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. 

C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3

The Kansas City street corner is immortalized in words known worldwide:

I'm gonna be standing on the corner
12th Street and Vine
With my Kansas City baby
And a bottle of Kansas City wine.

But why 12th Street? Why doesn’t the song refer to 18th Street and Vine, the corner at the heart of the city’s historic jazz district, which also purports to be internationally famous?

Infrogmation of New Orleans / Wikimedia Commons

It’s the sweet spot of the year. The weather is generally perfect (not too hot; not too cold) and it's not too buggy or humid just yet.

It’s time to eat outside.

From restaurant patios to parks and summer festivals, we explore the world of alfresco dining. Our food critics search out the best spots in and around Kansas City — plus, their picks for the best KC food to bring on a picnic.

Here are their recommendations:

Jenny Vergara, Feast Magazine:

Courtesy Ida McBeth

The American Jazz Museum celebrates two Kansas City musical acts this weekend with Lifetime Achievement Awards for the McFadden Brothers and Ida McBeth.

McBeth's musical memories go all the way back to when she was five years old at church, singing the solo on a song called “It’s In My Heart.”

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

An electronic soundscape greets visitors to the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art on a recent Sunday afternoon. Some carry yoga mats as they walk into the main gallery, and settle in on the floor. Musician and composer Paul Rudy stands in front of a large-scale collage of rice paper, and wooden shelves lined with ceramics.

Rudy is tall, and dressed all in white, with a golden scarf. He chooses an instrument — and the musical meditation experience begins.

Courtesy of Tim Harte (photo by Ruby Sue Hanson)

When some people think about a conservatory of music, they might conjure up images of students playing the violin or piano and studying the works of Mozart and Beethoven.

That's about to change.

For the first time, the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance has admitted a student whose instrument is a computer. Tim Harte will be starting in the Conservatory’s composition program this fall.

ceedub13 / Wikimedia Commons

As the post-World War II Baby Boom generation inexorably relaxes its grip on the workplace, many who once rocked the night away still want to hold onto all of the youthful diversions they can. Translation: It’s hard to let go of the fun stuff.

Even if it doesn’t make wrinkles disappear, a virtual industry exists to appease the entertainment desires of those whose cherished memories of yesteryear might still be able to put a spring in their step. Translation: Fountain of Youth for sale.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Paul Tyler will retire later this month after 14 years of working as the grants director of ArtsKC-Regional Arts Council. Tyler has served the Kansas City arts community by working to form links between individual artists and the organizations supporting them.

For a man who is more comfortable working hard behind the scenes, Tyler says he's been a bit overwhelmed by the flurry of attention he's received after announcing his retirement.

Alex Smith / KCUR

On Sunday mornings at the Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas, prayers that are quietly murmured in most churches seem to almost rumble like thunder.

Thousands of congregants crowd the huge suburban auditorium for weekly services, which feature huge video monitors, an orchestra and a full choir. With 20,000 members, it’s the largest Methodist church in the United States.  

Amy Mogharbel, 30, says attending services here took some getting used to.

Courtesy Dom Chronicles

Dom Chronicles
Reality Makers (IndyGround)

The cover of rapper Dom Chronicles’ latest album is like a 1980s neon dream in which he's driving through a fantasy vision of the Kansas City skyline.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

A small Westside neighborhood crowd gathered at 16th Street and Jefferson Sunday morning to watch a Sikorsky S-64 Skycrane remove the largest of the four "Sky Station" sculptures atop Bartle Hall in Kansas City.

Paul Andrews Photography

For the past six years, Victor & Penny — aka Jeff Freling and Erin McGrane — have traveled the country performing original music, as well as jazz and pop standards. Starting as a duo, playing tight harmonies on guitar and ukulele, they’re now backed by their Loose Change Orchestra.

Fish Fry host Chuck Haddix talked to Victor & Penny about their latest album, Electricity, and the creative process:

karendesuyo / Flickr-CC

An irony of the Internet Age is that it can seem tougher than ever to get at the whole truth. Everyone seems to have their version and the ability to share it with the world in a nanosecond.

courtesy: National World War I Museum and Memorial

Weeks after the end of World War I in 1918, Kansas Citians started fundraising for a memorial. A community fund drive raised more than $2.5 million, and Liberty Memorial opened on Nov. 11, 1926. In 2006, the National World War I Museum, a $102 million project "dedicated to remembering, interpreting and understanding the Great War" opened to the public

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Kansas Citians' First Friday entertainment options get wider this week with the debut of festivities along 18th and Vine.

Starting on May 6, arts organizations in the historic Jazz District will host live music and storytelling performances, food trucks, art and fashion displays, shopping and even "instructions on the latest dance trends" including "heels, hip hop, break dancing, vogue and pop, and dip and spin" courtesy of the Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey.

Courtesy: Helix Architecture + Design

Kansas City Young Audiences will soon move to its first permanent home in the organization's 55-year history. On Tuesday, the arts education non-profit announced the purchase of a former Office Max building at 3732 Main Street in Kansas City, Missouri. 

"It's in the heart of Midtown, centrally located in the city," says executive director Martin English. "We believe it will give us an opportunity to reach out and to serve a broader community of students from that location."  

Courtesy City of Liberty, Missouri

This story was updated at 12:30 p.m.

A building in downtown Liberty, Missouri, partially collapsed Tuesday morning, and officials were concerned that other buildings might be at risk. 

Firefighters and police crews were called to the scene at 1 N. Water Street in the historic square in Liberty, shortly after 9 a.m.  The Bedinger Building, which once housed an Ethan Allen furniture store, had been vacant for about four years, but was undergoing renovations.  

Creative Commons-Flickr

Universal UClick, the Kansas City-based syndicator, says it has confirmed some of the allegations of plagiarism against the editor of its Universal Crossword feature following an internal investigation.

In a statement last month, it said the editor, Timothy Parker, will take a three-month leave of absence during which he “will confirm that his process for constructing puzzles uses the best available technology to ensure that everything he edits is original.”

Paul Andrews

Victor and Penny
Electricity

Victor and Penny’s latest gambles aren’t obvious when the curtain rises on their newest release, even for fans who’ve loved their “prohibition-era” music from the start. But with this one, Jeff Freling and Erin McGrane have taken big risks — and made them work.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

As they rehearsed for an upcoming performance in the apocalyptic “Rite of Spring,” two dancers in the Kansas City Ballet recently got advice from the legendary ballerina who’d helped create the role.

courtesy: Barn Players Community Theatre

Charlotte Bronte's 1847 novel, Jane Eyre, tells the story of a young woman, an orphan, who takes a job as a governess. She falls in love with the owner of the estate, the darkly brooding Mr. Rochester, who has a secret past.

The musical adaptation of Jane Eyre premiered on Broadway in 2000, and the Barn Players Community Theatre presents the first Kansas City production. Alisha Richardson and Matt Richardson, who married in 2015, play the two lead roles.  

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From bagels to doughnuts to cookies, there’s a lot going on in KC’s baked-goods scene.

“A lot of people tend to forget that bakeries, in the olden days, were a once-a-week, once-a-day stop,” Food Critic Jenny Vergara told host Gina Kaufmann on KCUR's Central Standard.

And with locally-baked goods, she said, some people are puzzled as to why things don’t last on the countertop at home.

Cory Weaver / Kansas City Repertory Theatre

Eric Rosen's play, Lot's Wife, has gone through several iterations over the last two decades. It's a work that Rosen, the artistic director of the Kansas City Repertory Theatre, started in the early 1990s when he was in graduate school. It premieres this weekend in the Rep's first new works festival. 

Structured as a play within a play, it has echoes of a personal tragedy, and 1930s noir as well as a nod to the cautionary Biblical tale of Lot’s wife, who turned into a pillar of salt when she looked back.

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 Blk Flanl

Blk Flanl
Blk Flanl II

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