Open Spaces | KCUR

Open Spaces

A photo of a man from the shoulders up.
Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Segment 1: CBS News veteran on Trump's impact: "Washington is still, on a day-to-day basis, knocked off balance."

Few journalists have the depth of experience in covering presidents and presidential campaigns as Major Garrett, but even he admits covering President Donald J. Trump is whole new playing field. Today, Garrett recalled some of the confrontations he's had with the chief executive who "just loves to be the one who is churning the waters."

Segment 1: Growing up poor in the Heartland.

Local journalist and author Sarah Smarsh has been getting a lot of national attention for her new book, Heartland. On this episode, we chat with Smarsh about the forces that shaped her Kansas childhood.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Among the many art installations in Kansas City's Open Spaces arts festival, one in Swope Park explores John Milton's "Paradise Lost." It's the Biblical story of Adam and Eve's temptation by the fallen angel Satan and their expulsion from the Garden of Eden.

New Orleans, Louisiana-based artist Dawn DeDeaux admits that it’s not go-to reading for everyone. The epic poem in blank verse dates back to the 17th century.  

How Kansas City Inspires Artist Sanford Biggers

Sep 26, 2018

Sanford Biggers is not a Kansas City native, but the city's history and culture has inspired a few of his multi-media works. As a part of Open Spaces, he has another installation coming up on October 5th. We'll hear about how he's getting ready for that performance, the ways he encourages viewers to take a second look at his art, and how he found a love of painting after a run-in with the law. 

Segment 1: Recent study by KU finds gun owners are more politically active.

In the past few decades, American gun owners have become increasingly more involved in politics than non-gun owners. On this episode, we discuss the cultural shift in gun ownership and how that change influences the political climate.

Anne Kniggendorf / KCUR 89.3

What if the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945 failed to detonate?

A writer and an artist ask that question at the Truman Library and Museum as part of Kansas City’s Open Spaces arts festival, which has a roomy-enough sphere of exhibitions for various thought experiments, both the viewers’ and the artists’. 

Vicki and Randy Regier

Randy Regier creates fiction with his art. Not in the sense that a painting of a scene that never took place is fiction, but in the way a teenage boy might get a kick out of placing an odd object in his house to make his mom pause.

When pressed about the mysterious item, that teenager might say, “But, Mom, the garden gnome has always been next to the coffee mugs. Don’t you remember?”

Seg. 1: Feminism In A Word. Seg. 2: Never Records

Sep 13, 2018

Segment 1: Millennials are largely for gender equality, but they aren't so crazy about the term 'feminism.' We discuss Dr. Cathy Cohen's study with her as well as with an activist and local Kansas Citians. 

Chris Lee

No one who lives in the United States today is removed from the coal industry.

Composer Julia Wolfe makes that point in the final movement of her 2015 Pulitzer Prize-winning oratorio “Anthracite Fields,” listing various everyday activities that require energy — baking a cake, drilling a hole, washing clothes — energy powered, at least in part, by the coal industry.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

“You can choose to share your secrets or not share your secrets,” David Hanson tells his audiences.

For several years, Hanson has led those audiences through “immersive theater” experiences in Kansas City, and he will do so again at Open Spaces with a free performance of his play “Bird in the Hand.”

Immersive theater differs from traditional theater in that audience members are active, not passive, observers. Hanson gives the example many people are familiar with: murder mystery dinner theater, where it’s up to audience members to solve a mystery.

Segment 1: The history behind Brush Creek and where it is today.

On this episode, we find out how Brush Creek, a once natural body of water, became a dual-purpose sewage system and recreation area. Hint: it starts with Pendergast and cement.

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.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Segment 1: Will Kansas City's new months-long arts festival draw a crowd and make a buck?

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

There's a new sign glowing on the side of the Boone Theater at the corner of East 18th Street and Highland Avenue, next door to the Gem Theater in the 18th and Vine Historic District. "I Adore Your Every Move" is a neon work by Los Angeles artist Nikita Gale.

The work was commissioned as part of the city's new, two-month Open Spaces arts festival, which kicked off this past weekend. The sign commemorates a letter written by Charlie Parker to his common-law wife, Chan Richardson.

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.

Grecian-style columns wrapped in colorful banners. A sign that reads "Open Spaces" hangs below.
Kathleen Pointer / KCUR 89.3

For a while now, much of Kansas City's arts community has been abuzz about Open Spaces, the 62-day arts festival that's giving a platform to local, national and international artists. The plan, hatched nearly five years years ago by an arts commission Mayor Sly James put together, is becoming a reality this weekend.

William P. Gottlieb

Mary Lou Williams only spent a dozen years in Kansas City during its first jazz heyday, but this is where she solidified her professional reputation, gaining the respect of leaders in the field.

“Mary Lou Williams is increasingly ranked as one of the most significant and influential composers to have ever made Kansas City their home base,” says Dan Cameron, artistic director of Open Spaces.

Among the ten-week festival's opening-weekend events is a free performance of Williams’ “Zodiac Suite” by the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra in Swope Park.

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.

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.”

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.

A black and white aerial photo from 1945. It shows a swimming pool filled with people and a parking lot filled with cars.
Missouri Valley Special Collections

When the director of Open Spaces, the upcoming city-wide arts festival, came to Kansas City to explore the selected hub location, all he saw was something “spectacular”: A large piece of land that lived up to its designation as the “crown jewel” of Kansas City’s park system.

Segment 1: Swope Park is over twice the size of Central Park. Are we using it as well as we could?

Swope Park is one of the largest municipal parks in the country. It's a massive 1,805 acres in size and Kansas City, Missouri Parks and recreation refers to it as the "crown jewel" of the parks system. We explore the role of Swope Park in our community and learn how a history of segregation continues to influence it to this day.

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.

Bill Ingalls / Wikimedia Commons

Janelle Monáe will headline “The Weekend” performance in Swope Park on Oct. 13, according to an announcement today by Kansas City Mayor Sly James.

“The Weekend” is part of Open Spaces KC, a two month effort to attract visitors to Kansas City and host art events.

Monáe released her latest album, Dirty Computer, in April along with an accompanying short film. She’s created two other albums. Her hit songs include Yoga, Make Me Feel and Q.U.E.E.N. The Kansas City, Kansas native also starred in Moonlight and Hidden Figures.

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.

Open Spaces, a two-month citywide celebration of visual and performing arts, is slated to launch in August.

Artistic director Dan Cameron announced the names of the 42 local, national and international exhibiting artists Friday. Some artists were invited, but others were selected out of a pool of more than 400 applicants. 

City and arts leaders on Monday announced a new two-month city-wide arts festival called Open Spaces 2018: A Kansas City Arts Experience

"It’s 60 days of city-wide visual and performing arts debuts on a scale previously unseen in the city," Mayor Sly James said at a press conference at the KCAI Crossroads Gallery in the Crossroads Arts District.

James said he expects the event will foster the city's reputation as an arts destination. 

Courtesy Kansas City Missouri City Hall

Mayor Sly James asked a Kansas City Council committee on Wednesday to recommend spending $250,000 to begin planning for a three-day arts festival to take place in Swope Park next September.

Those funds would go toward hiring of a project manager who would spend the next year developing the festival, which would include visual, performing, and digital arts, as well as an educational component, all taking advantage of the assets in Swope Park: Starlight Theatre, the park's pavilion, and the Southeast Community Center.