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 of Mid-America Arts Alliance

With President Donald Trump’s proposal to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Mid-America Arts Alliance will widen its advocacy efforts in hopes of preserving funding for the agencies, says Todd Stein, M-AAA's interim chief executive officer.

C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3

The long-running effort to recreate the Kansas City Museum as a major local history museum entered a new phase Monday with the announcement of $1 million in private commitments pledged toward a total of $15 million in private and public money city leaders say is needed to restore the property to "its former glory."

C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3

After the EF-3 tornado that destroyed homes in Oak Grove, Missouri, residents of the damaged neighborhoods were mostly in good spirits Tuesday afternoon – happy to be alive and grateful for neighbors who were helping clean up.

Jennifer Swartz’s home on South Clinton Street was gone. She and her husband were having dinner in Lee’s Summit when the storm hit on Monday night. When they tried to return home, they hit a blockade and drove to Independence, where they spent the night with her husband's parents.

C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3

At first glance, the painter Ada Koch and the poet Glenn North might seem an unlikely pair. But what has emerged from their collaboration — Love, Loss & Violence: A Visual Dialogue on War, an art exhibit opening this weekend at the Kansas City Artists Coalition and an accompanying book — illustrates with painful honesty that certain fears are universal.

Courtesy Ramy Essam

What’s the future of protest music?

That was a reasonable question for the hundreds of musicians who came to Kansas City in mid-February for the Folk Alliance International Conference, the theme of which was "Forbidden Folk." Given political developments over the last year, plenty of “old guys with banjos” — as one musician put it — were fired up, but I wanted to see what younger musicians thought about one staple of their genre.

Courtesy Trombone Shorty

Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect developments since its publication Wednesday afternoon.

Kansas City has another chance to get the concept of a jazz festival right — though its rollout suggested organizers were not yet ready for the national stage.

Courtesy Wonderscope Children's Museum

Leaders of the Wonderscope Children’s Museum of Kansas City, which is currently located near Johnson Drive and Nieman Road in Shawnee, Kansas, announced Tuesday that they plan to raise $12 million for a new building in the Red Bridge Shopping Center at 112th and Holmes in south Kansas City.

Plans are to share the building with the Red Bridge location of the Mid-Continent Public Library.

C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3

It's been nearly 30 years since six Kansas City firefighters were killed in an explosion after responding to a call about a truck on fire at a construction site near U.S. 71 and 87th Street. But the crime remains present and painful, particularly since further investigations cast doubt on whether the five people sentenced to life in prison actually committed the crime.

T. Charles Erickson

Three years of work for Kansas City actors, set designers, stage managers and students at four universities culminates this week and next when New York's The Acting Company presents William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar and Marcus Gardley’s X: Or, Betty Shabazz vs. The Nation in repertory.

Courtesy National Orphan Train Complex

There’s only one train line left in Concordia, Kansas (population just over 5,000), and it hauls grain. But more than a hundred years ago there were four train lines. Some of them were passenger trains, and in the 1880s, one carried a group of unaccompanied children from New York.

It stopped in nearby Wayne, Kansas, where strangers were waiting to choose the children.

C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City artist Nedra Bonds has just endured months of chemotherapy, radiation and a double mastectomy to treat breast cancer.

Given all she's been through, the fact that she's opening a retrospective exhibition of her life's work (to date) might carry extra poignancy.

"That had not occurred to me," says Bonds, who appears to focus her energies more outward than inward, such as when she responded to her diagnosis last year with a community art project.

Courtney Williams

Julie Bennett Hume knows her voice is unusual.

She describes it as gravely, brassy at times. It can go low. Sometimes, she says, it's almost a yodel.

"It can do a lot of things, but it isn't as if people say, 'Oh, that's so beautiful.' But I can do justice to a song, and that's what I like about it," she says. "That's what folk music is about."

Edward C. Robinson III / ECR3.com

A filmmaker from Poland and a former journalist from Kansas hope a combination essay-contest-and-documentary-film-project will help bridge the state's (and the country's) well-documented divides.

That's what happened in Europe and New York state, says Ewa Zadrzynska, the filmmaker who started Poetry Unites in Poland in 2006. 

Chris Meck and the Guilty Birds

The band: Chris Meck and the Guilty Birds

The song: "Destination Revolution"

Jeff Evrard

The Women’s Foundation, a Kansas City-based research and advocacy organization, released its second Status of Women in Missouri Report Thursday.

Although the report shows the state's women making progress in some areas, it also indicates “real areas of concern that require policy solutions to empower women economically,” says Wendy Doyle, the organization’s president and CEO.

Courtesy Kansas City Repertory Theatre

Play-reading isn't the type of thing most audiences expect to be raucous, but that's what's likely to happen at the Kansas City Rep's Playwright Slam on Monday night, says Marissa Wolf, one of the organizers.

"We invite anyone from community and the public to come and bring a one-to-three-page script. We give them a theme, and then we'll just randomly choose a script," Wolf says. "Then we choose actors from the audience, so whoever wants to jump up and be an actor, we give them a role and they go for it."

Courtesy Lansing Historical Museum

When Jennifer Myer looks at the photographs along the wall of her tiny museum next to the Lansing Correctional Facility, the experience is "humbling," she says.

Others who've seen the images say they're "haunting."

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.

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