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. 

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

One of the Kansas City art world's most legendary characters — and most fearsome promoters of area artists — has died at age 74.

Tom Deatherage, who lived in an art-filled apartment above his gallery The Late Show, died peacefully and surrounded by loved ones after a long illness on Tuesday morning, according to friends who were present. He had been an art dealer in Kansas City for more than 25 years.

Frank Morris / KCUR 89.3

An ancient battle, an eager teenager and a small iron ball have helped a Kansas archaeologist rediscover a lost Native American city, one that may have been the second largest in what’s now the United States. 

It turns out, the clues to this mystery had been floating around for centuries — right underfoot in Arkansas City, Kansas.

Jason Gonulsen

For a few years, it was an autumn tradition: Wrap up the turkey and pumpkin pie, wash up the dishes, then head down to the Record Bar for a Ha Ha Tonka show.

But it’s been awhile since Ha Ha Tonka came to town — long enough that a whole new RecordBar awaits their return. The band, with Springfield, Missouri, origins and a name borrowed from a state park at the Lake of the Ozarks, has gone through a few changes.

Paul Sableman / Wikimedia Commons

On KCUR’s Central Standard, our Food Critics — Charles Ferruzza, Mary Bloch and Jenny Vergara — have been keeping an eye on the latest news from KC’s restaurant scene.

They shared some of the highlights from this past spring with host Gina Kaufmann:

video still, courtesy of John McGrath / KCPT, Kansas City Public Television

The Kansas City comic book community is reeling from the tragic loss of Jim Cavanaugh, the larger-than-life owner of legendary Clint’s Comics in Kansas City's Westport neighborhood. Cavanaugh died Friday after being injured in a confrontation with a fleeing comic book thief in the store’s rear parking lot.

“It makes you think about how fragile life is,” said Chris Jackson, a friend of Cavanaugh’s for more than 20 years and the promoter of Planet Comicon, the region’s largest comic book and pop culture convention.

The Marmot / Flickr -- CC

Summer's on the horizon. And as temperatures start to rise, our thoughts turn to the drinks and dishes that'll help keep us cool.

From an old-school shrimp cocktail to spring rolls — and, of course, don't forget ice cream and shaved ice — KCUR's Food Critics searched out the best iced and chilled dishes in Kansas City on Central Standard.

Here are their recommendations:

Mary Bloch, Around the Block:

C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3

When Issac Logsdon moved to Kansas City for art school four years ago, he didn't know the Missouri and Kansas rivers flowed through town.

"It seems like that should be such an important understanding of this city," Logsdon says. "The Missouri’s where we get all of our drinking water. Ecologically, it's incredibly important to this city and this region. But as someone who’s living in the city, I can go most days without ever really recognizing that it’s here."

Courtesy Ensemble Iberica

Ensemble Ibérica, a Kansas City based ensemble dedicated to “the music of Ibéria (Spain and Portugal) and the colonial Americas,” interprets the music of southern Mexico and South America at Monday’s Tierra del Sol concert.

Ken Howard / Metropolitan Opera

Olathe, Kansas, native Scott Conner has performed on North American and European stages. Last month marked Conner's debut at the Metropolitan Opera in New York.

Through May 13, Conner plays the police commissioner in a new production of Richard Strauss’s opera, Der Rosenkavalier. One highlight: He shares the stage with opera diva Renée Fleming, who stars in a signature role as the aristocrat, the Marschallin.

Eric Williams / Kansas City Symphony

Many composers have set the Roman Catholic Mass for the Dead to music. Mozart, Berlioz, Brahms and Verdi famously come to mind. Their compositions are considered masterpieces.

But Benjamin Britten’s genius was to juxtapose the austere and solemn Latin of the Requiem liturgy with the visceral and searing poetry of Wilfred Owen, who served in the British Army during World War I and died in France just days before the Armistice was signed.

Courtesy Historic West Bottoms Association

It’s hard to tell the story of Kansas City’s West Bottoms without lapsing into a folksy, fairytale-quiet voice: Once upon a time two rivers met in a place that was both Kansas and Missouri…

Yes, and long ago it was called the French Bottoms because that’s where the French and Native Americans traded.

Two hundred years later, “trade” is one of the newer components being reintroduced to the four square-mile tract that makes up the West Bottoms, about 30 percent of which is in Kansas. Dining is already well-established.

Courtesy Cristina Bernal

Poking fun at current political and social events can be cathartic, especially when it incites laughter, which is what Spanish actress Cristina Bernal does.

Bernal makes her United States debut in Kansas City on May 7, in celebration of Kansas City's 50-year sister-cities relationship with Seville, Spain.

Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art is mending fences with its neighbors. 

The museum has reached an agreement with two neighborhood associations about its properties. In dispute were the site of the former Rockhill Tennis Club and four houses on 45th Street just north of the museum. 

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Updated: 2:11 p.m. 

A painter, sculptor, and muralist, Arthur Kraft was an artist who, as he put it, wanted to be "left alone to create." Kraft died in 1977 at the age of 55 after struggles with alcoholism and cancer. 

Camille Brecht

A couple of years ago, musician Greg Wickham was on a walk with his wife when she asked what he thought was a strange question.

“‘If you were to die tomorrow, is there anything you haven’t done that you would regret?’” he recalled. “I told her the only thing that I would really regret is never having recorded a solo record.

“And it was kind of quiet for a second and she said, ‘Well, you need to get into the studio, then.’”

That conversation helped inspire Wickham’s first solo album, “If I Left This World.”

Courtesy of Gracie Schram

The artist: Gracie Schram

The song: Under The Sun

Background: Gracie Schram of Leawood, Kansas, has been writing songs since she was a little girl. She released her first album when she was 10 years old. And this past year has been busy and full of change. She graduated high school from Blue Valley North, released the album Dear Fall, and started college in Nashville, Tennessee.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

In 2010, Kansas City Public Schools closed nearly 30 schools, mostly because of declining enrollment and a budget deficit. Some of these buildings are still in limbo, and others have been sold, leased, or mothballed for future use.

At the former Westport Middle School at 200 E. 39th Street, classrooms, where students used to work on projects, are now co-working spaces for entrepreneurs. 

University of Missouri-Kansas City

The Missouri Senate has voted to approve $48 million in funding for a new downtown campus for the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance.

The $96 million project, which would relocate the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance to the block immediately south of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, is seeking $48 million in state bond funding to match private and city contributions already lined up.

Courtesy Summer Breeze

Lenexa drummer and philanthropist Billy Brimblecom says he’s put blood, sweat, and tears into trying to be an original musician.

“But seriously, one of the most fun and — dare I say — at least locally successful things I’ve done, is this.”

Courtesy Jim Murray

Jim Murray will never forget the first time he heard "Study for Strings" by the Czech composer Pavel Haas. It was a performance by the Philadelphia Orchestra in Kansas City back when Murray was a junior at William Jewell College.

Karen Neoh / Flickr -- CC

There’s a lot that can go between two slices of bread.

Portable and fuss-free — no need for utensils — sandwiches are perfect for work lunches or picnics.

Courtesy Unbound Book Festival

On a recent Wednesday morning at his home Columbia, Missouri, Alex George was ignoring his day job. He’s an attorney and author whose second novel, Setting Free the Kites, was released in February. But on this day he was working on neither writing nor lawyering.

courtesy: Emporia State University

The Kansas Humanities Council on Thursday announced a new Kansas poet laureate: Kevin Rabas (pronounced as RAY-bus).

Rabas, an associate professor of poetry and playwriting at Emporia State University, grew up in Shawnee. He co-directs ESU's creative writing program and serves as co-editor of Flint Hills Review.

His latest collection of poetry, Songs for My Father: Poems & Stories, was published in 2016. 

Alicia Solo

As the dynamic singer of the now-defunct Beautiful Bodies, Alicia Solombrino was a whirlwind front person, displaying as much energy with her free-spirited stage antics as any contemporary Kansas City musician.

Paul Andrews / paulandrewsphotography.com

In a tiny plane over the Amazon rainforest, Kansas City writer Candice Millard plummeted to what she was sure would be her death.

Blake Stoppel

Kansas City’s BkMk Press has a new collection of poetry by Native American writers about the Middle East.

The book's title — The World Is One Place: Native American Poets Visit the Middle East — was inspired by advice given to BkMk managing editor Ben Furnish by a teacher years ago.

Courtesy Lalah Hathaway

Six weeks after stumbling over the roll-out of a major new jazz festival scheduled for Memorial Day weekend, leaders of the American Jazz Museum made the announcement again Thursday, this time joined by Kansas City Mayor Sly James and City Councilman Jermaine Reed.

Claire Tadokoro / KCUR 89.3

Moving back to Kansas City from New York City in the mid to late 1980s was an eye-opening experience for David Hughes.

"I started meeting artists, curators, dancers and musicians. I saw a lot of amazing individuals doing interesting work," says Hughes, who realized that "artists need support." 

American Century Investments, his employer at the time, contributed $10,000. And, in 1997, four cash awards were distributed to artists as the newly created Charlotte Street Foundation

Kansas Arts Programs Brace For Funding Cuts Again

Apr 13, 2017
Bryan Thompson / KCUR 89.3

If President Trump gets his way eliminating the National Endowment for the Arts as he has proposed in his budget, it would be another blow to a Kansas arts community that took a hit when state funding was eliminated a few years ago.

Courtesy Eddie Moore

Eddie Moore and the Outer Circle, a youthful group of forward-thinking jazz-based musicians, is one of Kansas City’s most accomplished ensembles.

The core Outer Circle band currently consists of keyboardist Moore, guitarist Adam Schlozman, bassist DeAndre Manning and drummer Zach Morrow. The band occasionally tours (it has a gig in Austin later this month) and Moore hosts a weekly jazz jam session every Wednesday at Californos and a monthly showcase at the Tank Room, in which he collaborates with hip-hop artists.

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