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

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

When the Kansas City Actors Theatre opens Israel Horovitz’s My Old Lady next week, the production will star three actors that might, in one of the profession's euphemisms, be described as "well-known" actors.

But KCAT isn't bothering with euphemisms.

The show "provides three great acting roles, especially two for middle-aged and older women,” director Darren Sextro said in the show's news release, adding that this particular group of artists "deserves more opportunities than they’re offered."

E.G. Schempf

When Grand Arts closed in the fall of 2015 after a 20-year tenure in the Crossroads, Stacy Switzer, the artistic director of the organization (calling it a "gallery" would be inadequate), said it had been a place of "extraordinary" freedom for artists. 

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Despite her lifelong Muslim faith, Sofia Khan didn't always wear a head scarf. She was a spiritual person but considered herself a moderate practitioner of Islam, wearing a head scarf on certain occasions.

That changed after the 9/11 terror attacks.

"I realized a negative image was coming on my faith," Khan says. "I wanted to make a statement and show people this not what Islam is. There are so many Muslims living around you, you just don’t know who they are."

Paul Andrews

The world doesn’t need any more Christmas music. But with the complex emotions of the season so unavoidable, songwriters like David George can be forgiven for succumbing to them – especially when it results in more risqué holiday tunes, which the world might be able to use.

James Hugo Rifenbark

Kyle Powell died in my arms, November 4, 2006.

That's the first line of Gerardo "Tony" Mena's poem "So I Was a Coffin," which he set to music, added photographs from other members of the United States Marine Corps' 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, and posted on YouTube.

Courtesy David Muhammad

In room 309 at Shawnee Mission East High School, social studies teacher David Muhammad and his students tackle some of humanity's most difficult subjects — on a recent Tuesday afternoon, for example, his international relations class was studying the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights. 

After class, he's also known for encouraging respectful debates about topics confronting America — a video of one of those debates about the Confederate flag last year has close to 50,000 views on YouTube

Courtesy Tom Poe/Facebook

“If you’re going to sin,” the former Methodist minister Tom Poe once told me, “sin boldly.”

He was using the words of theologian Martin Luther to justify some sort of subversiveness (I can't remember what we were up to) but I’ll forever quote Poe on that one.

Courtesy 123 Andres

A graduate of the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance has won a Latin Grammy.

Andrés Salguero, who performs as 123 Andrés, won in the Best Latin Children’s Album Category for his record Arriba Abajo at the award ceremony Thursday in Las Vegas. His 2015 album, ¡Uno, Dos, Tres Andrés en español y en inglés!, was nominated in the same category.

Rachel Eliza Griffiths

Long before Tracy K. Smith was a poet, she was a young girl fascinated by the stars. That fascination was part of what inspired her book Life on Mars, which won a Pulitzer Prize in 2012.

C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3

When the American Jazz Museum unveils a new mural during First Friday festivities on November 4, it won't just reflect the 18th and Vine District's lively and colorful jazz history. It's also a statement about today, its lead painter says.

"This project is an effort to show the community how important it is to work together," says lead artist Michael Toombs, the founder and director of Storyteller's Inc.

Courtesy Ry Kincaid

When he debuted his one-man show at Kansas City’s Fringe Festival in the summer of 2015, Ry Kincaid was already thinking ahead to the 2016 election. No one, however, could have foreseen the need for entertaining relief would be so acute.

Unlike everything else in this season’s torturous exercise in democracy, Kincaid’s Presidential Briefs is good-hearted humor. In writing 44 original songs – one for each United States president – all performed in under an hour, Kincaid was partly trying to be helpful.

Courtesy Wide Awake Films

The Missouri painter George Caleb Bingham is already famous enough to have his work in the National Gallery of Art, as well as many other esteemed institutions. But to his hometown of Arrow Rock, population 56, he could stand to be more famous.

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.

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