C.J. 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.

Ways to Connect

Erwin E. Smith Collection of the Library of Congress / On Deposit at the Amon Carter Museum

The worn-slick saddle encased in Plexiglas is not a standard fixture of the Kansas City Public Library’s grand, marbled entry hall. But it's not out of place, either, considering that the stately former First National Bank building, which opened in 1886, is a monument to how cosmopolitan the cattle industry once made our town.

Courtesy Randy Michael Signor

In Randy Michael Signor’s new novel “Osawatomie,” homesteaders settle near the titular Kansas town just before the Civil War. This turns out to be problematic in ways that reverberate for generations (it might as well be a metaphor for America).

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

On Wednesday, the Kansas City Ballet opens the first of seven prestigious performances of “The Nutcracker” at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., capping a year and a half of planning and meeting a massive logistical challenge.

Moving the entire production required four 52-foot semi trucks. Besides 30 company dancers, the Ballet brought along 12 second-company members and around 20 crew members and artistic and administrative staff.

Courtesy Michael McClintock

When Michael McClintock and Dálida Pupo Barrios met, it was not love at first sight.

Pupo Barrios was doing her job, working for the Cuban minister of culture, accompanying McClintock's tour group when he first visited the country.

Courtesy Tom Stroik

"One thing that a poet needs more than anything else — well, you need a sense of language — but you need people who love you. And I have that," the poet Michelle Boisseau told New Letters on the Air host Angela Elam earlier this year. "I have incredible colleagues, and of course my husband Tom [Stroik], and people who believe in your work. Just keep doing it."

Courtesy The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art announced on Wednesday that it had acquired more than 800 photographs thanks to a $10 million grant made two years ago by the Hall Family Foundation.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Victor Raider-Wexler, a venerable actor with a voice as deep as magma, has never performed as a woman before. 

“It’s a brand new thing," he says of his role in Spinning Tree Theatre's newest production. "But last Christmas I was Marley, and I’d never been a ghost before either.”

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

More than 3,000 students in the Kansas City, Kansas, Public Schools stand to improve their chances of graduating from high school and pursuing higher education, thanks to an $18 million federal grant that will allow tutoring, mentoring and other services for students from sixth grade through their first year of college.

C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3

Officials with the UnitedHealth Group on Tuesday announced they would bring 500 jobs to Kansas.

Around 150 of the positions will be at OptumRx's Overland Park facility at 6860 West 115th Street, where renovations have opened up a floor full of cubicles waiting to be filled.

"We're very, very deeply committed to Kansas," said John Mahrt, OptumRx's chief operating officer. "Kansas is a fantastic place for our people to live and work."

C.J. Janovy

As a kid, Andrew McKenzie had an unusual affinity for languages.

He took French in high school (because everyone else was taking Spanish). But that wasn't enough.

"I started to teach myself different languages, like Latin and Greek and Basque and Turkish," he remembers. "I would drive into the city to a bookstore, and they’d have a section with language books. I'd say, 'I'm just going to learn this language because the book has the prettiest font.'"

Todd Rosenberg

After a five-year fundraising campaign, the Kansas City Symphony announced Wednesday that it had accomplished its goal of raising $55 million for its endowment fund, which will now total more than $100 million.

In a news release, the Symphony reported that 1,000 donors had pledged gifts ranging from $10 to $10 million over the five-year period.

Isabel Fimbres

The artist: Brotha Newz

The Song: Fallen Roses

Courtesy Chris Ortiz

Samantha Beeson definitely does not like to be the center of attention. But that hasn't prevented her from being the subject of a photography exhibition.

Beeson lives with an array of difficulties that her partner, photographer Chris Ortiz, describes as “social anxiety disorder, depression, PTSD and panic attacks as a result of a past abusive relationship.” Her "everyday struggle to manage these disorders" is the point of his exhibit “Living With Sam.”

Courtesy Melissa Etheridge

Grammy- and Oscar-winning singer-songwriter Melissa Etheridge was moved to hear how her music had affected fans during a conversation on KCUR's Up to Date on Friday before a weekend of performances with the Kansas City Symphony.

Mike Tsai / Kansas City Actors Theatre

It was a year ago when the Kansas City Actors Theatre decided to produce Sam Shepard's play “A Lie of the Mind” this season. When Shepard died in July, company members were shocked at first, but then their feelings evolved.

Donnelly College / Facebook

Faculty, staff and students at Donnelly College, a small, private Catholic college in Kansas City, Kansas, are celebrating their ranking this week by U.S. News and World Report as the most ethnically diverse college in the Midwest.

C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3

Several hundred Kansas City-area fast-food workers, along with members of labor unions, clergy and their supporters, started Labor Day with an early morning rally on the grassy lawn at 33rd and Southwest Trafficway, stressing their demand for $15 an hour and union rights.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Workers at Kansas City-area McDonald's, Burger King and other restaurants are planning to participate in what's being billed as a national strike on Labor Day, calling for $15 an hour as well as union rights.

Terrence Wise, who works at McDonald's and is a leader of the organization Stand-Up KC/Fight for $15, says workers in his industry don’t get the day off. But they're taking the day off anyway because they want to bring back the meaning of Labor Day.

Missouri Valley Special Collections / Kansas City Public Library, Kansas City, Missouri

While many eyes remain on recovery and damage assessment in Texas and Louisiana in the literal wake of Hurricane Harvey, some residents of the Kansas  City metro — who've seen unusual amounts of rainfall and dangerous flooding this summer — are growing more concerned about the possibility of unprecedented floods.

Courtesy Lisa Cordes

Cementing the relationship between two Kansas City organizations that have worked together to help artists develop their careers, the Mid-America Arts Alliance announced on Thursday that it had acquired Artist INC.

Archives of American Art / Smithsonian Institution

Joe Jones doesn’t sound like the name of a great artist – it sounds like the name of a house painter, which is what Jones was during his early days in St. Louis. But an exhibition at the Albrecht-Kemper Museum in St. Joseph argues that Jones' name deserves to be as well known as his regionalist contemporaries: Thomas Hart Benton, John Steuart Curry and "American Gothic" painter Grant Wood.

James Dobson / Garden City Telegram

Shona Banda, a Garden City, Kansas, mother who drew national attention after losing custody of her son over her use of cannabis, has pleaded no contest to felony charges in exchange for probation.

Banda, who has Crohn’s disease, has been a vocal advocate of medical marijuana and self-published a book about her use of cannabis oil to treat her condition, an inflammatory bowel disease that can cause severe abdominal pain and other symptoms.

C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3

El Dean Holthus knows what people might think of a town like Smith Center, Kansas.

At nearly the exact geographic center of the contiguous United States, it's an hour from the nearest Interstate. It's home to about 1,600 people, but that population is declining like most of rural America's.

They probably think, he says, that "it's just a little hole in the ground."

C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3

Longtime Kansas City transit activist Clay Chastain on Friday launched another campaign for a ballot initiative to create what he called an all-electric, "state-of-the-art transit system."

Question No. 2 on Kansas City's August 8 special election ballot asks for a yes or note vote on whether to approve a 3/8-cent sales tax that would last for 25 years:

Jena Janovy / KCUR 89.3

It's been twenty years since Brody Buster's first round of glory days — when he was a 10-year-old blues harmonica phenomenon, fronting his own band, appearing on "The Tonight Show" and at the Montreux Jazz Festival with Quincy Jones.

Buster couldn't have remained a child prodigy forever, of course. So his journey back into the national spotlight is both "surreal" (that's his word) and an all-too ordinary coming-of-age story.

University of Missouri-Kansas City

Update: This story was updated at 4:00 p.m. to include Missouri Governor Eric Greitens' veto statement.

Despite gaining approval from the Missouri House and Senate for $48 million in state bond funding for its proposed Downtown Campus for the Arts, the University of Missouri Board of Curators announced today that it would instead "develop plans for an alternative funding match ... rather than seek funding from the state under the 50-50 matching program for capital projects."

Kathi Barnhill

Queer kids in rural America know what it's like to grow up scared.

Moises Serrano grew up in Yadkinville, North Carolina, population just under 3,000, about half an hour west of Winston-Salem. He wasn't just gay. His parents brought him across the border from Mexico when he was 18 months old. So: gay and undocumented.

Courtesy Mid-America Arts Alliance

Todd Stein will continue leading the Kansas City-based Mid-America Arts Alliance, where he has been interim chief executive officer since longtime director Mary Kennedy retired last August.

In an announcement Friday, Mid-America Arts Alliance board chair Ed Clifford said Stein is "the right person to lead our team as the arts world faces challenges securing federal funding for the cultural organizations we support in six states."

Courtesy Tom Shawver

Some people contend that James Joyce's Ulysses is the best novel of the 20th century. I'm not jumping into that debate. But as the annual worldwide literary holiday known as Bloomsday celebrating Ulysses rolls around again, I've made one more attempt to understand the book.

Not by reading it, but by speaking to some local experts.

Brian Collins

Presumably, everyone knows that "To be, or not to be" is a phrase from Shakespeare's Hamlet.

Same goes for "something is rotten in the state of Denmark." And many people might correctly guess that "Get thee to a nunnery" is from Hamlet as well.

But what about "the lady doth protest too much"?

"To thine own self be true"?

"Neither a borrower nor a lender be"?

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