or Instagram. But the stakes can be much higher.

“When you make zines, you’re putting a bit of yourself out there in a way that is personal and vulnerable, in a way that social media isn’t,” says Dayna Moth Meyer.

Meyer is one of six organizers of this year’s KC Zine Con, a one-day event featuring approximately 120 artists and zine makers from across the United States.

Though Lindsey Doolittle is an art teacher, she never imagined she’d have her own exhibition. Nor did she imagine writing a book that’s now on permanent display at the Van Gogh Museum Library in Amsterdam.

The public speaking tour has been a surprise, too.

But this is her new normal since her husband, Brett, killed himself in 2015.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

Down a winding road in Swope Park, on the other end of a short walk through the grass, there's an old, abandoned pool where, in the days before penicillin, sick children came for hydrotherapy. In recent weeks it's been re-filled — not with water but with silk flowers, teddy bears and candles for Ebony Patterson’s art installation.

Segment 1: Local man's shares story behind an American prison riot during the Vietnam War.

50 years have passed since a riot occured at a notorious American military prison in Vietnam. A jail to house not enemy fighters, but American soldiers. On this episode, we learn about a Kansas City native's involvement in the uprising and the meaning behind it. 

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

Kansas City artist Allan Winkler's work is full of whimsy. It's often found in unexpected places: a mural in a school cafeteria, colorful mosaics in the bathroom of a theater.

Year-round, you can see his folksy metal cutouts on permanent display at the Marlborough Community Center, and The Gathering Place is hosting a show of his work during Open Spaces.

Winkler works out of a home that was built in the 1860s. Visitors to the Westside neighborhood will recognize it from the bottles decorating the fences and kinetic sculptures hanging from trees.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City's first biennial Open Spaces launches this week. 

And, like the metropolitan area itself, Open Spaces is sprawling. It stretches 62 days, from August 25 to October 28, with more than 150 performing and visual artists.

Sharon Rodriguez

“I thought it was a Boy Scout weekend.”

That was photographer Sharon Rodriguez’s initial reaction when she encountered a homeless camp near her Olathe residence in 2014.

Once she realized that homeless individuals were living under the tarps, Rodriguez had a lot of questions.

“Who are they, and why are they homeless?” she remembers thinking. “That started the journey of me finding out more.”

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

Sculptor Jacob Burmood stood on a high ladder beneath a large elm tree. The sound of his buffing tool mingled with the late-afternoon chorus of cicadas at his rural, open-air studio in Ottawa, Kansas.

“This tree is really my studio,” Burmood said. “It’s really peaceful and I love the cicadas. That’s my music.”

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

Sculptor Tom Corbin might be best known in Kansas City for the Firefighter’s Memorial sculpture and fountain on West 31st St., but more than 1,000 of his pieces are sprinkled throughout private galleries around the globe.

Corbin founded his flagship studio in a sturdy brick fire house at Southwest Blvd. and Mission Road. Built in 1910, it is a fortress with walls 16 inches thick.

Mo Dickens

Through late spring and into early summer, Kansas City artist Dylan Mortimer searched the trees in Swope Park for signs of death. He found a 40-footer that was dead for sure, but the park staff told him it was too close to the road and hazardous; they cut it down.

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."

Shy Boys

Segment 1: For All The World To See exhibit at the Black Archives of Mid-America.

A nationally touring exhibit from NEH on the Road has made its way to Kansas City. "For All The World To See" displays photographs and other visuals from the civil rights era. We talked about the ways art and culture influence each other.

Kevin Collison / CityScene KC

If anybody embraces the concept of Kismet, it’s David Ford and Adam Jones, two of Kansas City’s most free-spirited originals.

They have combined to find a new home for YJ’s Snack Bar in the former Sylvia’s Deli space at 1746 Washington, just a few blocks west of the old YJ’s location at 128 W. 18th.

“It was incredibly perfect timing,” Jones said. “It was the coolest home run we could ever hit. It all came together in about five seconds.”

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.

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.

Segment 1: A puppeteer takes on a beloved childhood classic with virtually no narrative, but lots of dogs.

Mesner Puppet Theater is staging two very different productions this summer: P.D. Eastman's Go, Dog, Go! and The Tempest, by William Shakespeare.

Segment 2, beginning at 12:35: A photographer on being the artist-in-residence at the Missouri State Fair.

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.

A portrait isn't just about capturing someone's literal likeness. It's about capturing the inner essence. So how is it done? And how is it done well? We host a roundtable discussion with Kansas City artists — from painter to doll-maker — to explore the ins and outs of portraiture in various mediums.

Guests:

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.

Segment 1: Kansas City's New Arts Festival.

For nine weeks, starting in August, KC's parks, galleries and stages will be transformed into a massive city-wide arts festival. Hear more about Open Spaces.

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.”

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.

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.

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