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
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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Arts & Culture
6:37 am
Fri September 19, 2014

'Hardbody' Director Missy Koonce On Wanting To Marry A Musical

For Norma (Victoria Barbee), in the spotlight, and the other characters in the Unicorn's 'Hands on a Hardbody,' a truck is the key to a better life.
Credit Cynthia Levin

Hands on a Hardbody, the show now playing at the Unicorn Theater, isn’t particularly sexy. There’s a little bit of romance, but the “hard body” isn’t a person -- it’s a pickup truck on the lot of a fictional Nissan dealership in Longview, Texas. There, ten contestants try to keep one hand on the truck for as long as they can. The last person with a hand on the truck gets to drive it home.

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Arts & Culture
3:50 pm
Thu September 18, 2014

UMKC Selects Architects To Begin Designing Downtown Arts Campus

Helix Architecture of Kansas City and HGA of Minneapolis were selected as the design team for the proposed downtown campus for the Conservatory of Music and Dance.
Credit courtesy of Helix Architecture + Design, Inc./HGA

The University of Missouri-Kansas City has chosen a team of architects to design the first phase of its proposed downtown arts campus.

The winning team is the duo of Kansas City’s Helix Architecture and Design and the Minneapolis-based HGA.

The selection comes after a competition last week where five teams participated in a three-day design session and presented their concepts to the public on Sunday. More than 200 people attended.

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Arts & Culture
8:00 am
Sat September 13, 2014

At New Fields, Sculptor Jake Balcom Kicks Around The Meaning Of Soccer

Kansas City artist Jake Balcom started installing "Triple Blome" at Swope Park's Soccer Village on Monday, Sept. 8.
CJ Janovy KCUR

The Kansas City Parks & Recreation Department celebrated the opening of Soccer Village on Friday. In addition to pristine practice fields with perfect synthetic grass and a natural-grass championship field with grandstands that seat 1,500 people, there’s also a sculpture, thanks to the city’s One Percent for Art Program.

The artist, Jake Balcom, installed the work last week with help from two friends, Spencer Schubert, also a local sculptor, and musician Brent Jamison.

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Arts & Culture
5:00 am
Fri September 12, 2014

Kansas City Poet Xanath Caraza Has Words For El Salvador

Xanath Caraza, far right, was among the presenters at the Segundo Festival Internacional de Poesia de Occidente in El Salvador in August.
Credit Xanath Caraza

Kansas City poet Xanath Caraza is used to answering questions from the college students in her writing classes at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. But last month, she spent an intense six days answering questions from children who want to be poets in El Salvador, which is struggling with gang violence after years of civil war.

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Arts & Culture
7:41 am
Thu September 4, 2014

One Year Later, Kansas City Blues Challenge Winners Are Rocking

Katy Guillen and the Girls are, from left, Stephanie Williams, Katy Guillen, and Claire Adams.
Credit Todd Zimmer

It was almost exactly a year ago when a young band named Katy Guillen and the Girls won the Kansas City Blues Society’s annual Kansas City Blues Challenge. The victory earned them a trip to Memphis to compete with bands from all over the world in the International Blues Challenge in January.

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Arts & Culture
2:42 pm
Thu August 28, 2014

Kansas City Streetcar System Now Officially Named ... KC Streetcar

Willoughby Design's KC Streetcar logo without text.
Credit Kansas City Streetcar Authority

The Kansas City Streetcar Authority has released the name and branding for the city's new downtown streetcar line.

Created by Willoughby Design, Inc., the package approved by the Authority on Thursday includes a name, icon, color palette and other branding elements.

The transit system's now-official name — KC Streetcar — is "simple, intuitive and universal, giving Kansas City a place among the best transit systems in the world, ” says Tom Trabon, chair of the Streetcar Authority Board.

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Arts & Culture
11:19 am
Mon August 25, 2014

PHOTOS: Wiley's Kansas City Street Art Beautifies Utility Boxes

Corner of W. 45th St. and Belleview
C.J. Janovy KCUR

On Central Standard in July, host Gina Kaufmann asked the Kansas City graffiti artist known as Gear to explain his theory that graffiti is “the beautification of the city.”

Most graffiti artists choose areas that are run-down or buildings that haven’t been taken care of by their landlords, Gear said.

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Arts & Culture
8:05 am
Thu August 21, 2014

At The Nerman, American Indian Art Is Contemporary

Norman Akers' "Transience"
Norman Akers

This fall, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art opens its blockbuster exhibition "The Plains Indians: Artists of Earth and Sky," with works ranging from a 2,000-year-old stone pipe to beaded designer shoes from 2011. To spark enthusiasm, three enormous teepees now compete with the Shuttlecocks on the Nelson’s south lawn.

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Arts & Culture
3:17 pm
Tue August 12, 2014

Nelson-Atkins Director Says Arts District Plans Are Decades Old

A rendering from the Nelson-Atkins shows a foot bridge leading into the sculpture park over Emanuel Cleaver II Boulevard.
Credit Courtesy / Nelson-Atkins

Earlier this month, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art released its preliminary plans for a cultural district surrounding its Midtown Kansas City neighborhood through an article in the Kansas City Star. The vision was expansive, conceivably stretching as far north as Hyde Park, south to Brookside, west to the Country Club Plaza and east to the Paseo.

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Arts & Culture
8:56 am
Mon August 11, 2014

Kansas Citians' Digital Stories Now Part Of The Library's Collection

“I received the telephone call around three o’clock in the morning. Bernard Powell was dead.”

That's Telester Powell, talking about her husband. Bernard Powell was a well-known Kansas City Civil Rights activist in the 1960s. He joined the NAACP at age 13 and marched with Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma. Powell was on the rise, winning accolades such as Outstanding Man of the Year from the National Junior Chamber of Commerce. He had a dream of becoming Missouri’s first black governor.

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