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. 

Courtney Williams

Julie Bennett Hume knows her voice is unusual.

She describes it as gravely, brassy at times. It can go low. Sometimes, she says, it's almost a yodel.

"It can do a lot of things, but it isn't as if people say, 'Oh, that's so beautiful.' But I can do justice to a song, and that's what I like about it," she says. "That's what folk music is about."

Courtesy Kansas City Chinese American Association

Forest Rong of Overland Park has succeeded in convincing China to allow one of its most elite performance companies to launch a tour of the United States in Kansas City.

Rong grew up in Zhenghou, China, but he’s called Overland Park home for 16 years.

“This is the only place I’ve stayed and this is the only job I’ve had,” Rong says during a conversation in the conference room at Black & Veatch, where he has worked as an engineer for his entire adult life.

Andrew Birgensmith / Kansas City Symphony

The day before Donald Trump's presidential inauguration, reports surfaced that his administration might cut funding for, or eliminate, federal arts agencies.

3 Reasons We're Listening To Erica Joy This Week

Feb 1, 2017
Courtesy Erica Joy

Erica Joy plays her first high-profile show on Friday to celebrate the release of her debut record, a five-song EP called Erica Joy, Introduction.

3 reasons we're listening to Erica Joy this week:

1. Whether by accident or design, Joy is a mysterious figure. The artist from Springfield, Missouri, hasn't released much biographical information, which adds a layer of intrigue to her music.

Courtesy of Mid-America Arts Alliance

Two young children look toward a mother figure, her face turned to the side facing the American flag.

“For in thee the oppressed find justice and mercy,” reads the accompanying text.

The image is from a World War II poster created by Polish artist Wladyslaw Teodor “W.T.” Benda.

“Isn’t that beautiful?” asks Hal Wert, a professor at the Kansas City Art Institute.

Paul Andrews

The Grisly Hand
Hearts & Stars

Since 2009, The Grisly Hand has been a band that’s comfortable in its own skin, equally content and holding its own whether it’s the next band up in a punk rock lineup, showcasing at the Folk Alliance conference, or opening for Lee Ann Womack. It’s not that the band doesn’t fit anywhere: Its musicians keep pushing their own limits, so they fit everywhere.

Lara604 / Flickr -- CC

Many Kansas Citians are familiar with hummus by now. Available at Costco and other area grocery stores, this chickpea puree has become as ubiquitous as guacamole.

But what are some other Middle Eastern dishes that are on local menus?

Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3

Co-working is a growing trend for freelancers, small businesses, and startups. It provides a place to work, interact with others and share expenses. But artists, and makers of all kinds, often have specialized needs, when it comes to light, space, or tools. 

Courtesy A La Mode

A La Mode is a Kansas City hot jazz ensemble led by guitarist Clayton DeLong and vocalist Jesica “Baby J” Poell, with performances this weekend.

3 reasons we're listening to A La Mode this week:

Courtesy Through A Glass Productions

In 1949, Langston Hughes wrote,

Democracy will not come
Today, this year
Nor ever
Through compromise and fear.

Langston’s Lawrence, a new short documentary directed by University of Kansas Film and Media Studies Professor Madison Davis Lacy, explores how Hughes’ lifelong rejection of compromise and fear grew partly out of his experiences as a young boy in Kansas.

Born in Joplin, Missouri, in 1902, Hughes lived in Lawrence until his mid-teens.

Edward C. Robinson III / ECR3.com

A filmmaker from Poland and a former journalist from Kansas hope a combination essay-contest-and-documentary-film-project will help bridge the state's (and the country's) well-documented divides.

That's what happened in Europe and New York state, says Ewa Zadrzynska, the filmmaker who started Poetry Unites in Poland in 2006. 

Meanz Chan / Courtesy Front/Space

Art is a process that often takes place in quiet spaces, away from large crowds. But on Saturday night, Madeline Gallucci and Kendell Harbin say they plan to pull back the curtain on the creative impulse.

Co-directors of the Crossroads gallery Front/Space, Gallucci and Harbin invited 28 artists to draw, paint, print and collage original works for the four-hour live drawing fundraiser. As each work is completed, it goes on the gallery wall for immediate sale at $30.
 

Chris Meck and the Guilty Birds

The band: Chris Meck and the Guilty Birds

The song: "Destination Revolution"

www.facebook.com

When he was 4 years old, Ed Dwight built an airplane out of orange crates from Safeway in the backyard of his house in Kansas City, Kansas.

But while growing up in a segregated Kansas City in the 1930s and 1940s, he never dreamed that he could be an airplane pilot.

And he certainly didn't think he'd be the first African-American to train as an astronaut for NASA.

But then, a local newspaper changed the course of his life.

Kristi Yarcho

The Blackbird Revue is a Kansas City based folk-rock ensemble led by the husband-and-wife team of Jacob and Danielle Prestidge that headlines a show at RecordBar on Thursday, January 19.

3 reasons we're listening to the Blackbird Revue this week:

1. The Blackbird Revue is relocating to Los Angeles.

Amy Kligman, executive/artistic director of the Charlotte Street Foundation, says the news StartUp program will provide critical early support for arts startups.
Courtesy Charlotte Street Foundation

When you think of a startup, a technology startup is probably what first comes to mind. But the Charlotte Street Foundation has focused on the arts for 20 years, and just launched a StartUp Residency program. It's designed to help up-and-coming arts startups, such as an artist-run collaborative or a new business.

The Missouri State University Chorale is anxiously anticipating January 20—the day millions of eyes will turn to the nation’s capitol for the inauguration of the 45th U.S. president.  The 50-member choir will be part of the ceremony and has commissioned a new piece for the event.  KSMU’s Michele Skalicky has the story.

Courtesy Dino Massa

The Dino Massa Kansas City Quintet
Echoes of Europe (Artists Recording Collective)

Echoes of Europe, a collaboration between the Italian pianist Dino Masso and jazz musicians based in the Kansas City area, is the result of a chance encounter in Naples in 1990.

Courtesy Mbird

Mbird
MercyFlight

Megan Birdsall has long been a Kansas City jazz darling, her slight presence a contradiction to the voice that's filled the corners of almost every jazz club in town. But to peg her in such a niche would be a mistake, as she and her band Mbird prove with their new release, MercyFlight.

www.facebook.com

Happy new year! KCUR’s Food Critics — Charles Ferruzza, Mary Bloch and Jenny Vergara — have been keeping up with the latest news from KC’s restaurant scene.

They shared their picks with guest host Brian Ellison on Friday’s Central Standard.

architetural rendering, courtesy of RMTA architectural firm

Like a handful of other cities in the Kansas City metro area, Roeland Park, Kansas, has a funding mechanism for public art. Roeland Park's one percent for art program was established in 2010 by a city council resolution, and it sets aside one percent of development costs for art. 

But city administrator Keith Moody says the program hasn't been tested a lot. At least not more than once to his knowledge. 

The Rieger / Facebook

When it’s cold out, a big, hearty bowl of pasta really hits the spot.

Whether it’s a creamy mac and cheese or something a little more sophisticated (squid-ink noodles, anyone?), KCUR’s Food Critics search out the best pasta dishes in and around Kansas City.

Here are their recommendations:

Mary Bloch, Around the Block:

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art is a much-loved institution in Kansas City. What many Midwesterners may not know, though, is that the Nelson also has a world-renowned reputation among artists and scholars of Asian art. With more than 7,000 works spanning 5,000 years, the museum boasts one of the most celebrated collections of Asian art in the West.

David Bickley

Hungarian composer Béla Bartók was a pianist. But some of the music Bartók wrote for strings, inspired by folk music, is considered among his most expressive and inventive. 

This weekend, Kansas City Symphony concertmaster Noah Geller will be the featured soloist in Bartók's Violin Concerto No. 2. 

Courtesy Kansas City Irish Center

The Kansas City Irish Center begins 2017 with much to celebrate. After almost a decade in the lower level of Union Station, last year the Center bought historic Drexel Hall, in Midtown at the corner of Linwood and Baltimore, and moved into its new home in September. 

“It’s in a location that we really want in the heart of the city, where a lot of the cultural activities are happening, and where the history of the Irish is in Kansas City,” says Nancy Wormington, the center’s executive director.

Courtesy Lincoln Marshall / Facebook

Lincoln Marshall is the Kansas-based rap duo of Approach (Sean Hunt) and MilkDrop ( John-Alan Suter). They're on the bill for this weekend's Sound Machine concert, a monthly event that's envisioned as a miniature version of the annual Middle of the Map Fest.

3 reasons we're listening to Lincoln Marshall this week:

When the St. Louis Art Museum announced that George Caleb Bingham’s “Verdict of the People” would be sent to Washington, D.C. for the inauguration of President-Elect Donald Trump, local artist Ilene Berman took to Facebook to express her displeasure. She had plenty of company.

Courtesy and copyright of the Mildred Thompson Estate, Atlanta, GA

The Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City, Missouri, received some welcome news in this first week of the new year: a $50,000 grant from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.

Courtesy Kansas City Repertory Theatre

Play-reading isn't the type of thing most audiences expect to be raucous, but that's what's likely to happen at the Kansas City Rep's Playwright Slam on Monday night, says Marissa Wolf, one of the organizers.

"We invite anyone from community and the public to come and bring a one-to-three-page script. We give them a theme, and then we'll just randomly choose a script," Wolf says. "Then we choose actors from the audience, so whoever wants to jump up and be an actor, we give them a role and they go for it."

Courtesy Lansing Historical Museum

When Jennifer Myer looks at the photographs along the wall of her tiny museum next to the Lansing Correctional Facility, the experience is "humbling," she says.

Others who've seen the images say they're "haunting."

Pages