visual arts

photo: EG Schempf / Collection of the Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, California

Brooklyn-based artist Adam Cvijanovic paints on sheets of a tough, durable product called Tyvek. It's often used to wrap or protect a building during construction, but for Cvijanovic it provides the canvas for his large-scale portable murals.

"I am really interested in narrative because I'm very interested in time," says Cvijanovic. "And I think painting as a plastic art, as a frozen moment in time, can offer insights into it."

courtesy: Municipal Art Commission

For two decades, the public artwork Modern Communication has caused controversy in front of Kansas city's police and fire department downtown. A bronze businessman stands on a briefcase – he has a shoe in his mouth, fingers in his ears, and a tie flapping across his eyes. 

courtesy of the artist

For the past 35 years, artist and YJ’s Snackbar owner David Ford has been traveling to Guatemala.

His interests in the area have ranged from local foods and recipes to indigenous festivals and politics. But recently, his focus has narrowed — he’s become totally obsessed with broken doll heads, called muñecas, used in bustling marketplaces to advertise hair-braiding and hair-wrapping services to white tourists.

“It’s an advertising thing,” Ford explains.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

Balancing the responsibilities of raising children with the demands of work is a challenge for any parent. For many artists, the pressure is intensified by the need to create. As part of our series, Artists As Parents, two local artists talk about their latest collaboration — their son Sam.     

Working though a lack of sleep

Several months ago, KCUR asked “artist types” to tell us how parenting changed their art. Artists from across the region shared their stories about trying to find the time to be creative, while also juggling careers and the responsibilities of parenthood. 

It's clear from the responses that becoming a parent can dramatically change how artists commit to their craft.

Artist Erin Zona remembers being in a creative rut. She was working in retail, unsure how she would ever find the time and energy to get back on track with her art. Those memories inspired her current project, which provides a platform for re-emerging artists to get published.

Guest:

courtesy: Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art

Art collecting can be a hobby, a passion, or even an obsession. An exhibition at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Piece by Piece: Building a Collection, takes a look at the holdings of one Kansas City couple — and the connection between collector and artist.

A contemporary collection grows by a piece or two at a time

University of Kansas

Elden C. Tefft, best known for his iconic bronze sculptures on the University of Kansas campus in Lawrence, died Tuesday. He was 95.

KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little said the campus is privileged to have Tefft’s work.

“Elden’s pieces are such an integral part of Mount Oread — pieces such as ‘Moses’ and ‘Academic Jay’ — that it’s nearly impossible to imagine our campus without them,” said Gray-Little.

Laura Spencer / KCUR

Flashing lights are sending a message from the windows of downtown Kansas City, Mo., buildings. In Morse code, a signal taps out "LUV U." The light installation, in eight locations from City Hall to the Central Library, is called Message Matters. 

The project by Nebraska-based artist Jamie Burmeister, first appeared at the Bemis Center of Contemporary Art in Omaha, Neb. 

Cody Newill / KCUR

Los Angeles based performance and visual artist Tim Youd has taken up residence in Kansas City for the next three weeks to re-type two novels set in the city.

Youd is re-typing Evan Connell's novels "Mrs. Bridge" and "Mr. Bridge," two books that depict Kansas City's upper-middle class in the 1920s and 30s. The performance is part of a larger project where Youd visits a city and reproduces a book written or set there on just two pages of paper. 

Courtesy Linda Lighton

Linda Lighton makes ceramic sculptures revealing how closely lipsticks resemble bullets. And her white clay flowers bloom not with pistils but with pistols.

Sonie Joi Thompson-Ruffin’s mixed-media fabric print depicts a man-sized black leaf hanging lifelessly from a tree bereft of other leaves, against a blood-red background of squares evoking urban apartments.

Rain Harris makes flowers, some out of silk – but some out of ominous black clay, lending a sense of doom to the idea of traditional floral arrangements.

Laura Spencer / KCUR

Big Data – it’s a catch phrase these days. But museums in cities across the country, from New York to Dallas to Cleveland, are taking cues from corporations and shopping malls, and collecting data to track visitor behavior. It’s starting to shape what’s on view.

In December, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art hired Doug Allen as its first chief information officer, to help analyze data and map a technology strategy.

"Technology will allow us to enrich the experience of a visit, and also allow for a pre-visit," says director and CEO Julián Zugazagoitia.

Courtesy Photo / Dick Berkley

In his 12-year tenure as Kansas City mayor, Dick Berkley met hundreds of celebrities, sports stars, and political figures. Fortunately, he never went anywhere without his camera.

“I’m so lucky. I just can’t emphasize how fortunate I’ve been to have the ability travel and meet these people, and take a little opportunity when it was in front of me to take somebody’s picture,” Berkley told Steve Kraske on Up To Date.

Collection of the Kansas City Art Institute

In the middle of the last century, where Jesse Howard lived in Fulton, Mo., it wasn’t unusual to see hand-painted signs on country roads advertising a traveling fair or a farm sale.

Jesse Howard’s signs offered Bible verses. They proclaimed his anger at his neighbors and the government, his disappointments with the world around him. His canvas was most often a wooden plank or some scrap metal salvaged from dilapidated outbuildings, or any piece of farm equipment with a flat surface big enough to whitewash with house paint and cover with carefully lettered, all-caps screeds.

Over the last decade, major newspapers and magazines across the country have cut back on arts coverage. 

Editors at The Kansas City Star notified art critic Alice Thorson on Monday that Feb. 6 would be her last day. The termination did not come as a surprise for Thorson, the paper's art critic since 1991. She knew she was "on borrowed time," she says. In 2009, Thorson's full-time job was reduced to part-time; theater critic Robert Trussell’s position was downsized at the same time. 

Suzanne Opton / The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

In the photograph, a young soldier with a downy blond buzz-cut lies perfectly still, face down on the ground. On stage, an ancient Greek warrior goes through the four stages of events that lead to post-traumatic stress.

The arts community is asking big questions about the life of the soldier. What role does art play in public discourse around combat?

Guests: 

Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR

If we are all "Charlie" in the wake of an armed assault on the offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, no one has earned that solidarity more than political cartoonists. A left-leaning cartoonist and his conservative counterpart weigh in on the risks and rewards of taking a bold stance. In the course of doing a job intended to provoke, are there lines they do not cross?

Kansas City Missouri Public Library

    

A portrait from the early days of Harry S. Truman's presidency goes on display Wednesday at the Plaza branch of the Kansas City Public Library. A reproduction of the 1945 original, the painting is the latest addition to the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery.

courtesy of the family

Three notable arts figures died in Kansas City in recent weeks: Ann K. Brown, Brenda Nelson, and Tommy Ruskin.

Drummer Tommy Ruskin, 72, died the morning of Jan. 1, after a long illness.

A native of Kansas City, Ruskin’s career spanned nearly half a century. He began performing as a teenager with singers such as Marilyn Maye, and went on to play with other jazz greats like Al Cohn, Scott Hamilton, Gene Harris, Zoot Sims, and Bill Watrous.

Paul Andrews

Photographer Paul Andrews committed to taking a portrait, every single day, for the year of 2014. He's 353 days into the project. With 12 days left, Paul talks about what he's learned and tells photo shoot stories, including the one that took place in the middle of the Broadway Bridge... during rush hour.

Paul Andrews is Central Standard's Portrait Sessions photographer.

courtesy: Sherry Leedy Contemporary Art, KCMO

This week, colleagues and friends marked a ceremonial passing of the torch as Warren Rosser stepped down as chair of the painting department at the Kansas City Art Institute. 

"After 28 years, I think it was time to pass it on to someone else, so to speak," he says.

Rosser's tenure as chair of the department is reportedly the longest, to date. He's taught at the Art Institute for 42 years, and says he will continue to do so. 

Conflict On Camera

Dec 9, 2014
Istituto per la storia del Risorgimento Italiano, Rome

President Obama's recent call for police body cameras raises questions about documenting truth. An art curator, a war historian and a police major discuss. 

Guests:

courtesy: National Churchill Museum

It's been away for nearly 70 years, but this week, a Thomas Hart Benton painting called "The New Fence" returned to Missouri. 

In 1946, Westminster College in Fulton, Mo., gifted the Benton painting to Sir Winston Churchill. It was Churchill’s request, in lieu of payment, for a college lecture that later became known as the historic “Iron Curtain” speech.

Paul Andrews

"A hundred years ago, if you told people that they would have something in their pocket that would make an image that would go all over the world immediately, they would think it was witchcraft."

So says internationally recognized Kansas City artist and provocateur Peregrine Honig. 

If that's the case, then Honig's been up to a whole lot of witchcraft in her artwork lately.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

Frames have been used for centuries as decoration or to heighten the drama of a piece of artwork.

As part of an occasional KCUR series called Tools of the Trade — about artists and their relationships to the tools that make their work possible — we'll take a look at the complex creation of a very large frame.

C.J. Janovy / KCUR

A word of advice to everyone who ventures into the new photography exhibition at Avila University’s Thornhill Gallery: Charge your devices. Also, you’ll need to download an app called Layar

Experiencing “augmented reality,” it turns out, requires a bit of pre-planning.

Sean Starowitz / Courtesy photo

Bread can serve as an important connector between people.

It can fuel discussions, break through social barriers and institute change. 

A 2014 Charlotte Street Foundation award winner, Sean Starowitz is an artist whose work is hard to place on the walls of galleries. As the artist-in-residence at Farm to Market Bread Co., his projects often focus on bread and community. 

Although the Pulitzer Arts Foundation has been closed since August, a swarm of activity has been taking place inside the Grand Center institution.

Construction crews are renovating the Pulitzer’s basement area to create two new galleries. When they’re done in May 2015, the Foundation will have one-third more exhibition space, totaling 104,000 square feet. The work is being done in cooperation with a representative of the original architect, Tadao Ando.

Paul Andrews

Back-breaking labor makes people colorless.

That's how artist Hung Liu remembers it, anyway. At the age of 16, she was sent to the Chinese countryside to live and work without a wage as part of Mao Zedong's Cultural Revolution. High school had filled her head with too much non-proletarian knowledge; she would have to unlearn it all through hard labor. 

"Working in the cornfield, you sweat. In the morning, you pull the wheat with mud all over your hands. We were colorless," Liu says.

Laura Spencer / KCUR

East Lawrence, Kan., is a mecca for artists with its affordable housing and studio space.

But an influx of funds for creative placemaking could change all that.

In June 2014, Lawrence Arts Center received a $500,000 ArtPlace America grant. The 9th Street Corridor project calls for a transformation of six blocks between New Hampshire and Delaware streets.  The plan includes "multimodal paths, upgrade amenities, and new models of urban infrastructure" along with art. 

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