CJ Janovy

Arts Reporter

C.J. arrived at KCUR in August 2014. She spent many years as an alt-weekly journalist in Kansas City, including a decade as editor of The Pitch, whose writers won local, regional and national awards and were published in several Best American writing anthologies.

She then spent a few years in academia, serving as director of communications at the University of Kansas Medical Center, where reporters frequently gave her a taste of her own medicine.

A native of Nebraska, C.J. majored in English at the University of California, Berkeley and earned a master’s degree in creative writing from Boston University.


Arts & Culture
5:40 am
Fri January 16, 2015

With Folk Alliance International In Town, KC's Musical Landscape Has Changed

Victor and Penny, otherwise known as Erin McGrane (left) and Jeff Freling, have upped their game thanks to Folk Alliance.
Credit Phil Peterson

A couple of years ago, an organization called Folk Alliance International moved its headquarters from Memphis to Kansas City. Then, last February, 3,000 musicians from around the world came to town for the Folk Alliance’s annual music conference.

Kansas City has good musicians. It’s a solid music community. But when all of those other musicians took over the Westin Crown Center, it was a shock to the system.

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Central Standard
11:09 am
Thu January 15, 2015

Kansas City Playwright David Wayne Reed Reveals How He Helped Himself

David Wayne Reed: Transformational seminar survivor.
Credit Courtesy David Wayne Reed

Theatergoers anticipating Help Yourself, the new show by Kansas City playwright and actor David Wayne Reed, got some insights into Reed’s inspiration on Wednesday’s Central Standard.

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Arts & Culture
8:55 am
Tue January 6, 2015

Filmmaker Exposes Her Family's 'Little White Lie,' Hopes For Honest Talk About Race

Filmmaker Lacey Schwartz
Credit Courtesy / Lacey Schwartz, Truth Aid Media

“White people will think anything,” says a guy named Matt in Lacey Schwartz’s documentary, Little White Lie.

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Arts & Culture
9:27 am
Tue December 30, 2014

Kansas City Art Community's 15 Wishes For 2015

Graffiti artist Phil 'Sike Style' Shafer wants more murals, such as this one, in Kansas City. 'Racket' is Shafer's collaboration with with Daniel Bartle of LucidArts.
Credit Courtesy of Phil 'Sike Style' Shafer

In a departure from the predictable journalistic exercise of looking back on the year that’s about to end, we decided to ask various people in Kansas City’s turbocharged arts community what they’d like to see happen, artistically or otherwise, in the metro in 2015. In their responses, themes emerged – as did random cool ideas.

Here, in no particular order, are 15 things local culture makers wish Kansas City would do in 2015:

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Arts & Culture
5:12 pm
Tue December 23, 2014

Kansas City Theaters To Show 'The Interview' Starting On Christmas

Movie poster for "The Interview"
Credit Wikimedia Commons

Freedom has prevailed, according to Kansas City movie theaters that said they’ll be screening The Interview starting on Christmas Day.

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Arts & Culture
8:03 am
Wed December 17, 2014

PHOTOS: A Few Teasers For The Kansas City Library's Folly Burlesque Collection

Ceil Von Dell. Eli Paul's research has yet to turn up any additional information about the beguiling performer.
Missouri Valley Special Collections Kansas City Public Library

“Certain challenges arise when doing burlesque history research on a work computer,” says Eli Paul, the special collections manager at the Kansas City Public Library.

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Arts & Culture
6:45 am
Tue December 16, 2014

KCK Community College Jazzers Give A 'Kansas City Shout' To Havana

Jim Mair is director of instrumental studies at Kansas City Kansas Community College.
Credit Courtesy Jim Mair

This week, the musicians in the Kansas City Kansas Community College Jazz Ensemble travel to Cuba, where they’ve been invited to perform at the Havana International Jazz Festival. It’s a point of pride for a little-known, but stellar music program.

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Arts & Culture
7:52 am
Tue December 9, 2014

For Kansas City Art Institute Film And Animation Students, It's Showtime

A still from 'Dictum,' by Kansas City Art Institute filmmaking student Ayah Abdul-Rauf.
Credit Ayah Abdul-Rauf / Kansas City Art Institute

Film and animation students at the Kansas City Art Institute get some big-screen time – and a chance to see how their work goes over with a live audience – at their end-of-semester show on Wednesday at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in downtown Kansas City, Mo.

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Arts & Culture
5:26 am
Sun December 7, 2014

Once Again, The Kansas City Symphony Lets Tubas Take Over Christmas

Just a few of the tubas and euphoniums at the Kansas City Symphony's 2014 Tuba Christmas.
Credit Eric Williams / Kansas City Symphony

It’s not often that tuba players get to be the ones on melody.

That changes once a year, though, when the Kansas City Symphony puts on Tuba Christmas, where hundreds of tuba players from all around the metro gather to play traditional holiday songs. Because of popular demand, there are now two Tuba Christmases.

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Arts & Culture
2:19 pm
Fri December 5, 2014

Submit Your Story Or Poem To WORD

Poet Raja Nelson (at right) performs at a Jazz Poetry Jam in the Blue Room, Kansas City, Mo.
Credit Eric Baker, former KCUR intern

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Arts & Culture
5:45 am
Wed December 3, 2014

Let It Show, Let It Show, Let It Show: For Kansas City Performers, Holidays Mean Work

Peggy Friesen (Mrs. Fezziwig) gets some holiday cheer from Jim Gall (Fezziwig) in 'A Christmas Carol.'
Credit Don Ipock / Kansas City Repertory Theatre

For generations of Kansas City families attending big shows such as A Christmas Carol, The Nutcracker and The Messiah is a holiday tradition. But these shows are equally important traditions for the organizations that produce them.

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Arts & Culture
5:45 am
Tue November 25, 2014

Photographs Play Music, Thanks To 'Augmented Reality' At Thornhill Gallery

J. Anthony Snorgrass, professor of advertising, branding and strategic media at Avila University's School of Visual and Communication Arts
Credit 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.

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Arts & Culture
2:41 pm
Wed November 19, 2014

In Their Annual Contest, Kansas City Architects Have Designs On The World

Des Moines Community Playhouse
Credit BNIM

After showing off their best work, Kansas City architects learned on Nov. 14 how they ranked against their local peers at the 2014 Design Excellence Awards program put on by the American Institute of Architects Kansas City.

Teams of architects from Los Angeles and New Orleans judged entries in two categories: overall design excellence and sports venue design. They bestowed the equivalent of first-, second- and third-place awards; top winners were the Honor Awards, given to projects that are “exemplary in detail, context and execution.”

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Arts & Culture
5:00 am
Sat November 15, 2014

With 'The Big Meal,' KU Theatre Students Bite Off A Lot

The cast of KU University Theatre's 'The Big Meal.'
Credit Courtesy of Lindsey Roesti

University of Kansas theater professor Peter Zazzali wanted to challenge his students. So, heading into Thanksgiving, they're putting on a play called “The Big Meal.”

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Arts & Culture
7:53 am
Thu November 6, 2014

Grant Snider, Cartoonist/Orthodontist, Able To Conquer Self-Doubt With A Single Pen

Grant Snider draws early in the morning, while his wife and two small children are sleeping.
Credit C.J. Janovy

Grant Snider, 29, is hunched over a creaky light box in his sunroom. His sunroom isn’t sunny — it’s dark, because Snider draws cartoons early in the morning while his wife and two small children are asleep.

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Arts & Culture
7:47 am
Thu November 6, 2014

Gavin Snider, Illustrator/Musician, Saves Kansas City With A Sharpie

Sad American Night's CD cover and the inspiration behind it.
Gavin Snider

Gavin Snider’s Kansas City Reconstructed illustration project started with a billboard in the Crossroads neighborhood of downtown Kansas City, Mo., and has grown to more than 50 drawings of the city’s sometimes iconic, sometimes not-that-noticeable buildings.

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5:49 pm
Wed November 5, 2014

St. Louis Judge Favors Same-Sex Marriage; Kansas Supreme Court Delays Hearing

Couples line up to be married at St. Louis City Hall on Wednesday afternoon.
Credit Jason Rosenbaum / St. Louis Public Radio

A St. Louis City circuit court judge ruled Wednesday that Missouri's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.

"The Court recognizes that the freedom to marry is a fundamental right and liberty deeply rooted in the history of the United States," St. Louis Circuit Judge Rex Burlison said in his ruling. 

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5:57 pm
Fri October 31, 2014

Gay Couple Says Marriage Decision Delay Is Election-Year Politics

Donna DiTrani (left) and Kerry Wilks, a Sedgwick County couple who were denied a marriage license, are now plaintiffs in a federal case.
Credit CJ Janovy / KCUR

A federal judge on Friday did not rule on a case filed by two gay couples who want marriage licenses in Kansas. One of the couples blamed the state's delay on election-year politics.

The case, originally filed Oct. 10, was heard in open court by U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree, who did not say when he would announce a decision.  The couples are seeking marriage licenses, which would, in effect, overturn the Kansas gay marriage ban.

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Arts & Culture
9:15 am
Fri October 24, 2014

Naughty-Word Alert: The Unicorn's Cynthia Levin On Problematic Play Names

Cynthia Levin, the Unicorn Theatre's producing artistic director.
Credit Unicorn Theatre

Bad Jews, which opened this week at the Unicorn Theatre in Kansas City, Mo., is a comedy.

Still, some potential funders weren’t amused. Cynthia Levin, the Unicorn’s producing artistic director, says some philanthropic organizations that have sponsored the Unicorn’s shows declined this time because of the show’s title.

“I understand that,” Levin says. Arts philanthropy is a competitive arena with intensely interested boards of directors, so the name of a production can sometimes work in the Unicorn’s favor – or not.

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Beyond Our Borders
2:41 pm
Wed October 22, 2014

PHOTOS: Kansas And Missouri's Nearly Identical Taste In Art

Big clown-like figures in 'Thinker'-like poses: 'Companion (Passing Through),' KAWS, Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art in Overland Park, Kan., and 'Crying Giant,' Tom Otterness, Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City, Mo.
Julie Denesha KCUR

In our Beyond Our Borders story on arts and the state line in the Kansas City area, artists and leaders of arts organizations said they believed that the boundary isn't much of a barrier when it comes to the metro's cultural landscape — artists and audiences enthusiastically cross the state line for all sorts of cultural events.

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Arts & Culture
11:08 am
Mon October 20, 2014

Here Are The Prophetic Lyrics To Viral 'Royals' Parody Song

Aaron Lage, writer of prophetic Lorde parody lyrics.
Credit Aaron Lage

Among the many non-team winners of the Kansas City Royals' improbable World Series run are Kansas City musician John Long and his friend Aaron Lage, who created what's now known by 243,290 (and counting) YouTube viewers as simply "Lorde - 'Royals' Parody|Kansas City 'Royals.'"

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Arts & Culture
6:51 am
Fri October 17, 2014

Arts Leaders Dream Of Erasing The Kansas-Missouri State Line; Artists Cross It

Two states, two major art museums with two dramatic buildings: The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art (top) is in Kansas City, Mo., and the Nerman Museum of Art is in Overland Park, Kan.
Credit Courtesy / Nelson-Atkins and Nerman Museum

Harlan Brownlee wishes he could just erase the state line dividing Missouri and Kansas.

In fact, Brownlee knows how he’d do it. He’s the president of ArtsKC, a non-profit that makes grants and provides other resources to artists throughout the five-county metropolitan region. So, in his vivid imagination, he gets his hands on one of the giant Typewriter Erasers by Shuttlecocks sculptors Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen and rolls it down State Line Road.

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Arts & Culture
3:48 pm
Thu October 16, 2014

Now That Kansas City Has A Film Office, Maybe Directors Will Film Here

Reese Witherspoon plays a woman who helps four Sudanese refugees resettle in the United States. It was filmed in Atlanta, Georgia, and South Africa.
Credit Bob Mahoney / courtesy: Warner Brothers

Kansas City has been missing out on valuable economic development – and image enhancement – opportunities by not having a fully staffed film office, but that should change now that Stephane Scupham has joined the Visit KC tourism office as film and new media manager.

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Arts & Culture
12:19 pm
Mon October 13, 2014

LISTEN: The Elder Statesmen Of Kansas City Jazz Play The City's Signature Song

The Elder Statesmen of Kansas City Jazz performing "Kansas City" at the Blue Room on Oct. 11.
Credit C.J. Janovy

Kansas City's 18th & Vine Jazz and Blues Festival filled the air behind the American Jazz Museum with music and barbecue smoke from early in the afternoon until late at night on Saturday, Oct. 11. The jams also went on all day inside the Gem Theater and the Blue Room. 

Although the American Jazz Museum brought in national talent including Roy Hargrove, Meshell Ndegeocello, Lucky Peterson, Jessica Care Moore and Midnight Star, plenty of area acts had stage time as well.

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Arts & Culture
8:10 am
Mon October 13, 2014

How The Royals Chose Between Two Of The Coolest Songs Ever

Curt Nelson is director of the Kansas City Royals' Hall of Fame -- and knows more than a little music trivia.
Credit C.J. Janovy

At Kauffman Stadium, Royals victories are accompanied by The Beatles' "Kansas City/Hey Hey Hey Hey." The City of Kansas City's official song is Wilbert Harrison's "Kansas City" — arguably one of the coolest songs in the history of American music — which the Royals play at Kauffman Stadium only after the Royals lose.

Why is that?

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4:28 pm
Wed October 8, 2014

Johnson County Judge Orders Clerks To Issue Same-Sex Marriage Licenses

A judge in Johnson County, Kan., issued an order Wednesday for clerks to start issuing marriage licenses to everyone, including same-sex couples.
Credit Wikipedia -- Creative Commons

The chief judge of the 10th Judicial District in Johnson County, Kan., has ordered clerks to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. 

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Arts & Culture
1:53 pm
Tue October 7, 2014

Musicians Mourn Death Of Lou Whitney, Sound Engineer And Father Figure

Lou Whitney with Kristie Stremel, who recorded five albums at his studio.
Credit Kristie Stremel

One branch of Kansas City’s musical family is mourning the death of Lou Whitney, a Missouri recording engineer and bass player who many of them considered a father figure.

Whitney, of Springfield, Mo., died Tuesday after a battle with cancer.

Whitney established his reputation at now-legendary gigs with his 1980s-era bands The Morells and later The Skeletons, both of which made regular appearances at the Grand Emporium in Kansas City. 

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Arts & Culture
5:31 am
Fri October 3, 2014

UMKC Announces Gifts Of $5.6 Million For Downtown Arts Campus

Credit Credit courtesy of Helix Architecture + Design, Inc./HGA

Leaders at the University of Missouri-Kansas City have announced $5.6 million in additional gifts for the Conservatory of Music and Dance and its planned Downtown Campus for the Arts.

That puts the fundraising total above $30 million, for a project whose first phase is estimated to cost $96 million. Once the university has raised $48 million in private funds, it will approach the state of Missouri for matching funds.

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Arts & Culture
3:29 pm
Thu October 2, 2014

PHOTOS: KC Designers Get Primal For 'Rituals And Celebrations'

Hadley Johnson, When the Bough Breaks, nylon cargo parachute, Ace bandage-wrapped high heels, parachute pack of cargo belting (collaboration with Beniah Leuschke).
Credit Kansas City Museum

The Kansas City Art Institute doesn’t offer degrees in fashion design, but students in the fiber department spend plenty of time thinking about clothing, costumes, performance and the human body as a means of expression, says Pauline Verbeek-Cowart, the chair of the department.

So when she got a call from Kansas City Museum Executive Director Anna Marie Tutera about co-curating a show called Rituals and Celebrations: Exploring Meaning Through Dress, she was up for it.

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Arts & Culture
2:58 am
Fri September 26, 2014

Talent-Scouting Curators Discover Kansas City Artists At H&R Block Artspace

Raechell Smith is director and curator of the H&R Block Artspace.
Credit C.J. Janovy

People who go to the Kansas City Flatfile show at H&R Block Artspace get to do something that feels wrong: touch the art.

That’s the fun of the Flatfile exhibition, which takes place every two years. The show features work by 160 Kansas City artists, and visitors get to pull it out of the metal files themselves, spending as much time as they want having what Artspace director and curator Raechell Smith calls an "unmediated" experience with the art.

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