sculpture | KCUR


Max Braun / Google Images -- CC

In 1907, Pablo Picasso stumbled into an art gallery in Paris. It was filled with masks and small sculptures from Africa and Oceania. Inspired, his own style began to change. That raises some interesting questions about who gets credit ... and where to draw the line between admiration, inspiration and theft.

Then: a KU researcher says that a lot of anti-abortion legislation is based on anecdotal evidence.


On our First Friday arts show: a local artist has been keeping a dream journal for over 40 years. In his new exhibit, he's brought recurring objects from his dreams to life through sculpture. Then, we talk to the star of a one-woman show about fashion icon Diana Vreeland, and a band conductor on how his group keeps the Kansas City sound alive ... and how they're taking a step to address the gender imbalance in jazz.


Loz Pycock / Flickr -- CC

Wendell Castle revolutionized the art world. The Holton, Kansas, native was known as the father of the studio furniture movement of the 1960s and 1970s. He mostly made chairs that looked like sculptures ... and the only shop class he ever had was in seventh grade. He died last week at age 85; hear his story and what he meant to the art world.

Matthew Long-Middleton / KCUR 89.3

Travel bans and the promise to build a wall are among burgeoning changes in the United State's stance on immigrants. Now, a year after President Trump's inauguration, we sit down with refugees and immigrants in Kansas City to hear their current experiences and feelings in their new home.

But first, we meet the resident artist of Oak Park Mall who creates colorful sculptures out of cardboard.


E.G. Schempf

Cardboard has a smell.

You notice it as soon as you walk into the glass-encased Kansas Focus Gallery at the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, where eight of May Tveit’s cardboard sculptures emerge from the walls like sentries, layers of flat, precision-cut cardboard stacked into pyramids arranged in various rectangles. You recognize the smell; you just weren't expecting it in an art gallery.

But why not? As Tveit's exhibition makes clear, cardboard is an evocative medium. 

On this December arts show: the story behind "Uplift," a new exhibit that's inspired by ladders, and a local science fiction writer on her book, which takes place in the aftermath of the second civil war in the United States.

Plus: pajamas and punk rock at the museum? The Nelson hosts a pj party for grown-ups, featuring the music of The Architects. We catch up with drummer Adam Phillips ... and talk about fuzzy onesies.


Kevin Collison / CityScene KC

Sculptor Spencer Schubert has his works prominently displayed across the region from Manhattan to Jefferson City, and now wants to do something closer to home as a healing gesture for his community.

He’s proposing a soaring sculpture of two hands grasping a knotted rope as a sign of unity to replace a controversial Confederate memorial removed last August from the median of Ward Parkway at 55th Street.

courtesy: Mulvane Art Museum

Artist Rita Blitt made a significant gift to the Mulvane Art Museum in Topeka, Kansas — a bulk of her life’s work, an estimated 2,000 paintings, drawings, sculptures and film, as well as archival material. It represents preserving a legacy and a lifetime of giving. 

courtesy of the artist

The Johnson County, Kansas, Board of County Commissioners this week voted to reduce funding for proposed public art projects and for the county's public art program itself. 

In addition to public art programs in six cities, Johnson County has a One Percent for Art Program, established in 2006 to include art in major building projects.

Arts advocates, including Kansas Representative Jerry Stogsdill of Prairie Village, asked the commission to continue support for the program. 

Kevin Collison / CityScene KC

A. Zahner Co., a world-renowned, architectural metal fabrication firm, is practicing its creativity on its $5 million expansion project at its downtown headquarters and manufacturing facility at Eighth and The Paseo.

The International Sculpture Conference is in Kansas City this year. We hear from three local artists on what's changing in the world of sculpture. 

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

On a recent Saturday morning, Michael Wickerson was tending a hot fire in his backyard on a hillside near Wyandotte County Lake. At temperatures reaching as high as 2,700 degrees Fahrenheit, the fire was hot enough to melt iron.

Wickerson, an associate professor of sculpture at the Kansas City Art Institute, said working with metal is a great joy for him.

“You catch it, you pour it, you can draw with it,” he said. “You can paint with it. You can sculpt with it. And you can certainly fill molds with it.”  

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Tiny works by 68 artists from around the world, on display this weekend at the National Museum of Toys and Miniatures, can help us understand "what defines us as humans,” according to the museum's director.

To host this special exhibit celebrating all things small, the museum partnered with the International Guild of Miniature Artisans for a juried showcase of fine-scale miniatures.

courtesy: Kansas City Parks and Recreation

The controversy surrounding Confederate statues and memorials across the United States has officials in Kansas City, Missouri scrutinizing one here. And it's in a very prominent spot: right in the middle of Ward Parkway, just south of 55th Street.

Dan Margolies / KCUR 89.3

Amid its ultramodern lecture halls, the University of Kansas Medical Center's new health education building is also a showcase for several Kansas City artists.

Jack Williams / NET News

In the middle of a cornfield in south-central Nebraska, an oasis of art is growing.

Art Farm, situated off a long dirt road outside the small town of Marquette, started back in 1993 as an artist residency program. Since then, it’s become a one-of-a-kind experience many artists can’t resist.

Anne Kniggendorf / KCUR 89.3

Paul Benson says he can’t help but assess the outdoor art he passes every day on his way to work as a conservator at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. A lot of it is dirty. Some of it’s broken.

Just recently, he noticed that marble statues near 68th Terrace and Ward Parkway of Diana, Roman goddess of the hunt, and Hippocrates, “Father of modern medicine,” weren’t looking so hot. Fortunately, he’s in a position to help.

Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3

After months of stops and starts, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art now has the go ahead for the first phase of its master plan. On Thursday, the Kansas City City Council approved a zoning change for the museum's 29-acre property. 

Outdoor sculptures will take the place of the tennis courts of the former Rockhill Tennis Club along Rockhill Road. The clubhouse will be available for sale as a residence. The museum will expand offices, as needed, to the four historic houses it owns along 45th Street. 

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

A scene of vegetable carnage awaits visitors at Powell Gardens this summer — goblins raiding a patch of squash and onions in the Heartland Harvest Garden, and other mythological beasts rampaging through plots of edible plants.

It's exactly what artist Kendall R. Hart was aiming for when he designed the "Gardens of Myth" exhibit.

Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art is mending fences with its neighbors. 

The museum has reached an agreement with two neighborhood associations about its properties. In dispute were the site of the former Rockhill Tennis Club and four houses on 45th Street just north of the museum.

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.

A portrait isn't just about capturing someone's literal likeness. It's about capturing the inner essence. So how is it done? And how is it done well? We host a roundtable discussion with Kansas City artists – from painter to doll-maker – to explore the ins and outs of portraiture in various mediums.


Suzanne Hogan / KCUR 89.3

This story first appeared on KCUR's Question Quest. You can find the episode here or wherever you download podcasts.

Courtesy UMKC Gallery of Art

Davin Watne and Barry Anderson were feeling some pressure.

“It’s been a while since you’ve had a faculty show,” people kept reminding Watne, the curator and director of the UMKC Gallery of Art.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

After a four-month absence, a 40-foot tall, 35-foot-wide, 24,000-pound aluminum sculpture by artist R.M. Fischer has returned to the top of its 300-foot-tall pylon at the Kansas City Convention Center.

Dumpster-diving for materials was done out of necessity when sculptor Tom Sachs first started, but now he does it by choice. It's just one way the bricolage specialist turns almost anything into art, avoiding perfection in the process. After all, "the only advantage an artist has over industry is her fingerprints," he says.

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.