Visual Arts

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

This story was updated on Wednesday at 9:59 a.m.

Two years after an avowed anti-Semite killed three people outside the Jewish Community Center and Village Shalom, a memorial has been dedicated in their honor.

Artist Jesse Small sculpted the three stainless ripples to represent the three lives cut short on April 13, 2014, at the two Overland Park, Kansas, Jewish sites.

Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3

The Kansas City Art Institute stakes a claim in the Crossroads Arts District on First Friday, April 1, with the debut of KCAI Gallery.

The new venue at 1819 Grand Boulevard will be a familiar stop to many gallery-goers. Grand Arts had a 20-year run at this site, producing and exhibiting shows by artists such as Sanford Biggers, Laurel Nakadate, and Sissel Tolaas, among many others, until it closed in September 2015

courtesy Kansas City Art Institute

Cary Esser, longtime chair of the ceramics department at the Kansas City Art Institute, credits a high school classmate in the 1970s for her introduction to ceramics. 

As Esser recalls, her best friend, Julie, was taking a class, and "truthfully, I didn't know what ceramics was." 

Esser visited the basement classroom and saw her friend throwing pottery on the wheel. "I really had one of those moments where I just looked at what she was doing, and I just said, 'That is the coolest thing. I'm going to do that.'"

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3

No one holds a family together quite like a grandma, and through good times and bad, the matriarchs of the Manheim Park neighborhood in Kansas City have remained steady.

Residents of Manheim Park dedicated a large new mural on Saturday to four women who have been committed to the community for decades.

Doug Shafer, vice president of the Manheim Park Neighborhood Association, described the community's grandmothers as "the most important social glue."

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

For thousands of years, artisans have been making musical instruments out of clay — from whistles and rattles to ocarinas and horns. That tradition continues with two Kansas City artists who've turned ceramic vessels into a sonic experience. 

courtesy of the artist

A celebration of clay — in all its forms — is underway. More than 100 ceramics exhibitions are on view in Kansas and Missouri, timed with the National Council on Education for the Ceramics Arts (NCECA) conference in Kansas City. 

But as more artists experiment with digital tools, some of the artwork on display hardly seems like clay. Case in point: Unconventional Clay, an exhibition at Project Space in the Bloch Building at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. 

courtesy of David Lane

For Kansas City photographer David Lane, the night sky is a canvas where he composes Milky Way-themed works of art.

“The glow that is in those pictures is from 250 billion suns," Lane says. "To see that represented, it helps give our place in the universe."

Ryan Collerd / Courtesy of Pew Center for Arts and Heritage

Lauren Mabry has some advice for future graduates of the Kansas City Art Institute.

Mabry is one of the celebrity ceramicists who’ll be in town later this month for the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts. She earned her BFA from the Art Institute in 2007, and less than a decade later was awarded $75,000 in unrestricted cash from Pew Center for Arts & Heritage. In naming Mabry one of its 2015 Pew Fellows, the center lauded Mabry as “a ceramicist whose expressive and colorful ‘dimensional paintings’ … play with form, texture, color and scale and blur the boundaries between ceramics, abstract painting and sculpture.”

Lori Nix

What would the world look like without humans? In her homemade dioramas, Lori Nix, a Kansas-born artist, depicts a post-apocalyptic world where nature has taken over.

Nix's photographs of her dioramas are on display at the Kansas Focus Gallery at the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art. She'll be giving a talk about her work on March 24.

Guest:

courtesy of the artist

Charlotte Street Foundation has announced its 2016 slate of awards recipients. Each artist receives an unrestricted cash award of $10,000. 

The five fellows this year include: visual artists Shawn Bitters, Rodolfo Marron III, and Madeline Gallucci, and generative performing artists J. Ashley Miller and Eddie Moore. 

The awards process starts with an open call for applications from artists based in the five-county metro area. A jury of arts professionals narrowed the pool to 18 finalists, and then to five. 

Courtesy NCECA

Gallery-goers will see clay everywhere this month, with exhibition spaces welcoming more than 5,000 ceramics artists, students, teachers and fans who’ll arrive in Kansas City for the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts, March 16-19.

This might feel a little overwhelming for casual First Friday attendees.

David Lane / davidlaneastrophotography.com

A Kansas Citian with a lifelong love for the night sky took up astrophotography when he realized that some of his favorite images of space were captured here on earth, with no more than a telescope for technological support. Now his photographs are routinely recognized by such organizations as NASA, The Huffington Post and TIME Magazine.

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:

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