visual art

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."

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

On Sunday May 22, 2011, an EF5 tornado swept through Joplin, Missouri. In minutes, winds reaching up to 200 miles per hour reduced homes and buildings to rubble. One of the deadliest tornadoes to strike the United States left 158 people dead and some 1,150 others injured. 

Joplin is Travis Pratt's hometown. He's a painter who studied ceramics at The Kansas City Art Institute and now splits his time between Kansas City and Joplin. After the storm, Pratt and his father went to visit family members. The scene was disorienting.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

The painter Thomas Hart Benton spent some of his most productive years working in his Kansas City studio, just behind the large stone house in Midtown's Roanoke neighborhood.

The imposing limestone house was built in 1903. The Bentons bought it in 1939 and lived there for 36 years. The property is now Missouri's smallest state park (it's just one-third of an acre) and has been a museum since 1977.

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.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

Whether they realize it or not, many Kansas Citians have probably seen Wilbur Niewald’s paintings. They might even have seen the artist at a canvas in one of the city’s parks.

Courtesy Todd McLellan

Taking things apart and putting them back together again is almost hypnotic. And that is what Canadian artist Todd McLellan does in Things Come Apart, an exhibition from the Smithsonian Institution opening this weekend at the Kansas City Public Library.

A time-lapse video patches together images of objects swiftly being disassembled then reassembled. Buttons, coils and wires are exposed, neatly organized against a white background.

Senate Democrats / Flickr - CC

From his vantage point in the U.S. Senate, Sheldon Whitehouse is of the mind that the longstanding tradition of honor in American politics is disappearing. Today, he argues corporate infiltration into the political system is to blame.

Courtesy Friends of Arrow Rock

On a bitterly cold afternoon early this winter, Patrick Overton was standing outside the historic Federated Church of Arrow Rock, Missouri, greeting people for the town’s annual folk sing-along. As visitors made their way through the afternoon cold to the warm glow of the church, Overton welcomed old friends, introduced himself to new ones, and joked that it was safe for all to enter because he would not be singing.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

E.G. Schempf has photographed the artwork of some of Kansas City’s best-known artists. Alongside the commissioned work he undertakes for artists, galleries and museums, Schempf takes personal photographs around the edges.

His new exhibit, E.G. Schempf — Pedestal View at Sherry Leedy Contemporary Art, showcases a selection of behind-the-scenes images of darkened galleries and test photographs he has taken over the years. Sherry Leedy says Schempf is humble and sees himself as merely supporting artists, but that without Schempf those artists would go unseen.
 

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

The installation called "The Steeple of Light" shines like a beacon from the rooftop of Community Christian Church at 4601 Main Street in Kansas City, Missouri. But the artist behind it is not as well-known. Sculptor Dale Eldred died in his West Bottoms studio during the 1993 flood, while trying to save his equipment from the rising waters. Since 1994, his "Steeple of Light" has illuminated the night sky.

Courtesy Amy Meya

Once again, the traditional art-opening weekend meets the traditional gift-giving season at the following shows and sales, which involve multiple Kansas City artists.

Belger Crane Yard Studios Open House & Holiday Sale
2011 Tracy Ave., Kansas City, Missouri 
More than 30 artists sell handcrafted pottery, jewelry, sculpture and ornaments as part of the Kansas City Clay Guild’s Annual Pottery Tour. Friday, December 2, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. and Saturday, December 3, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

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.

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.

Courtesy Sharon Rodriguez

As election season cranks into post-Labor Day fury, the Johnson County Library wants to provoke conversations about democracy and activism.

It's doing so with events titled Bear Witness, kicking off on Thursday with an art opening intended to “bear witness to the events and issues of the past and present, and to postulate those in the future.”

One literal witness is photographer Sharon Rodriguez, who has spent the past year interviewing and taking photographs of homeless people in Johnson County.

C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3

Robert and Karen Duncan are well-known art collectors in Lincoln, Nebraska – but they haven’t forgotten their hometown in southwest Iowa.

The couple moved to Lincoln in the 1960s, when Robert came to run the family business, Duncan Aviation, a massive airplane service business. They also started collecting art. Forty years later, they had amassed a significant collection, and built a home designed to display it, on forty acres landscaped for a sculpture garden.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

A meeting of artists in the River Market four decades ago was the spark that ignited the Kansas City Artists Coalition, which brings visual artists together through curated exhibits and mentors them in their art practice.

On a recent Saturday morning, the organization's executive director, Janet Simpson, greeted artists as they dropped off their work for the fortieth anniversary show. Simpson has been working full-time at the Coalition since 1989.
 

Courtesy Kansas City Area Life Sciences Institute

It's no secret that science often produces mesmerizing images to go along with all of its graphs, charts and tables. Now some of those images, generated by biomedical research underway in the Kansas City region, have a show all of their own at Kemper East.

"It's not something we usually show here," says Erin Dziedzic, the Kemper's director of curatorial affairs.

A new book about Wichita artists has us intrigued. What's the art scene like in the biggest city in Kansas?

Guests:

  • Larry Schwarm, photographer
  • Elizabeth Stevenson, artist

Wikimedia Commons

In this encore presentation of Central Standard: What does it mean to be a "Renaissance Man" today? Hint: it's more than being an expert multi-tasker. 

Guests:

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

"Witchy, tacky grandma."

That’s how Kansas City artist Rodolfo Marron III describes his aesthetic.

“I say it as a joke, but it’s kind of accurate,” he says. “My work is softer, maybe more effeminate. I embrace that.”

Growing up on the city's Westside during the 1990s, Marron experienced a rougher neighborhood than the one many know it as now. He lost many family friends to gang violence during a time he remembers as dark and gray. At an early age, he found escape in his art by creating characters and other worlds.

Charlotte Street Foundation

Rodolfo Marron is an artist who grew up in the 1990s, on Kansas City's West Side. It was a grittier place back then, he says. For an escape, he started creating characters who inspired him. Now, he draws on Kansas City stories and the materials that grow wild in backyards and along highways.

Guest:

courtesy A. Zahner Company

By a unanimous vote, the Kansas City City Council approved $1.6 million in funding on Thursday to repair one of the iconic sculptures called Sky Stations on top of Bartle Hall in downtown Kansas City.

"I think one of the most famous, or perhaps sometimes infamous, pieces of art that have been placed in this city are the Sky Stations," says Councilman Scott Wagner of the sculptures, popularly known as "hair curlers."

C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3

How to tell kids the unfathomable but necessary story of a busload of students who simply disappeared after being stopped by police? Or explain the agonizing reality that requires a slogan as basic as Black Lives Matter?

Coloring books, of course.

“My niece loves to paint, and I like to draw,” says Celia Ruiz, whose difficult conversation with her niece inspired the ¡Ayotzinapa Vive! coloring book.

The quiet force behind the Kansas City Art Institute's Department of Ceramics describes falling in love with clay and finding inspiration in Kansas City's architecture (in part by riding a bike around town and breaking into abandoned buildings when she was an undergrad herself). 

Guest:

  • Cary Esser, chair, Department of Ceramics, The Kansas City Art Institute

David Lane / davidlaneastrophotography.com

A Kansas Citian with a lifelong love for the night sky took up astrophotography when he realized that some of his favorite images of space were captured here on earth, with no more than a telescope for technological support. Now his photographs are routinely recognized by such organizations as NASA, The Huffington Post and TIME Magazine.

The owners of a popular children's bookstore in Brookside are moving on to their new project: an immersive "explorastorium" for children's literature, to be called The Rabbit Hole. The inside scoop on this couple's love affair with stories, books, paper-mache... and each other. 

Guests:

Creative Commons

What does it mean to be a "Renaissance Man" today? Hint: it's more than being an expert multi-tasker. 

Guests:

Stained glass was nearly banned by legislators in the United States, back in the late 1970s. At the same time, there was a resurgence in art glass, or stained glass created not for churches or important buildings, but for its own sake. The Stained Glass Art Association, now based here in Kansas City, stepped in.

Guest:

Courtesy / U.S. Postal Service

They are works of art that pay homage to great leaders, tell the history of this nation and highlight our culture. And they do it all in miniature.

The U.S. Postal Service has just unveiled its latest collection of stamps, and we discuss this year's assortments with William Gicker, manager of stamp development for the U.S. Postal Service. 

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