Visual Arts

Courtesy Wide Awake Films

The Missouri painter George Caleb Bingham is already famous enough to have his work in the National Gallery of Art, as well as many other esteemed institutions. But to his hometown of Arrow Rock, population 56, he could stand to be more famous.

Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3 / File

What do artists, arts organizations, and cultural businesses want when it comes to creative space? Affordability? A sense of community?

A new regional arts market study is trying to find out.

Courtesy the University of Kansas

Visitors to the Spencer Museum of Art in Lawrence will soon see it in a new light – specifically, light pouring into a brand new, glass-encased entryway that is part of an $8 million renovation. 

After 18 months, the museum celebrates a grand re-opening on Saturday, but because they are the museum’s primary patrons, students at the University of Kansas got a special preview party on October 6. Even if they just came for the free food — always a draw for students — the museum’s transformation didn’t disappoint.

Tim Samoff / Flickr--CC

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art has filed documents with the city of Kansas City, Missouri, to officially establish a new Master Plan District. The museum submitted an application on Friday to request rezoning some museum-owned properties from residential to non-residential. This would allow for additional uses, such as office space. 

An awesome snapshot of Kansas City is more than just picking an iconic location. Up to Date host Steve Kraske talks with three professional photographers who say  making a great photo takes plenty of preparation, a good plan and, in some cases, a tiny hexacopter.


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.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

They're a Northland brother and sister who have traveled the world — he as a food writer and photographer, she in a career that's included time as an Olympic figure skater and a local TV news anchor. We chat with Bonjwing and Bonyen Lee in a family Portrait Session show.


C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3

When Paul Dorrell opened an art gallery 25 years ago, people told him he was crazy for representing only Missouri and Kansas artists.

"Everybody thought I was out of my mind," Dorrell says. "That it was a sure road to bankruptcy, that nobody would ever care about Kansas and Missouri artists, that Kansas City and the Midwest in general were a lost cause culturally, so why bother?"

courtesy: Steven Holl Architects

Attendance is up at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art — 534,000 people visited in this fiscal year. The collection has grown by more than 20 percent in recent years. And more of the museum's artwork now travels on loan, to places such as Australia, China, Europe, Japan, and Taiwan: The museum loaned 379 pieces of art in this fiscal year, up from 32 in 2011.

But the Nelson-Atkins wants to be bigger and better.

Courtesy of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

In a new unique three-venue exhibition, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art brings photography of the late, Cuban-born Jesse A. Fernández to Kansas City. The curator of the exhibition joins us to talk about the work and the life of the artist.


Mid-America Arts Alliance

Mid-America Arts Alliance CEO Mary Kennedy has made arts accessibility a focus of her career, sparked by childhood experiences with dance classes.

"As a kid, I grew up in a really tough neighborhood, and the arts were really my way out," said Kennedy, a native of Topeka, Kansas. 

Monet's Final Endeavor Of 'Water Lilies'

Sep 19, 2016
Claude Monet / Public domain

Claude Monet's water lily paintings are some of the most beloved works of art in history, but the painter was endlessly frustrated by the elusiveness of his subject. Ross King, author of Mad Enchantment: Claude Monet and the Painting of the Water Lilies, says the artist worked tirelessly on them, going so far as to have his barber trim his hair while he painted.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

After a four-month absence, a 40-foot tall, 35-foot-wide, 24,000-pound aluminum sculpture by artist R.M. Fischer has returned to the top of its 300-foot-tall pylon at the Kansas City Convention Center.

Henry Grossman

With their cameras, the best photographers can change how we see and think about the world around us. For more than 50 years, Henry Grossman has made portraits of cultural and political  legends, including The Beatles, Muhammad Ali and President John F. Kennedy.

courtesy: Exhibitions International

Staff from Kansas City's Union Station announced Wednesday that come November the Bank of America Gallery will be the first stop on a three-city North American tour of POMPEII: The Exhibition. 

Exhibitions International president John Norman said visitors to POMPEII will take a journey back in time to the ancient Roman city "where they will learn about Pompeii, and the bustling, commercial port that it was." 

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Each month on First Fridays, thousands of visitors stroll through galleries in the Crossroads Arts District. On the industrial northeast corner of the district, Tom Deatherage curates an eclectic mix of edgy, local art in his red, two-story The Late Show Gallery.

Deatherage, who lives in the apartment upstairs, says he’s always been drawn to artists and their work. And after more than 25 years of dealing in art, he says he knows what he likes.

Courtesy Two Tone Press

Color is an essential part of the lives of sisters Angie and Michelle Dreher, who run Two Tone Press, a letterpress print shop in midtown Kansas City, Missouri.

But after watching a short video on Facebook, lack of color recognition grabbed their attention.

"It's like, maybe, a 2-minute video. But I was like crying," says Angie Dreher, who watched the video as people tried on EnChroma glasses. They're designed to boost and improve color vision for those who are color blind. 

courtesy: Mid-America Arts Alliance

Mid-America Arts Alliance CEO Mary Kennedy has announced her resignation, effective Oct. 1. 

Kennedy is the third CEO of the regional nonprofit arts organization, having served in that role since 2000. Her connection to M-AAA dates back to 1989, when she joined the organization as curator of exhibitions for ExhibitsUSA, the national traveling exhibition program. 

"It has been an honor to work for an organization whose mission so closely emulates my own: more art for more people," Kennedy said in a news release. 

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

A storefront on the corner of Brooklyn and Lexington, across the street from a Caribbean restaurant and a convenience store in Kansas City's Historic Northeast, might be an unexpected location for an art gallery. But The Source Fine Art owner Bill Heineken, who hosts his second art opening on Friday, says more artists are coming to the neighborhood.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

Kansas City's new streetcar line presents hazards for bicyclists, but an artist named Don Wilkison, who calls himself m.o.i., for the Minister of Information, hopes his "Rail-Bike-Rail" installation will help them navigate this new environment.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

Ghostly, metallic-hued faces stare out from century-old photographs. They neatly line the walls on narrow shelves in Nick Vaccaro’s home office in Lawrence, Kansas.

“Let me get this out of the way,” said Vaccaro, as he opened the door of a lighted display and reached in for a small leather case. Inside, there’s a tintype: an innovation from the 1860s that brought photography to the masses.

Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3

You hear the term “placemaking” a lot these days. It's about taking what already exists in a neighborhood and building on it — or reinventing a public space to attract more people to it. The city of Merriam, Kansas is launching a new five-year public art initiative on Wednesday, with a sense of place. 

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.


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.