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. 

Paul Andrews / paulandrewsphotography.com

Lonnie and Ronnie McFadden, of Kansas City's McFadden Brothers, grew up at 19th and Euclid, on Kansas City's east side. They've been a tap-dancing duo for as long as they can remember. But it wasn't until long after the art form went out of style that they made it their own — and made it cool

"We grew up in a household that was probably about as close to Norman Rockwell as I've seen to this day," says Lonnie, remembering the elaborate hot meals his mom used to make before working evenings at a country club.

Courtesy of Rubeo

The Kansas City artist Joe Rubeo, whose stage name is simply Rubeo, began making music just five months ago. He's released only two songs, but says he has a couple albums' worth of material ready to record.

He uses a phone app called Auxy to produce his tracks.

“It’s definitely been a game-changer for me," Rubeo says, "and I feel like I’m just beginning to scratch the surface on its capabilities,” he says.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

A Sudanese woman gathered her six grandchildren to explain the family’s 1996 escape to Ethiopia from war-torn Sudan. The children had not yet been born when a bomb hit the village and the grandmother and her own children fled.

The family literally ran night after night, sleeping in bushes during the day to escape fighters’ notice. In 1997, they reached Ethiopia and settled in a refugee camp where they lived until immigrating to the United States a year ago. An international agency assigned them to Kansas City.

public domain / Flickr -- Google Images

Chinese food in the United States has become as American as apple pie. Or crab Rangoon (which was probably invented here).

Since its earliest days in the U.S., when it arrived with immigrants who came for the Gold Rush, Chinese food has been maligned ... but ultimately embraced and changed into the quintessential Americanized version that's popular on menus all over the country.

Courtesy of Unicorn Theatre

Playwright Karen Hartman knew her work "Project Dawn" dealt with intense material. Its story, about women with multiple prostitution convictions who are going through a treatment program in hopes of having their charges erased, is based on a real place in Philadelphia called Project Dawn Court.

Courtesy Panic Film Fest

Horror, thriller and science fiction might get dismissed as genre movies (as if recognizable storytelling conventions undermine true quality), but thankfully that didn't deter audiences from making classics out of "Rosemary's Baby," "The Silence of the Lambs" and last year's "Get Out."

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.

Meg Kumin

Over the past several months, Kansas novelist Laura Moriarty has found herself in a firestorm.

Her fifth novel, "American Heart," is scheduled to be released on January 30. But readers who received advance copies, and those who only read a synopsis, have already expressed fury over the fictional world this white, non-Muslim writer imagined; her status as a white non-Muslim was one point of contention.

Facing Deportation, A Father Takes Sanctuary In A St. Louis-Area Church

Jan 25, 2018
Carolina Hidalgo / St. Louis Public Radio

When the letter from immigration officials came in the mail in September, Carly Garcia knew her life was about to change.

Panicked, she opened the envelope then called her husband, Alex, and told him to rush home.

In the past, immigration agents had given Alex Garcia temporary permission to live in the United States with Carly and their five children. But now, the letter said, he had two weeks to report to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement office for deportation.

Courtesy William Baker

“It could be said that Kansas City is blessed with as many fountains like Rome, many boulevards like Paris and many composers like Vienna,” says William Baker, the founder and director of his namesake William Baker Festival Singers.

Audiences get a chance to hear just a few of the pieces by those notable area composers, some living and some long gone, when Baker’s ensemble presents a Festival of Kansas City Composers this weekend.

Courtesy Lonnie McFadden

A consummate entertainer, Lonnie McFadden is a Kansas City institution.

He's best known as the trumpet-playing half of the tap-dancing McFadden Brothers, in which Lonnie and his brother, Ronnie McFadden, entertain Las Vegas-style in the vein of Sammy Davis Jr. and Louis Prima.

fdecomite / Flickr -- CC

The game of marbles harkens back to a different era.

And the National Museum of Toys/Miniatures in Kansas City is bringing it back — at least through next January.

“Playing for Keeps” features artifacts from the national marble tournaments that the Veterans of Foreign Wars organized for boys.

In addition to the exhibition, the museum is also hosting regular game nights for grown-ups and training sessions for anyone who wants to be a “mibster” (a master marble player).

C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3

University of Kansas film professor Kevin Willmott made national headlines last fall for wearing a bullet-proof vest in protest of a new state law allowing concealed weapons on campuses. He said he’d wear the vest until the law changed.

And with start of the spring semester this week, Willmott is keeping that promise.

YouTube

Imagine a lamp-lit honky-tonk band weaving those joyfully depressing cheatin’ songs, with round-robin vocalists taking just the right tune for each voice. Imagine an audience whooping and pushing them forward from their seats on wooden benches and random household chairs, or just standing.

Jill Wendholt Silva / KCUR 89.3

How does a chef know when an elm tree is well-done?

When he’s cooked it in a 200-degree oven long enough, the deeply grooved bark is cured — and there are no carpenter bees left.

At Jonathan Justus’ new restaurant Black Dirt, which opens on Friday at 5070 Main Street, diners can look up at an organic chandelier made from Missouri hackberry tree emanating from the stump of an old elm.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

Jason Pollen’s colorful wheels of cloth and fluttering fabric mobiles have been exhibited around the world. He retired from teaching in the fiber department at the Kansas City Art Institute in 2010; at 76, he now spends his time creating his own work in a bungalow on Locust Street, just a block from the Art Institute.

Foodista / Google Images -- CC

It's definitely soup and stew season. And there are plenty of both on local menus.

Whether you're in the mood for a hearty bowl of burnt end chili or a brothy pho, you can find something lovely and warm to ward off the frigid temps.

Of course, don't forget the bread (or savory doughnut) for soppin' and dippin'.

On Friday's Central Standard, KCUR's Food Critics searched out the best soups and stews in and around Kansas City.

Here are their recommendations:

Danny Wood / KCUR 89.3

Some works of art hold mysteries that may never be revealed (the Mona Lisa’s smile will likely remain an enigma forever). But many years after completing public murals in Liberty, Missouri, David McClain is ready to talk about his artwork’s secrets.

courtesy: National World War I Museum and Memorial, Kansas City, Missouri.

The National World War I Museum and Memorial on Friday announced a big debut for its $5 million Wylie Gallery. The new 3,500-square-foot space inside the museum, set to open on February 23, will feature one of the world’s largest war-related paintings: John Singer Sargent’s Gassed

U.S. Air Force photo/Lance Cheung

Huh? What’s that? Come again?

Carrying on a conversation this weekend might be tougher than usual, if you choose to turn up the volume with goings-on rooted in rock music, monster trucks, boisterous laughs and other forms of sonic dynamite.

There’s also the promise of loud costumes. Pardon? No not plowed customs – I don’t even know that that means. What? No, I’m not being mean – maybe a little dense. No, no, I’m not tense. If you can make me out at all, welcome to the weekend din! Weak and done? Really?

 

Courtesy Edison Lights

The members of Edison Lights are battle-scarred veterans of Kansas City’s rock scene.

The primary vocalist, guitarist and songwriter, Chris Doolittle, was a founding member of the Front, a local hard rock band that achieved a modicum of mainstream success in the late 1980s. Edison Lights marks his return to the rock scene after dedicating himself to raising a family for the past 20 years.

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 BurnettMusic.com

Christopher Burnett is a prominent Kansas City saxophonist, band leader, instructor and raconteur. He also operates Artists Recording Collective, a record label that has released dozens of albums by jazz musicians from around the world.

Daniel Chow / Flickr -- CC

It’s the time of year when you may need to feed a crowd — perhaps for holiday gatherings or for college bowl game-watching. And what better way than with pizza?

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Every once in a while, a Kansas City band releases an original Christmas song. But it’s unusual for area musicians to put out an entire album of holiday standards.

That’s what the bluegrass band Old Sound did this year, but making it happen involved something like a Christmas miracle.

“This is one those instances where the universe starts kind of opening up and giving you signs,” says guitarist Chad Brothers.

Courtesy The Floozies

The Floozies, a Lawrence based electro-funk duo, are one of the region’s most popular party bands. Their celebratory, dance-oriented concerts, accentuated with colorful lighting and video displays, have made the band a fixture on the summer festival circuit.

Brothers Mark (drums) and Matt (guitar) Hill have been honing their self-described “future funk” for more than a decade. In September they released their most fully realized album, the irreverently titled "Funk Jesus."

Aleksey Kaznadey / kevinmahogany.com

Kevin Mahogany, the versatile and velvet-voiced vocalist who became one of the Kansas City jazz scene's more well-known exports, died Sunday. He was 59.

Mahogany had been living in Miami, but moved back to Kansas City in August after the sudden death of his wife, Allene Matthews Mahogany, over the summer, says Mahogany's sister, Carmen Julious.

The two had been married for 25 years, and Julious says Mahogany's grief had aggravated longer-term health issues.

Charvex / Google Images -- CC

If you voted in Kansas City, Missouri, in November, you may remember being asked whether the city should remove two pieces of land from the park system.

Those two parcels of land were “no longer necessary or appropriate for park, parkway or boulevard use.”

What does that mean? And who determines what park properties should be removed?

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