Visual Arts

Julie Denesha / KCUR

Frames have been used for centuries as decoration or to heighten the drama of a piece of artwork.

As part of an occasional KCUR series called Tools of the Trade — about artists and their relationships to the tools that make their work possible — we'll take a look at the complex creation of a very large frame.

Laura Spencer / KCUR

The bronze figures on horseback and children riding fish that are part of the J.C. Nichols Memorial Fountain near the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City, Mo., will be removed Wednesday for an extensive renovation.

"This is the iconic fountain for Kansas City," says Jocelyn Ball-Edson, landscape architect for the Kansas City Parks and Recreation Department. "We have a lot of fountains. We love them all, but this is probably the one that gets the most photography and the most visibility."

C.J. Janovy / KCUR

A word of advice to everyone who ventures into the new photography exhibition at Avila University’s Thornhill Gallery: Charge your devices. Also, you’ll need to download an app called Layar

Experiencing “augmented reality,” it turns out, requires a bit of pre-planning.

Sean Starowitz / Courtesy photo

Bread can serve as an important connector between people.

It can fuel discussions, break through social barriers and institute change. 

A 2014 Charlotte Street Foundation award winner, Sean Starowitz is an artist whose work is hard to place on the walls of galleries. As the artist-in-residence at Farm to Market Bread Co., his projects often focus on bread and community. 

Although the Pulitzer Arts Foundation has been closed since August, a swarm of activity has been taking place inside the Grand Center institution.

Construction crews are renovating the Pulitzer’s basement area to create two new galleries. When they’re done in May 2015, the Foundation will have one-third more exhibition space, totaling 104,000 square feet. The work is being done in cooperation with a representative of the original architect, Tadao Ando.

Paul Andrews

Back-breaking labor makes people colorless.

That's how artist Hung Liu remembers it, anyway. At the age of 16, she was sent to the Chinese countryside to live and work without a wage as part of Mao Zedong's Cultural Revolution. High school had filled her head with too much non-proletarian knowledge; she would have to unlearn it all through hard labor. 

"Working in the cornfield, you sweat. In the morning, you pull the wheat with mud all over your hands. We were colorless," Liu says.

Laura Spencer / KCUR

East Lawrence, Kan., is a mecca for artists with its affordable housing and studio space.

But an influx of funds for creative placemaking could change all that.

In June 2014, Lawrence Arts Center received a $500,000 ArtPlace America grant. The 9th Street Corridor project calls for a transformation of six blocks between New Hampshire and Delaware streets.  The plan includes "multimodal paths, upgrade amenities, and new models of urban infrastructure" along with art. 

C.J. Janovy

Grant Snider, 29, is hunched over a creaky light box in his sunroom. His sunroom isn’t sunny — it’s dark, because Snider draws cartoons early in the morning while his wife and two small children are asleep.

Gavin Snider

Gavin Snider’s Kansas City Reconstructed illustration project started with a billboard in the Crossroads neighborhood of downtown Kansas City, Mo., and has grown to more than 50 drawings of the city’s sometimes iconic, sometimes not-that-noticeable buildings.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

Camera phones were snapping Friday night with the opening of Peregrine Honig's latest exhibition at Haw Contemporary, a gallery in the West Bottoms of Kansas City, Mo. While many artists discourage photographs of their work, Honig openly invited viewers to use her large-scale oil paintings as backdrops for selfies, or self-portraits. 

courtesy: the artist

Making art requires dedication and time – lots of it. Add a child to the mix and having a career as an artist can be a challenge. Some put their art practice on hold to raise a family; others adapt to making art when they can. And, sometimes, a child can lead to inspiration. 

Artwork changes from edgy to uplifting 

Kansas City Museum

The Kansas City Art Institute doesn’t offer degrees in fashion design, but students in the fiber department spend plenty of time thinking about clothing, costumes, performance and the human body as a means of expression, says Pauline Verbeek-Cowart, the chair of the department.

So when she got a call from Kansas City Museum Executive Director Anna Marie Tutera about co-curating a show called Rituals and Celebrations: Exploring Meaning Through Dress, she was up for it.

C.J. Janovy

People who go to the Kansas City Flatfile show at H&R Block Artspace get to do something that feels wrong: touch the art.

That’s the fun of the Flatfile exhibition, which takes place every two years. The show features work by 160 Kansas City artists, and visitors get to pull it out of the metal files themselves, spending as much time as they want having what Artspace director and curator Raechell Smith calls an "unmediated" experience with the art.

courtesy: Zahner

Sky Stations are the shiny, space-age sculptures on top of Bartle Hall (more commonly called "hair curlers").

Twenty years ago this week, a helicopter hovered overhead to place the four steel and aluminum sculptures atop 300-foot concrete pylons in a public art installation that closed the downtown streets in Kansas City, Mo.

New York-based artist R.M. Fischer reflects on Sky Stations 20 years later: 

Laura Ziegler / KCUR

The iconic shafts of wheat and corn that have arched over the east entrance of the building that formerly held the Kansas City Board of Trade were pried off the wall Tuesday after a nearly 50-year running.

Workers with Belger Cartage Service of Kansas City – the same company that installed the art work in 1966 — spent the day wrenching loose bolts and heaving the 4,000-pound bronze sculptures onto flatbed trucks in the middle of Main Street on the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City, Mo.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

Drumbeat and song drifted through the halls of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art Sunday afternoon in celebration of the opening of Plains Indians: Artists of Earth and Sky. Native American dancers wearing brightly-colored ribbons and feathers performed traditional dances in Atkins Auditorium and Kirkwood Hall.

Charlie Podrebarac

Local cartoonist Charlie Podrebarac is familiar with the tensions that sometimes arise over the Kansas-Missouri state line.

He lives on the Kansas side, but has often highlighted the border conflict in his Cowtown Cartoons. He’s been penning Cowtown since 1984 for the Kansas City Star.

In his series, “soldiers” take the battlefield on State Line Road armed with leaf blowers and rakes in an ironic statement about the “border war” between Missouri and Kansas. It’s part of a series of cartoons about metropolitan Kansas City that use a leaf motif.

Lora Jost

The Lawrence Public Library on Thursday revealed this year's set of banned books trading cards.

It marks the third time the Kansas library has celebrated Banned Books Week by highlighting shunned classics and contemporary works with a set of trading cards. 

Laura Spencer / KCUR

The new exhibition at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, The Plains Indians: Artists of Earth and Sky, includes nearly 140 masterworks from private and public collections across North America and Europe. 

There’s a 2,000-year-old pipe, 18th century-painted robes and beaded designer shoes from 2011. 

Some curators might find it offensive if someone asked them to choose a few favorite works — well, actually, just two — from an exhibition they'd worked on for nearly five years. 

Beth Lipoff / KCUR

The exhibition The Plains Indians: Artists of Earth and Sky, now at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Mo., marks an international collaboration, years in the making. Three museums on two different continents, featuring nearly 140 objects from North American and European collections. 

Julián Zugazagoitia, director and CEO of the Nelson-Atkins, says this builds on a museum tradition, started in the 1970s with Sacred Circles, of bringing Native American artwork to a larger audience.

E.G. Schempf, courtesy of the artist and Haw Contemporary, Kansas City, Mo.

Curators from Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Ark., set out on a road trip to find the most compelling unknown artists hidden away in studios across the country. About a thousand studio visits later, artists had been selected for The State of the Art exhibitTwo Kansas City artists made the cut. 

Guests:

CJ Janovy / KCUR

The Kansas City Parks & Recreation Department celebrated the opening of Soccer Village on Friday. In addition to pristine practice fields with perfect synthetic grass and a natural-grass championship field with grandstands that seat 1,500 people, there’s also a sculpture, thanks to the city’s One Percent for Art Program.

The artist, Jake Balcom, installed the work last week with help from two friends, Spencer Schubert, also a local sculptor, and musician Brent Jamison.

Suzanne Hogan / KCUR

Driving around Kansas City’s Northland on Vivion Road, it’s kind of hard to miss Penguin Park. It has a way of sticking out – there’s a giant penguin standing in the center of it. But why is the penguin there? And where did it come from? 

Ben Palosaari

This weekend Crown Center hosted the 7th annual Kansas City Chalk and Walk Festival showcasing local artists’ artwork drawn on the ground. 

The weather Sunday couldn’t have been better for an outdoor art festival. The temperature topped out at 77 degrees, as dozens of local artists worked on their hands and knees drawing with chalk on the brick plaza.

Artists Show Off Work At 35th Annual Art Westport

Sep 7, 2014
Ben Palosaari

This weekend is the 35th annual Art Westport festival. The show stops traffic and fills the streets of Westport with booths showcasing the work of local artists.

Photographer Tom Manning has been coming to the festival for decades, but he is showing and selling his work at Art Westport for the first time. He says Art Westport is appealing because it’s open exclusively to Kansas City artists.

Paul Andrews

Kansas City photographer Paul Andrews has committed himself to taking a photograph a day for all of 2014. He's been posting the photos online as he goes, and his project has gained a local following by way of social media.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

The oldest, and longest-serving, employee at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art retired on Aug. 31.

Henry J. ("Hank") Raya studied at the Kansas City Art Institute and served in the U.S. Navy before working for two decades as an illustrator at The Kansas City Star. Then he stepped into a new career: as a security guard at the Nelson-Atkins, where he's helped the visitors and protected the art for 35 years. 

C.J. Janovy / KCUR

On Central Standard in July, host Gina Kaufmann asked the Kansas City graffiti artist known as Gear to explain his theory that graffiti is “the beautification of the city.”

Most graffiti artists choose areas that are run-down or buildings that haven’t been taken care of by their landlords, Gear said.

Laura Spencer / KCUR

The experience of viewing a work of art often involves words — think of the neatly typed wall panels with an artist’s name and background, or details about the work itself. The written word — and its role in and on an artwork — is the focus of a Belger Arts Center exhibition in the Crossroads Arts District. 

"A couple of years ago, there were some visitors waiting for the elevator over there," says gallery assistant Mo Dickens, on the third floor of the Belger Arts Center. "And I heard one turn to the other and say, 'Hmm … I don’t know. I’ve never liked text on paintings.'" 

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