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. 

Ryan Collerd / Courtesy of Pew Center for Arts and Heritage

Lauren Mabry has some advice for future graduates of the Kansas City Art Institute.

Mabry is one of the celebrity ceramicists who’ll be in town later this month for the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts. She earned her BFA from the Art Institute in 2007, and less than a decade later was awarded $75,000 in unrestricted cash from Pew Center for Arts & Heritage. In naming Mabry one of its 2015 Pew Fellows, the center lauded Mabry as “a ceramicist whose expressive and colorful ‘dimensional paintings’ … play with form, texture, color and scale and blur the boundaries between ceramics, abstract painting and sculpture.”

Paul Andrews / paulandrewsphotography.com

The morning after his high school graduation, Jonathan Justus packed his car and moved to California. He didn't even wait a day, and he didn't leave with fantasies of coming back any time soon. 

When he was a kid, Justus felt suffocated by the sense that everyone in Smithville knew and kept an eye on everyone else. His mom received hate mail when she took over the family pharmacy, criticizing her for working outside the home rather than staying home with her kids. Rumors had started spreading about Justus starting when he was just in high school, he says.

Jake Jacobson

Folk Alliance International announced Friday that its former director, Louis Meyers, died on March 10.

"It is with heavy hearts that we share the sad news that Louis Meyers passed away," wrote Aengus Finnan, the organization's current executive director. "He will be dearly missed by his friends and colleagues on our staff, board, in our membership, and the music community at large."

Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR 89.3

When Bruce Winter moved to Kansas City in the late 1970s, he didn’t understand why the gay clubs here didn’t have drag performances.

“The gay clubs kind of shunned it and felt like it was an insult to their masculinity or something, I don’t know,” he told host Gina Kaufmann on KCUR’s Central Standard.

Rooks Nest Entertainment

Awards season is over, which means there's a fresh crop of independent, foreign and documentary films for you to take in this weekend.  With pollen counts so high, who wants to go outside anyway? Whether you're looking for something creepy or something sweet, Up To Date's film critics have a suggestion for you. 

Cynthia Haines

Hitchcock/Truffaut, PG-13

Couresy of Missouri Valley Special Collections / Kansas City Public Library, Kansas City, Missouri

It’s been almost a hundred years since Prohibition, which, ironically, were some of the booziest years in Kansas City history. And although local chef Tim Tuohy is a newcomer to the area, he’s already learning the history of that time.

Tuohy works for Tom’s Town, a new distillery in the Crossroads that makes small-batch gin, vodka and whiskey on site, and is named for the man who just might be the patron saint of KC drinkers. 

“You know, Kansas City had an extremely rich beer and alcohol culture that really flourished here as a result of … Tom Pendergast,” Tuohy says.

UCI UC Irvine / Flickr-CC

Don’t be afraid of the obvious.

I get it. Every once in a while, for one reason or another, we all like to be hip or trendy. But the truth is that some of the best experiences can be had by doing things that are readily apparent.

And keep in mind: A thing can be so obvious that people might miss it. So if you do that thing, does that mean you’re secretly with-it? Obviously.

1. Mavis Staples and Nick Lowe

courtesy of the artist

Charlotte Street Foundation has announced its 2016 slate of awards recipients. Each artist receives an unrestricted cash award of $10,000. 

The five fellows this year include: visual artists Shawn Bitters, Rodolfo Marron III, and Madeline Gallucci, and generative performing artists J. Ashley Miller and Eddie Moore. 

The awards process starts with an open call for applications from artists based in the five-county metro area. A jury of arts professionals narrowed the pool to 18 finalists, and then to five. 

Creative Commons-Flickr

This story was updated at 12:12 p.m. to include the comment of Uclick's marketing director.

What’s a seven-letter word for something that’s shocking or upsetting?

The answer is scandal, and the one currently rocking the crossword puzzle world has ties back to Kansas City.

Ben Money / Kansas City Live Music Blog (kclivemusicblog.com)

Slow Motion Commotion
The Day’s Not Over Till You Fall Asleep

Sometimes it’s OK to be a little miserable.

Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3

Starlight Theatre offers nearly a dozen performing arts education programs, but staffers are often working around the schedules of the Broadway musicals or concerts. 

Officials with the theater hope a new addition will alleviate some of the logistical issues. On Thursday, the 66-year-old theater unveiled a new education pavilion and a dedicated space for education programming

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Many actors say they finally get into character when they put on their costumes. An effective costume design can transport audiences to ancient Greece or to the nifty 1950s of the musical Grease. The wardrobe created for the Unicorn Theatre's production of The Whale brings to the stage the life of a 600-pound shut-in. 

Jillian Shoptaw / KCUR

Since 2002, The Mortified Podcast has been showcasing adults sharing artifacts from their childhood, most notably, readings from their diaries. 

A few gracious Kansas Citians agreed to dig out their journals and read their most embarrassing entries at a recent KCUR Podcast Party. These are stories about love, anxiety, and angsty rock music.

Courtesy NCECA

Gallery-goers will see clay everywhere this month, with exhibition spaces welcoming more than 5,000 ceramics artists, students, teachers and fans who’ll arrive in Kansas City for the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts, March 16-19.

This might feel a little overwhelming for casual First Friday attendees.

What better place to shelter from those March winds? Your local movie theater, of course! Up to Date's indie, foreign and documentary film critics have suggestions that'll entertain and help keep your hair more manageable.

Cynthia Haines

Mustang, PG-13

  • After innocently playing with boys on a beach, five orphan girls, their scandalized guardians confine them and arrange forced marriages.

45 Years, R

Joe Mabel / Wikimedia Commons

Want to do something different? Really different? Really, really different?

Well, let’s not get too carried away. We’ve only got the weekend to work with here. And, besides, you don’t want to show up to work on Monday as Bernie if they’re expecting Hillary. (If they’re expecting Donald, I’m not sure what to tell you.)

So, instead, consider the following things to entertain or educate yourself in a different way this weekend. At least they’re totally different from each other. Baby steps, right? And then the revolution!

Courtesy Amanda Kibler / The Coterie

Advances in equal rights for LGBT people – along with the struggles that remain – filtered through the imagination of theatrically inclined teenagers should make for intriguing performances this weekend when the Coterie Theatre presents "Gears and Queers," the result of the third annual Project Pride.

Project Pride begins with group discussions and improvisation exercises, then culminates a few weeks later with a staged production of vignettes created and shaped by the teenaged cast.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

The Reading Reptile children's bookstore in Kansas City's Brookside neighborhood will close on March 12, its owners announced on Monday.

File photo by Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

PorchFestKC has a new home. After losing favor with the neighborhood that hosted its first two years, the afternoon music festival will move to the porches of Valentine, says organizer Kathryn Golden. She’s set a date for Oct. 8.

Courtesy Logan Richardson

Logan Richardson
Shift (Blue Note)

The booklet that accompanies Logan Richardson’s monumental new album Shift contains four pages of manga-style graphic art. One panel depicts the saxophonist as a child standing on the corner of 18th & Vine in Kansas City’s Jazz District. He soon encounters Ahmad Alaadeen, an area jazz hero who is shown in the miniature comic book diligently tutoring his promising young disciple.

Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3

Florence Hemphill grew up in a small town in Kansas, and saw the horrors of World War I up close when she served as a nurse in France. She wrote more than a hundred letters, sharing her experiences with family members. 

Singer-songwriter Joe Crookston recently teamed up with the National World War I Museum and Memorial to tell her story – through art and music — at the Folk Alliance International Conference in Kansas City, Missouri. 

Feeling the need to cram before the Oscars are presented this Sunday? Up to Date's indie, foreign and documentary film critics suggest a few nominees to get you caught up.

Cynthia Haines

Mustang, PG-13

  • After innocently playing with boys on a beach, five orphan girls, their scandalized guardians confine them and arrange forced marriages.

45 Years, R

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 Musician: Julian Davis

The Song: “Maybelline”

Courtesy Queen Alidore Films

When Amber Hansen and Nicholas Ward got jobs with Lawrence painter Dave Loewenstein’s six-state public mural project, they were supposed to be assistants. They ended up becoming filmmakers, documenting an experience they found profoundly moving.

Al Pitzner

Kansas City Mayor Sly James established Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2016, as "Fred Andrews Day" to honor Andrews's 20-year commitment to the city's film community. 

But as friends gathered to celebrate, Fred Andrews was not there. He died on Wednesday after a six-year struggle with cancer.

In 1996, Andrews had an idea for a film festival. And the following year, he made it happen on the campus of University of Missouri-Kansas City — in collaboration with other area universities, the Independent Filmmakers Coalition, and the Film Society of Kansas City — on a shoestring budget. 

C. Jill Reed / Wikimedia Commons

Remember ‘Oz the Great and Terrible’? Turns out he wasn’t such a bad guy. In the end, you might say he was terribly good.

In that spirit, there are things to do this weekend that might well be terrible, but in more than one sense.

Am I being absolutely awful to propose potentially dire diversions? Actually, I’m just being alliterative. But terrible? Now you’re talking.

1. Wavves with Best Coast and Cherry Glazerr

Music Review: Fullbloods' 'Mild West'

Feb 23, 2016
Zach Bauman
Hannah Copeland

The largest Folk Music Conference in the world, Folk Alliance International, brought more than 1,000 musicians to Crown Center in Kansas City last week. Musicians and fans crowded into hotel rooms to play and watch hundreds of small concerts hosted during the five day event.

Here are the sounds from those concerts, including a tuba player practicing by a waterfall, and a room organizer stashing his guitar and beer in a bathtub.

Courtesy Rebekah Winegarner

After seven hours of sitting at a computer creating a submission for Roland’s Digital Piano Design Contest, Rebekah Winegarner needed some fun. Clicking through the material menu on her industrial design software, she changed her wooden piano, shaped like a rock formation from the Utah desert, to the color of beer.

C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3

Three songs into her official Folk Alliance showcase on Thursday night, Kansas City musician Jessica Paige had words for the music industry.

“Recently I was on ‘American Idol’ and they sent me home for a bunch of younger girls, which I’m OK with,” Paige told an audience of about forty other musicians, industry professionals and folk enthusiasts in the Brookside room on the first floor of the Westin Hotel.

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