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. 

Laura Spencer / KCUR

 Artist José Faus, a native of Bogota, Colombia, is widely known for his colorful community murals in the Kansas City area, but he's also a poet, writer and playwright, and a founding member of the Latino Writers Collective.

Courtesy Paul Richardson

At the Gem Theater on Saturday night, the Louder Than A Bomb competition brought the top four spoken-word poetry teams from metro high schools up against one another for the last time this school year.

On Monday, after a win from the returning champs at Paseo High School, Central Standard host Gina Kaufmann spoke with Paul Richardson, a soon-to-be-former English teacher from Washington High School who is responsible for bringing Louder Than A Bomb to Kansas City. They talked about the culture of spoken-word competitions and explored why Richardson is leaving his position as a high school educator.

Below is a shortened and edited version of their conversation.

But first, here’s Saturday night’s winner: Alton Herron.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

Excitement enveloped a small band of foodies on Sunday as they feasted their way through a tour of Kansas City’s unique food offerings. 

Julián Zugazagoitia, director of The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, helped organize the private tour for Spanish master chef Ferran Adrià, whose notes and sketches are on display at the museum in an exhibition called Ferran Adrià: Notes on Creativity. The tour started at the J. Rieger & Co. distillery.

courtesy of the author

Joanne Saxon Hill  lives in Peculiar, Missouri, but her writing is rooted in the South. 

A novelist and short story writer, Saxon Hill grew up in Alabama in a strict religious family — an upbringing that, at times, was isolating. But she says, she's always been "tuned to life's quirkiness." 

Saxon Hill, who goes by the name Sister Saxon, incorporates bits of memory, overheard conversations, and imagination into her stories, like The Affliction.

Local Listen: Danielle Nicole

Mar 27, 2015
www.daniellenicolekc.com

  

Danielle Nicole Schnebelen went right to work following the recent breakup of the popular Kansas City blues-rock band Trampled Under Foot.  Schnebelen’s new solo EP showcases her powerful voice.  This week’s edition of Local Listen features “Wandering Heart,” a track from the self-titled release. 

Danielle Nicole Schnebelen headlines a homecoming concert at Knuckleheads on Saturday, March 28.

If you've got spring fever and want to get out of the house this weekend, Up to Date's indie, foreign, and documentary film critics have a few suggestions of what you can see.

Cynthia Haines:

  • What We Do In The Shadows
  • Wild Tales
  • Diplomacy

Steve Walker:

Courtesy Johnson County Library

Johnson County might not have a reputation as a hot spot for cultivating young poets. But that’s exactly what’s been happening for more than a decade now, thanks to some librarians.

Earlier this month, the Johnson County Library published the latest edition of Elementia, a gorgeous glossy magazine with original artwork and poetry by nearly 60 middle and high school students.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

As curator of The Fishtank, an evolving performance space in the Crossroads Arts District, Heidi Van has helped ignite a growing interest in experimental theater. She's produced shows in the building's front windows with the audience in the street, performed a play in a lingerie shop around the corner, and tweaked the art of clowning.

In this month's installment of Director's Cuts, Heidi Van talks about how her avant-garde sensibility might influence her first directing job at The Coterie: a production of Dr. Seuss's The Cat in the Hat

Sony Pictures Classics

In contemporary movies where characters are motivated by revenge, they're usually armed with guns and bullets — and there will be blood. But director Damian Szifron's Wild Tales has a different type of arsenal.

By compressing six short films into a two-hour triumph, Szifron turns revenge into an urge that can be as hilarious as it is sinister. This Academy Award nominee from Argentina lost the Best Foreign Language Oscar to Poland's Ida, a film whose calm, contemplative nature couldn't be more different from Wild Tales' brash and buoyant effervescence.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

Artist Sarah Lugg Regan is carefully gluing dolls to the back of a plastic Stegosaurus. Surrounded by buckets of toys in a sun-filled room in Epperson House on the campus of University of Missouri-Kansas City, Lugg Regan and her assistant Ben Breslow are working on a two-story sculpture for the National Museum of Toys and Miniatures.

When the museum reopens on August 1 after extensive renovations, this 150-foot "Toytisserie" — a rotating ribbon of metal covered by whimsical scenes of toys — will be in the lobby, greeting visitors.

The Conmunity / Flickr-CC

Maybe it’s just in anticipation of the seasonal bunny that will soon be bringing hard-boiled gifts, but I’ve got eggs on the brain.

As will those taking part in all sorts of egg hunts this weekend, along with other entertainment and activities appealing to eggheads, good eggs and even folks who have a thing for free-range eggs.

However you go about it, eggs-press yourself!

Courtesy Black House Collective

Five Kansas City artists will receive $10,000 in unrestricted cash as this year's winners of the Charlotte Street Awards. The awards went to three visual artists and two generative performing artists.

The Charlotte Street Foundation has been giving cash to selected artists for more than 15 years — the visual artist awards began in 1997; the foundation added awards for performing artists in 2008. In total, Charlotte Street has now awarded $700,500 to Kansas City artists, recognizing their accomplishments and encouraging their continued development and achievement.

courtesy of the author

Andrés Rodríguez grew up in a working class family in Kansas City. For about two decades, his father’s job was at the Swift meatpacking plant – and one visit, as a young child, made a lasting impression. But Rodríguez says in writing poetry, there’s a fine line between memory and imagination.

"The paradox is that the more you imagine, the closer you come to the truth," says Rodríguez. "But I know that the experience that it's trying to get it is the letter and spirit of what happened."

Spring has sprung, and if you feel like springing for movie tickets this weekend, our indie, foreign and documentary film critics have a few ideas for you.

Cynthia Haines:

  • What We Do In The Shadows
  • Diplomacy
  • Red Army

Steve Walker:

  • Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalam
  • '71
  • Diplomacy
Bill Walsh / Flickr--CC


From nose to tail, chefs are getting creative with all parts of the animal. Whether it’s game or offal, we go beyond chicken breast to talk about the more unusual cuts of meat that are popping up on area menus.

 

On this week’s Central Standard, Ryan Brazeal, owner/chef of Novel, discusses how to prepare offal, and James Worley from the Missouri Department of Conservation talks about hunting and cooking wild game. Our Food Critics Charles Ferruzza, Mary Bloch and Bonjwing Lee hunt down the best creative meat dishes in Kansas City.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

The two-act ballet Giselle premiered in 1841. Today, this story of a peasant girl who falls in love with a nobleman in disguise is considered a classic. There’s a love triangle, a mad scene, and ghosts who dance men to death.

Giselle as a 'personal experience'

At the Bolender Center on a recent afternoon, Kansas City Ballet rehearsals were underway for Giselle. It's the first act when Giselle, a young peasant girl, falls in love with Albrecht, a nobleman disguised as a peasant. Here’s the problem – the village gamekeeper, Hilarion, is also in love with Giselle.

courtesy of the artist

For the past 35 years, artist and YJ’s Snackbar owner David Ford has been traveling to Guatemala.

His interests in the area have ranged from local foods and recipes to indigenous festivals and politics. But recently, his focus has narrowed — he’s become totally obsessed with broken doll heads, called muñecas, used in bustling marketplaces to advertise hair-braiding and hair-wrapping services to white tourists.

“It’s an advertising thing,” Ford explains.

GisleHaa / Wikimedia Commons

Want to have a rootsy weekend? It might take some digging. Don’t worry — no tools are required, only the desire to drill down into your pleasure zone.

If you’re into rock music, why not experience a new take on the world’s first hippie rock musical? Is rhythm and blues your deal? Then one of its vital purveyors could be at your disposal. Or maybe you enjoy the sheer spectacle of expert female impersonation. There’s a way to make that happen, too.

In 2013, fairy homes — with doors custom-built for the hollows of trees and tiny furniture nestled inside — cropped up on a wooded trail in Overland Park. Firefly Forest, as it was called, appeared as if by magic. People tucked hundreds of notes into these small abodes, listing their struggles and dreams. And, to their surprise, the fairies answered.

Laura Spencer / KCUR

Poet Marcus Myers says he started to get serious about his writing about a decade ago, when he turned 30 — and set his sights on publishing in literary magazines. Myers and poet Brian Clifton now co-edit Bear Review, an online journal of poetry and micro prose.

Paul Andrews

 

Paul Mesner has never been bored. 

"I was a pretty shy kid, but I also was and still am very content to be by myself,"' he says. "There's tons I can do to entertain myself."

In that sense, Kansas City's master puppeteer was his own first audience.

It started with a teddy bear.

Early beginnings

It's starting to feel like spring, and if you want to celebrate the warmer weather, Up to Date's indie, foreign, and documentary film critics have some ideas for you.

Cynthia Haines:

  • Diplomacy
  • Mr. Turner
  • Red Army

Steve Walker:

Julie Denesha / KCUR

Balancing the responsibilities of raising children with the demands of work is a challenge for any parent. For many artists, the pressure is intensified by the need to create. As part of our series, Artists As Parents, two local artists talk about their latest collaboration — their son Sam.     

Working though a lack of sleep

Several months ago, KCUR asked “artist types” to tell us how parenting changed their art. Artists from across the region shared their stories about trying to find the time to be creative, while also juggling careers and the responsibilities of parenthood. 

It's clear from the responses that becoming a parent can dramatically change how artists commit to their craft.

Johnson County Board of County Commissioners on Thursday narrowly approved a plan to repurpose the 1960s-era King Louie building in Overland Park, Kan. as the county’s new Arts & Heritage Center.

The vote was 4-3.

Courtesy Nuwayv

Earlier this year when the Folk Alliance International conference was underway in Kansas City, Central Standard interviewed local musicians from different genres about how they write songs. That inspired us to launch a new series: "Story of a Song."

For this installment, Hannah Copeland spoke with members of the Kansas City band, Nuwayv, which defines its music as "rugged soul." Hannah explains how the four artists collaborated to write their new album’s final track, “We Shinin.”

Kevin Dooley / Flickr--CC

  What does it take to be considered truly super? True believers.

Without fantastic fans, how would talented singers get their chartbusters? Rising comedians their hit shows? World-saving superheroes their blockbuster movies?

It’s no superlative to suggest that this weekend should please devotees of many different pop-culture persuasions, including fans of increasingly pervasive comic book culture, classic rock, stand-up comedy and the most awesome figure of them all – which, surprisingly, doesn’t belong to Wonder Woman. But I wouldn’t tell her that.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

Musicologist John Lomax set out to do field recordings in the early 1930s of African-American songs in the southern United States. With the help of his son, Alan, he recorded ballads, reels, work songs, and the blues – some were recorded in prisons. That’s where John Lomax met the guitar player Huddie Ledbetter, better known as "Lead Belly."

A version of this story – with two women as the lead characters – is the focus of the play Black Pearl Sings! written by prolific Kansas City playwright Frank Higgins.

Patrick Quick / KCUR

When Kansas City comedians tour nationally, it almost feels like cheating. Used to small crowds and tough audiences in KC, they’re surprised by the raucous applause and packed houses on the road.

“All around the country, Kansas City comics have a reputation of just coming in and shattering the crowd. They’re like, man, you guys are really good,” according to Mike Smith, a Kansas City-based stand-up comedian. “And we’re like, could you email our city and tell them that?”

Don Ipock / Kansas City Repertory Theatre

Angels in America is Tony Kushner’s two-part epic now playing at the Kansas City Repertory Theatre. Set in New York in the 1980s, it’s a commentary on AIDS, religion, politics, and love in the Reagan era.

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