Visual Arts

EG Schempf / Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art

The largest collection of Kansas City artists in the metropolitan area can be found at the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art at Johnson County Community College, according to executive director Bruce Hartman.

And now, there's also a gallery exclusively devoted to artists with ties to the state of Kansas called the Kansas Focus Gallery. 

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri.

Updated at 1:43 p.m.  

A 16th-century oil-on-wood panel, in the collection of The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art for decades, is now considered to be the work of Dutch master Hieronymus Bosch. 

The Temptation of St. Anthony is one of only 25 paintings attributed to Bosch in the world — and only one of five in the United States. 

"You see the figure of St. Anthony resting on one hand on his staff, that is one of his significant attributes. And with his other hand, he is dipping a big, bulbous jug into the water," described Rima Girnius, associate curator of European painting, on Up to Date

"He's surrounded by a host of various, hybrid creatures, little monsters, that really personify different temptations that he is trying to resist."

Courtesy Photo / The Gordon Parks Foundation

Kansas-born civil rights photographer Gordon Parks had a consistent message through the years, according to his great niece.

“The power of choosing a weapon, shooting a camera proved to be more powerful than shooting a gun,” Robin Hickman said of her uncle during an interview this week with Gina Kaufmann, host of KCUR’s Central Standard.  

Wikipedia, Creative Commons

Photographer Gordon Parks was one of the first African Americans to show white America what discrimination looked like to people of color. But his story begins in poverty and obscurity, in Fort Scott, Kansas. A window into his life, his beliefs and his work, based on conversations with those who knew him.


Library of Congress

A photograph of murdered Chief Big Foot, his body twisted in the snow, is among the most famous images in the history of the American West. U.S. Cavalry troops killed the Lakota leader and more than 200 other American Indian men, women, and children at Wounded Knee on South Dakota's Pine Ridge Indian Reservation on Dec. 29, 1890. Traveling reporters and photographers captured the scene and its aftermath, making it a national news event.

eg schempf / courtesy Leedy-Voulkos

Dylan Mortimer has explored faith and spirituality in his artwork for more than a decade in a very public way — outdoor prayer booths with knee pads where people can stop and pray, and oversized sculptural haloes that light up when visitors approach. 

Now, for the first time, he's addressing his chronic illness, cystic fibrosis, in spectacular glitter. 

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.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Against the clean, stark white interior at 529 Southwest Boulevard in Kansas City, a seafoam blue room seems to bloom behind an open door frame at the back of the main space.

That room will soon house Kansas City's first public darkroom.

Night Blooms Darkroom & Bookstore will officially open to the public on the evening of Jan. 1, during the first First Friday of 2016. The space is located just on the cusp of the Crossroads District, across the boulevard from Hammerpress.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Capturing a photographic image is as simple as pressing a button on your phone. But don't count film photography out just yet. We talk with the president of the Society for Contemporary Photography, an organization that started meeting again after a hiatus, and the person behind Night Blooms, KC's first public darkroom that's slated to open in January.


Kelly Seward / Belger Crane Yard Studios

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
Artists in their studios sell handcrafted pottery, jewelry, sculpture and ornaments as part of the Kansas City Clay Guild’s Annual Pottery Tour.
Friday, Dec. 4, 6-9 p.m.; Saturday, Dec. 5, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sunday, Dec. 6, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

A white police officer with his arm around the neck of a black man. Officers standing in a line, wearing helmets and carrying rifles. These images are not from photographs taken this year or last year – as you might guess – but during the Civil Rights movement many decades ago. 

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, like many museums, maps out exhibitions in advance – often years ahead.

John Sleezer / The Kansas City Star

The roar of the fans, the daring runs on the field, and the click of camera shutters all go together at a major league sports event. When you're a photographer on the field, you get a different perspective of the game.

Photographers and Kansas City-area residents John Sleezer of the Kansas City Star and Denny Medley of USA Today Sports told Steve Kraske on Up to Date that being in the moment is crucial — the action can be fast and furious or few and far between.

On getting the shot 

Laura Spencer / KCUR

On July 17, 1981, about 2,000 people gathered at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Kansas City, Missouri, for a dance. What followed was one of the most deadly structural failures in American history.

Shortly after 7 p.m., two 32-ton skywalks collapsed — the fourth-story walkway fell on to the second-story walkway and both crashed into the lobby. The toll: 114 killed, 200 injured. 

Now, more than 30 years later, a memorial honors those who died and recognizes the contributions of the first responders. At a dedication ceremony Thursday morning for the Skywalk Memorial Plaza, many personal stories were shared.

courtesy: Empty Bowls KC

One man has been driving all over Kansas City for eight months transporting hundreds of fragile handmade bowls.


“I show up with newspaper and a mish-mash of boxes that I’ve grabbed. Right now, I’ve probably got four or five boxes [of bowls] and before the end of the day I will have a few more,” says ceramic artist LeRoy Grubbs.

David Chancellor - kiosk

Cecil the Lion’s death at the hands of a trophy hunter made headlines around the world a few months ago but that type of hunting is common in Africa. Photographer David Chancellor documented the people who participate in the sport, along with the big game targets they kill in his documentary series, Hunters.

Courtesy of Reynolda House Museum of American Art

Artist Thomas Hart Benton was a larger-than-life figure. A muralist who's well-known in Missouri, where he was born and lived the last three decades of his life — he's not as familiar as he once was outside the Kansas City area.

But that's starting to change. 

Photograph © Nick Vedros 2015

The lives of inmates in prisons across Kansas is a world away from the aesthetics of the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art.

Kansas City photographer Nick Vedros is bringing those worlds together with his Faces of Change photo essay — inspired by a unique self-help program in Kansas prisons. The exhibition is set to open at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art next month.

This is the story of a man who built the Garden of Eden in Lucas, Kansas; the man who purchased and cared for the sculpture environment nearly a century later; and the town whose survival increasingly depends on grassroots art.

Gina Kaufmann / KCUR

Sculptor John Hachmeister remembers the first time he saw the Garden of Eden, a mysterious outdoor sculpture environment built in Lucas, Kansas, right after the Civil War.

Byron Motley

Byron Motley was born in Kansas City, Mo. but the first time he stepped off the plane in Cuba he knew he was home. He talks with Steve Kraske about expressing his love for the country and its people in his book Embracing Cuba

Courtesy photo / Belger Crane Yard Studios

Kansas City artist Peregrine Honig spent time this year in artist residencies — one in China, and, an unofficial one, closer to home at the Hotel Phillips. 

Some of the drawings and prints she created will soon be on display in a replica hotel suite — inside the Belger Crane Yard gallery. Sexuality and vulnerability, power and luxury — and privacy all collide in a new multimedia installation called Suites

Courtesy Wabaunsee County Historical Society

It's a familiar sight around rural Kansas: Some old, falling-down building, obviously abandoned long ago.

One of those buildings was in Volland, which can’t be even be considered a town — it's just four houses (three of which are empty), a boarded-up white building and an old brick store about an hour and a half west of Kansas City, just beyond the town of Alma (population 800).

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 The Propeller Group, a collective based in Vietnam and California, marks the end of the non-profit arts residency venue.

Founder Margaret Silva announced plans last year to donate the Grand Arts building, a former auto shop at 1819 Grand Boulevard, to the Kansas City Art Institute for its graduate program.

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.