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 89.3FM

Kansas Citians have a rare opportunity to spend some time inside a home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright on Saturday.

That's when the Sondern-Adler home opens to the public for an afternoon during the Roanoke Neighborhood Spring Home & Garden Tour.

Howard Simmons / Courtesy Washburn University

Gwendolyn Brooks lived in Topeka for just a few weeks after she was born. But the iconic poet – Brooks was the first African-American writer to win the Pulitzer Prize — still has relatives in Kansas, and they’re ready to celebrate what would have been her 100th birthday.

“I’m very happy and proud when I hear so many people here in Topeka that really had a lot of respect for her and the gift God had given her,” says Carolyn Wims Campbell, Brooks’ first cousin once removed (Brooks and Campbell’s father were cousins).

Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3

After coming to an agreement with its neighbors about a re-zoning request, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art has now received approval from the Kansas City Plan Commission. 

Last year, such approval seemed uncertain. The Nelson wanted to turn houses it owned along 45th Street into administration and staff offices, and reuse some of the former Rockhill Tennis Club site as a sculpture garden and for overflow parking. 

Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3

The University of Missouri system is facing a $101 million budget crunch due to cuts in state funding, as well as declining enrollment at the campus in Columbia. 

UM System President Mun Choi on Friday presented plans for the budget in fiscal year 2018.

For UMKC, proposed cuts could mean $15.4 million less in spending and the loss of 51 positions — including four faculty members from the Theatre Department and a $400,000 decrease in the department's budget. 

Courtesy Park University

UPDATE: This story was updated on Friday, June 9, to reflect Kenneth Broberg's advance to the final round of the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition.

Having advanced to the finals of the prestigious Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, Kansas City pianist Kenneth Broberg has one more concert to play before learning who will win the competition in Fort Worth, Texas.

Danny Wood / KCUR 89.3

A unique collection of jazz art is on display in Kansas City’s Northland. The collector, Juan Houston hopes the display will draw attention to the little-known Garrison School Cultural Center in Liberty.

“He is local, he was born and raised here in Liberty, Missouri, and he wanted to do this for Garrison School to let the community come up to see Garrison as well as see his collection,” says Cecilia Robinson, a retired William Jewell College English professor.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

On a windswept hillside in Leavenworth County is a weather-worn wooden church that’s been there for nearly 150 years. For more than a century, Little Stranger Church was a place for worship and celebration   — until it wasn’t anymore. But now, some locals are trying to bring it back, and they have a powerful incentive: home-made pie.

Courtesy Andrew Stuart Bergerson

Did Nazis fall in love?

Of course they did, though it may be hard to associate the idea of that emotion with a society that committed human atrocities. But as the Third Reich was rising, individuals in Germany fell in love with each other just like people all over the world fall in love every day.

Kansas Citians have a chance to hear what that felt like when actors stage a script-in-hand reading on Sunday, thanks to a trove of letters between two wartime lovers.

Courtesy Nick Schnebelen

Nick Schnebelen, a member of the powerhouse Kansas City blues-rock band Trampled Under Foot, is a flashy guitarist. In 2008, the same year Trampled Under Foot was named the top band at the International Blues Challenge, he claimed the Albert King Award as the top guitarist.

Courtesy Todd Weiner Gallery

For years, Col. Doug Tystad (retired) regarded the little bronze statue as a cowboy. He’d walked by it countless times on his trips up and down the halls of the Command and General Staff College in Leavenworth, where he’s the CEO of CGSC Foundation.

Then one day he paused to look at the figure.

C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City's inaugural Jazz and Heritage Festival accomplished something rarely seen in town: A genuinely diverse crowd of people enjoying themselves.

For three days over the Memorial Day weekend, that audience was perhaps most diverse in its musical tastes.

Ralph Daily / Flickr -- CC

Summer grilling season is upon us. Over this Memorial Day weekend, we’ll be firing up the backyard grill, cold beverage in hand.

But what exactly is grilling? KCUR’s Food Critics defined it on Friday’s Central Standard.

“It’s over hot fire or coals,” Carlton Logan told host Gina Kaufmann.

“Grilling is not barbeque,” added Charles Ferruzza. “The main difference is the speed. Grilling can be pretty fast. Barbeque is a slow-cooker thing.”

Michael St Maur Sheil

The National World War I Museum and Memorial plans several events, along with free admission for veterans and active-duty military personnel, to celebrate Monday's national holiday recognizing the men and women who've died in service to the U.S. military. 

"For a lot of families, it's really a significant moment to honor those who have served and especially those whose lives were lost," says Matthew Naylor, the museum's president and CEO.

Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3

It was the usual 4 a.m. scene at the Mutual Musicians Foundation: a rotating combination of jazz musicians on the crowded stage; fans of all ages, races and preferred libations sitting in metal chairs around mismatched formica tables tapping their feet and yelling encouragement to the players; long-dead jazz legends surveying the raucous scene from black-and-white photographs on red walls. Except this time, sun was beaming in the windows.

Courtesy Oleta Adams

A popular lounge singer in Kansas City in the 1980s, Oleta Adams had a massive pop hit in 1991 with the heartfelt ballad “Get Here.” She's back in town on Sunday for a main-stage performance at the Kansas City Jazz & Heritage Festival.

KCPT

After more than 30 years at KCPT, Randy Mason, executive producer of cultural affairs, has been let go. KCUR has learned that three other staffers were also told their jobs were cut.

Brian Rozman Photography

It’s easy to imagine a teenage Samantha Fish standing in the mulch at Crossroads KC, dreaming about playing up on the stage.

“I’ve been going to that venue since I was a teenager,” Fish, a Kansas City native, confirms. “That and Knuckleheads were my two favorite places to go see live music.”

courtesy ArtsKC

After conducting a national search, ArtsKC, the regional arts council, on Monday announced a new president and CEO: Dana Knapp. 

Since January 1, 2017, Knapp has served as the interim leader of ArtsKC, a nonprofit arts organization that "promotes, supports and advocates for the arts across a five-county region." According to ArtsKC, Knapp "begins her new role immediately."

Davin Watne

Walk into Haw Contemporary in the Stockyards district of the West Bottoms, and in one gallery, artist Davin Watne has built a 30-foot long wall. There are nearly 40 paintings in a collage — small and large, clamped together — stretching the length of the room.

The exhibition, Picture the Wall, is, in part, an artistic response to Donald Trump’ s call for a wall along the U.S. and Mexico border during the 2016 presidential campaign. And it carries on a long tradition of, as Watne puts it, "oil on canvas as a means to convince" the public. 

Julian Vaughn

The smooth-jazz bassist and Kansas City native Julian Vaughn joins respected smooth-jazz guitarist — and retired New York Yankees slugger — Bernie Williams at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum on May 20, in an event billed as Jazz & Jackie: A Monarchs Salute to Jackie Robinson.

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.

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