Visual Arts

courtesy Grand Arts

After a 20-year run in the Crossroads Arts District, this First Friday will be the last for Grand Arts. The closing reception for the exhibition "Universe of Collisions," by Vietnam-based The Propeller Group, marks the end of the non-profit arts residency venue.

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

Cicadas sing the rhythm of late summer as plein air painter Patrick Saunders and his wife, photographer Kimberly Saunders, sit at a picnic table beneath the shade of a tent — the living room in their new life together.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

Large puffy, clouds float overhead as Alex Hamil mixes water and pigment in the shadow of Liberty Memorial in Kansas City, Missouri. "Bag of tricks: brushes, water for watercolor," he says as he pulls out supplies.

Alex has entered a plein air painting competition and is trying a new style of painting he knows well but has been reluctant to explore.              

Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art

Kansas City residents who'd like to experience nature in air-conditioned comfort have the option to do just this inside the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art. Three site-specific installations on display through September explore "what we have taken from nature and what we do to nature," says executive director Bruce Hartman.

Courtesy of Gary Staab

You know those gigantic dinosaur models you see in natural history museums, frozen in mid-roar? There's a good chance they were made in Kearney, Missouri by a guy named Gary Staab. From his encounter with Lucy (the famous skeleton of our human ancestor) to a mummified human known as the Ice Man, Gary Staab takes us face to face with prehistoric life. 

Courtesy of Gary Staab

Gary Staab might appear to be an ordinary guy.

He lives in small-town, rural Kearney, Missouri, with his wife, Lissi, and their two teenage sons, Max and Owen. He plays guitar for the Mechanical Prairie Dogs, and is learning to play cello in his spare time.

But for a living, Staab sculpts prehistoric monsters and ancient human ancestors. He constructs wooden skeleton bases, shapes and welds bodies with wire, crafts muscles and eyeballs and molds resin flesh with epoxy.

Kansas City Art Institute

The Kansas City Art Institute's ceramics department dates back to the 1960s – and has a storied history, with larger than life professors who shaped the program like Ken Ferguson, Victor Babu and George Timock. 

This summer, Kansas City firms Helix and McCown Gordon Construction collaborated on a $750,000 renovation of "the old kiln room." 

Photographer Lara Shipley discusses Devil's Promenade, her photo series that depicts life in the Ozarks, where she grew up.

C.J. Janovy / KCUR

Joe Williams enlisted in the United States Marine Corps after the post 9/11 invasion of Iraq and served for seven years. He survived rocket and mortar attacks. A fast learner and natural leader, he rose through the ranks and was about to start officer candidate school when something went terribly wrong.

Wikimedia Commons

The car is a mechanical work of art. There are people who obsessively design, build and restore cars... and others crash them with just as much passion. From the Art of the Car Concours to the  demolition derby.

Guests:

  • Tony Jones, interim president, The Kansas City Art Institute
  • Mac McLanahan, artist and demolition derby driver
photo: EG Schempf / Collection of the Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, California

Brooklyn-based artist Adam Cvijanovic paints on sheets of a tough, durable product called Tyvek. It's often used to wrap or protect a building during construction, but for Cvijanovic it provides the canvas for his large-scale portable murals.

"I am really interested in narrative because I'm very interested in time," says Cvijanovic. "And I think painting as a plastic art, as a frozen moment in time, can offer insights into it."

Judith G. Levy

For her installation at La Esquina as part of an exhibit called Disturbances in the Field, artist Judith G. Levy tells succinct family stories, focusing on disconnects.

There's the stark contrast between the side of her family that supported Nazi Germany and the side that had to flee Nazi Germany. And what about the gap between her great-uncle's wife's appearance and the family's insistence that she was a Sephardic Jew, rather than Ethiopian?

Ashley Gilbertson

When heading into a war zone, not many choose a camera over a rifle. This edition of Up To Date explores the lives of two war photographers who covered conflict in Iraq, Afghanistan, and in the States. 

Guests: 

courtesy: Municipal Art Commission

For two decades, the public artwork Modern Communication has caused controversy in front of Kansas city's police and fire department downtown. A bronze businessman stands on a briefcase – he has a shoe in his mouth, fingers in his ears, and a tie flapping across his eyes. 

courtesy of the artist

For the past 35 years, artist and YJ’s Snackbar owner David Ford has been traveling to Guatemala.

His interests in the area have ranged from local foods and recipes to indigenous festivals and politics. But recently, his focus has narrowed — he’s become totally obsessed with broken doll heads, called muñecas, used in bustling marketplaces to advertise hair-braiding and hair-wrapping services to white tourists.

“It’s an advertising thing,” Ford explains.

The oldest culture on the planet, Aboriginals have inhabited the Australian continent for more than 50,000 years. National Geographic photographer  Amy Toensing spent three years documenting their lives and captured how their ancient tradition lives on in the modern world. 

Hear More: Amy Toensing speaks Tuesday, March 17 at 7:30 at the Muriel Kauffman Theatre. For information and tickets, click here.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

Balancing the responsibilities of raising children with the demands of work is a challenge for any parent. For many artists, the pressure is intensified by the need to create. As part of our series, Artists As Parents, two local artists talk about their latest collaboration — their son Sam.     

Working though a lack of sleep

Several months ago, KCUR asked “artist types” to tell us how parenting changed their art. Artists from across the region shared their stories about trying to find the time to be creative, while also juggling careers and the responsibilities of parenthood. 

It's clear from the responses that becoming a parent can dramatically change how artists commit to their craft.

Artist Erin Zona remembers being in a creative rut. She was working in retail, unsure how she would ever find the time and energy to get back on track with her art. Those memories inspired her current project, which provides a platform for re-emerging artists to get published.

Guest:

courtesy: Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art

Art collecting can be a hobby, a passion, or even an obsession. An exhibition at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Piece by Piece: Building a Collection, takes a look at the holdings of one Kansas City couple — and the connection between collector and artist.

A contemporary collection grows by a piece or two at a time

University of Kansas

Elden C. Tefft, best known for his iconic bronze sculptures on the University of Kansas campus in Lawrence, died Tuesday. He was 95.

KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little said the campus is privileged to have Tefft’s work.

“Elden’s pieces are such an integral part of Mount Oread — pieces such as ‘Moses’ and ‘Academic Jay’ — that it’s nearly impossible to imagine our campus without them,” said Gray-Little.

Laura Spencer / KCUR

Flashing lights are sending a message from the windows of downtown Kansas City, Mo., buildings. In Morse code, a signal taps out "LUV U." The light installation, in eight locations from City Hall to the Central Library, is called Message Matters. 

The project by Nebraska-based artist Jamie Burmeister, first appeared at the Bemis Center of Contemporary Art in Omaha, Neb. 

Cody Newill / KCUR

Los Angeles based performance and visual artist Tim Youd has taken up residence in Kansas City for the next three weeks to re-type two novels set in the city.

Youd is re-typing Evan Connell's novels "Mrs. Bridge" and "Mr. Bridge," two books that depict Kansas City's upper-middle class in the 1920s and 30s. The performance is part of a larger project where Youd visits a city and reproduces a book written or set there on just two pages of paper. 

Courtesy Linda Lighton

Linda Lighton makes ceramic sculptures revealing how closely lipsticks resemble bullets. And her white clay flowers bloom not with pistils but with pistols.

Sonie Joi Thompson-Ruffin’s mixed-media fabric print depicts a man-sized black leaf hanging lifelessly from a tree bereft of other leaves, against a blood-red background of squares evoking urban apartments.

Rain Harris makes flowers, some out of silk – but some out of ominous black clay, lending a sense of doom to the idea of traditional floral arrangements.

Laura Spencer / KCUR

Big Data – it’s a catch phrase these days. But museums in cities across the country, from New York to Dallas to Cleveland, are taking cues from corporations and shopping malls, and collecting data to track visitor behavior. It’s starting to shape what’s on view.

In December, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art hired Doug Allen as its first chief information officer, to help analyze data and map a technology strategy.

"Technology will allow us to enrich the experience of a visit, and also allow for a pre-visit," says director and CEO Julián Zugazagoitia.

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