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

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Kansas Citians' First Friday entertainment options get wider this week with the debut of festivities along 18th and Vine.

Starting on May 6, arts organizations in the historic Jazz District will host live music and storytelling performances, food trucks, art and fashion displays, shopping and even "instructions on the latest dance trends" including "heels, hip hop, break dancing, vogue and pop, and dip and spin" courtesy of the Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey.

Courtesy Avila University

Avila University will get a new performing arts center thanks to a $3.5 million gift from the estate of Vita Goppert, a former Avila board member.

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.

J. Schafer / Kansas Public Radio

The Federal Bureau of Investigation was processing a crime scene Sunday  at a Topeka hotel where three federal agents suffered non-life-threatening injuries after being shot while trying to make an arrest on Saturday night.

According to a statement by the FBI, members of the United States Marshals Service Fugitive Task Force were executing a federal arrest warrant for Orlando J. Collins, 28, who was on the Kansas most-wanted list and was considered armed and dangerous. The warrant had been issued for Collins on April 20, charging him with two counts of robbery.

LaBudde Special Collections, Miller Nichols Library / UMKC

On the same morning as Kansas City Manager Troy Schulte held a press conference at 18th and Vine to propose $28 million in new funding to continue revitalization of the historic district, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, in Washington, introduced a resolution proclaiming Kansas City, Missouri, as "the Home of Jazz."

In the clear interests of diplomacy, Cleaver also recognized New Orleans as "the Birthplace of Jazz."

Courtesy Jahaira Aguilar

Nothing gets people thinking about the college student-loan debt like a carnival.

That’s what two Kansas City Art Institute students determined, anyway. So they're putting on Debt Day, a carnival with games, prizes, entertainment, food, a dunk tank and slip-and-slide and other shenanigans on the lawn of their school.

J. Robert Schraeder Photography / The Coterie Theatre

Long-form improvisation is a grueling strain of comedy. But some of Kansas City’s funniest high school students are embracing it. Undaunted, they've spent the last few months trying, sometimes successfully, to master it.

Comedy audiences know about short-form improv, where a random word thrown out from the crowd provokes a three-minute sketch.

Courtesy Logan Black

Logan Black is an Iraq War veteran and an actor. Last year he moved Kansas City Fringe Festival audiences with Bond: A Soldier and His Dog, a one-act play he wrote about his relationship with a specialized search dog named Diego.

With another run for the show this month, however, Black has faced a tough reality, with implications for the play’s future: Diego hasn't been well.

Black was Diego's handler. Together, they cleared roads of roadside bombs and searched homes and discovered other stockpiles of ordnance.

Courtesy Emma Harford

The spring assignment for a small class of Kansas City Art Institute students: Spend six weeks making art about Brush Creek. The results: 19 experimental video documentaries — none longer than five minutes — screen on Tuesday night.

Most of the 19 students in the Mapping Brush Creek workshop had never made videos until they took his class, says Steve Snell, an assistant professor in the Art Institute's freshman foundations program.

C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3

How to tell kids the unfathomable but necessary story of a busload of students who simply disappeared after being stopped by police? Or explain the agonizing reality that requires a slogan as basic as Black Lives Matter?

Coloring books, of course.

“My niece loves to paint, and I like to draw,” says Celia Ruiz, whose difficult conversation with her niece inspired the ¡Ayotzinapa Vive! coloring book.

The National Center for Arts Research

Kansas City comes in at number 19 among cities provocatively called “Hotbeds of America’s Arts and Culture” in a new report by the National Center for Arts Research at Southern Methodist University.

C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City writer Angela Cervantes won an International Latino Book Award in 2014 for her first book, Gaby, Lost and Found. Published by Scholastic Press, the book helped establish Cervantes, originally a poet and short-story writer, as an author of middle-grade fiction (for audiences between the ages of 8-12).

Brian Paulette / Kansas City Actors Theatre

The Island is a play about apartheid. Its two actors are prisoners in a tiny cell on South Africa’s notorious Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was kept.

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.”

Jake Jacobson

Folk Alliance International announced Friday that its former director, Louis Meyers, died on March 10.

"It is with heavy hearts that we share the sad news that Louis Meyers passed away," wrote Aengus Finnan, the organization's current executive director. "He will be dearly missed by his friends and colleagues on our staff, board, in our membership, and the music community at large."

Courtesy NCECA

Gallery-goers will see clay everywhere this month, with exhibition spaces welcoming more than 5,000 ceramics artists, students, teachers and fans who’ll arrive in Kansas City for the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts, March 16-19.

This might feel a little overwhelming for casual First Friday attendees.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

The Reading Reptile children's bookstore in Kansas City's Brookside neighborhood will close on March 12, its owners announced on Monday.

Courtesy Queen Alidore Films

When Amber Hansen and Nicholas Ward got jobs with Lawrence painter Dave Loewenstein’s six-state public mural project, they were supposed to be assistants. They ended up becoming filmmakers, documenting an experience they found profoundly moving.

C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3

Three songs into her official Folk Alliance showcase on Thursday night, Kansas City musician Jessica Paige had words for the music industry.

“Recently I was on ‘American Idol’ and they sent me home for a bunch of younger girls, which I’m OK with,” Paige told an audience of about forty other musicians, industry professionals and folk enthusiasts in the Brookside room on the first floor of the Westin Hotel.

C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3

Inside the gallery, it’s a scene familiar to anyone who attends art openings: People are enjoying the oil paintings and large-scale photographs bathed in natural light, snacking on cheese and crackers while lively conversation bounces off the brick walls and polished wood floors.

Outside, though, is the wide-open silence of the Kansas Flint Hills.

This particular art gallery is surrounded by ranch lands in rural Wabaunsee County, where there are many more cattle than people. The gallery's in a place called Volland, which is basically the intersection of a two-lane highway and a dirt road. 

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Pete Cowdin and Deb Pettid, longtime owners of the Reading Reptile children's bookstore in Brookside, are transitioning out of that business and turning their energies toward what they say will ultimately be something resembling a museum dedicated to children's literature.

But they also say it will be a place where visitors will be fully immersed in the books' narratives. 

Bob Mahoney / Courtesy Warner Brothers

A proposal that would give rebates to film and television companies for working in Kansas City, Missouri goes to a City Council committee for consideration on Wednesday.

C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3

It's a rare person who can make a full-time living as a playwright in Kansas City. Nathan Louis Jackson is such a person. His gig as playwright-in-residence at the Kansas City Repertory Theatre was recently renewed.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

The Kansas City, Missouri, City Council recently tasked the city manager's office with reviewing a proposed $18 million in additional spending for projects in the 18th and Vine Historic District. It's been more than 25 years since the council committed $20 million in sales taxes to begin redevelopment of an iconic Kansas City neighborhood that had crumbled.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

As a young child growing up in South Africa, Gillian Power sang in school and church choirs.

"It was one of the things I remember from that time as so deeply joyful," Power says.

Now, Power is in her early forties. She came out publicly as transgender in early 2014. Her transition has included voice lessons.

"Many transgender people really struggle with their voice on many levels – their speaking voice, their telephone voice, their radio voice — and especially their singing voice," she says.

Courtesy Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City has received a $1 million grant to expand and "deepen" its educational programs, says Julián Zugazagoitia, the museum's CEO and director.

Kansas City Repertory Theatre

The Kansas City Repertory Theatre has received a $232,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to continue the playwright residency program for Nathan Louis Jackson.

Courtesy Doug Bradley

A new book about music and the Vietnam War is striking a deep chord, one reverberating from a long-ago Kansas City connection that shows up between the lines of We Gotta Get Out of This Place: The Soundtrack to the Vietnam War.

Courtesy Ada Koch

Ada Koch used to make “cheery” paintings.

“Things like roosters and wine bottles and bicycles and landscapes. A lot of children’s portraits,” says Koch, who moved to Kansas City with her family in 1989, took classes at the Kansas City Art Institute and has been painting since.

“This show is very different,” Koch says.

The work Koch’s hanging this week at the Leedy-Voulkos Art Center is about war, loss, love, violence, and, she says, “fears of losing someone I love in a violent way.”

Library of Congress

A photograph of murdered Chief Big Foot, his body twisted in the snow, is among the most famous images in the history of the American West. U.S. Cavalry troops killed the Lakota leader and more than 200 other American Indian men, women, and children at Wounded Knee on South Dakota's Pine Ridge Indian Reservation on Dec. 29, 1890. Traveling reporters and photographers captured the scene and its aftermath, making it a national news event.

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