Arts & Culture

Arts & Culture
3:21 pm
Thu February 12, 2015

Nebraska Artist Sends Kansas City A Valentine In Lights

Lights on stands in the windows of Mayor Sly James' office at City Hall. A microcontroller takes care of the timing of the message.
Laura Spencer KCUR

Flashing lights are sending a message from the windows of downtown Kansas City, Mo., buildings. In Morse code, a signal taps out "LUV U." The light installation, in eight locations from City Hall to the Central Library, is called Message Matters. 

The project by Nebraska-based artist Jamie Burmeister, first appeared at the Bemis Center of Contemporary Art in Omaha, Neb. 

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McTavish Weekend Extra
10:32 am
Thu February 12, 2015

7 Lovey-Dovey Things To Do This Weekend In Kansas City

What says love more than a brisk jog through the city in your skivvies?
Credit Cupid's Undie Run KC

Woe to those who underestimate the power of Valentine’s Day.

You think all you need is love? You think love means never having to say you’re sorry? Well, you’ll need a quality apology for that special someone if you try avoiding Cupid on the calendar.

At the risk of over-functioning in this space: Be sure to give candy or flowers or whatever else says “I care” to your sweetie. Then do something unforgettable together, like taking in a romantic concert or running in the street in your underwear. Yes, love is strange. Go with it.

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Arts & Culture
6:50 am
Wed February 11, 2015

Kansas City Transgender Couples Set To Star In New Reality TV Show

AiYana, left, and Jaimie from 'New Girls On The Block'
Courtesy Discovery Life Channel

Kansas City is about to be the setting for a new reality TV show – but it’s not about barbecue, fountains or jazz. The show, called New Girls On the Block, follows a group of transgender women. Shot in 50 locations around town at the end of last year, it debuts on the new Discovery Life Channel on April 2.

Discovery Life says New Girls on the Block is the first reality TV series about a group of friends in the transgender community. It focuses on four couples, all of them from Kansas City.

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Arts & Culture
10:36 am
Tue February 10, 2015

UMKC Jazz Student Comes Back From A Spinal Injury To Win National Competition

Jazz saxophonist Gunnar Gidner won a trip to Paris, Indianapolis, $1000 cash, and lots of Vandoren reeds.

Days before the deadline for a clarinet and saxophone competition to win $1,000 and a trip to Paris, Gunnar Gidner could barely stand. A spinal injury had left him unable to walk, much less practice his tenor saxophone, for two and a half months.

Gidner had recovered enough to return to school at the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance in December. His jazz combo was rehearsing on his first day back, and Gidner’s professor, Dan Thomas, heard the recording and thought it was good. Really good.

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Arts & Culture
2:35 pm
Mon February 9, 2015

Actor Kyle Hatley Takes A Heroic Journey In 'An Iliad'

Actor Kyle Hatley (The Poet) in Kansas City Rep's 'An Iliad.'
Don Ipock Kansas City Repertory Theatre

"This is the story of two great fighters: Achilles and Hector," says the Poet, a storyteller played by Kyle Hatley in the Kansas City Repertory Theatre's production of An Iliad. "What drove them to fight? The gods." 

An Iliad, adapted for the stage by Lisa Peterson and Kansas City native Denis O'Hare, is based on "The Iliad," a nearly 3,ooo-year-old epic poem attributed to Homer. The story takes place in the final year of the 10-year war between the Greeks and the Trojans.

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Arts & Culture
7:26 am
Mon February 9, 2015

Los Angeles Artist Re-Types Two Kansas City Novels

Los Angeles based artist Tim Youd types "Mrs. Bridge," a novel set in Kansas City.
Cody Newill KCUR

Los Angeles based performance and visual artist Tim Youd has taken up residence in Kansas City for the next three weeks to re-type two novels set in the city.

Youd is re-typing Evan Connell's novels "Mrs. Bridge" and "Mr. Bridge," two books that depict Kansas City's upper-middle class in the 1920s and 30s. The performance is part of a larger project where Youd visits a city and reproduces a book written or set there on just two pages of paper. 

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Arts & Culture
7:30 am
Sun February 8, 2015

LISTEN: Novelist Whitney Terrell On The Consequences Of An IED Attack

Novelist Whitney Terrell
Credit Gayle Levy / courtesy of the author

In 2006, Whitney Terrell experienced the conflict in Iraq first-hand as an embedded reporter — and wrote about it for NPR, Slate, and The Washington Post. 

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Arts & Culture
9:04 pm
Fri February 6, 2015

Community Gathers To Talk About A New Cultural District

(at right) Seft Hunter, president of the Historic Manheim Park Association, talked with area residents on Thursday at the Bancroft School Apartments.
Credit Laura Spencer / KCUR

A three-day public planning charrette — a workshop exploring the potential of a new cultural district — wraps up on Saturday afternoon. For the last few months, community volunteers in work teams have met to generate ideas about what this district could look like. 

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Up To Date
12:34 pm
Fri February 6, 2015

Up To Date's Indie, Foreign And Doc Critics' 'Three To See' February 6-8

Marion Cotillard is nominated for Best Actress in a Leading Role for 'Two Days, One Night'.
Credit IFC Films

With the Academy Awards quickly approaching on Feb. 22, it may be just the weekend to head out to the theaters to see some of the nominees. Up To Date's Indie, Foreign, and Documentary film critics offer their Oscar nominated suggestions. 

Cynthia Haines:

  • Two Days, One Night
  • Oscar-Nominated Live Action Short Films
  • Boyhood 

Steve Walker:

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Central Standard
11:14 am
Fri February 6, 2015

Food Critics: Best Spicy (And Spiced) Foods In Kansas City

Thai Place in the Kansas City, Mo., neighborhood of Westport has some pretty spicy food and a spicy challenge called demon gapow (pictured).
Credit Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR

Oh the heat. Sometimes it hurts so good — too much can make it hurt so bad.

If you like the pain, there are a handful of restaurants across the metro that invite you to test your limits. For the rest of you spice lovers, there are even more places that try to strike a tolerable, yet delicious balance both in heat and flavor.

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Central Standard
11:09 am
Fri February 6, 2015

Spice Challenges: Four Places To Burn Your Taste Buds Off In Kansas City

Two spoonfuls of this house-made dried chili packs the punch in the Thai Place's Demon Gapow.
Credit Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR

1. Thai Place in Westport, Kansas City, Mo.: The "Demon Gapow" is made with 10 habanero peppers, 25 thai chili peppers, 10 fresh jalapeno peppers, 10 serrano peppers, and two large tablespoons of house-made dried chili.

Patrons must eat the entire plate in 30 minutes, and they get it for free, plus a t-shirt, a $50 gift certificate and a photo on the restaurant's "Wall of Fame." (Note: the Thai Place Hot Challenge has taken a winter hiatus and will return in the spring)

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Arts & Culture
6:00 am
Fri February 6, 2015

Film Review: Humiliated Factory Worker Gets 'Two Days, One Night' To Keep Her Job

Marion Cotillard and her co-workers after a harrowing 'Two Days, One Night.'
Credit IFC Films

In Two Days, One Night, the new film from the Belgian brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, Marion Cotillard gives a complex, tough performance as a wife and mother scrambling to keep her job.

On a Friday, Cotillard's Sandra learns that sixteen of her co-workers at a solar panel factory have voted to take a bonus of 1,000 euros rather than keep her on the payroll. Devastated yet not defeated, she spends all Saturday and Sunday on a desperate and humble but hopeful campaign to personally convince each colleague to change his or her mind before a Monday-morning vote.

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Arts & Culture
5:45 am
Fri February 6, 2015

Director's Cuts: Gene Mackey On 'Starring Abe Lincoln'

(from left to right) L. Roi Hawkins (Mr. Spear), Kevin Fewell (Abraham Lincoln) and Eric Johansen (Mr. Hawk) portray moments from young Lincoln's life in 'Starring Abe Lincoln.'
Credit Julie Denesha / KCUR

Theatre for Young America honors President's Day with the play Starring Abe Lincoln, written and directed by the company's co-founder Gene Mackey. The show is a biographical portrait of the 16th president told by the man himself, who happened to be attending another play the night in question.

Director Gene Mackey talked about the production as part of our monthly series, Director's Cuts.

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Arts & Culture
1:00 pm
Thu February 5, 2015

At The Epsten Gallery, KC's 'Women To Watch' Venture Into Dangerous Terrain

Linda Lighton's 'Untitled (Floral Pistil)'
Courtesy Linda Lighton

Linda Lighton makes ceramic sculptures revealing how closely lipsticks resemble bullets. And her white clay flowers bloom not with pistils but with pistols.

Sonie Joi Thompson-Ruffin’s mixed-media fabric print depicts a man-sized black leaf hanging lifelessly from a tree bereft of other leaves, against a blood-red background of squares evoking urban apartments.

Rain Harris makes flowers, some out of silk – but some out of ominous black clay, lending a sense of doom to the idea of traditional floral arrangements.

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McTavish Weekend Extra
10:24 am
Thu February 5, 2015

7 Things To Do In Johnson County This Weekend

Werner's Fine Sausage on Johnson Drive is just one attraction you can find in Johnson County, Kan.
Credit The DLC / Flickr-CC

Think of Johnson County as a flower – which, of course, many folks already do.

Better yet, make it a field of flowers, whose nectar is available to all – which it is, of course, no matter where you may live in the Kansas City area.

Wherever your head hits the pillow at the end of the day, get out this weekend and make your own Johnson County bouquet of fun. Which go-and-do activities to pick? Glad you asked.

1. Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art

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Arts & Culture
9:55 am
Thu February 5, 2015

The Nelson-Atkins Museum Gears Up For Big Data To Shape Visitor Experiences

Julián Zugazagoitia is the director and CEO of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.
Credit Laura Spencer / KCUR

Big Data – it’s a catch phrase these days. But museums in cities across the country, from New York to Dallas to Cleveland, are taking cues from corporations and shopping malls, and collecting data to track visitor behavior. It’s starting to shape what’s on view.

In December, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art hired Doug Allen as its first chief information officer, to help analyze data and map a technology strategy.

"Technology will allow us to enrich the experience of a visit, and also allow for a pre-visit," says director and CEO Julián Zugazagoitia.

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Up To Date
3:52 pm
Wed February 4, 2015

Local Listen: Marcus Hampton

Credit Artists Recording Collective

Trumpeter Marcus Hampton, a cousin of jazz legend Lionel Hampton, recently moved to the Kansas City area. The trumpeter and bandleader ably maintains his family’s rich legacy. This week’s edition of Local Listen features Hampton House of Jazz, the title track of his 2014 album.

Hear More: Marcus Hampton’s sextet will be joined by vocalist Toni Gates at the Blue Room on Friday, February 6.

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Arts & Culture
12:38 pm
Wed February 4, 2015

WATCH: Kansas City's Joyce DiDonato Sings At The Stonewall Inn For LGBT Equality

On Wednesday, NPR released a "Field Recording" of internationally renowned opera star and Kansas City native Joyce DiDonato at the Stonewall Inn in New York City.

The riots that took place at the bar in 1969 are widely credited with launching the modern gay rights movement in the U.S. 

Here is DiDonato's video, and below is a link to the full NPR story explaining why she made it.

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Arts & Culture
5:00 am
Tue February 3, 2015

Jesse Howard, Cranky Missouri Folk Artist, Gets A Posthumous One-Man Show

Jesse Howard, 'Untitled (If You Want to See a Gang of Hoodlum Police),' 1961. Paint on metal.
Collection of the Kansas City Art Institute

In the middle of the last century, where Jesse Howard lived in Fulton, Mo., it wasn’t unusual to see hand-painted signs on country roads advertising a traveling fair or a farm sale.

Jesse Howard’s signs offered Bible verses. They proclaimed his anger at his neighbors and the government, his disappointments with the world around him. His canvas was most often a wooden plank or some scrap metal salvaged from dilapidated outbuildings, or any piece of farm equipment with a flat surface big enough to whitewash with house paint and cover with carefully lettered, all-caps screeds.

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Arts & Culture
4:22 pm
Mon February 2, 2015

KC Rep Inches Closer To $5 Million Goal For Renovations

An exterior view of the updated Spencer Theatre.
Helix Architecture + Design

Kansas City Repertory Theatre will announce Tuesday that it’s close to its $5 million fundraising goal for renovations. To date, $4,793, 700 has been raised. 

The Hall Family Foundation contributed a $3 million lead gift. The Rep received other major gifts from individual donors and foundations, such as the Marion and Henry Bloch Family Foundation, Richard J. Stern Foundation for the Arts, and the William T. Kemper Foundation for the Arts. 

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Arts & Culture
11:07 am
Sun February 1, 2015

LISTEN: Gabriela Lemmons' Story Of A Teenage Girl's Annoying Phone Calls

Gabriela Lemmons was one of the poets in the America: Now and Here project, which launched in Kansas City, Mo.
Credit courtesy of the artist

Gabriela Lemmons is a co-founder and former president of the Latino Writers Collective.

We recorded at Blue Monday, the monthly open-mic poetry night at the Uptown Arts Bar, on a night when Lemmons was the featured reader.

She says her poetry is based on her life. "Whatever I'm reading, I actually experienced," she says.

For our series WORD, we selected Lemmons' poem "Stanley Calls Collect."

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Up to Date
12:43 pm
Fri January 30, 2015

Up To Date's Indie, Foreign & Doc Critics' 'Three To See,' January 30 - February 1

'A Single Life' is one of the short films nominated for an Oscar this year.

If you want to feel a little more knowledgeable on Oscar night, or even if you just want some good weekend entertainment, Up to Date's indie, foreign and documentary film critics have a few suggestions for you.

Cynthia Haines

  • 2015 Oscar-Nominated Shorts
  • Boyhood
  • Selma

Steve Walker

  • A Most Violent Year
  • Amira & Sam
  • 2015 Oscar Nominated Shorts: Live Action
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Arts & Culture
5:57 pm
Thu January 29, 2015

Kansas City Star Lays Off Art Critic Alice Thorson

Art critic Alice Thorson has worked for the Kansas City Star since 1991. On Monday, she was told that her job was eliminated.

Over the last decade, major newspapers and magazines across the country have cut back on arts coverage. 

Editors at The Kansas City Star notified art critic Alice Thorson on Monday that Feb. 6 would be her last day. The termination did not come as a surprise for Thorson, the paper's art critic since 1991. She knew she was "on borrowed time," she says. In 2009, Thorson's full-time job was reduced to part-time; theater critic Robert Trussell’s position was downsized at the same time. 

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Up To Date
5:06 pm
Thu January 29, 2015

Local Listen: Eddie Moore And The Outer Circle

Credit http://eddiemooreandtheoutercircle.bandcamp.com/

Eddie Moore and the Outer Circle have become esteemed insiders in Kansas City’s music community. While based in jazz, the group’s music contains appealing elements of hip-hop and R&B.

This edition of Local Listen features Lesson, a track from the band’s 2013 album The Freedom of Expression.

HEAR MORE: Eddie Moore and the Outer Circle will play Thursday, January 29, at the recordBar.

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McTavish Weekend Extra
1:47 pm
Wed January 28, 2015

6 Free (And Almost Free) Things To Do In Kansas City This Weekend

The annual Royals FanFest is just one of the almost-free things you can do this weekend.
Credit Jeremy Bernfeld / KCUR

Confession time: I used to think that “free” was a four-letter word. F-R-E-E. Oh, wait, it is.

Let me start over: I used to believe that anything free couldn’t be worth that much. This is America, right? You pay for what you get. If you wanted to “See The U.S.A. in Your Chevrolet,” it was going to cost you and be worth every gas-guzzling penny.

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Central Standard
9:53 am
Tue January 27, 2015

PHOTOS: Capturing The 'Spook Light' Of The Ozarks

False Lights
Lara Shipley

Photographer Lara Shipley's image, "Believer," is currently looming over 43rd and Main on the H&R Block Artspace Project Wall in Kansas City, Mo. She says her series of photographs, Devil's Promenade, is a reflection on life in the Ozarks, where she grew up.

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Arts & Culture
3:49 pm
Mon January 26, 2015

Number 2 Conductor At Kansas City Symphony Vies For Top Spot In Knoxville

Aram Demirjian, associate conductor of the Kansas City Symphony, started with KCS in 2012 as assistant conductor.
Credit courtesy: Kansas City Symphony

The Kansas City Symphony's associate conductor, Aram Demirjian, just on the heels of conducting his first classical series concert in Kansas City, is one of six finalists for music director of the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra (KSO). 

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Arts & Culture
5:30 am
Sun January 25, 2015

LISTEN: Natasha Ria El-Scari On Black Poets Speaking Out

Natasha Ria El-Scari.
Credit Laura Spencer / KCUR

Spoken word artist Natasha Ria El-Scari is a self-described feminist, educator, and a mother of two.

"I've always written out of the expression of love," says El-Scari. "Not out of the expression of pain." But she says she was "urged to do so" by the movement Black Poets Speak Out, which started in response to the events in Ferguson, Mo.

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Central Standard
4:07 pm
Fri January 23, 2015

Food Critics: The Best Burgers In Kansas City

Open-faced sandwich with a gourmet patty, and chutney instead of ketchup: Is it really a burger? Our critics weigh in.
Credit Wikimedia Commons

Is there a smell, in all the land, like sizzling ground meat charring on the grill?

Burgers are a staple of classic Americana, as we confirmed on Central Standard.

They're a national comfort food, according to Feast Magazine's Jenny Vergara, and she says that if you're going to make cuisine in America, you're going to have to conquer the burger.

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Up To Date
3:44 pm
Fri January 23, 2015

Up To Date's Indie, Foreign And Doc Critics' 'Three To See' January 23-25

Steve Carell portrays John du Pont in "Foxcatcher."
Credit Sony Pictures Classic

  The weather forecast for the next few days makes getting out and about a no-brainer.  Top off your weekend  by taking in a movie.  Up To Date's indie, foreign and documentary critics offer their picks to see this weekend.

Cynthia Haines:

  • Selma
  • Boyhood
  • Birdman

Steve Walker:

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