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. 

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Up to Date
3:00 pm
Thu October 24, 2013

The Worst Gigs In Rock 'N' Roll

Credit worstgig.com

It's hard to imagine Def Leppard, John Mayer, or any other rock musician having a bad day, but Jon Niccum​ begs to differ. 

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Up to Date
4:00 pm
Wed October 23, 2013

Children's Book Puts Reader In The Story

Jon Scieszka and Mac Barnett join Steve Kraske to discuss their new book, 'Battle Bunny.'

A boy gets a book he thinks is cheesy-- a tale about a bunny and his birthday. His next move is to take a pen to the pages of the book and make the story a bit more interesting.

In the second part of Thursday's Up to Date, we take a look at a lighter side of life with children’s book authors Jon Scieszka and Mac Barnett as we talk about their new book, Battle Bunny

Guests:

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Performance
5:00 am
Wed October 23, 2013

Kansas City Funeral Home Becomes Unconventional Theatre Venue

The site is funereal but not the play: (left to right) Katie Gilchrist, Jeanne Averill, and David Fritts in Kansas City Actors Theatre's 'Three Viewings' at Muehlebach's Funeral Home.
Credit Brian Paulette / Kansas City Actors Theatre

Most theater productions comfortably nest in traditional, familiar venues, with a proscenium arch, a set taking up three walls, and the audience making up the fourth. Occasionally, though, the material calls for a stretch of the boundaries.

Such is the case with Kansas City Actors Theatre's Three Viewings, a play set in a funeral home whose three-week run will perform at Muehlebach's Funeral Home.

Dearly departed

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Up To Date
3:11 pm
Fri October 18, 2013

Local Listen: The Jorge Arana Trio

The Jorge Arana Trio offers an energetic and eclectic fusion of jazz, rock and funk that has gotten the attention of music lovers throughout Kansas City as a result of their take-no-prisoners live shows. 

In today's Local Listen, we hear Bitter Era from their most recent album, "Mapache."

You can catch the Trio on Sunday October 20 at The Riot Room and November 1 at the Czar Bar.

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Film
5:49 am
Fri October 18, 2013

Film Review: Marital Malaise Leads To Sexual Moonlighting In 'Concussion'

Robin Weigert (right) as Abby, a bored suburban wife and mother who becomes a sexual escort for other women in 'Concussion.'
Credit Courtesy Radius-The Weinstein Company

With two kids, a mini-van and a lull in their love life, Abby and Kate are not much different from their suburban neighbors. The fact that they’re a married lesbian couple is beside the point – it is less important than their domestic apathy - yet still central to Stacie Passon’s assured, candid and clever film Concussion.

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Visual Arts
4:30 pm
Thu October 17, 2013

KU Board of Regents Approves Spencer Museum Expansion Plans

The Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas in Lawrence.
Credit Laura Spencer / KCUR

The Kansas Board of Regents this week approved the renovation and expansion plans for the Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas.

The building where the museum is housed opened to the public in 1978, and according to a news release, the collection has grown by more than 250 percent. This includes the nearly 10,000 objects transferred to the Spencer's holdings in 2007, with the closing of the KU Museum of Anthropology, and other acquisitions.

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Up to Date
4:00 pm
Thu October 17, 2013

DVD Gurus: Putting A Fright In Halloween Night

Mad Love is on the DVD Gurus' list of their favorite horror films.

That chill in the air isn’t the only thing that will give you goosebumps. With the approach of Halloween, all kinds of spooky stuff is coming your way.

On Friday's Up to Date, DVD Gurus Mitch Brian and Jason Heck join us to share their favorite horror films. We’ll follow the creepy tale of a pair of hands with minds of their own, cower from an invisible demon and duck a mad man’s sharp axe. They’ll leave you wanting to check under the bed before you go to sleep tonight.

Mitch:

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Music
9:55 am
Thu October 17, 2013

The Many Talents Of Kansas City Musician Mike Stover

Credit Todd Zimmer

There is something that strings all these different local bands together… Mr. Marco’s V7, The Grisly Hand, Ernest James Zydeco, Dead Voices. Or rather, someone.

Musician Mike Stover plays in all of these bands and more. Normally when you hear a story about a band you hear from the lead singer or songwriter, the person at the front of the stage. Mike Stover is normally in the back or off to the side, sometimes sitting down, he doesn’t sing, just sticks to the strings.

On the night of The Crossroads Music Festival last month, musician Mike Stover was one especially busy guy.

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Visual Arts
5:00 am
Thu October 17, 2013

An Impressionist Journey Through France

Claude Monet, French (1840-1926). The Promenade with the Railroad Bridge, Argenteuil, 1874.
Courtesy: Saint Louis Art Museum

A new exhibition, Impressionist France: Visions of Nation from Le Gray to Monet, at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art examines the relationship between landscape and national identity. There are more than 100 paintings and photographs, from 1850 to 1880, including works by artists such as Manet, Monet and Le Gray, as well as artists well-known at the time but not today.

Photographers and painters construct "an idea of nation"

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Performance
5:00 am
Wed October 16, 2013

[VIDEO] Ramona Pansegrau, A Life At The Piano, Shaped By Dance

Ramona Pansegrau rehearses with Ryan Jolicoeur-Nye and Rachel Coats
Credit Julie Denesha / KCUR

Ramona Pansegrau is a musician whose life has been shaped by dance. This marks Pansegrau's seventh season as both the music director and the conductor for the Kansas City Ballet. And, after three decades of working with dancers, she says creating wonderful moments on stage still gives her a thrill.

Preparations are crucial

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Government
9:38 pm
Mon October 14, 2013

Board Votes, Again, To Sever KC Museum Ties With Union Station

The Kansas City Museum at Corinthian Hall in 2005.
Credit Scutter / Creative Commons

The Kansas City Museum Advisory Board on Monday approved a plan recommending the Kansas City Museum separate from Union Station. The board meeting opened with a Sunshine Law training. The last time the board voted on this issue, the city attorney’s office said it violated the state’s open meetings law.

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Up to Date
11:07 am
Fri October 11, 2013

Local Listen: Katy Guillen and The Girls

"...and then there were three" is the new album from Katy Guillen and The Girls

Katy Guillen and The Girls have only been together for about a year, but it hasn’t taken them long to get noticed: next January they will be representing Kansas City in the International Blues Challenge in Memphis.  They’ve just release a new EP called “… and then there were three.”  

In this week's "Local Listen" we hear a track from the album titled “The Race."

 You have a couple chances to hear them live next week: they’ll be at BB’s Lawnside Bar-B-Q on October 17th and at Knuckleheads on the 18th. 

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Visual Arts
6:00 pm
Thu October 10, 2013

New KC Brand: 'A Recognizable Mark'

City officials unveiled the new brand on October 10, 2013.
Credit Emily Elmore / Single Wing Creative

Update, 12:30 p.m.: The Kansas City Star reports that "the fountain/heart logo is on the official flag of the city. And a similar logo makes up the official seal."

That won't change unless it's brought before the City Council for a vote. So, this new image will serve as a secondary brand, a marketing logo.

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Visual Arts
3:44 pm
Thu October 10, 2013

Kemper ARTcast: Glass Represents Life For Artist Beth Lipman

Artist Beth Lipman
Credit courtesy of the artist

To Wisconsin-based multi-media artist Beth Lipman, glass represents life – there is a beginning and an end, there is change, it is fragile, it is precious. For over a decade glass has been the material of choice for Lipman who is considered one of the most compelling conceptual artists working in glass today.

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KC Currents
3:09 pm
Thu October 10, 2013

From Musician To Community Advocate, The Lupe Gonzalez Orchestra

A young Lupe Gonzalez poses with his saxophone.
Credit Courtesy / The Gonzalez family

An exhibit opens this weekend at the Kansas City Museum about Lupe Gonzalez, a local musician who became an icon in the Latino community. His name may not be recognizable, and that’s likely because Gonzalez never received national recognition.

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Visual Arts
2:58 pm
Thu October 10, 2013

St. Louis' Gateway Arch Placed On List Of Endangered Monuments

The Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Mo.
Credit Daniel Schwen / Creative Commons

St. Louis' identifying landmark, the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial (aka The Gateway Arch), has been included on the World Monuments Fund's 2014 Watch List for at-risk monuments.

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Visual Arts
4:45 pm
Wed October 9, 2013

Branding A New KCMO

Kansas City's current logo, with a fountain shaped like a heart, was unveiled in 1992 by the mayor (now U.S. Congressman) Emanuel Cleaver.
courtesy: City of Kansas City, Missouri

In 1970, the symbol for the city of Kansas City, Missouri, resembled paper clips; in 1992, it was a heart-shaped fountain, in shades of pink and blue. Thursday marks the unveiling of a new image for the city.

Communications director Danny Rotert says the new brand reflects the city’s look and attitude.

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Music
11:45 am
Wed October 9, 2013

18th & Vine Jazz And Blues Festival Features Kelley Hunt

Kelley Hunt, onstage at Aspen's Bellyup.
Credit Courtesy of the artist

Roots and R&B singer/songwriter Kelley Hunt says when she first started singing, her grandmother, a gospel singer, gave her this advice: "Don’t sing it, if you don’t mean it."

Hunt was born in Kansas City, Mo. and grew up in Emporia, Kan. She told Fish Fry host Chuck Haddix that her parents always had music playing in the house, including jazz, blues, R&B and Motown.

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Performance
11:01 am
Sun October 6, 2013

Kansas City 'Tweed' Bicycle Ride Favors Style Over Speed

Mark Rainey, founder of the Kansas City Tweed Ride, poses in a vintage Harris Tweed jacket with his bicycle.
Julie Denesha KCUR

The fall air was crisp on Saturday morning as Steve Conard lifted his 1940s era Western Flyer from the back of his car.

"Today the weather is absolutely perfect for this kind of a ride," said Conard, dressed in a large, vintage tweed jacket and plaid pants. He said he had been looking forward to joining the Kansas City Tweed Ride since the day he found the rusty bike frame for five dollars at a bike swap this summer. It had taken him six weeks to rebuild the bike from salvaged parts.

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Music Stories
1:24 pm
Fri October 4, 2013

Classical Connections In Symphony's Season

Kansas City Symphony's associate conductor, Aram Demirjian, and violinist Stefan Jackiw, attended elementary school together in Boston.
Credit Laura Spencer / KCUR

Violinist Stefan Jackiw rehearsed at Helzberg Hall before the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts was open, but didn't get to play there. This weekend, Jackiw returns to perform on stage with the Kansas City Symphony - and also reconnects with a childhood friend.

Getting back to work at Helzberg Hall

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Film
6:09 am
Fri October 4, 2013

Film Review: 'Parkland' Offers Fresh Perspective To JFK Assassination

Paul Giamatti behind the camera for what would become the Zapruder film in 'Parkland.'
Credit Courtesy Walleye Productions Inc.

It was a balmy 55 degrees in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963 when the world imploded. In Peter Landesman’s electric docudrama Parkland, President Kennedy’s assassination and the 48 hours just after are handled with care and candor, and it puts viewers into parts of the story that have been historically recorded yet previously out-of-sight.

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Performance
5:00 am
Fri October 4, 2013

[VIDEO] MoonDrop Circus 'Dreams Big' At First Fridays

Terra Gray and Meara Roach rehearse for a First Friday performance.
Credit Julie Denesha / KCUR

For the past two years the aerialists, jugglers, and musicians from Moondrop Circus have attracted audiences with their antics. Most months, the group gathers in the Crossroads Arts District amid the carnival atmosphere surrounding First Fridays, at 19th and Baltimore.

Interview Highlights: MoonDrop Circus

On dreamers who dream big 

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Performance
10:30 am
Thu October 3, 2013

[VIDEO] Devon Carney Puts His Stamp On Kansas City Ballet

Kansas City Ballet's new artistic director Devon Carney directs a rehearsal of Opus 1.
Credit Julie Denesha / KCUR

The Kansas City Ballet's new artistic director, Devon Carney, begins his tenure with a world premiere. His work, Opus I, will open the ballet's season this month, and it provides a hint of the vision he has for the company.

Interview Highlights: Devon Carney

On his new work Opus 1

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Performance
8:43 am
Thu October 3, 2013

Egads! Theatre Company Brings Fresh Blood To The Musical 'Carrie'

Chelsea Anglemyer and Tara Varney in a mother-daughter battle to the death in the musical 'Carrie.'
Credit Amy Whitmore / Egads! Theatre Company

While area theaters often stage shows with Christmas or Hanukkah themes around the year-end holidays, it seems October has taken a lesson from December. Currently at Crown Center, Coterie Theatre is offering a version of Dracula, while at Off Center Theatre, the Egads! Theatre Company is staging a bloody show with a notorious reputation - the musical version of Stephen King's horror novel, Carrie.

High school confidential

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People
10:52 pm
Wed October 2, 2013

Russell Patterson, Former Opera And Symphony Director, Dies At 85

Russell Patterson served as the Kansas City Symphony's first music director, and as the Lyric Opera of Kansas City's general artistic director for four decades.

Updated: Friday, October 4, 11:15 a.m.

Russell Patterson, general artistic director of the Lyric Opera of Kansas City for four decades, as well as one of its founders, died Wednesday; he was 85. Patterson was also the first music director for the Kansas City Symphony.

From 1957 to 1998, Patterson served as the Lyric's artistic director. In a history of the company posted on its website, he's credited with sparking the idea:

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Performance
5:00 am
Wed October 2, 2013

[VIDEO] A Musical Exploration Of 'True Grit'

Jeff Harshbarger leads a rehearsal of the The Revisionists.
Credit Julie Denesha / KCUR

The National Endowment for the Arts started the initiative called The Big Read as a way to encourage reading. This year, for its Big Read selection, the Kansas City Public Library chose the novel True Grit.

It’s the story of a teenager in the late 1800s who seeks to avenge her father’s murder. The library is hosting a series of public events, including a performance of songs inspired by the era of the novel.

Writing songs from Mattie's perspective

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Central Standard
5:28 pm
Tue October 1, 2013

Dust Bowl Images Bring Life To Those Affected

Vernon Evans (with his family) of Lemmon, South Dakota, near Missoula, Montana on Highway 10. Leaving grasshopper-ridden and drought-stricken area for a new start in Oregon or Washington., 1936
Arthur Rothstein (1915-1985) Spencer Museum of Art

In the 1930's, farmers' extensive deep plowing of top soil in the great plains region displaced the natural grasses that normally kept the soil in place. That, in combination with a mix of drought and high winds led to dust storms creating a decade-long period known as the dust bowl that affected thousands of people. What was once a paradise for those moving west to farm the land became a desert-like environment and was later deserted by many settlers. 

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Government
11:56 am
Tue October 1, 2013

Government Shutdown Closes Truman Library And Museum

The Harry S. Truman Museum and Library is closed today.
Credit Edward Stojakovic / Flickr.com

There are an estimated 27,500 federal employees in the Kansas City metropolitan area. And Tuesday, with the shutdown of the federal government, some of those workers are furloughed.

Michael Devine, the director of the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum in Independence, Mo., was at work Tuesday morning with other staffers, shutting down the facility. This included changing outgoing email and voice messages.

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Visual Arts
12:45 pm
Mon September 30, 2013

Controversial Public Art In Crossroads Comes Down Early

According to A. Bitterman, his work called 'The Scout' 'represents a conversation with history, and invites the viewer to examine the ways in which the past intersects with the present to define our sense of place.'
Credit courtesy of the artist

The controversial work called The Scout was taken down Monday. The two-part image included the artist, known as A. Bitterman, standing on scaffolding taking aim at the Scout statue. It was originally commissioned as one of Missouri Bank’s Artboards. But, when it was "de-selected" in July, Bitterman looked into other options for public display.

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Film
5:35 am
Fri September 27, 2013

Film Review: Empty Nesters Fall Hard In Like In 'Enough Said'

James Gandolfini and Julia Louis-Dreyfus attempt to be a couple on the verge of their kids leaving for college in 'Enough Said.'
Credit Courtesy Fox Searchlight Pictures

In Nicole Holofcener’s smart and engaging comedy Enough Said, two single parents on the verge of becoming empty nesters meet and fall hard in like. Wonderfully played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus and the late James Gandolfini, they’re captured in the foundling stage of a potential companionship and their efforts to make it work are infinitely pleasurable to watch.

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