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. 

A quest to find the pumpkin in pumpkin spice lattes, then KCUR's Food Critics search out the best hot beverages in and around KC.

Guests:

scottgunn / Flickr - CC

You don’t have to spend any money to have a good time. OK, maybe a few bucks, because it’s a jungle out there and even the squirrels might want to charge you breadcrumbs to chase them. And they say the recession is over.

Where was I? Oh, yeah, patting the old wallet, which you can keep fatter than you might think while investigating free or frugal stuff this weekend, including yummy apples, cool comic books or an afternoon of family friendly team competitions for a good cause.

Eric Williams/Kansas City Symphony

This season, Kansas City Symphony audiences will discover a new assistant conductor leading the pops, family, and Screenland at the Symphony concerts: Jason Seber.

Seber relocated to Kansas City just a few months ago from Louisville, Kentucky, after three seasons as education and outreach director of the Louisville Orchestra and 11 years as music director of the Louisville Youth Orchestra. 

I recently talked with Seber about his background and expectations in Kansas City.

Alissa Walker / Flickr - CC

Before LaCroix Sparking Water became a trendy drink, it was a favorite of Midwestern moms.

That’s according to Vox.com reporter Libby Nelson, author of "Why LaCroix Sparkling Water Is Suddenly Everywhere."

In her article, she traces how the bubbly drink  — which she remembers from her Kansas City childhood as “the pastel cases of tasteless soda that my Girl Scout leader packed into her minivan” — went from a Midwestern staple to a status symbol.

Are conversations about race actually changing things? Many people of color say that talking with white people about race and racism isn't getting anywhere.

Guest:

Cody Newill / KCUR 89.3

This story first appeared on KCUR's Question Quest. You can find the episode here or wherever you download podcasts.

Just about every city has "that store." The one that just can't seem to find its footing for very long. One year it's a seedy liquor store, the next, a themed restaurant, the next, a sleepy book store.

The 19th-century English novelist George Eliot was reportedly no great beauty. One contemporary called the author of Middlemarch "exceedingly plain, with her aggressive jaw and her evasive blue eyes." Writer Henry James, who was an admirer, characterized her as "magnificently ugly, deliciously hideous."

Courtesy Kansas City Missouri City Hall

Mayor Sly James asked a Kansas City Council committee on Wednesday to recommend spending $250,000 to begin planning for a three-day arts festival to take place in Swope Park next September.

Those funds would go toward hiring of a project manager who would spend the next year developing the festival, which would include visual, performing, and digital arts, as well as an educational component, all taking advantage of the assets in Swope Park: Starlight Theatre, the park's pavilion, and the Southeast Community Center.

Courtesy Eddie Moore

Originally from Houston, Eddie Moore, 30, moved to Kansas City in 2010. On Saturday, he and his band the Outer Circle perform at a release party for their new album Kings & Queens.

3 reasons we're listening to Eddie Moore and the Outer Circle this week:

1. Not only is Moore one of the only keyboardists in town who can play both gospel-infused and conventional post-bop forms of jazz, Moore he can occasionally be heard playing with rock, reggae and hip-hop ensembles.

Courtesy UMKC Gallery of Art

Davin Watne and Barry Anderson were feeling some pressure.

“It’s been a while since you’ve had a faculty show,” people kept reminding Watne, the curator and director of the UMKC Gallery of Art.

Missouri Division of Tourism / Flickr - CC

What to gaze upon this weekend?

There’s plenty to see, including rodeo performers and commemorative warbirds in daring action, scads of visual art around the Country Club Plaza and a singularly crazy sock puppet that successfully blows up the norm – funny how it only takes one.

So set your peepers on “watch” and revel in the readily observable. If it gets to be too much, I guess you can close an eye. But not both. C’mon, let’s get with the program.

1. American Royal Pro Rodeo

C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3

When Paul Dorrell opened an art gallery 25 years ago, people told him he was crazy for representing only Missouri and Kansas artists.

"Everybody thought I was out of my mind," Dorrell says. "That it was a sure road to bankruptcy, that nobody would ever care about Kansas and Missouri artists, that Kansas City and the Midwest in general were a lost cause culturally, so why bother?"

What goes into making a beat? Usually, producers toil in the background, but a local promoter is bringing beatmaking to center stage.

Guests:

courtesy: Steven Holl Architects

Attendance is up at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art — 534,000 people visited in this fiscal year. The collection has grown by more than 20 percent in recent years. And more of the museum's artwork now travels on loan, to places such as Australia, China, Europe, Japan, and Taiwan: The museum loaned 379 pieces of art in this fiscal year, up from 32 in 2011.

But the Nelson-Atkins wants to be bigger and better.

An interview with the outgoing managing editor of The Pitch, who's leaving town to write about the craft beer industry at Brewbound. We hear his take on KC's beer scene, which he covered for The Pitch, plus his assessment of the state of journalism here.

Guest:

  • Justin Kendall

Suzanne Hogan / KCUR 89.3

This story first appeared on KCUR's Question Quest. You can find the episode here or wherever you download podcasts.

Lots of people have stores they remember going to when they were a kid— for you maybe it was the video store, the arcade, a comic shop, an ice cream stand or corner store.

Courtesy Heidi Lynne Gluck

Kansas City's annual Plaza Art Fair doubles as a music festival: 55 free performances by locally based rock, R&B, country, jazz, folk, and classical musicians will take place on three stages. One of those performers is Heidi Lynne Gluck, a singer-songwriter with an indie-rock orientation.

3 reasons we're listening to Heidi Lynne Gluck this week:

Gavin Peters

Moreland & Arbuckle
Promised Land or Bust

It’s not easy to surprise with a blues record.

Courtesy of Bummer

Story of a Song is a monthly segment on KCUR's Central Standard in which local musicians tell the story behind a song they have written or are performing.

The Band: Bummer

The Song: "Bad News"

The Songwriters: Matt Perrin and Mike Gustafson

Mid-America Arts Alliance

Mid-America Arts Alliance CEO Mary Kennedy has made arts accessibility a focus of her career, sparked by childhood experiences with dance classes.

"As a kid, I grew up in a really tough neighborhood, and the arts were really my way out," said Kennedy, a native of Topeka, Kansas. 

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

After a four-month absence, a 40-foot tall, 35-foot-wide, 24,000-pound aluminum sculpture by artist R.M. Fischer has returned to the top of its 300-foot-tall pylon at the Kansas City Convention Center.

Clarke Wyatt

Musicians Betse Ellis and Clarke Wyatt started playing as Betse & Clarke, a fiddle and banjo duo, in late 2014. Their latest album is called River Still Rise.

A look at what's going on at this week's TechWeek conference in KC. Plus, an encore interview with the CEO of KC-based EyeVerify, which just sold for a lot of money (reportedly $100 million) to Alibaba.

Guests:

Patrick Emerson / Flickr--CC

We can’t all be triumphant at once – unless we share our victories.

That’s the ticket this weekend, when winning talents and other successful allures invite each and every one of us to beat back defeat and exult in glorious achievement.

How’s that for a triumphant attitude? Feel free to pass it on!

1. Cyndi Lauper

Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3

This story first appeared on KCUR's Question Quest. You can find the episode here or wherever you download podcasts.

Zach Bauman

The Anniversary, a band from Lawrence, earned national recognition before it broke up in 2004, but the band has reunited for a national tour that concludes in their hometown on Saturday.

3 reasons we're listening to The Anniversary this week:

Colleges are attracting more students than ever before. And when they get there from rural or urban settings, from diverse backgrounds, they have to figure out — some for the first time — how to deal with difference.

Guests:

Rich the Factor
Smile and Whale Mafi (Major Factor Records)

In the parlance of the street, the Kansas City rapper Rich the Factor has spent most of the past two years on “vacation.”

Since his extended incarceration recently ended, the man born Richard Johnson has been making up for lost time. “I’m fresh up out the pen and I’m back with a vengeance,” he raps on “Blow the Horn,” a combative track on one of his two new albums.

It's this season's most compelling made-for-TV drama: The 2016 election. From costumes to stage sets to the use of music and more, we explore the role of political theater. How do candidates present themselves on stage and screen for drama ... or comedy?

Guests:

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