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. 

Andrea Canter

Karrin Allyson is one of the most notable jazz musicians to emerge from Kansas City in recent decades. She returns to her former stomping grounds for a benefit concert at the Folly Theater on Friday.

3 reasons we're listening to Karrin Allyson this week:

1. Allyson was born in Great Bend, Kansas, and honed her chops in Kansas City clubs before moving to New York.

Paul Andrews

Adam Lee
Sincerely, Me

From the instant Adam Lee’s voice sneaks up through a happy Ben Folds-style piano vamp and sultry, jazzy horns on “Son of a Gun,” it’s clear his move  to Chicago made some changes. Lee’s rockabilly hairstyle and unmistakably country voice are definitely still there, but Sincerely, Me is a new type of record.

flickr user Scott Unrein

The Saint Louis Chamber Chorus, celebrating its 61st season, performs about six concerts a year in St. Louis, Missouri. This Saturday, the choral group sings on the other side of the state at Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral in downtown Kansas City. 

Artistic director Philip Barnes, a native of Great Britain, has been at the helm since 1989.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Making plans for what happens to your possessions when you die can be tough for anyone. But for artists – it’s not just about stuff, it’s about a lifetime of artistic creation. And … what happens to it when they die?

Rachel Eliza Griffiths

Long before Tracy K. Smith was a poet, she was a young girl fascinated by the stars. That fascination was part of what inspired her book Life on Mars, which won a Pulitzer Prize in 2012.

Courtesy Calvin Arsenia

Calvin Arsenia, an arty singer-songwriter and harpist, has been a panelist on Up to Date's "Best Kansas City Music of 2015" and "Best Kansas City Music of 2016 ... So Far" shows. This week, however, Arsenia releases his own record.

3 reasons we're listening to Calvin Arsenia this week:

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Mac Lethal
Congratulations

Over the last decade and a half, the Kansas City rapper Mac Lethal has become a personality locally and beyond. He has a huge YouTube presence. He’s published a novel based on his Tumblr. He’s performed on "Ellen." He hosts an MTV show where he asks trivia questions to drunk people ("Binge Thinking," described in the opening credits as “the best pub crawl game show on TV”).

From the InterUrban ArtHouse web site

When it comes to re-use of buildings, 2017 marks a big year for arts organizations. 

The Johnson County Museum will move into a former bowling alley and ice skating rink in Overland Park, Kansas. Kansas City Young Audiences plans to relocate to a former office supply store in midtown Kansas City, Missouri. And last week, InterUrban ArtHouse closed on the purchase of a U.S. Postal Service building at 8010 Conser St. in downtown Overland Park. 

Antonio Masiello / For ZUMA Press

A man concealed by a protective suit carries a white body bag — a child victim of Ebola — while bystanders look on. A boy is passed to shore as a boat crammed with refugees attempts to dock on a rocky coastline.

A young girl wearing a tiara and holding an award smiles confidently, while her companion looks upset and uncomfortable in her sash and bow-tie. A man, possibly their father or coach, poses victoriously for beauty pageant cameras.

C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3

When the American Jazz Museum unveils a new mural during First Friday festivities on November 4, it won't just reflect the 18th and Vine District's lively and colorful jazz history. It's also a statement about today, its lead painter says.

"This project is an effort to show the community how important it is to work together," says lead artist Michael Toombs, the founder and director of Storyteller's Inc.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

The grand spectacle of opera is an expensive art form. These days more and more opera companies are banding together to ease the financial burden. For the first time in its history, Lyric Opera of Kansas City is taking the lead in a new co-production.

Paul Andrews

When Emmaline Twist debuted earlier this year, the self-described "post-punk shoegaze" quartet was embraced by area indie-rock tastemakers. The seasoned members of Emmaline Twist were previously in bands including the Latenight Callers, Onward Crispin Glover and the Silver Maggies.

3 reasons we're listening to Emmaline Twist this week:

Courtesy Ry Kincaid

When he debuted his one-man show at Kansas City’s Fringe Festival in the summer of 2015, Ry Kincaid was already thinking ahead to the 2016 election. No one, however, could have foreseen the need for entertaining relief would be so acute.

Unlike everything else in this season’s torturous exercise in democracy, Kincaid’s Presidential Briefs is good-hearted humor. In writing 44 original songs – one for each United States president – all performed in under an hour, Kincaid was partly trying to be helpful.

Courtesy Shapiro Brothers

Shapiro Brothers
Shapiro Brothers

As one of the early acts at Kansas City’s Porchfest this year, the Shapiro Brothers set their latest songs free from the comfort of a Valentine neighborhood porch at high noon on a gorgeous autumn day. It’s hard to imagine a more perfect venue for a new sound from two familiar voices.

Kenny Louie / Flickr -- CC

Nothing says “It’s fall!” like a delicious dessert to accompany a warm cup of cocoa. From fried apple pies to good ol' carrot cake, we’ve got the treats that will make your season sweet.

On Central Standard’s food show this week, KCUR's Food Critics searched out the best desserts in and around Kansas City.

Here are their recommendations:

Mary Bloch, Around the Block:

Paul Andrews/paulandrewsphotography.com

For the past six years, Jyoti Mukharji has opened her home kitchen to teach Kansas Citians about Indian cuisine.

But to her fans, her classes are more than just about cooking. Mukharji peppers her talk with personal stories and health tips, then the class ends in a dinner party around her dining room table.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Don't ask Todd Sheets about the first horror film that he made.

"It's godawful," he told host Gina Kaufmann on KCUR's Central Standard. "Anything I made before '93 I kind of disowned."

Sheets started making horror movies in the late 1980s in Kansas City. He quickly earned a cult following; he was even dubbed the "Prince of Gore."

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

A recital at New York City's Carnegie Hall, one of the world’s most celebrated stages, would be a career high point for any musician. For the last few months, Park University’s International Center for Music artist-in-residence Behzod Abduraimov has been preparing for a piano recital there.

Abduraimov has performed around the world, and this will be his third time to play at Carnegie Hall. But, for him, it's special; he says it's "kind of a holy stage." 

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

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: Rachel Mallin and The Wild Type

The song: "White Girls"

courtesy Kansas City Symphony and Community of Christ.

Updated: 2:15 p.m.

A tradition comes to an end after this holiday season, with the Independence Messiah Choir's final performance of Handel's oratorio Messiah with the Kansas City Symphony Chorus.

Beginning in September, the Independence Messiah Choir meets each Tuesday at the Community of Christ Auditorium in Independence, Missouri, for Messiah rehearsals. This week, members of the choir were told this year would be their final performance with the Symphony. 

Courtesy Berwanger

Berwanger, a Kansas City rock band led by Josh Berwanger (a founding member of the recently reunited Lawrence-based emo-rock band The Anniversary), celebrates the release of its new album Exorcism Rock this week.

3 reasons we're listening to Berwanger this week:

1. According to a press release, Exorcism Rock "was recorded in seven straight days of early mornings and late nights" and was "inspired by nightly viewings of ‘Apocalypse Now’ and fueled by red wine mixed with tequila."

Courtesy Wide Awake Films

The Missouri painter George Caleb Bingham is already famous enough to have his work in the National Gallery of Art, as well as many other esteemed institutions. But to his hometown of Arrow Rock, population 56, he could stand to be more famous.

Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3 / File

What do artists, arts organizations, and cultural businesses want when it comes to creative space? Affordability? A sense of community?

A new regional arts market study is trying to find out.

Courtesy Bryn Greenwood

Lawrence writer Bryn Greenwood’s novel All the Ugly and Wonderful Things is a love story between a grade-school girl and a drug-running biker in his twenties, set on a meth-making compound in the rural Midwest.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

Each year in the fall, nearly 1,700 people enjoy Ailey II modern dance performances presented by the Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey. But besides being the official second home of the famed New York-based Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, the local organization has another year-round mission: to create social change by encouraging diversity.

Courtesy Facebook

Kansas, the most successful rock band to originate from its namesake state, marks the 40th anniversary of Leftoverture by playing the hit 1976 album in its entirety on its current tour, which stops at in Kansas City on Saturday.

Three reasons we're listening to Kansas this week:

1. Kansas has always incorporated classical elements into its rock, making its appearance at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts less incongruous than it might seem.

The Gay & Lesbian Archive of Mid-America/Labudde Special Collections, University of Missouri-Kansas City

A common misconception about the history of American gay activism is that it began on June 28, 1969.

That date was the beginning of a series of spontaneous, violent demonstrations by the gay and lesbian community in New York City after a police raid at the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village. Those much-publicized riots are considered a catalyst in the fight for LGBT rights.

But an equally potent gathering took place three years earlier — in downtown Kansas City.

Dario Acosta

Tenor Ben Bliss is considered a rising star in the world of opera. And, like opera diva Joyce DiDonato, he grew up in Prairie Village, Kansas. Bliss credits "the support of arts and education and public education" for leading to his musical career. It's something, he says, he "got a really good dose of growing up."

Bliss's father is a freelance cartoonist and his mother sings with the Lyric Opera of Kansas City chorus.

Courtesy The Conquerors

The Conquerors
Wyld Time (High Dive Records)

A remastered version of the Beatles’ Live at the Hollywood Bowl was recently released in conjunction with Ron Howard’s new documentary The Beatles: Eight Days a Week. While the reissue of will satisfy avid fans of the Fab Four, Wyld Time, by Kansas City’s The Conquerors, is a more arresting demonstration of the Beatles’ enduring legacy.

This week, Kansas Citians have an opportunity to see an extraordinary film that’s been publicly screened fewer than a dozen times since its original release in 1920. For decades, film historians figured it was lost.

The film's journey to Kansas City started back in 2004, when Brian Hearn was the film curator of the Oklahoma City Museum and received a strange call from a private investigator in North Carolina.

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