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

Courtesy Bryn Greenwood

Lawrence writer Bryn Greenwood’s novel All the Ugly and Wonderful Things is a love story between a grade-school girl and a drug-running biker in his twenties, set on a meth-making compound in the rural Midwest.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

Each year in the fall, nearly 1,700 people enjoy Ailey II modern dance performances presented by the Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey. But besides being the official second home of the famed New York-based Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, the local organization has another year-round mission: to create social change by encouraging diversity.

Rowland Scherman / National Archives and Records Administration

Bob Dylan, who won the Nobel Prize for literature this morning — "for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition" —has written a lot of words, about a lot of places. In honor of his accomplishments, however, we can't help being proud that a few of those words indicate he's been thinking about us.

1. "High Water (For Charley Patton)," from 2001's Love and Theft

First verse:

Nina Subin

Ayad Akhtar won the Pulitzer Prize back in 2013 for his play Disgraced, about a successful corporate lawyer who has hidden his Pakistani Muslim heritage.

C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3

Update, October 6, 2016: This post has been updated to include a statement from the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Kansas City, whose spokeswoman was originally unavailable due to the Rosh Hashanah holiday.

Kansas City Public Library Executive Director R. Crosby Kemper III said off-duty police officers "over-reacted" when they arrested Steve Woolfolk, the library's director of public programming, along with community member Jeremy Rothe-Kushel during an event at the Plaza branch in May.

Courtesy Kansas City Missouri City Hall

Mayor Sly James asked a Kansas City Council committee on Wednesday to recommend spending $250,000 to begin planning for a three-day arts festival to take place in Swope Park next September.

Those funds would go toward hiring of a project manager who would spend the next year developing the festival, which would include visual, performing, and digital arts, as well as an educational component, all taking advantage of the assets in Swope Park: Starlight Theatre, the park's pavilion, and the Southeast Community Center.

Courtesy UMKC Gallery of Art

Davin Watne and Barry Anderson were feeling some pressure.

“It’s been a while since you’ve had a faculty show,” people kept reminding Watne, the curator and director of the UMKC Gallery of Art.

C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3

When Paul Dorrell opened an art gallery 25 years ago, people told him he was crazy for representing only Missouri and Kansas artists.

"Everybody thought I was out of my mind," Dorrell says. "That it was a sure road to bankruptcy, that nobody would ever care about Kansas and Missouri artists, that Kansas City and the Midwest in general were a lost cause culturally, so why bother?"

C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3

Out in Western Kansas, not too far from Dodge City, is the town of Jetmore. It’s home to about 900 people, including the Bradshaw family. Young Crystal Bradshaw had a happy childhood there, but one thing was missing, so she set out to solve a family mystery.

She ended up writing an important book about Kansas – before she even went to college.

Courtesy Sharon Rodriguez

As election season cranks into post-Labor Day fury, the Johnson County Library wants to provoke conversations about democracy and activism.

It's doing so with events titled Bear Witness, kicking off on Thursday with an art opening intended to “bear witness to the events and issues of the past and present, and to postulate those in the future.”

One literal witness is photographer Sharon Rodriguez, who has spent the past year interviewing and taking photographs of homeless people in Johnson County.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City theater audiences know Damron Russel Armstrong’s work – he’s been an actor and director in town for years. But Armstrong’s new role is his most challenging yet: He’s starting a new theater company.

Charlie Parker was born on Aug. 29, 1920. For three years now, Kansas City jazz organizations have marked his birthday week with a Charlie Parker Celebration, trying to increase hometown appreciation for the influential jazz saxophonist.

C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3

Robert and Karen Duncan are well-known art collectors in Lincoln, Nebraska – but they haven’t forgotten their hometown in southwest Iowa.

The couple moved to Lincoln in the 1960s, when Robert came to run the family business, Duncan Aviation, a massive airplane service business. They also started collecting art. Forty years later, they had amassed a significant collection, and built a home designed to display it, on forty acres landscaped for a sculpture garden.

C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3

Miguel M. Morales has been a writer his whole life, but he began to make it more than a hobby after joining Kansas City's Latino Writers Collective seven years ago (he recently finished a two-year term as the organization's president).

Morales says this summer's shootings at the Pulse nightclub "disrupted" his life in ways that will probably always affect his writing.

"This summer, in particular, has been very troubling, very violent — just one instance after another of violence, shootings, and massacres," he says.

Courtesy Wendy Thompson

Longtime Kansas City film producer and director Rick Cowan died of a heart attack around 2 a.m. on Monday. Cowan’s wife, Wendy Thompson, announced the news on Facebook.

The two had shared a nice evening together before he started feeling poorly, Thompson tells KCUR.

Cowan had worked in Kansas City’s film industry since arriving in town in the late 1970s.

Courtesy Kansas City Area Life Sciences Institute

It's no secret that science often produces mesmerizing images to go along with all of its graphs, charts and tables. Now some of those images, generated by biomedical research underway in the Kansas City region, have a show all of their own at Kemper East.

"It's not something we usually show here," says Erin Dziedzic, the Kemper's director of curatorial affairs.

C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3

With its rich history and symbolism as Kansas City’s black-white dividing line, Troost Avenue is a frequent source of material for artists. The current example is a KC Fringe Festival play by Donna Ziegenhorn, whose Bingo on the Boulevard depicts a diverse cast of neighborhood characters dealing with life’s complexities.

C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3

As the Kansas City Council considers more than $27 million in new investments in the historic 18th and Vine Jazz District, leaders of the district’s oldest landmark want to make sure City Hall respects the special status of the Mutual Musicians Foundation.

It’s a sacred place not just because alcohol flows legally there after hours.

Courtesy Aliki Barnstone

Missouri has a new poet laureate: Aliki Barnstone, a professor of English at the University of Missouri-Columbia, appointed last week by Gov. Jay Nixon. Barnstone has published seven books of poetry; her first was published when she was 12; her eighth, Dwelling, is expected this fall.

C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3

As soon as Nedra Bonds heard she had breast cancer, she knew one thing: She would somehow turn the experience into an art project.

Bonds is a textile artist, but she's far from the stereotypical creative introvert working alone in a studio.

"My thing is community," Bonds says. "I want people to be able to get free and express themselves.”

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

Let’s admit it: A lot of us aren’t as up on our Shakespeare as we ought to be (even some of us who were English majors).

For those who’d like to feel a little smarter as they head to Southmoreland Park for the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival's Twelfth Night, or What You Will, we consulted Geraldo U. Sousa, a professor of English at the University of Kansas who has written several books on Shakespeare and teaches Twelfth Night almost every semester.

Cliff Schiappa/HMC

Dustin Cates was a young teenager when he watched Maya Angelou on television reading "On the Pulse of Morning," the poem she’d written for President Bill Clinton’s inauguration in 1993. It left an impression.

“In high school English class, anytime we would study something she wrote, I was always excited to engage with that,” he says. “The command she has with the spoken word just draws you in — I was drawn into what she was saying and how she was saying it.”

Todd Rosenberg

Musicians in the Kansas City Symphony will get a salary increase of nearly twenty percent over the next four years, along with increases in other benefits after successful contract negotiations, the Symphony has announced.

Blake Little

Blake Little made pictures of beautiful cowboys.

Little was a professional photographer, doing film and television work and shooting magazine covers in Los Angeles. When he and a friend went to their first rodeo, he wanted to be a cowboy, too.

“We were hooked immediately, by the whole scene, watching it, imagining that these guys were really doing this, and they were gay,” Little would later say of the first International Gay Rodeo Association event he attended, in Los Angeles in 1988.

Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3

The Vietnam War divided the country – and families – including that of Kansas City writer Alan Robert Proctor. His brother, Bruce Proctor, worked in the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency before fleeing the country to avoid being sent to Vietnam.

C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3

Folk Alliance International reaffirmed its commitment to Kansas City on Tuesday and announced that British folk musician Billy Bragg will be the keynote speaker for its conference in February 2017.

Brittany Tutt / Chillicothe Constitution-Tribune

The Missouri Arts Council, which funnels money to arts organizations around the state, will see an increase of $1.2 million for fiscal year 2017. That will put MAC’s state funding at $6 million, up from $4.8 million. It’s the first increase in several years, says the organization’s executive director, Michael Donovan.

Courtesy Dawayne Gilley

The Kansas City Kansas Street Blues Festival has had a hard life. In fact, fans of the scrappy two-day concert featuring all-local musicians probably thought it was dead, since it hasn't graced the corner of 13th and State with baleful riffs and barbecue smoke since 2009.

But like the characters in its performers' songs, it's found a way to survive. After seven years of silence, festival founder Dawayne Gilley says he's bringing it back this summer.

C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3

Juan Felipe Herrera's official duty is to be the "lightning rod for the poetic impulse of Americans."

That's how the Library of Congress begins its job description for the United States poet laureate. In other words, the poet-in-chief "seeks to raise the national consciousness to a greater appreciation of the reading and writing of poetry."

Courtesy Ida McBeth

The American Jazz Museum celebrates two Kansas City musical acts this weekend with Lifetime Achievement Awards for the McFadden Brothers and Ida McBeth.

McBeth's musical memories go all the way back to when she was five years old at church, singing the solo on a song called “It’s In My Heart.”