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. 

Courtesy Archive Collective

Cellphone photo enthusiasts have a few more days to shape one of the pieces of art in a downtown Kansas City gallery.

Instagram users who post photos with the hashtag #bigamericanpicture can see their images on a computer screen mounted to a wall and hooked up to an iPad showing the feed of a group of Kansas City photographers called the Archive Collective.

“So anyone who uses the hashtag can be present in the show,” says Archive Collective member Megan Pobywajlo.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

The curtain rises this weekend on Georges Bizet’s Carmen, the Lyric Opera of Kansas City’s final production of the season. At the heart of this story of love, betrayal and revenge is Carmen, the tempestuous Gypsy played by Latvian mezzo-soprano Zanda Švēde.

Stephen Locke/Tempest Gallery

Storms in the Midwest can be dangerous, but there’s often beauty to be found in a streak of lightning or a billowing supercell.

"Chasing Weather," an exhibition at the Kansas City Public Library's downtown branch, combines 17 vivid storm photographs by Stephen Locke with poems by Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg. 

LaBudde Special Collections, Miller Nichols Library / UMKC

On the same morning as Kansas City Manager Troy Schulte held a press conference at 18th and Vine to propose $28 million in new funding to continue revitalization of the historic district, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, in Washington, introduced a resolution proclaiming Kansas City, Missouri, as "the Home of Jazz."

In the clear interests of diplomacy, Cleaver also recognized New Orleans as "the Birthplace of Jazz."

Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City, Missouri officials and leaders on Thursday morning gathered at the intersection of 18th and Vine to announce a revitalization plan that would require a city commitment of $27.6 million — nearly $10 million more than proposed in January.

If approved by the City Council, city bonds would be tapped to pay for about a dozen projects over the next three years. Private funds would also be leveraged. 

Aleksi Ollila / Wikimedia Commons

Keeping it real has its limitations.

Pretend your way out of them this weekend by encountering the ardent make-believe of ambitious air guitarists, the living legacy of a legendary animator and the unquenchable pursuit of assorted paraphernalia associated with the most famous fizzy water in the world.

Need more? Wow, you do need a break. Ready… set …pretend!

1. U.S. Air Guitar Contest

Mathias Kang

The Matchsellers
Songs We Made Up

Kansas City is in the midst of an acoustic duo renaissance. Victor and Penny (‘20s and ‘30s swing), Betse and Clarke (old-time breakdowns), and more recently Kasey Rausch and Marco Pascolini’s country duo configuration have made it clear that two people and a cloud of dust work just fine. The Matchsellers, with Andrew Morris on guitar and Julie Bates on fiddle, have landed on that well-plowed ground with a bluegrass sound and an idiosyncratic sense of humor, one skewed roughly 23-29 degrees from the perpendicular.

Courtesy Jahaira Aguilar

Nothing gets people thinking about the college student-loan debt like a carnival.

That’s what two Kansas City Art Institute students determined, anyway. So they're putting on Debt Day, a carnival with games, prizes, entertainment, food, a dunk tank and slip-and-slide and other shenanigans on the lawn of their school.

Taylor Galscock

Walter Bargen served as the first poet laureate of Missouri, in 2008 and 2009. His poems, essays, and stories have been published in more than 300 magazines.

In advance of his appearance in Kansas City this Tuesday, KCUR aired an excerpt from the New Letters on the Air archives, when Bargen read a poem and spoke with Angela Elam about the sometimes strange role of the public poet.

Pixabay

I remember getting rid of my cassette tapes.

Through the early 2000s, when my journalism career was just beginning, I drove a beat-up used car built in 1991. The bonus was, it had a tape deck. And I had a great collection of music on tapes.

This post was originally published in April 2016.

It’s been a mild winter, which means we’re getting a jump on ice cream season.

Whether it’s served in a cup or cone, ice cream (and its friends: custard, gelato, sorbet, soft serve and more) is the classic treat that feels like an indulgence.

On Friday’s Central Standard, KCUR’s Food Critics search out the best ice cream in and around Kansas City.

Here are their recommendations:

J. Robert Schraeder Photography / The Coterie Theatre

Long-form improvisation is a grueling strain of comedy. But some of Kansas City’s funniest high school students are embracing it. Undaunted, they've spent the last few months trying, sometimes successfully, to master it.

Comedy audiences know about short-form improv, where a random word thrown out from the crowd provokes a three-minute sketch.

Hannah Copeland / KCUR 89.3

The second Tuesday in April each year has been designated as Fountain Day — the day Kansas City fountains spring back to life. This year, the festivities included one fountain that had been dry for the last four years.

A crowd cheered as water cascaded down the 28-foot wall and steps of the William Volker Memorial Fountain in Theis Park, just south of The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

steve9567 / Flickr -- CC

Feeling a little funny in the head?

You might as well go with it this weekend, with help from brain-frying guitar players, crazy thrill rides and more.

Keep in mind, you could get carried away and totally lose your mind with all the insane fun out there. But something tells me you can handle it – yeah, that funny little voice in my head. Good luck!

1. Generation Axe: A Night with Guitars

Tax Waver

Apr 13, 2016

You've seen them on the sidewalk outside those tax places, waving to all who pass by. Meet the man behind the Statue of Liberty costume.

The director of the Springfield Art Museum likens the recent theft of seven Andy Warhol screen prints to the loss of a loved one.

In a brief address to the media Tuesday, Nick Nelson said the museum is working with authorities in hopes of retrieving the items, part of Warhol’s famous Campbell’s Soup collection.

“The theft of these iconic Warhol prints the museum has had in its permanent collection for 30 years feels like the loss of a family member.”

Set number 31 of the Campbell’s Soup I collection is valued at approximately $500,000. 

Courtesy of Maria the Mexican

Growing up in Topeka, Kansas, Maria and Tess Cuevas didn’t live in a Mexican-American neighborhood. So their after-school gigs were a little hard to explain to their friends.

“We’d go home and then suddenly you’d put on your sombrero and go to the car,” Tess Cuevas recalled. “It was so different. Nobody else did anything like that.”

Courtesy Maria The Mexican

Maria The Mexican
South of the Border Moonlight

Ask a Latina about her ethnicity and you’re likely to get a complicated answer. Products of colonialism, most of us are mestizas, combinations of indigenous and European origin. It’s a culture with two feet planted firmly in each world. After all, there was no great diaspora — the border just changed on us. Many good things happened as a result: Spanglish, the guayabera and green chile cheeseburgers to name a few.

courtesy Heart of America Shakespeare Festival

Spencer Fane LLP's commitment to arts funding dates back to 2006, and the early days of the campaign for the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. 

"We made a $75,000 challenge grant at the beginning of their fundraising efforts. That obviously was a large donation for us," says Nate Orr, a partner at the firm's headquarters in Kansas City. He heads up the charitable giving program. 

Courtesy Logan Black

Logan Black is an Iraq War veteran and an actor. Last year he moved Kansas City Fringe Festival audiences with Bond: A Soldier and His Dog, a one-act play he wrote about his relationship with a specialized search dog named Diego.

With another run for the show this month, however, Black has faced a tough reality, with implications for the play’s future: Diego hasn't been well.

Black was Diego's handler. Together, they cleared roads of roadside bombs and searched homes and discovered other stockpiles of ordnance.

Jen Chen / KCUR 89.3

His music has been described as “guitar and growl” and “avant-garde folk.”

He also plays a mean kazoo on his new album, Theatres.

But Nicholas St. James says that “folk” is probably the easiest way to characterize his music — with a lot of blues influence as well.

courtesy A. Zahner Company

By a unanimous vote, the Kansas City City Council approved $1.6 million in funding on Thursday to repair one of the iconic sculptures called Sky Stations on top of Bartle Hall in downtown Kansas City.

"I think one of the most famous, or perhaps sometimes infamous, pieces of art that have been placed in this city are the Sky Stations," says Councilman Scott Wagner of the sculptures, popularly known as "hair curlers."

Over the course of his 70-year career, architect Frank Lloyd Wright designed about 1,100 skyscrapers, hotels, churches, museums, and homes. More than 500 of these were built, and seven are in Kansas and Missouri. 

In Missouri: 

Bott House (1956, built 1963)
3640 NW Briarcliff Road, Kansas City

This double-cantilever house perches on a bluff just north of downtown Kansas City, with dramatic views of the city and the Missouri River. It's in the Usonian style — a small, single-story home in an L-shape. 

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Briarcliff Hills, in Kansas City's Northland, is a neighborhood with spectacular views of the city and the Missouri River Valley. But the cars driving through on a recent Saturday morning at a snail’s pace aren’t here for that view. They’re eager to glimpse the private home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1957 for Frank and Eloise Bott.

For fans of the celebrated American architect, the Bott House is a sort of pilgrimage.

Takahiro Kyono / Flickr-CC

Sometimes you’ve got to take a stand.

This weekend may or may not be one of those times – really, how should I know? But, perhaps, you can be prepared to take charge with the following bold suggestions for decisive weekend action.

Did I say perhaps? To be honest, a little wiggle room never hurts. Even when you’re not messing around!

1. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band: ‘The River Tour’

Courtesy Nace Brothers

The Nace Brothers
Space In Time

In Kansas City, we’ve depended on the Nace Brothers forever.

Courtesy Emma Harford

The spring assignment for a small class of Kansas City Art Institute students: Spend six weeks making art about Brush Creek. The results: 19 experimental video documentaries — none longer than five minutes — screen on Tuesday night.

Most of the 19 students in the Mapping Brush Creek workshop had never made videos until they took his class, says Steve Snell, an assistant professor in the Art Institute's freshman foundations program.

Krokstrom Klubb & Market / Facebook

It's starting to warm up, and Kansas City's food scene is changing.

KCUR’s Food Critics — Charles Ferruzza, Bonjwing Lee and Pete Dulin — have been watching what’s going on. They shared their news with host Gina Kaufmann on Friday’s Central Standard.

Bob Wasabi Kitchen / Facebook

When KCUR Food Critic Charles Ferruzza moved to Kansas City in 1984, there were “lots and lots” of Chinese restaurants, but very few Thai, Korean or Vietnamese places.

That has changed.

“People have no idea what a plethora of options they have now,” he told host Gina Kaufmann on KCUR’s Central Standard.

Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3

The Kansas City Art Institute stakes a claim in the Crossroads Arts District on First Friday, April 1, with the debut of KCAI Gallery.

The new venue at 1819 Grand Boulevard will be a familiar stop to many gallery-goers. Grand Arts had a 20-year run at this site, producing and exhibiting shows by artists such as Sanford Biggers, Laurel Nakadate, and Sissel Tolaas, among many others, until it closed in September 2015

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