Laura Spencer

Reporter

Laura Spencer caught the radio bug more than a decade ago when she was asked to read a newscast on the air on her first day volunteering for KOOP, the community radio station in Austin, Texas. 

After moving home to Kansas City, she learned the fine art of editing reel-to-reel tape as an intern and graduate assistant with the nationally syndicated literary program New Letters on the Air. Since 2001, she's focused her efforts on writing and producing feature stories as KCUR's Arts Reporter. 

In 2011, Laura was one of 21 journalists selected for USC Annenberg’s seventh National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Arts Journalism Institute in Theater and Musical Theater. She's received awards from the Associated Press, Kansas City Art Institute (Excellence in Visual Art and Education), Kansas City Association of Black Journalists, Missouri Broadcasters Association, Radio-Television News Directors Association (regional Edward R. Murrow Award) and Society for Professional Journalists. 

Pages

Visual Arts
4:30 pm
Thu June 13, 2013

Laura McPhee, Photographing The Grandeur Of The West

Artist Laura McPhee at the Kemper Museum.
Laura Spencer KCUR

In the exhibition Laura McPhee: River of No Return at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, the more than two dozen photographs - each six by eight feet - loom large. McPhee's series explores the grandeur of the West, tensions between ranchers and environmentalists, and human impact on the land - and its often unintended consequences. 

Growing up McPhee

Read more
Visual Arts
8:17 am
Fri May 31, 2013

PLUG Projects Presents 'Rare Earth'

A close-up of a lichen installation by Sarah Hearn. According to PLUG Projects, Hearn's work is "idea driven by a multitude of scientific theories."
Laura Spencer KCUR

Inside – and outside – the gallery at PLUG Projects, works by seven artists from around the country incorporate natural materials, such as lichen, geodes, fungi and fauna. In their paintings, photography, sculptures, and installations, they explore new ways of seeing nature - and the impact of human intervention.

Read more
Central Standard
3:05 pm
Thu May 30, 2013

Kansas City Museum Celebrates History Of Innovation And Invention in KC

Samuel Coffman has over 200 patents to his credit. One of his inventions: electric clippers.
Bruce Bandle Kansas City Museum

The Country Club Plaza is a staple in Kansas City, but did you know it was the first shopping mall in the country?

Barbers would still be cutting your whole head with scissors if Samuel Coffman hadn't invented electric hair clippers, and washing your dishes would be a much bigger hassle if Marion Trozzolo didn't think to combine Teflon with pans.

The history of innovation and invention conceived in Kansas City is crucial to the city's identity, and starting June 1 the Kansas City Museum will celebrate this history. 

Read more
Central Standard
2:58 pm
Thu May 30, 2013

'Spamalot' Opens At Starlight This Weekend

Do you hear the sound of coconuts? Or is that the hooves of a horse? It's actually the cast of Spamalot coming into town to perform the musical version of Monty Python and the Holy Grail at Starlight Theater. Starlight decided to add the musical to its summer schedule after frequent requests from members and theater goers at Starlight.

Read more
Dance
8:00 pm
Thu May 23, 2013

A New Artistic Director For The Kansas City Ballet

'Giselle' (choreography by Devon Carney), 2011, featuring Janessa Touchet.
Peter Mueller

After an extensive search process, the Kansas City Ballet has a new artistic director. Dancer, choreographer and teacher Devon Carney begins his new post in July. Carney succeeds outgoing artistic director William Whitener.

Read more
Performance
8:00 pm
Thu May 23, 2013

Five Questions For Devon Carney

The Kansas City Ballet's new artistic director: Devon Carney
Peter Mueller

The Kansas City Ballet has named Devon Carney as the company's new artistic director. For the last decade, Carney has worked with Cincinnati Ballet; since 2008, he's served as associate artistic director.

Read more
Performance
12:48 pm
Tue May 21, 2013

Board Leadership Change For The Kansas City Symphony

Shirley Helzberg steps down as the Chair of the Kansas City Symphony Board.
courtesy: Kansas City Symphony

After nearly 20 years as the chairwoman of the Kansas City Symphony's board, arts patron Shirley Helzberg is stepping down. Bill Lyons, civic leader and former CEO of American Century Companies, Inc., succeeds Helzberg on July 1.

Read more
Visual Arts
6:00 am
Fri May 17, 2013

A Final Opening At The Dolphin

The final exhibition at the Dolphin is called "Thanks For The Warning."
courtesy Dolphin gallery

It was only fitting that one of the pioneers of the Crossroads Arts District would announce on a First Friday, May 3, that after two decades, his gallery would close. John O’Brien moved the Dolphin from the Crossroads to the West Bottoms five years ago. But now he says it’s time for something new.

Read more
Visual Arts
12:00 pm
Wed May 15, 2013

Sculptural Pots With A Bit Of Glitter

Artist Christine McHorse stands next to a work in the galleries of the Nerman.
Laura Spencer KCUR

The first floor galleries at the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art are filled with glass display cases. Inside: the glittering black ceramics of Navajo artist Christine Nofchissey McHorse. Her abstract works bridge modern sculpture and traditional Southwestern pottery.

Read more
Visual Arts
5:58 pm
Mon May 13, 2013

New President And CEO For The National World War I Museum

New President and CEO, Matthew C. Naylor, PhD.
courtesy National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial

The National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial on Monday announced Matthew C. Naylor, PhD, a native of Australia, as its new President and CEO.

Read more
Visual Arts
1:49 pm
Fri May 10, 2013

Collector And Gallerist Byron Cohen Dies At 72

Byron Cohen, in front of one of Deng Wushu's works, at the Byron C. Cohen Gallery, 2009.
Laura Spencer KCUR

Kansas City gallery owner, art consultant and collector Byron C. Cohen died Friday morning. He was 72.

Read more
Film
4:15 pm
Thu May 9, 2013

SAG-AFTRA Closes Kansas City Office

The labor union representing film, television and radio actors, announcers, and newscasters plans to close its Kansas City office.

Read more
Visual Arts
10:27 am
Wed May 8, 2013

Toy And Miniature Museum Reveals Future Plans

Toy and Miniature Museum of Kansas City
flickr user dianecordell

Over the last decade, it's estimated nearly 30 toy and doll museums closed across the United States. The Toy and Miniature Museum of Kansas City provided an update yesterday on its capital campaign to sustain the museum and its collection.

Read more
Visual Arts
8:51 am
Fri May 3, 2013

Dolphin Closes In The West Bottoms, 'Body Blow' To Art World

Dolphin Gallery in the West Bottoms.
courtesy: David Hughes Charlotte Street Foundation

Dolphin Gallery's John O'Brien had hinted about a change for months. But, now, it's official. Dolphin, the exhibition space and framing business in the West Bottoms, will close after its last show (slated to open May 17).

Read more
Dance
5:00 am
Fri May 3, 2013

Unexpected Combinations In Karole Armitage's 'Energy Made Visible'

At the dress rehearsal for 'Energy Made Visible,' Anthony Krutzkamp and Rachel Coats create layers of dance.
Julie Denesha KCUR

Choreographer Karole Armitage, a native of Lawrence, Kan. says artist Jackson Pollock can be viewed as "a metaphor for the creative process"; his lines of dripped and poured paint are like a dance. Kansas City Ballet concludes its season with a world premiere by Armitage, exploring the intersection between art, jazz, and dance.

Read more
Visual Arts
5:27 pm
Wed May 1, 2013

Kemper Founders Step Down From Museum Board

Crosby and Bebe Kemper in front of the artwork, 'Prince Patutszky Pleasures' (1962) by Jules Olitski.
Photo: Dan Wayne Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art

The founders of the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art are stepping down from museum leadership.

Read more
Books
12:21 pm
Wed May 1, 2013

A New Poet Laureate For Kansas

Poet Wyatt Townley
Terry Weckbaugh

Wyatt Townley, a fourth-generation Kansan, has been named the new Poet Laureate of Kansas for 2013-2015.

Read more
Performance
4:32 pm
Tue April 30, 2013

'A Christmas Story, The Musical' Gets Tony Nod

Actor John Bolton originated the role of The Old Man in the Rep's 2009 production and also appears on Broadway.
Don Ipock Kansas City Repertory Theatre

"A Christmas Story, the Musical" received three Tony nominations, including one for Best Musical. The work had its world premiere at the Kansas City Repertory Theatre in 2009.

Read more
Books
3:33 pm
Wed April 24, 2013

Two Area Libraries Receive National Recognition

"Slaughterhouse Five" by Kurt Vonnegut (Banned Books Trading Card Project )
Kent Smith courtesy of the Lawrence Public Library

The John Cotton Dana Award is considered one of the most prestigious in the library marketing and public relations field.  Out of eight winners this year, two area libraries - Lawrence Public Library and Mid-Continent Public Library - were recognized.

Read more
Music Stories
9:17 am
Wed April 24, 2013

A New CD For The Grisly Hand

The Grisly Hand
Paul Andrews Photography (http://www.paulandrewsphotography.com/)

This weekend marks the release of Country Singles, the first full-length album for The Grisly Hand. The band played their first shows in Kansas City about four years ago and mixes country, soul, blues, folk, rock and pop.

Read more
Music Stories
11:18 am
Thu April 18, 2013

Public Enemy 'Bomb Squad' Producer Studies Music At UMKC

Musician, composer and producer Kerwin Young.

The induction ceremony for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame took place Thursday, April 18, in Los Angeles. Some of this year’s inductees included Heart, Randy Newman, Rush and Public Enemy.

Read more
Performance
12:01 am
Fri April 12, 2013

After 26 Years, American Heartland Theatre Goes Dark In August

The American Heartland Theatre's executive director, Lilli Zarda, and director of production, Paul Hough. The theatre goes dark at the end of the season.

It was an unexpected announcement on April 4 that the American Heartland Theatre on the 3rd level of Crown Center would close after 26 years.

Read more
Central Standard
9:27 am
Thu April 11, 2013

Disability Issues in KC

It’s estimated that in the United States, people with disabilities constitute the third-largest, and perhaps the most diverse, minority group. A person may be born with a disability or it may occur during a lifetime. The disability can be physical, cognitive, mental, sensory, emotional, developmental, or a combination of all of these. On this Central Standard, we’ll talk about disability issues across the life span and some local efforts to empower those who face the challenge of a disability.


Read more
Visual Arts
3:49 pm
Wed April 10, 2013

The Nelson's Kansas City Sculpture Park Renamed For Donald Hall

Magdalena Abakanowicz's Standing Figures (Thirty Figures), 1994-1998.
Mark McDonald Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

The Kansas City Sculpture Park, the more than two dozen sculptures outside the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, opened in 1989. In honor of the park’s 25th anniversary in 2014, the museum will change the park’s name to reflect its roots.

Read more
Performance
9:39 am
Fri April 5, 2013

American Heartland Theatre To Close At End of Season

Production still from 'Life Could Be a Dream'
courtesy American Heartland Theatre

The American Heartland Theatre announced Thursday it would close in August at the end of its 26th season.

Read more
Visual Arts
5:00 am
Thu April 4, 2013

Charlotte Street Announces New Visual Artist Fellows

Erika Lynne Hanson, U.E.I.W.E.L.: Iceberg 1875. woven linen, 2012
courtesy of the artist

Three artists. $10,000 each in unrestricted cash gifts. The Charlotte Street Foundation - a nonprofit supporting Kansas City artists through exhibitions, studio spaces and residencies, and fellowships - has announced its 2013 Visual Artist Award fellows.

Read more
Visual Arts
9:32 am
Wed April 3, 2013

Erin Dziedzic Named Kemper Museum Curator

Erin Dziedzic, curator and head of adult programs at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art.
Bruce Mathews

After conducting a national search, the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art today announced the selection of a new Curator and Head of Adult Programs: Erin Dziedzic. She starts at the museum in late April.

Read more
Visual Arts
5:00 am
Wed April 3, 2013

A New 'Cultural Icon' For Overland Park

Museum of Prairiefire director Linda Segebrecht stands in front of drawings of the new museum.
Laura Spencer KCUR

A museum with ties to the American Museum of Natural History in New York is slated to open in April 2014 in Overland Park, Kan. It’s part of Prairiefire, a $580 million development currently under construction along 135th between Nall and Lamar.

Read more
Government
10:26 pm
Tue April 2, 2013

April 2 Election Results

Electronic pollbooks, to look up registered voters, were used for the first time in Kansas City, Mo.
Laura Spencer KCUR

Turnout was light, around 10 percent, at polling places in Kansas and Missouri for Tuesday's election. Voters were asked to consider raising taxes, ousting mayors, and more.

Read more
Environment
9:54 am
Mon April 1, 2013

Spring Turkey Season Starts In Kansas

Missouri Department of Conservation

April 1st marks the start of spring turkey season in Kansas for archers, youth and disabled hunters.

In the early 1960s, wild turkeys were reintroduced to the state, and almost every county now has a huntable population.

Mike Miller with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism, says turkeys are anything but easy prey.

“When everything works out right it can be a really easy exciting hunt, for any hunter, especially a young hunter, just because of what you see and what you hear, and the whole build up as you get into shotgun range,” says Miller.

Pages