Arts & Culture

KCUR’s Arts & Culture Desk covers arts news from music to visual art to dance and theater, with a focus on Kansas and Missouri.

Our reporters explore the behind-the-scene stories about newsmakers and emerging artists. We also take a look at the intersections of arts and technology, science and creativity, and present profiles of creative people. 

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

As Debbie Pettid, one of the creators of The Rabbit Hole, waited for some 30 elementary school students from Rosehill Enhanced Learning Classroom in the Shawnee Mission School District on a recent Friday morning, she reflected on the whirlwind of the past several months.

brandi sims / Wikipedia -- CC

They say everything old is new again. Who’re they? Why, old people, of course.

But it’s true: Hang around long enough and your old tricks – or traditions, if you prefer – can strike younger generations as fresh.

Whatever your age, make it an old-school weekend with entertainment including rock and funk music grandmasters, a local dance company celebrating three decades of artistry and a day of fun-filled cowboy history and music for the whole family.

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.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

"Witchy, tacky grandma."

That’s how Kansas City artist Rodolfo Marron III describes his aesthetic.

“I say it as a joke, but it’s kind of accurate,” he says. “My work is softer, maybe more effeminate. I embrace that.”

Growing up on the city's Westside during the 1990s, Marron experienced a rougher neighborhood than the one many know it as now. He lost many family friends to gang violence during a time he remembers as dark and gray. At an early age, he found escape in his art by creating characters and other worlds.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Sound and lighting designers at Kansas City's Unicorn Theatre are pulling out all the stops for the world premiere of the play The Ghosts of Lote Bravo. Thanks to a six-figure grant, the Unicorn has been able to upgrade to the latest technology the theater world has to offer.

7 Music Podcasts That You Can't Resist This Spring

Apr 26, 2016
Google Images -- CC

Spring is a great time to get familiar with the music and artists that will become prominent players on your summer soundtrack.

It’s also a great time to thaw out some fabulous podcast programming, that for some reason or another you just didn’t know about before.

Here are some podcasts about music that our critics Jason Harper and Mike Russo (who also works at KCUR 89.3)  recently suggested on KCUR's Central Standard.

Brian Rogers

Story of a Song is a monthly segment on KCUR's Central Standard, in which local musicians tell the story behind a recent song, and explain how it was constructed musically.

The Musicians: Emcee Morgan Cooper (aka Barrel Maker) and producer Brian Rogers (aka Lion)

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.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

The curtain rises this weekend on Georges Bizet’s Carmen, the Lyric Opera of Kansas City’s final production of the season. At the heart of this story of love, betrayal and revenge is Carmen, the tempestuous Gypsy played by Latvian mezzo-soprano Zanda Švēde.

Stephen Locke/Tempest Gallery

Storms in the Midwest can be dangerous, but there’s often beauty to be found in a streak of lightning or a billowing supercell.

"Chasing Weather," an exhibition at the Kansas City Public Library's downtown branch, combines 17 vivid storm photographs by Stephen Locke with poems by Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg. 

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."

Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City, Missouri officials and leaders on Thursday morning gathered at the intersection of 18th and Vine to announce a revitalization plan that would require a city commitment of $27.6 million — nearly $10 million more than proposed in January.

If approved by the City Council, city bonds would be tapped to pay for about a dozen projects over the next three years. Private funds would also be leveraged. 

Aleksi Ollila / Wikimedia Commons

Keeping it real has its limitations.

Pretend your way out of them this weekend by encountering the ardent make-believe of ambitious air guitarists, the living legacy of a legendary animator and the unquenchable pursuit of assorted paraphernalia associated with the most famous fizzy water in the world.

Need more? Wow, you do need a break. Ready… set …pretend!

1. U.S. Air Guitar Contest

Mathias Kang

The Matchsellers
Songs We Made Up

Kansas City is in the midst of an acoustic duo renaissance. Victor and Penny (‘20s and ‘30s swing), Betse and Clarke (old-time breakdowns), and more recently Kasey Rausch and Marco Pascolini’s country duo configuration have made it clear that two people and a cloud of dust work just fine. The Matchsellers, with Andrew Morris on guitar and Julie Bates on fiddle, have landed on that well-plowed ground with a bluegrass sound and an idiosyncratic sense of humor, one skewed roughly 23-29 degrees from the perpendicular.

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.

Taylor Galscock

Walter Bargen served as the first poet laureate of Missouri, in 2008 and 2009. His poems, essays, and stories have been published in more than 300 magazines.

In advance of his appearance in Kansas City this Tuesday, KCUR aired an excerpt from the New Letters on the Air archives, when Bargen read a poem and spoke with Angela Elam about the sometimes strange role of the public poet.

Pixabay

I remember getting rid of my cassette tapes.

Through the early 2000s, when my journalism career was just beginning, I drove a beat-up used car built in 1991. The bonus was, it had a tape deck. And I had a great collection of music on tapes.

www.facebook.com

It’s been a mild winter, which means we’re getting a jump on ice cream season.

Whether it’s served in a cup or cone, ice cream (and its friends: custard, gelato, sorbet, soft serve and more) is the classic treat that feels like an indulgence.

On Friday’s Central Standard, KCUR’s Food Critics search out the best ice cream in and around Kansas City.

Here are their recommendations:

Mary Bloch, Around the Block:

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.

Hannah Copeland / KCUR 89.3

The second Tuesday in April each year has been designated as Fountain Day — the day Kansas City fountains spring back to life. This year, the festivities included one fountain that had been dry for the last four years.

A crowd cheered as water cascaded down the 28-foot wall and steps of the William Volker Memorial Fountain in Theis Park, just south of The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

steve9567 / Flickr -- CC

Feeling a little funny in the head?

You might as well go with it this weekend, with help from brain-frying guitar players, crazy thrill rides and more.

Keep in mind, you could get carried away and totally lose your mind with all the insane fun out there. But something tells me you can handle it – yeah, that funny little voice in my head. Good luck!

1. Generation Axe: A Night with Guitars

Tax Waver

Apr 13, 2016

You've seen them on the sidewalk outside those tax places, waving to all who pass by. Meet the man behind the Statue of Liberty costume.

The director of the Springfield Art Museum likens the recent theft of seven Andy Warhol screen prints to the loss of a loved one.

In a brief address to the media Tuesday, Nick Nelson said the museum is working with authorities in hopes of retrieving the items, part of Warhol’s famous Campbell’s Soup collection.

“The theft of these iconic Warhol prints the museum has had in its permanent collection for 30 years feels like the loss of a family member.”

Set number 31 of the Campbell’s Soup I collection is valued at approximately $500,000. 

Courtesy of Maria the Mexican

Growing up in Topeka, Kansas, Maria and Tess Cuevas didn’t live in a Mexican-American neighborhood. So their after-school gigs were a little hard to explain to their friends.

“We’d go home and then suddenly you’d put on your sombrero and go to the car,” Tess Cuevas recalled. “It was so different. Nobody else did anything like that.”

Courtesy Maria The Mexican

Maria The Mexican
South of the Border Moonlight

Ask a Latina about her ethnicity and you’re likely to get a complicated answer. Products of colonialism, most of us are mestizas, combinations of indigenous and European origin. It’s a culture with two feet planted firmly in each world. After all, there was no great diaspora — the border just changed on us. Many good things happened as a result: Spanglish, the guayabera and green chile cheeseburgers to name a few.

courtesy Heart of America Shakespeare Festival

Spencer Fane LLP's commitment to arts funding dates back to 2006, and the early days of the campaign for the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. 

"We made a $75,000 challenge grant at the beginning of their fundraising efforts. That obviously was a large donation for us," says Nate Orr, a partner at the firm's headquarters in Kansas City. He heads up the charitable giving program. 

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.

Jen Chen / KCUR 89.3

His music has been described as “guitar and growl” and “avant-garde folk.”

He also plays a mean kazoo on his new album, Theatres.

But Nicholas St. James says that “folk” is probably the easiest way to characterize his music — with a lot of blues influence as well.

courtesy A. Zahner Company

By a unanimous vote, the Kansas City City Council approved $1.6 million in funding on Thursday to repair one of the iconic sculptures called Sky Stations on top of Bartle Hall in downtown Kansas City.

"I think one of the most famous, or perhaps sometimes infamous, pieces of art that have been placed in this city are the Sky Stations," says Councilman Scott Wagner of the sculptures, popularly known as "hair curlers."

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