Visual Arts

C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3

As soon as Nedra Bonds heard she had breast cancer, she knew one thing: She would somehow turn the experience into an art project.

Bonds is a textile artist, but she's far from the stereotypical creative introvert working alone in a studio.

"My thing is community," Bonds says. "I want people to be able to get free and express themselves.”

Courtesy of Joshua Hoffine

One photo depicts a corpse lying on the dirt in a white dress, black spiders streaming out of her mouth, cradling a plump sleeping baby.

Another shows a little girl kneeling on her bed in her pink bedroom, screaming as the devil emerges from a jagged split in the floor.

These photos are the work of local photographer Joshua Hoffine. Clearly, he doesn't take your typical wedding or graduation photos; his specialty is "horror photography" and the young kids in the photos are his daughters.

Courtesy of Joshua Hoffine

Joshua Hoffine is a local photographer. He doesn't take your typical wedding or graduation portraits, though — his specialty is "horror photography," and he features his daughters in his photo shoots.

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Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City's 18th and Vine shares similar roots with Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee. And both of these music-infused, historically African-American districts have gone through ups and downs over the decades. 

Beale Street is now a thriving tourist destination with restaurants, bars, and shops, although some of its lively streetscape includes facades of historic buildings propped up with steel girders. 

Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3

Even if you're not that familiar with art, you probably know what Andy Warhol's Campbell's Soup cans look like.

In April, seven of Warhol's iconic soup can prints from the 1960s — including tomato and chicken noodle — were stolen from the Springfield Art Museum in southwest Missouri. As a set, they were worth about $500,000, but the thieves didn't take them all. 

Nick Nelson, Springfield Art Museum director, stands inside a quiet gallery in a new wing of the building with the standard gray carpeting, white walls and track lighting.

Blake Little

Blake Little made pictures of beautiful cowboys.

Little was a professional photographer, doing film and television work and shooting magazine covers in Los Angeles. When he and a friend went to their first rodeo, he wanted to be a cowboy, too.

“We were hooked immediately, by the whole scene, watching it, imagining that these guys were really doing this, and they were gay,” Little would later say of the first International Gay Rodeo Association event he attended, in Los Angeles in 1988.

Roy Inman

For all the reasons one thinks of a small town in America — a small, blue-collar community where people leave their doors unlocked and kids play ball in the streets — Picher, Oklahoma was a fantastic place to grow up.

Ed Keheley remembers the closeness of his community.

“The adults in the community basically policed all the kids. You were afraid to do something, if anyone saw it they would immediately call your parents,” Keheley told Steve Kraske on KCUR’s Up To Date.  

Picher, Oklahoma rode the wave of lead and zinc mining in the region that began in the late 19th Century. By 1980 it was an EPA Superfund site and by the 2010 Census, fewer than 20 persons were counted as residents. We look at how Picher is remembered through former residents and through the lens of a local artist.

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courtesy: E.G. Schempf

Letting go of things can be tough, from old letters to baby clothes to extra weight. That’s why two artists are trying to live by example and encourage others to lighten their load.

You could say the Freeing Throwers art project — started by Mo Dickens, a gallery assistant at the Belger Arts Center, and artist Adriane Herman — was sparked by a string of losses, including the death of a beloved pet. 

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

An electronic soundscape greets visitors to the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art on a recent Sunday afternoon. Some carry yoga mats as they walk into the main gallery, and settle in on the floor. Musician and composer Paul Rudy stands in front of a large-scale collage of rice paper, and wooden shelves lined with ceramics.

Rudy is tall, and dressed all in white, with a golden scarf. He chooses an instrument — and the musical meditation experience begins.

Robert Clark / Feathers: Displays of Brilliant Plumage, Chronicle Books, 2016

Kansas native Robert Clark has grown up to be a National Geographic photographer whose most recent book depicts beautiful feathers from all over the world. How a Kansas youth spent feather-collecting and a job photographing athletes for a Hays, Kansas newspaper helped his career take off.

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We check in with two local artists who, about a year ago, quit their jobs to travel the country in a 16-foot Airstream trailer.

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Courtesy Archive Collective

Cellphone photo enthusiasts have a few more days to shape one of the pieces of art in a downtown Kansas City gallery.

Instagram users who post photos with the hashtag #bigamericanpicture can see their images on a computer screen mounted to a wall and hooked up to an iPad showing the feed of a group of Kansas City photographers called the Archive Collective.

“So anyone who uses the hashtag can be present in the show,” says Archive Collective member Megan Pobywajlo.

Stephen Locke/Tempest Gallery

Storms in the Midwest can be dangerous, but there’s often beauty to be found in a streak of lightning or a billowing supercell.

"Chasing Weather," an exhibition at the Kansas City Public Library's downtown branch, combines 17 vivid storm photographs by Stephen Locke with poems by Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg. 

Hannah Copeland / KCUR 89.3

The second Tuesday in April each year has been designated as Fountain Day — the day Kansas City fountains spring back to life. This year, the festivities included one fountain that had been dry for the last four years.

A crowd cheered as water cascaded down the 28-foot wall and steps of the William Volker Memorial Fountain in Theis Park, just south of The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

The director of the Springfield Art Museum likens the recent theft of seven Andy Warhol screen prints to the loss of a loved one.

In a brief address to the media Tuesday, Nick Nelson said the museum is working with authorities in hopes of retrieving the items, part of Warhol’s famous Campbell’s Soup collection.

“The theft of these iconic Warhol prints the museum has had in its permanent collection for 30 years feels like the loss of a family member.”

Set number 31 of the Campbell’s Soup I collection is valued at approximately $500,000. 

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

This story was updated on Wednesday at 9:59 a.m.

Two years after an avowed anti-Semite killed three people outside the Jewish Community Center and Village Shalom, a memorial has been dedicated in their honor.

Artist Jesse Small sculpted the three stainless ripples to represent the three lives cut short on April 13, 2014, at the two Overland Park, Kansas, Jewish sites.

Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3

The Kansas City Art Institute stakes a claim in the Crossroads Arts District on First Friday, April 1, with the debut of KCAI Gallery.

The new venue at 1819 Grand Boulevard will be a familiar stop to many gallery-goers. Grand Arts had a 20-year run at this site, producing and exhibiting shows by artists such as Sanford Biggers, Laurel Nakadate, and Sissel Tolaas, among many others, until it closed in September 2015

courtesy Kansas City Art Institute

Cary Esser, longtime chair of the ceramics department at the Kansas City Art Institute, credits a high school classmate in the 1970s for her introduction to ceramics. 

As Esser recalls, her best friend, Julie, was taking a class, and "truthfully, I didn't know what ceramics was." 

Esser visited the basement classroom and saw her friend throwing pottery on the wheel. "I really had one of those moments where I just looked at what she was doing, and I just said, 'That is the coolest thing. I'm going to do that.'"

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3

No one holds a family together quite like a grandma, and through good times and bad, the matriarchs of the Manheim Park neighborhood in Kansas City have remained steady.

Residents of Manheim Park dedicated a large new mural on Saturday to four women who have been committed to the community for decades.

Doug Shafer, vice president of the Manheim Park Neighborhood Association, described the community's grandmothers as "the most important social glue."

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

For thousands of years, artisans have been making musical instruments out of clay — from whistles and rattles to ocarinas and horns. That tradition continues with two Kansas City artists who've turned ceramic vessels into a sonic experience. 

courtesy of the artist

A celebration of clay — in all its forms — is underway. More than 100 ceramics exhibitions are on view in Kansas and Missouri, timed with the National Council on Education for the Ceramics Arts (NCECA) conference in Kansas City. 

But as more artists experiment with digital tools, some of the artwork on display hardly seems like clay. Case in point: Unconventional Clay, an exhibition at Project Space in the Bloch Building at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. 

courtesy of David Lane

For Kansas City photographer David Lane, the night sky is a canvas where he composes Milky Way-themed works of art.

“The glow that is in those pictures is from 250 billion suns," Lane says. "To see that represented, it helps give our place in the universe."

Ryan Collerd / Courtesy of Pew Center for Arts and Heritage

Lauren Mabry has some advice for future graduates of the Kansas City Art Institute.

Mabry is one of the celebrity ceramicists who’ll be in town later this month for the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts. She earned her BFA from the Art Institute in 2007, and less than a decade later was awarded $75,000 in unrestricted cash from Pew Center for Arts & Heritage. In naming Mabry one of its 2015 Pew Fellows, the center lauded Mabry as “a ceramicist whose expressive and colorful ‘dimensional paintings’ … play with form, texture, color and scale and blur the boundaries between ceramics, abstract painting and sculpture.”

Lori Nix

What would the world look like without humans? In her homemade dioramas, Lori Nix, a Kansas-born artist, depicts a post-apocalyptic world where nature has taken over.

Nix's photographs of her dioramas are on display at the Kansas Focus Gallery at the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art. She'll be giving a talk about her work on March 24.

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