Crossroads | KCUR

Crossroads

Leedy-Voulkos Art Center

Art galleries are considered "non-essential" during metro-Kansas City's stay at home order, so April's First Fridays in the Crossroads Arts District is canceled.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

Women are partly responsible for the private art gallery scene that's flourished in Kansas City over the past 20 years. And despite the stereotype of the artist working alone in a studio, they've been networking just like professionals in other industries.

“That’s what people do in the business world when they want to find a job or make contacts,” says CJ Charbonneau.

Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City's relatively new problem of affordable housing is also squeezing artists out of studios.

That's especially noticeable in the Crossroads Arts District, which was a mostly abandoned area south of downtown when artists began to establish galleries and studios there in the mid-1980s. Their arrival signaled the beginning of the neighborhood's revival, but now the Crossroads' days as the center of the city’s arts community may be coming to an end.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

Caitlin Morton used to dread Valentine's Day.

That was before she met Sudiebelle Hare, a Kansas City artist who regularly paints colorful circles on canvas at events and music festivals and, until recently, sold her artwork on First Fridays from a regular spot on the sidewalk across from Grinder’s in the Crossroads.

Segment 1: An exhibit at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art explores the theme of British colonialism.

The artist behind the exhibit grew up in Guyana and experienced reverberations of British colonialism in his life firsthand. Today he lives in London and wrestles with Britain's history and the version of itself that it exports through his art.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Singers often travel to Kansas City from places like San Francisco, New York and Moscow to perform at the Lyric Opera of Kansas City. And they arrive with a question that might surprise people who have stereotypes about opera. 

"The number one question I probably get when they come in is: 'What's the best barbecue?'" said Sarah Zsohar, "which is probably the hardest question in Kansas City to answer."

As the Lyric's artist services manager, Zsohar's job is essentially to organize everything and everyone. 

EJ Holtze Corp.

A $63 million luxury hotel proposed near the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts will face a tougher road to a city incentive package after a big rejection on Thursday.

Crossroads Community Association

After last month's fatal shooting of 25-year-old Erin Langhofer at the Crossroads' First Friday event, the Crossroads Community Association lost its liability insurance coverage for the monthly street festival.

Langhofer was in line at a food truck when she was hit by a stray bullet. That level of violence had not been an issue, even after First Friday began to draw crowds of 20,000 to 30,000 people a few years ago.

Segment 1: The Gay Softball World Series comes to Kansas City.

As the Gay Softball World Series gets under way here in town, the Kansas City Royals host their first ever official Pide Night at the K. 

  • Scott Switzer, Executive Director, Gay Softball World Series 2019
  • Rick Leavitt, founder of a gay softball team and league in Florida 25 years ago, now a Kansas Citian

Segment 2: First Friday has lost its festival license. Now what?

Seg. 1: Llamas | Seg. 2: Food Train | Seg. 3: Crossroads Shooting

Aug 5, 2019

Segment 1: A llama show gains popularity.

What is it about llamas? They're everywhere. And that includes the Douglas County Fair. 

  • Mason Kelso, interim llama superintendent, Douglas County Fair
  • Amber Fraley, freelance writer, Lawrence Magazine

Segment 2: An Austin-based chef travels the country tasting regional cuisine.

Segment 1: Weekend shootings in Kansas City spark concern about public events

This weekend saw multiple fatal shootings in Kansas City, one of them occurred shortly after First Friday in the Crossroads, where thousands of people had congregated. The incident has community members and leaders reconsidering Kansas City's violent crime problem, and how to rein it in. 

Mark Manning

Kansas City artist Ryan Wilks' new exhibition at the Leedy-Voulkos Art Center attracted a group of women who formed a circle and prayed. It's not uncommon, Wilks says, for Christians to offer help with eternal salvation.

Wilks used to be offended by the behavior, but in this case it only provoked a shrug.

"The title itself, 'Hell' — it's blasphemy," says Wilks (who prefers plural pronouns). So they understand the women's impulse.

The Kansas City Ballet recently earned national recognition — backed up with significant financial support — when the Hearst Foundations awarded $100,000 to a program that introduces third and fourth-grade students to dance fundamentals. 

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.

Poetic Kinetic

Union Station is set to add a shape-shifting display to the downtown skyline this summer with a huge floating sculpture described as jaw-dropping by one observer who knows a bit about art.

"When you see this sculpture fly, you’ll believe in magic," said Tony Jones, the president of the Kansas City Art Institute, who saw a similar work by the artist in downtown Los Angeles.

Burns & McDonnell / Copaken Brooks

Segment 1: Commercial real estate projects are surging throughout the metro.

Major developments popping up in the Plaza, Crossroads, and downtown may not be changing the skyline (yet), but they are making Kansas City "taller." Today, the city's foremost reporter on downtown development shared details on new and in-the-works office buildings, apartments, and hotels, and discussed how "downtown is becoming a more dense and vibrant place."

BNIM Architecture

An ambitious idea to spend at least $90 million building a high-tech block between Kansas City's East Crossroads neighborhood and the 18th and Vine District took its first concrete step when backers of the proposed Keystone Innovation District signed a predevelopment agreement in recent weeks.

A development entity established by J.E. Dunn Construction reached the agreement with the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority, which owns the block targeted for the proposed education, research and entrepreneurial center.

Anne Kniggendorf

Over the last few weeks, as Kansas City artist Israel Garcia made his way through Texans' backyards to the barrier that divides the United States from Mexico, he imagined everyone in the neighborhood would be well-versed on immigration policy.

"My assumption was if this border fence is your backyard fence that you’d be completely informed. Like you knew the ins and outs, you knew the politics, you knew how it all works," the Mexico native says.

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.

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. 

Ted Riederer

Ted Riederer’s art makes him part of strangers’ intimate moments for three hours at a time. But he’s not so much a voyeur as a cultural witness.

He records people on vinyl, doing or saying whatever they’d like, for free. Over the years, he’s recorded amateur and professional musicians, people talking in person and over the phone, and even skateboarders riding around whatever space he's using.

Kevin Collison / CityScene KC

The bland exterior of the new Crossroads Hotel at 2101 Central may fool you, but once inside the historic brick shell you’ll discover and enjoy a post-industrial chic vibe that’s right out of New York’s famed SoHo District.

Stray Cat Cinema

A decent-sized group of Kansas Citians will gather on Friday to watch a 1981 Western movie in 3D called “Comin’ at Ya!” The film will include scenes like one in which a boy pours grapes into a basket, but because the movie was shot in 3D, the grapes will appear to be falling toward these viewers.

According to Matthew Lloyd, the grapes have no plot significance. The character pouring the grapes is similarly inconsequential.

Bob Jones Shoes has been a staple in downtown Kansas City since 1960. When the retailer announced it was closing its doors in August, many shoe aficionados in Kansas City were aghast.

They've flocked to the final days of the footwear mecca to find that last perfect "fit," take advantage of the going-out-of-business sale and pay their respects to what has become a local icon.

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

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 89.3

Growing up in Uzbekistan, everything Bek Abdullayev knew about the United States he'd learned from pop culture and Hollywood movies.

"A lot of high rises, beautiful people," was what he imagined. "Michael Jordan, Madonna, whatever you see in the movies. You know, 'Home Alone,' so a big family home in a nice neighborhood."

As a teenager, Abdullayev got to experience the U.S. first-hand after he earned a spot in a competitive program called the Future Leaders Exchange (FLEX), funded by the U.S. Department of State.

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.

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.

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.”

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