portrait sessions

Paul Andrews / paulandrewsphotography.com

Kansas-based singer Vanessa Thomas, who tours the country sharing a bill with Grammy Award-winning tumpeter Doc Severinson, doesn't know why she's wearing a cast in her baby pictures.

"It was a foot cast that went all the way up above my knee," she says.

The rest is lost in what she calls a no-man's land of forgotten memories. A story she knows is hers, but almost can't believe is true, except that paper files full of documentation insist that it is.

Paul Andrews / paulandrewsphotography.com

Julián Zugazagoitia came to Kansas City in 2010, to take a job as CEO and director of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. The new guy from Mexico by way of New York and Paris made a fast impression as a lanky intellectual with a worldly resume and a lot of energy.

The Midwest made an equally large impression on him.

"Coming to the Midwest definitely was as foreign a country as I have ever been," he jokes.

Kansas City initially felt like a tiny village.

Paul Andrews / paulandrewsphotography.com

At a crossroads in his life, Kansas artist Dave Loewenstein was haunted by the words of an organic farmer.

"If we can't sell it to working class people," the farmer had asked about his produce, "what are we doing?"

Dave wondered the same thing of his art. He had a hard time seeing the point in his landscape paintings, even in a best-case scenario.

Paul Andrews / paulandrewsphotography.com

Writer and artist José Faus isn't religious, but when he's looking for comfort, he says the Virgin Mary.

"It is, in a way, a nod to the things I've lost."

He came to Kansas City from Bogotá, Colombia, when he was just nine years old, not fully understanding he was leaving forever. 

"I remember feeling so discombobulated. I really thought, Well, when are we going back home? And it just never came."

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.

Paul Andrews / paulandrewsphotography.com

Geneticist Scott Hawley has a way with words — especially when it comes to explaining science to non-scientists.

For example, he remembers the connections he made the first time he saw "Star Warswhen he was in graduate school.

Paul Andrews / www.paulandrewsphotography.com

On March 20, 1978, William Least Heat-Moon left Columbia, Missouri in a Ford van. The van, which he named Ghost Dancing, would be his home for the next three months.

He was 38 years old. His marriage was falling apart. He'd lost his teaching job due to staffing cutbacks. His decision to get behind the wheel in search of America's stories was part dream, part desperation.

Now that the van is a literary artifact, he has to visit it in a museum. And he's careful not to get behind the wheel. Sitting back in that driver's seat makes him misty eyed.

Paul Andrews / paulandrewsphotography.com

She's an acclaimed singer-songwriter who has been compared to Nina Simone and Roberta Flack. Rufus Wainwright has called her "one of the greatest living singers at the moment." From her home base in Paris, she tours the world . . . yet one of her favorite spots is still the Midtown porch of her 8th grade teacher.

In this encore presentation of Central Standard, meet Kansas City native Krystle Warren.

Guest:

Paul Andrews / paulandrewsphotography.com

"Growing up, I thought I lived in like a black city," says Nathan Louis Jackson, who spent his childhood and early adulthood in the Quindaro neighborhood in Kansas City, Kansas. "I didn't understand the makeup of this city. And not just that, it wasn't just a racial makeup, it was also economic. All that, I didn't get. I was in a little bubble."

Paul Andrews / paulandrewsphotography.com

Actor and Late Night Theatre director Ron Megee says he isn't out to change the world.

His troupe, where men often play women and vice versa, performs campy spoofs on popular television shows and movies. And camp, he says, "is a frame of mind."

"We're putting something up on stage and twisting it to the point of humor," Megee says.

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.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

He’s an internationally-known food writer and photographer, an attorney and a former Congressional aide to Sam Brownback.

She’s the communications director at Planned Parenthood Great Plains, and her career has also included time as a competitive figure skater and as a local TV news anchor.

And they also happen to be siblings.

Paul Andrews / http://paulandrewsphotography.com/

For Mark Bedell, school was a safe haven.

“It gave me an opportunity to be a kid because I had to be an adult a lot sooner than most kids should have to be an adult,” he told guest host Brian Ellison on Central Standard.

Paul Andrews / paulandrewsphotography.com/

He was homeless in the ninth grade. And today, he's in charge of the Kansas City Public Schools. Meet the new superintendent.

Guest:

Paul Andrews/paulandrewsphotography.com

On his 9th birthday, Crosby Kemper III realized that his family was different.

His aunt’s ex-husband had kidnapped his cousin, and the uncle was arrested by the FBI at the New Orleans airport. That incident made the front pages of newspapers all over the country.

Paul Andrews/paulandrewsphotography.com

Chuck Magerl grew up surrounded by family history.

During Prohibition, his grandfather was sent to Leavenworth Penitentiary for distributing alcohol.

One great-great grandfather was the sheriff of Jackson County, Missouri --  in 1869, the governor of Missouri sent a letter, authorizing him to capture Frank and Jesse James, dead or alive.

Another ancestor ran a saloon in Kansas City; a ledger book shows he paid $7 per barrel of beer in 1909.

Paul Andrews / paulandrewsphotography.com

In 1975, Paul Stephen Lim, a KU student, was struggling to write a short story.

One night, at a party, he was chatting with a theater professor about his writing problem.

“Maybe it doesn’t want to be a short story,” the professor suggested. “Maybe it wants to be a play.”

And, with that advice, Lim forged a new path.

A Scripted Life

Jun 3, 2016

The first play he ever wrote, as a KU student, won a national college playwriting award from the Kennedy Center. Meet Paul Stephen Lim, a retired KU professor and acclaimed playwright.

Guest:

Paul Andrews / paulandrewsphotography.com

Krystle Warren's "To the Middle" is a song that sounds a little like a carnival ride, but it's actually her love song to Kansas City. Written when she lived in New York, the lyrics express a deep longing for the mainstays of her hometown: toothy smiles, tree-lined avenues and Gates barbecue. In the chorus, the chanteuse demands to know, over and over, Why you wanna go away, Why you wanna go away, again?

"I missed my hometown and it felt like Kansas City was kind of scolding me for leaving."

Paul Andrews / paulandrewsphotography.com

With his silvery hair, his sun-and-wind-weathered skin, formidable stature and a booming, resonant voice, Wes Jackson steps out of his pickup truck in a blazer, radiating confidence. But 40 years ago, when he'd just given up a tenured professorship in California to set up shop in rural Kansas with the goal of transforming not just agriculture but the way humans live, he was appropriately daunted by the scale of his own ambition.

"I did it with a lot of doubt," he says with a laugh. "Especially in the middle of the night."

Paul Andrews / paulandrewsphotography.com

The morning after his high school graduation, Jonathan Justus packed his car and moved to California. He didn't even wait a day, and he didn't leave with fantasies of coming back any time soon. 

When he was a kid, Justus felt suffocated by the sense that everyone in Smithville knew and kept an eye on everyone else. His mom received hate mail when she took over the family pharmacy, criticizing her for working outside the home rather than staying home with her kids. Rumors had started spreading about Justus starting when he was just in high school, he says.

Julie Denesha/KCUR

Brooke Salvaggio isn’t your typical urban farmer.

She grew up in the suburbs, in an upper-middle class family in Johnson County.

“I grew up like most typical suburban kids: vast mowed green lawns, the SUVs in the garage, food out of boxes, microwaves,” she told guest host Brian Ellison on KCUR’s Central Standard.

Paul Andrews / paulandrewsphotography.com

When Dylan Mortimer was in fifth grade, he got a coveted pair of Air Jordans. 

"I was able to get some for about $60 that were a size too small for me," he recalls, "but I knew that was my only chance to afford them. I put them on and I was the envy of the school for about a year."

Of course, wearing shoes a size too small is no fun. "It was miserable and I can't say it really elevated my basketball play," he says with a laugh.

Paul Andrews / paulandrewsphotography.com

When alcoholism and addiction landed Bryan Hicks on the streets, it wasn't a spiritual epiphany that sent him searching for help. It was the realization that if he didn't get help, he was going to die.

In those days, his view of Kansas City consisted mostly of cracks in the sidewalks because his head was always hung low, looking for change, a discarded piece of pizza or half a beer left behind by a Westport reveler. Occasional hospital stays felt like spa getaways.

He'd been having seizures. He'd started coughing up blood.

Paul Andrews / paulandrewsphotography.com

Lee Meisel starts his days by slinging whole pig carcasses over his shoulder and carrying them on his back into the kitchen of his own small restaurant in Lawerence, Kansas. 

He's a slender guy and the pigs weigh about 200 pounds each. "The pigs might have a few pounds on me," he admits.

Perhaps it's not clear, but this is the picture of a man living his dream.

Paul Andrews / paulandrewsphotography.com

Mará Rose Williams is a reporter for The Kansas City Star. And though her beat is technically higher education, for Williams, it's all about love.

"I really love people," she says. "And my job, I look at it as an opportunity every day to fall in love."

She says that when she meets someone whose story she loves, it gives her the same euphoric feeling as a romantic flame being kindled.

For example, there was the girl she covered who was blind, and wanted to run track for her middle school.

Paul Andrews / paulandrewsphotography.com

If you're looking for Will Leathem, he can usually be found behind the counter of Prospero's Books, his irreverent corner shop with creaky wood floors, scattered rugs, and precariously stacked piles of reading material.

That's where he nudges young writers and artists to make work, recommends his favorite books and gets into every kind of conversation imaginable.

Paul Andrews

According to Cheptoo Kositany-Buckner, the digital divide is the civil rights issue of the 21st century.

“Having internet access is essential. It’s not a luxury,” she says.

Kositany-Buckner, the deputy director of the Kansas City Public Library, has been working to bridge the digital divide in Kansas City. And the library is the place to do it, she says.

“We provide access to digital content — whether it’s e-books, audio books or research tools you can access online,” says Kositany-Buckner.

Paul Andrews / paulandrewsphotography.com

Democrat Katheryn Shields, who will take her seat on Kansas City Council on Aug. 1 after a close election win, didn't grow up dreaming of political campaigns, though the Parkville farm where she grew up as an only girl with four older brothers did teach her to be "a bit of a scrapper." 

The Shield

Jul 17, 2015

As she's about to take her seat on the Kansas City, Missouri Council, Katheryn Shields talks about her political career — how she got her start, her accomplishments and how she dealt with with adversaries and scandal.

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