Visual Arts

C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3

Inside the gallery, it’s a scene familiar to anyone who attends art openings: People are enjoying the oil paintings and large-scale photographs bathed in natural light, snacking on cheese and crackers while lively conversation bounces off the brick walls and polished wood floors.

Outside, though, is the wide-open silence of the Kansas Flint Hills.

This particular art gallery is surrounded by ranch lands in rural Wabaunsee County, where there are many more cattle than people. The gallery's in a place called Volland, which is basically the intersection of a two-lane highway and a dirt road. 

His name is Otzi, the oldest human in such a complete state. Discovered in 1991 in the Italian Alps, he’s the most studied human in history. We speak with the Kearney, Missouri-based paleo-sculptor who recently completed a replica of Otzi for research and study.

KCUR's Central Standard introduced us to Gary Staab in August 2015. Listen to that interview here.

Kat Shiffler / Center for Rural Affairs

On a Monday night, Main Street in Lyons, Nebraska, is closed — for a movie, according to signs on the barricades. A crowd has gathered on the brick pavement. Suddenly, what appears to be an empty storefront begins to move. People watch with anticipation as the facade leans forward, lowering toward the street.

After the façade comes down, a stand of bleacher seats slides forward from the empty building, creating outdoor seating for 80 people. Lyons’ Storefront Theater has become a reality. The crowd claps and cheers.

Abraham Lincoln is remembered for his skill as an orator, but the president also utilized other tools to better connect with voters. His use of photography, which was a cutting-edge technology in his day and age, helped him to victory in the tough 1860 election. 

Guest:

Jacqueline Froelich / KUAF

In its early days, Eureka Springs, Arkansas, was a popular Victorian-era spa resort, with visitors arriving by train to take the water cure in the 1890s.

Decades later, in the 1940s, a group of painters, traveling to this small Ozarks village by automobile during the summers, established a permanent art colony. Today, more than 10 percent of the town’s 2,000 residents work as artists, either in their own studios or in more than 30 galleries amid Eureka Springs’ steep curving boulevards and lush spring-fed gardens.

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.

Guests:

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.

Guests:

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).

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