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.

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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.

Courtesy Photo / Bruce Branit

Kansas City visual effects artist Bruce Branit and his former partner, Jeremy Hunt, are getting credit for making the first viral online video.

This according to no less a pop culture authority than Bravo TV, which is scheduled to air a segment about Branit and Hunt's video Wednesday on "Then and Now with Andy Cohen."

In 2000, Branit and Hunt made a three-minute video in which a computer-generated DC 10 lands on a California freeway. They posted it on what was a still-novel Internet:

Heather Burton

Kansas City musicians have written three new holidays songs for 2016 (that we know of). Here they are, along with a few other gems by local songwriters dating back to the 1940s.

Fair warning: Kansas City musicians are not in the habit of writing cheerful Christmas tunes. The following songs fearlessly embrace the deeply complicated emotions so many people feel this time of year, making Elvis and his "Blue Christmas" feel like candy canes.


Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

When 50 kids play a concert at the Plaza Library this weekend, it'll be one of the first public performances of a new program that provides free music education to low-income kids in hopes of improving their long-term academic performance.

Kansas City Public Library

A Kansas City librarian has won one of the most coveted awards in her profession. 

April Roy, who manages the Kansas City Public Library's Lucile H. Bluford Branch at 30th and Prospect, was one of ten people from around the country who accepted the American Library Association's I Love My Librarian Award last Thursday in New York City.

Da Chi Pictures, LLC

The new movie Chi-Raq, about gang violence in Chicago, opens Friday. It caused controversy long before it opened: Some Chicagoans don’t like their city being compared to Iraq, while other critics have said the premise is sexist. It’s making national headlines as Spike Lee’s new movie, but that’s only partly true.

Kelly Seward / Belger Crane Yard Studios

The traditional art-opening weekend meets the traditional gift-giving season at the following shows and sales, which involve multiple Kansas City artists.

Belger Crane Yard Studios Open House & Holiday Sale
2011 Tracy Ave., Kansas City, Missouri
Artists in their studios sell handcrafted pottery, jewelry, sculpture and ornaments as part of the Kansas City Clay Guild’s Annual Pottery Tour.
Friday, Dec. 4, 6-9 p.m.; Saturday, Dec. 5, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sunday, Dec. 6, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

C.J. Janovy / KCUR

Even though the Kansas City Museum is devoted solely to local history, it has an opportunity to be world-class, says its director, Anna Maria Tutera.

Tutera envisions an institution such as the City Museum of New York or the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, both in New York City, both associated with former grand mansions.

J. Robert Schraeder Photography / The Coterie

Amid the vast genre known as holiday music, few classics stand out as much as A Charlie Brown Christmas, the Vince Guaraldi Trio’s soundtrack to the iconic Peanuts television special.

Coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the TV cartoon is the Coterie Theatre's live production. Demand for tickets was so intense the show is now sold out until after Christmas (it runs through Jan. 3).

For years, people have been asking Cody Wyoming to reprise the now-legendary 2011 concert in which a long roster of Kansas City musicians played a live version of the Rolling Stones’ classic Exile on Main Street.

“As much fun as it was, I try not to repeat myself too much,” Wyoming says.

So, on Nov. 28, a long roster of Kansas City musicians will stage the Rolling Stones’ classic Sticky Fingers.

Wikipedia -- Creative Commons

The Human Rights Campaign, a national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender organization, on Wednesday released its annual Corporate Equality Index, which measures policies regarding LGBT inclusion at 851 of the nation's largest companies.

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.