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
11:31 am
Wed February 18, 2015

Is This Even A Genre? The 7 Essential Characteristics Of Folk Music

Davy Crockett Ward of Bog Trotters Band and his wife, Galax, Virginia
Credit Lomax Collection / Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.

When the Folk Alliance International moved its headquarters to Kansas City and held its annual conference in town last year, quite a few area musicians discovered that they qualified as folk musicians.

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Arts & Culture
11:15 am
Wed February 18, 2015

What Is Folk? Gina Kaufmann And Experts Attempt To Answer An Impossible Question

Beau Bledsoe
Credit Jeff Evrard

As the second Folk Alliance International conference kicks off in Kansas City this week, Central Standard explored the question: “What is folk music today?” Listening to some examples with host Gina Kaufmann were three guests:

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Arts & Culture
7:50 am
Sun February 15, 2015

LISTEN: Poet Janet Banks On The Addictive Qualities Of Coltrane And Badu

Poet Janet Banks
Credit C.J. Janovy

Janet Banks has published two books of poetry, Stewed Soul and On the Edge of Urban, and is working on a third. She’s been a featured poet at New York City's Cornelia Street Café in Greenwich Village, as well as at venues around Kansas City.

For our series WORD, she read two poems. Here's “My Neo Soul Addiction”:

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Arts & Culture
7:55 am
Fri February 13, 2015

Arts Leaders Seek Funding — And Respect — At The Missouri State Capitol

ArtsKC sponsored a bus for arts advocates to travel to Jefferson City. At sunrise, it left from the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.
Credit C.J. Janovy

The Missouri State Capitol in Jefferson City is like an art museum unto itself, with its famous murals by Thomas Hart Benton and dramatic bronze statues everywhere. But when it comes to public funding for the arts, that’s at the bottom of lawmakers’ priority list.

On Wednesday, more than a hundred arts advocates from all over the state went to Jefferson City to try to change that. Here's a run-down of how it went.

The Day

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Arts & Culture
6:50 am
Wed February 11, 2015

Kansas City Transgender Couples Set To Star In New Reality TV Show

AiYana, left, and Jaimie from 'New Girls On The Block'
Courtesy Discovery Life Channel

Kansas City is about to be the setting for a new reality TV show – but it’s not about barbecue, fountains or jazz. The show, called New Girls On the Block, follows a group of transgender women. Shot in 50 locations around town at the end of last year, it debuts on the new Discovery Life Channel on April 2.

Discovery Life says New Girls on the Block is the first reality TV series about a group of friends in the transgender community. It focuses on four couples, all of them from Kansas City.

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Arts & Culture
1:00 pm
Thu February 5, 2015

At The Epsten Gallery, KC's 'Women To Watch' Venture Into Dangerous Terrain

Linda Lighton's 'Untitled (Floral Pistil)'
Courtesy Linda Lighton

Linda Lighton makes ceramic sculptures revealing how closely lipsticks resemble bullets. And her white clay flowers bloom not with pistils but with pistols.

Sonie Joi Thompson-Ruffin’s mixed-media fabric print depicts a man-sized black leaf hanging lifelessly from a tree bereft of other leaves, against a blood-red background of squares evoking urban apartments.

Rain Harris makes flowers, some out of silk – but some out of ominous black clay, lending a sense of doom to the idea of traditional floral arrangements.

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Arts & Culture
12:38 pm
Wed February 4, 2015

WATCH: Kansas City's Joyce DiDonato Sings At The Stonewall Inn For LGBT Equality

On Wednesday, NPR released a "Field Recording" of internationally renowned opera star and Kansas City native Joyce DiDonato at the Stonewall Inn in New York City.

The riots that took place at the bar in 1969 are widely credited with launching the modern gay rights movement in the U.S. 

Here is DiDonato's video, and below is a link to the full NPR story explaining why she made it.

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Arts & Culture
5:00 am
Tue February 3, 2015

Jesse Howard, Cranky Missouri Folk Artist, Gets A Posthumous One-Man Show

Jesse Howard, 'Untitled (If You Want to See a Gang of Hoodlum Police),' 1961. Paint on metal.
Collection of the Kansas City Art Institute

In the middle of the last century, where Jesse Howard lived in Fulton, Mo., it wasn’t unusual to see hand-painted signs on country roads advertising a traveling fair or a farm sale.

Jesse Howard’s signs offered Bible verses. They proclaimed his anger at his neighbors and the government, his disappointments with the world around him. His canvas was most often a wooden plank or some scrap metal salvaged from dilapidated outbuildings, or any piece of farm equipment with a flat surface big enough to whitewash with house paint and cover with carefully lettered, all-caps screeds.

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Arts & Culture
11:07 am
Sun February 1, 2015

LISTEN: Gabriela Lemmons' Story Of A Teenage Girl's Annoying Phone Calls

Gabriela Lemmons was one of the poets in the America: Now and Here project, which launched in Kansas City, Mo.
Credit courtesy of the artist

Gabriela Lemmons is a co-founder and former president of the Latino Writers Collective.

We recorded at Blue Monday, the monthly open-mic poetry night at the Uptown Arts Bar, on a night when Lemmons was the featured reader.

She says her poetry is based on her life. "Whatever I'm reading, I actually experienced," she says.

For our series WORD, we selected Lemmons' poem "Stanley Calls Collect."

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Arts & Culture
1:09 pm
Tue January 20, 2015

WORD: Submissions Closed So KCUR's Arts Team Can Catch Up On Reading

Earlier this month, KCUR launched WORD, a new series of on-air readings by area poets, essayists and short-story writers.

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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

The KCUR Arts team asked for submissions on December 5, 2014. Since then we’ve received more than 200 poems, essays, and short stories to consider. From those, we’ve already selected the first few months of Word episodes.

But we still have a lot of submissions to read, and because we want to give all of them a thoughtful review, we’re hitting “Pause” and closing submissions for now. More information is here.

Thank you for your interest in WORD.

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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