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. 

NASA

Fifty years ago on Christmas Eve, the astronauts of Apollo 8 — the first humans to leave Earth’s gravity — orbited the moon, photographing its dark side and witnessed the first view of an earthrise.

Broadcasting back to Houston, they offered a Christmas greeting to those on Earth, where one in four people were watching the televised event.

Public domain

Everything about Walt Disney is legendary, especially in his hometown of Kansas City where a mythology has grown up around the young ad man who created the world’s most-beloved character.

But, what does anyone really know about that mouse?

"How can the most popular fictional character in the world be someone that no one knows anything about?" author Jeff Ryan asked Central Standard host Gina Kaufmann.

Kevin Collison / CityScene KC

A plan to demolish a prominent church on the Country Club Plaza and replace it with a 12-story, mixed-use project is unfolding as the latest historic preservation battle over the soul of the venerable district.

Legacy Development wants to redevelop the current site of the Seventh Church of Christ, Scientist at the northwest corner of 47th and Pennsylvania, according to a proposal submitted recently to the City Plan Commission.

Jacob Blickenstaff

The Recording Academy on Friday announced the nominees for the 2019 Grammy Awards, and Kansas City-based blues artist Danielle Nicole is up for her first Grammy.

Her second solo album, "Cry No More," was tapped for Contemporary Blues Album.

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.

Cory Weaver

Some of the basic lessons of “A Christmas Carol” have rubbed off on Nicole Marie Green and Logan Black, the actors who play Mrs. and Mr. Cratchit this year at the Kansas City Repertory Theatre.

They’re playing Charles Dickens’ 175-year-old characters for the first time, and are grateful.

John Chase

Robert Mnookin grew up in the 1950s as a member of B’nai Jehudah, one of the biggest and oldest Jewish temples in Kansas City. But asked to describe himself, the Harvard law professor doesn’t immediately say, “I’m Jewish.”

“We all have many strands to our identity: I’m a father, a grandfather, a husband, a law professor, I’m a Harvard graduate, and I’m from Kansas City. And, I’m Jewish,” Mnookin told Central Standard host Gina Kaufmann.

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.

Succotash / Facebook

Kansas City chef Beth Barden just finished a job she never anticipated having: food-stylist for the new coffee table book "Queer Eye: Love Yourself, Love Your Life."

Like the "Queer Eye" television show, which recently wrapped filming its third season in Kansas City, the book is full of lifestyle advice, with pearls of widsom ranging from how to select the right cut of denim to what your go-to meal says about you.  

Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3

Back in March, President Donald Trump announced tariffs, or import taxes, on steel and aluminum from countries around the globe: 25 percent for steel and 10 percent for aluminum.

These tariffs have had an impact on agriculture, and consumers, but they've also affected creative industries, including A. Zahner Company, a Kansas City-based architecture and design firm that deals mostly in metals. 

Dante

Variety shows aren’t all gongs and spangles.

Besides simply being entertaining, such shows are ways for artists to help build their fan bases by “cross-pollinating audiences,” says Stephanie Roberts, a theater professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

She first saw this work when she lived in Seattle and was part of a company called Annex Theatre, which hosted a variety show called “Spin the Bottle.”

Sally Morrow Photography

Travelers at Kansas City International Airport might already be familiar with SouveNEAR vending machines. The Kansas-City based company offers handmade items by local artists, such as T-shirts, jewelry, soaps and candy.  

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.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City's troubled American Jazz Museum has new leadership after its interim board of directors unanimously elected a new board Tuesdsay afternoon.

The museum has been led by that interim board, and has not had an executive director, since Cheptoo Kositany-Buckner and most of the 22-member board resigned last spring after a highly critical consultants' report released in early April.

Sofia Gillespie / KCUR 89.3

Sara Corrigan of Overland Park is a designer. But instead of making logos out of ink, she makes them with high school and college band students on football fields.

“Marching band for me, the visual is what it is about,” says Corrigan.

Corrigan has been involved with marching bands for more than 20 years, both performing and offering choreography expertise on her website March and Spin. She balances her time designing halftime shows, judging performances, and working in the cafeteria at an elementary school.  

Paul Andrews

Forty years is a long time to spend in one place, doing one thing. Especially when the goal is to ruffle feathers.

But that's what the Unicorn Theatre's producing artistic director Cynthia Levin has done, turning an anti-establishment theater into an established venue.

Strawberry Swing

There’s no reason to just give a gift this holiday season when you can give the gift of Kansas City. These holiday craft and art sales will make shopping thoughtfully, and locally, simple.

Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3

Sherry Cromwell-Lacy is well-known in Kansas City for her curatorial eye. She helped open the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, directed exhibitions at the Kansas City Art Institute for more than 20 years and has worked as an independent curator.

Cromwell-Lacy is also an artist who has shown her work around the country. But until this month, she's never had a solo show.

Kelly Downs Photography

If there were something like a Chinatown for Cherokee people, says author Traci Sorell, it would be easier for non-Native American people to know more about these indigenous people.

“They are your neighbors, they’re the children in your classroom, they’re the people walking into your library, they’re your colleagues at work,” says Sorell, a registered member of the Cherokee Nation.

C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3

More than 1,000 people packed the grand first floor of the Kansas City Public Library's downtown branch Wednesday night to see the cast of Netflix's "Queer Eye."  

It was the biggest crowd the library has had for an event, spokeswoman Courtney Lewis said of the Fab Five's book launch.

NormanCorwin.com

A new concert at the Lyric Opera recalls the Golden Age of radio, when anything was possible.

Evolving from the technology of World War I, broadcasts reached into millions of homes, filling billions of minds with the culture and news of the day.

One of the leading dramatists of radio’s heyday in the 1930s and 40s was Norman Corwin. Using only voices, sound effects and the occasional full orchestra, he invited listeners into worlds conjured entirely of suggestion and imagination.

C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3

For 62 days this fall, Kansas City was blanketed in the arts. The citywide Open Spaces festival included 200 artists, local and national, who shared paintings, sculptures, photography, music, theatrical performances, choreographed pieces and installations of all sizes.

The first event of its kind in Kansas City, Open Spaces was intended to be a biennial event, putting the city on a larger map, for visitors from all over to see, experience and buy art.

BNIM

A new downtown YMCA, a huge civic endeavor in the making for seven years, is scheduled to begin construction Friday in the former Lyric Theater building. Completion is expected in spring 2021.

The $35 million Y will incorporate the front facade and lobby of the historic theater at 1029 Central and build a 42,000 square-foot addition behind it, bringing to downtown a host of health-related activities including a family pool and lap pool, medical clinic, gymnasium and suspended indoor track.

Michelle Tyrene Johnson / KCUR 89.3

Art is inextricably tied to culture.

Whether it's the imagery of visual artists or the narrative themes of writers, race and culture influence the artists and the art.

Members of a two-year-old Kansas City group called the Artists of Color Alliance understand this.

Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3

The Writers Place is pulling up stakes from the Valentine neighborhood. 

Since 1992, a castle-like house at 3607 Pennsylvania has served as a "literary community center," home to countless poetry readings, workshops and art exhibitions. The non-profit organization headquartered there plans to relocate to a small office inside The Nonprofit Village, a co-working space at 31 W. 31st Street, in December.

Marilyn Maye

To be human is to pretend.

If you don’t pretend enough, life can seem boring. But pretend too much and you might get hauled away for fraud – which definitely isn’t dull, but what a hassle.

So try pretending just the right amount at weekend events that will let you make-believe without the risk of mayhem. Well, not much. Uh, let’s pretend I didn’t say that.

1. Marilyn Maye with Kansas City Jazz Orchestra

Kevin Collison / CityScene KC

Folk Alliance International dedicated a new home in the Crossroads Arts District Thursday and the music organization was welcomed by Mayor Sly James for its contribution to Kansas City’s cultural scene.

“We appreciate the rich artistic and cultural history of this city,” the mayor said. “One of the great things to happen is the Folk Alliance.”

Folk Alliance International relocated to Kansas City from Memphis in 2013. 

Bingham-Waggoner Historical Society

Every November and December, Kansas Citians join the nation in a scramble to decorate for the holidays. When those same old decorations start feeling, well, old, locals know to hit the holiday homes tour circuit for fresh ideas.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

High-profile stars with Kansas City roots often return to their hometown to visit family and friends, cheer on the Kansas City Chiefs or the Kansas City Royals and, in the case of Jason Sudeikis, help put on a show.

"I've been really lucky in many, many ways," Sudeikis told Gina Kaufmann on Friday's Central Standard. "With my work, my career, to give me a platform that allows for a great opportunity to throw a rope down, throw a hand down, whenever possible, to pull someone up."

Americans with disabilities is a community anyone can join at any time. It’s a community that demands infrastructural and political changes that ultimately benefit everyone, yet it’s a community that is often ignored, sidelined or patronized.

“For years, there were ugly laws that were in place that kept cripples from being out in public. We were locked away in institutions, we were left at home, we were sight unseen. There was a stigma associated with it,” says artist Kathryne Husk.

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