Julie Denesha | KCUR

Julie Denesha

Reporter, Photographer

Julie Denesha is a freelance documentary photographer based in the Kansas City area.

Julie graduated from The University of Kansas in 1993, with degrees in Journalism and Russian Language and Literature. After college, she worked as a staff photographer for The Kansas City Star. In 1995, she moved to Europe and from 1996 to 2004, Julie was based in Prague, Czech Republic, where she covered Central and Eastern Europe for newspapers and magazines. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, Time, Newsweek, The Economist and The Christian Science Monitor.

After moving back to the United States, Julie spent three years working as a photo editor for The Washington Times.

In 2007, Julie was awarded both a Fulbright and a Milena Jesenská Fellowship to continue her ongoing project on the Roma in Slovakia. Her project on the Roma was featured in an exhibit of the Roma at the U.S. Embassy in Bratislava, Slovakia, The World Bank in Brussels, Belgium, The Half King Gallery in New York, and The Institute For Human Sciences in Vienna, Austria.

View more of Julie's work on her website.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City is painting the town red ahead of Sunday's big game.

The Chiefs host the Tennessee Titans at 2:05 p.m. Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium in the AFC Championship Game with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line. It's the second straight year Kansas City has advanced this far in the playoffs, and with football fever in the air once again, metro motorists are seeing red everywhere.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

The KCUR news staff presents the State of Kansas City series as a look ahead to 2020 on topics of importance to the region. Find the State of Kansas City report on other topics in the series as they are published each weekday, Jan. 6–Jan. 20. Follow coverage on these topics at KCUR.org and on 89.3 FM throughout the year.

Kansas City’s art world is at a turning point.

Saint Louis Art Museum

Missouri painter George Caleb Bingham shaped the way the nation saw life on the frontier. His work spanned politics, civil war discord and rowdy riverboatmen, and his genre paintings of 19th century river life are in many major national art collections.

Within the next three years, all of Bingham's nearly 600 known paintings will be accessible online and freely available to the public.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

On one busy corner of Kansas City's St. John Avenue, a community is coming together to create a piece of art that reflects the whole world.

Home to culturally and ethnically diverse businesses and many artists, the city's Historic Northeast neighborhood is already a colorful place.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

A vintage Vornado fan hooked to a bicycle wheel pushes a tumbleweed in a circle. Two sandstone rocks grind against each other to create a small pile of fine sand. A clockwork movement sends a feather swinging in an arc.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

If someone were to hike deep into the places he paints, says Kansas City artist Jason Needham, "it would be rough going, for sure."

As the sun rose one recent morning, he was concentrating on a tangle of overgrown vines surrounding a stand of cottonwood trees at Kessler Park in the the city's Historic Northeast neighborhood.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

When pioneers set off in covered wagons from Independence, Missouri, on the Oregon Trail for "The Great Migration of 1843," it was a 2,000-mile trek that would take an average of five months by covered wagon. Before the transcontinental railroad rendered the trail obsolete, at least 400,000 settlers are estimated to have used the Oregon Trail and its three offshoots — the California, Bozeman and Mormon Trails.

Now two professors at the Kansas City Art Institute, a printmaker and a musician, are using a historic map of the Oregon Trail as a jumping off point for their own work.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Mike Sims is a bit emotional. As he prepares to celebrate 40 years of working with an array of acclaimed artists, the master printer admits it's overwhelming.

"Huge memories, yeah," Sims says, shaking his head. "The biggest memories are the relationships with the artists, many of whom are dead and gone now.”

Since 1979, artists from around the United States have traveled to Lawrence, and then later to Kansas City, to work with Sims.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

People who live around Kessler Park, just a few blocks from the Kansas City Museum in the Historic Northeast neighborhood, say it's the city's biggest front porch for listening to music in Kansas City.

“We have a lovely view of this day after day," said David Joslyn, who has lived in the neighborhood with his wife Elaine for more than 30 years. "The beautiful Concourse, the Esplanade, the wonderful playground and the fountain. We’re very blessed.”

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, Kansas City's Sondern-Adler Home went on the market last year for $1.65 million. No one bought it, so it's going up for a no-reserve auction, with no minimum starting bid, on August 12.

Knowing the challenges that lie ahead is important for any buyer, says John H. Waters, an architect and preservation programs manager at the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy in Chicago.

Cary Esser

Members of Kansas City's art world will gather on Saturday to toast Victor Babu, a Kansas City Art Institute professor who died in April but whose influence will be felt for generations.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Anyone who has been to Kansas City's Country Club Plaza has likely seen the work of Arthur Kraft, who sculpted the trio of bronze penguins near the corner of Pennsylvania and Jefferson streets. Even though his name has largely been lost to history, his work is still all over town.

Some Kansas Citians who do remember Kraft's significance argue that he should be as well known as the famous hometown painter Thomas Hart Benton.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Crews are hard at work at Kansas City International Airport tearing down Terminal A and recycling its components to make way for a new, greener single terminal.

There have been no explosions, no big building collapse — and for good reason, says deputy director Justin Meyer.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

People often ask Kansas City musician Gerald Trimble about the instrument he plays at gigs around town with his band Jambaroque. Although it looks like a cello at first glance, players hold it between their knees, so some people call it a knee fiddle. It’s a viola da gamba.

The instruments have roots in 15th Century Moorish Spain, and there aren’t that many of them in Kansas City. Once he discovered it, Trimble says, he was smitten.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

After her mother died of cancer almost ten years ago, Bernadette Esperanza Torres says she experienced an awakening. Her mother was always working, always helping other people. She'd planned to take a vacation when she retired.

"When my mom was dying she was like, 'I guess I'll never retire,'" Torres remembers. "She would not even take a day off to go to the doctor to help herself."

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Sugar Creek is a small community about nine miles east of downtown Kansas City. In 1904, Standard Oil opened an oil refinery there and immigrants from Eastern Europe were recruited to work at the plant.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

Ragtime is big with the kids in Sedalia.

One day this spring, about 100 of them cheered for William McNally, a two-time winner of the World Championship Old-Time Piano Playing Contest. His performance at Sacred Heart School quickly won them over with the lively music that was all the rage 120 years ago.

“It’s kind of like making you want more," said Thomas Jenkins, 11, who had been taking piano lessons for about a year.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Nina Littrell, a senior in the fiber department at the Kansas City Art Institute, says she wants to start a conversation about the fashion industry and its role in the growing environmental crisis.

In her work, Littrell combines traditional quilting and patchwork design to give discarded textiles a new life in the form of colorful jackets.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

Roger Shimomura says he's found "the deeper meaning of life in Pop Art."

Shimomura is one of the area's most esteemed painters. He taught for decades at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, and his work is in the permanent collections of more than 100 museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of American Art and the National Portrait Gallery at the Smithsonian.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

When vandals spray-painted anti-immigrant graffiti on Browne’s Irish Market last June, it was front page news in Ireland. Seeing the phrase “Immigrants Not Welcome” painted on a wall at the historic Irish deli, grocery and retail shop at 33rd and Pennsylvania shocked people in Kansas City, too.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

Paul Seiwald, who is now 89, painted in his basement studio for more than 60 years, following his own unique vision. A chemist by day, he created a surrealistic vision of Midwestern life by night.

Lately, his work has been getting some attention.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

When Robert Vollrath was a boy, trains stopped in the small town of Holden, Missouri. These days plenty of trains blow through town, but one hasn't stopped since 1970. But Vollrath has an idea. If he paints enough murals of local war veterans facing the tracks, Amtrak riders will want to stop in Holden.

It's a plan that keeps him out in all kinds of weather.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

The Topeka Symphony Orchestra has offered furloughed federal government employees two free tickets to a concert. Regardless of whether the partial government shutdown ends any time soon, the offer's good for any of the orchestra's three performances between now and May.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

The Ukrainian art of decorating eggs began centuries ago in the heart of Eastern Europe. Once considered a protection against evil, these days, in Kansas City, Kansas, at least, the colorful eggs are a sign of springtime renewal.

“I usually start in January after Christmas when all the hustle and bustle is over with," says Irene Thompson, who spends the coldest days of winter hunched over eggs at the kitchen counter of her Roeland Park home.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

It's Nutcracker season, and ballet dancers everywhere are preparing for the biggest performances of the year. But their productions also rely on colorful backgrounds onstage, which is where Kenmark Scenic Backdrops of downtown Overland Park comes in.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

An aviator falls to earth and is marooned with his downed biplane in the Sahara. In the desert, he meets a mysterious prince who’s traveled to earth from a distant asteroid.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

When Natasha Ria El-Scari looked around art galleries in the Kansas City area, she didn't see enough work by black artists. So, El-Scari, an award-winning poet and performer in town, started reaching out to promising young artists to show their work in places owned by black people.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Renée Cinderhouse is an installation artist based in Kansas City whose site-specific art installations are ambitious explorations of past and present.

Kansas City audiences may remember her 2012 show "Manifest Destiny" at the La Esquina Gallery, an exhibit focused on American history and the Midwest as frontier. It featured mixed-media porcelain sculpture and a 14-foot tree forest.

File photo by Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

“When I was a child my father always told me that it would be great if my daughter would become a composer. It was his dream,” says Chen Yi.

Her father's dream came true. Chen is now well known as a composer, having received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. And as a professor for more than two decades at the University of Missouri-Kansas City's Conservatory of Music and Dance, she's taught composition to countless students.

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.

Pages