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

Julie Denesha / KCUR

More than 200 people are expected Wednesday at the Gem Theater at 18th and Vine for a daylong community conversation about race.

Though the Fall Symposium: Race, Place & Diversity hosted by the Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey might feel like a response to this week’s events at the University of Missouri in Columbia, the organization hosted a similar symposium a year ago and is committed to doing so for the next five years, says the organization’s executive director, Tyrone Aiken.

Courtesy Anthony Ladesich

Anthony Ladesich never got to buy his father a drink.

Ladesich was just 19 when his father, Vincent Floyd Ladesich, died after a brief illness in 1992. Afterwards Ladesich vaguely remembered how, when he was about 12, his father had called him to the basement one day, excited to play him some tape recordings of his friend from World War II.

Ladesich, a self-described punk, was more interested in riding his skateboard than listening to his dad's old tapes. But after his father died, Ladesich dug through old boxes and found the reel-to-reels.

C.J. Janovy

Back when he was in college, Mark L. Groves heard something frightening: "None of you will ever be professional authors."

It was his second creative writing class. The first one had been great, with a teacher who gave constructive criticism in a humane way. Now, this second creative writing professor was humiliating him.

Groves had been writing since his fourth-grade class with Mrs. Amos. He still remembers the name of his first story: "Joe Dude Groves vs. Your Monster Here."

Courtesy Unicorn Theatre

Audiences at the Unicorn Theatre will see higher-tech productions thanks to a $100,000 grant, the theater has announced.

The grant, from the David Beals Charitable Trust, will support technology upgrades in lighting, sound, projection and electrical systems.

“We’re going to be able to do some things we couldn’t do before,” said Cynthia Levin, the Unicorn’s producing artistic director.

As Kansas City re-lives what feels a lot like last year's magical Royals post-season, one of last year's most popular expressions of fan love is back — with a charming update.

Last year everyone went nuts for the "Lorde - 'Royals' Parody|Kansas City 'Royals'" video in which a local singer named John Long performed Aaron Lage's prophetic lyrics (a rewritten version of Lorde's "Royals") in the bleak dead of a Kansas City winter, dreaming our team would be "Kings of the MLB."

Courtesy Aaron Barnhart

The story of Kansas abolitionist John Brown — the wild-eyed man who killed pro-slavery settlers in response to the sacking of Lawrence before the Civil War — has been told so many times he's now a historical figure of mythical proportions. Few people, however, know the story of August Bondi, who fought alongside Brown in less-murderous Free State skirmishes.

Kansas City comedian Brian Huther is only half surprised that the flag-dressed front-porch beer-drinking character he created has grown exponentially more famous over the last four days as the "Your Drunk Neighbor: Donald Trump" video went viral.

Heather McMichael

When Grace Day enrolled in law school in 1948, it didn't occur to her she was doing anything unusual.

"I just thought, gosh you just enroll and you go," says Day, who is now 88. "If people were going to be resentful about women going into a professional school, it never dawned on me."

Until she got there.

Copyright Talladega College. Photo by Peter Harholdt. / Collection of Talladega College, Talladega, Alabama

At the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Shawn Hughes is surrounded by American history depicted over the course of six murals painted in vivid colors with nearly life-sized figures.

There's a deck full of slaves about to mutiny on the Amistad, the mutinous captives on trial, an urgent scene in the woods as slaves are about to cross the Ohio River to freedom. There are students enrolling at the historically black Talladega College, bringing pigs and chickens to pay their tuition. And there are industrious workers building the university library.

Fidencio Martinez-Perez

When Fidencio Martinez-Perez was 7 years old, a smuggler brought him, his mother and his three brothers across the Mexican border.

Now he makes art in which the roads, rivers and boundary-markers of the United States resemble the blood vessels of human figures. His main material is simple, but significant.


Results are in for the recent 48-hour filmmaking contest between gigabit-fueled Kansas City and Chattanooga: Kansas City won.

Courtesy of Charlotte Street

This Tuesday might be a school night, but it’s also a special occasion, one that, if we're truly in touch with our existential status in the natural world, deserves a ritual. It’s the autumnal equinox, when the sun shines directly on the equator and the lengths of the day and the night are essentially equal.

Two Kansas City musicians want to help celebrate, so they’re putting on a sleeping-bag concert. They did the same thing for the spring equinox six months ago.

C.J. Janovy / KCUR

Dozens of transgender Kansans met at a church in Manhattan on Friday and Saturday, intent on ending discrimination in the state through education.

"Gender neutral" signs taped to bathroom doors made a strong statement at the First Congregational United Church of Christ a few blocks from Kansas State University and the Aggieville entertainment district. This was the third such annual conference put on by the Kansas Statewide Transgender Education Project, or KSTEP, and organizers said it was the biggest such conference to date.

Courtesy Mexican Consulate in Kansas City

English-only speakers might not be able to read Spanish, but they'll likely recognize the emotions, situations and imaginary worlds created by children's book illustrators from Mexico on display at the Kansas City Public Library. 

Courtesy of Xanath Caraza

Kansas City poet Xánath Caraza’s most recent book, Sílabas de viento/Syllables of Wind, received the 2015 International Book Award for Best Book of Poetry. Here she reads a piece from her next book, Ocelocíhuatl due in December 2015 from Mouthfeel Press. This poem is for the 43 students in Mexico who’ve been missing since last year.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

T’khara Jones and her younger sister KhaTera Jones wanted to take dance lessons.

Their older sister won gymnastics and dance trophies, and they had an aunt whose dancing mesmerized them.

"I just thought, 'Wow that looks so much fun, it just looks beautiful," says T'khara. "I always wanted to do it."

Same went for KhaTera, a year behind her in school.

"One of my friends took dance classes and I thought it was really cool. When I first started wanting to take dance classes, it was maybe fourth or fifth grade."

Courtesy Wabaunsee County Historical Society

It's a familiar sight around rural Kansas: Some old, falling-down building, obviously abandoned long ago.

One of those buildings was in Volland, which can’t be even be considered a town — it's just four houses (three of which are empty), a boarded-up white building and an old brick store about an hour and a half west of Kansas City, just beyond the town of Alma (population 800).

Bill Brownlee / Plastic Sax

For decades, Kansas City's jazz community has celebrated Charlie Parker's birthday with a musical tribute at his grave site in Lincoln Cemetery.  In recent years that's taken the form of a "21 Sax Salute" — only with a lot of instruments besides saxophones, and a lot more than 21.

Courtesy / the artists

Anne Pearce made her name in Kansas City years ago, as a painter and as director of the Greenlease Art Gallery at Rockhurst University, where she also teaches art. Two years ago, during sabbatical on the other side of the world, Pearce had a profound experience — one she's now sharing with her students.

Laura Spencer / KCUR

Andrea Johnson is a Kansas City native, now studying English, creative writing and music up at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin.

She wrote this piece after graduating from high school, when she and a few of her friends were facing long-distance relationships as they headed off to college.

From the Not My Ozarks Facebook page

Rachel Luster wasn’t happy when news started showing up in her social media feeds that the Ku Klux Klan wanted to train “the first recruits… in a mighty army” in her part of the Ozarks.

Wondaland Records

Kansas City, Kansas, native Janelle Monae on Thursday released a new single that's an anguished litany of black men and women who've been killed by police and other injustices.

Association for Visual Arts, Chattanooga

Update, 2:30 p.m., Sept. 17: The Kansas City film office has announced the locations for the Capture community film project's kickoff and screening events.

Registered filmmakers will receive their instructions at 5 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 18 at the Union Station Boardroom. The resulting films will be screened, and Best Shot and Best of Show awards will be presented, at 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 20 at the Union Station Extreme Screen. 

Aaron Lindberg

Sarah Smarsh has been gaining international attention for her essays about growing up poor in Kansas — they've appeared in The New Yorker, Harper's,The Guardian, Guernica and elsewhere.

C.J. Janovy / KCUR

First Friday in Kansas City's Crossroads neighborhood is always a street party. But on the first Friday in August, the third annual Southwest x Central Street Fest spotlights artists who don't typically get as much exposure as others: the musicians, writers and artists of Imagine That!, a non-profit studio of artists with developmental and intellectual disabilities.

Jeff Widgren / Courtesy Jeff Widgren

Kansas City jazz lovers are agonizing over the news that Take Five Coffee + Bar will close on Aug. 15.

“We are very sad to have to make this announcement, but Take Five is going to be taking an indefinite ‘set break,’” owners Lori and Doug Chandler wrote on the venue’s Facebook page on July 31.

Since then, an outpouring of sentiment on social media has “made a very difficult situation for us much easier to bear,” says Lori Chandler.

Image courtesy of Larry Christy

Larry Christy owns Missouri River Rafting, where he guides canoe and rafting trips. He’s logged more than 5,000 miles on the water. He’s canoed the entire length of the Missouri River, from Montana to St. Louis – it took him three months. During the winter he works as a carpenter, restoring Victorian houses. He's also written poetry since he was a child. Here, the river guide and carpenter reads a poem about work.

Laura Spencer / KCUR

Greg Carroll, CEO of the American Jazz Museum since 2007, has announced his resignation, effective immediately.

In a news release announcing Carroll's resignation, museum board officers praised Carroll's leadership but gave no explanation for his sudden departure.

Jeff Church / The Coterie

Linda Ade Brand has been involved with the Lyric Opera of Kansas City for decades, so she knows many of singers, actors composers, directors and teachers in town. About a year ago, she had a big idea that would put the work of high school students on stage. The result is a KC Fringe Festival show, "Words+Music," that turns short plays by high school students into a night of tiny operas.

Courtesy photo / ArtsKC

Update: This story was updated on July 17.

Harlan Brownlee, the president and CEO of ArtsKC, has announced his resignation, effective at the end of July.

ArtsKC named Susan Stanton, a longtime non-profit interim leader, to serve as interim president. The organization will begin a national search for Brownlee’s successor.