visual art

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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. 

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.

Courtesy Wes Wilson

Wes Wilson anticipates a renaissance is coming, and this shift in societal values will be led in part by members of the arts community. You could say that’s how the longtime poster artist known for his psychedelic promotions, which use fluid forms made from letters and flowing letters to create shapes, got his start.

It was 50 years ago this year his controversial image of an American Flag with a swastika started appearing in protests throughout the streets of Oakland, California. The piece, titled “Are We Next?,” was inspired by anger.

Courtesy Ada Koch

Ada Koch used to make “cheery” paintings.

“Things like roosters and wine bottles and bicycles and landscapes. A lot of children’s portraits,” says Koch, who moved to Kansas City with her family in 1989, took classes at the Kansas City Art Institute and has been painting since.

“This show is very different,” Koch says.

The work Koch’s hanging this week at the Leedy-Voulkos Art Center is about war, loss, love, violence, and, she says, “fears of losing someone I love in a violent way.”

Courtesy of the artist and Gallery AMA, Helsinki © Sirpa Särkijärvi, Courtesy Gallery AMA, Helsinki

In honor of the winter solstice, a conversation about an exhibit of contemporary Finnish paintings called Dark Days, Bright Nights. What we can learn about human nature from a place where all the inhabitants live in extremes of light.

Guest:

Courtesy Ala Almousawi

A photography exhibition at Avila University's Thornhill Gallery counters the current stream of images from the Middle East, when each day brings news about refugees, conflict and despair. It can be easy to forget that the countries people are fleeing aren't just the sum of these images. These places are also filled with a rich history and great works of art.

Fidencio Martinez-Perez

When Fidencio Martinez-Perez was 7 years old, a smuggler brought him, his mother and his three brothers across the Mexican border.

Now he makes art in which the roads, rivers and boundary-markers of the United States resemble the blood vessels of human figures. His main material is simple, but significant.

Courtesy / the artists

Anne Pearce made her name in Kansas City years ago, as a painter and as director of the Greenlease Art Gallery at Rockhurst University, where she also teaches art. Two years ago, during sabbatical on the other side of the world, Pearce had a profound experience — one she's now sharing with her students.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

Kansas artist Jane Booth specializes in large, abstract paintings. When she outgrew her workspace, she created one that could expand her reach. As part of our occasional series called Tools of the Trade about artists and their relationship to the tools that make their work possible — we visited Jane Booth's new studio.

One early morning, Booth is out on the back porch of her metal studio in Spring Hill, Kansas. She’s dressed for work — jeans and a smock splashed with layers of paint. The prairie is alive with birds and Booth is just starting a new painting. As pigment moves across the fabric, Booth begins to get excited about what she sees.

“I mean, you know, can you even stand it?” says Booth. “I just love what happens right there. Where that water is and isn’t. So, we’ll come back in a little while.”

Laura Spencer / KCUR

For centuries, scientists have looked to artists to help visualize the complexities of the human body. The techniques have changed — from wood engravings and copper plate prints to microscopic photos and digital animation — but the focus on storytelling is the same. It’s a profession known as medical illustration and there’s an effort to cultivate more of it in Kansas City. 

Mixing art with science 

The illustration department at the Kansas City Art Institute is tucked into a former grocery store at 43rd and Oak. At two long tables near the entrance, a handful of students quietly surf the Internet or eat a snack just before the start of a biomedical visualization class.