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

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.”

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.

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