Visual Arts

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.

Courtesy Photo / Dick Berkley

In his 12-year tenure as Kansas City mayor, Dick Berkley met hundreds of celebrities, sports stars, and political figures. Fortunately, he never went anywhere without his camera.

“I’m so lucky. I just can’t emphasize how fortunate I’ve been to have the ability travel and meet these people, and take a little opportunity when it was in front of me to take somebody’s picture,” Berkley told Steve Kraske on Up To Date.

Collection of the Kansas City Art Institute

In the middle of the last century, where Jesse Howard lived in Fulton, Mo., it wasn’t unusual to see hand-painted signs on country roads advertising a traveling fair or a farm sale.

Jesse Howard’s signs offered Bible verses. They proclaimed his anger at his neighbors and the government, his disappointments with the world around him. His canvas was most often a wooden plank or some scrap metal salvaged from dilapidated outbuildings, or any piece of farm equipment with a flat surface big enough to whitewash with house paint and cover with carefully lettered, all-caps screeds.

Over the last decade, major newspapers and magazines across the country have cut back on arts coverage. 

Editors at The Kansas City Star notified art critic Alice Thorson on Monday that Feb. 6 would be her last day. The termination did not come as a surprise for Thorson, the paper's art critic since 1991. She knew she was "on borrowed time," she says. In 2009, Thorson's full-time job was reduced to part-time; theater critic Robert Trussell’s position was downsized at the same time. 

Suzanne Opton / The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

In the photograph, a young soldier with a downy blond buzz-cut lies perfectly still, face down on the ground. On stage, an ancient Greek warrior goes through the four stages of events that lead to post-traumatic stress.

The arts community is asking big questions about the life of the soldier. What role does art play in public discourse around combat?

Guests: 

Lara Shipley

Photographer Lara Shipley's image, "Believer," is currently looming over 43rd and Main on the H&R Block Artspace Project Wall in Kansas City, Mo. She says her series of photographs, Devil's Promenade, is a reflection on life in the Ozarks, where she grew up.

Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR

If we are all "Charlie" in the wake of an armed assault on the offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, no one has earned that solidarity more than political cartoonists. A left-leaning cartoonist and his conservative counterpart weigh in on the risks and rewards of taking a bold stance. In the course of doing a job intended to provoke, are there lines they do not cross?

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