Visual Arts | KCUR

Visual Arts

Laura Spencer / KCUR

It's a Thursday morning in the rehearsal space at the Lyric Opera Center in the Crossroads Arts District. About 20 students from the Kansas City Art Institute stand on either side of a long table covered with sketches, floor and building plans and colorful set drawings. They reach into pockets to snap photos with cell phones, or focus in with larger cameras.

Jodi Cobb

National Geographic photographer Jodi Cobb travels great distances to discover the secret realms of world culture. She has documented fascinating visual stories about many subjects, including the quirky nature of twins, the hidden lives of Saudi Arabian women and Japanese geishas.

Laura Spencer / KCUR

Standing near the entrance of the new exhibition, Roads of Arabia: Archaeology and History of The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, on Wednesday, Julián Zugazagoitia, director and CEO of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, called the more than 200 recently discovered artifacts a "revelation for humanity."

Two roads are explored: the incense trade routes, caravans transporting frankincense and myrrh from Arabia to Mesopotamia and the Greco-Roman world, as well as the network of roads for travelers on religious pilgrimages to Mecca.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

A nearly decade-old art movement called Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School is one of the more quirky ways artists find community in metros across the globe. But Kansas City's version is known for taking that quirkiness a step further, and for uniting a new and growing artist community when it needed it most.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

Imagine spending a year – or more – restoring an artwork, trying to bring back the touch, or the brushstroke, of a master. That’s what Scott Heffley, senior conservator of paintings at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, has been doing with an El Greco painting (ca. 1580-1585) called The Penitent Magdalene

Art and science do mix

Josh Ferdinand / Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

If you’ve walked or driven by the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art recently you’ve probably noticed a flurry of activity on the southeast corner of the grassy lawn. Work is underway to ready the site for the installation of a new sculpture, Glass Labyrinth, a triangular-shaped, glass-walled labyrinth designed by artist Robert Morris, a native of Kansas City, Mo.

Laura Spencer / KCUR

The Federal Reserve System was established by Congress 100 years ago. To honor the centennial, the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City is working with University of Kansas students to turn some of its own history - from name plates to modems - into a new art installation.

Shaping a range of objects, from mundane to archival, into art

Julie Denesha / KCUR

Every Sunday for the last two years or so, a group of artists has been heading outside to capture the charm of Kansas City on their canvases. You might even see them, brush in hand, in the West Bottoms or at Longview Lake. Landscape painting is nothing new, but this group – known as Kansas City Plein Air Coterie or KC PAC — has a unique style and curious rituals that set them apart from other outdoor painters.

Jump-starting studio practice by painting outdoors

Julie Denesha / KCUR

A winter storm was brewing on Friday afternoon, and expected to bring snow and ice to the Kansas City metro area. At Gass Camera Repair, the electronic door chime rang periodically - not with the arrival of customers, but as box after box was loaded onto a trailer waiting just outside.

Since 1979, in this small shop in Mission, Kan., Clarence Gass repaired cameras of all shapes and sizes. Friday was his final day of business.

A 'natural curiosity' about cameras

Greg Heisler

Photographer Gregory Heisler admits that the process of making a portrait is fraught with unease.

The sitter, Heisler says, doesn't want to face reality. For the photographer, that's all there is.

Greg Heisler has spent a quarter century photographing covers for Time, Life and Sports Illustrated.

Walter Smith / Courtesy Maya Lin Studio and Pace Gallery

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art has commissioned a new work by architect and artist Maya Lin, who's probably best known as the designer of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. 

Lin’s sculpture, Silver Missouri, inspired by the Missouri River, is crafted from recycled silver, and it’s one in a series of works exploring water conservation. It will be installed in the Bloch Building on November 15. 

Marion Bloch died at home on Tuesday in Mission Hills, Kansas, at the age of 83. Bloch was married to Henry W. Bloch, co-founder of the financial services firm, H&R Block, for more than 60 years.

Grasping Hope & Dreams Through Photography

Jul 29, 2013

A homeless shelter might seem an unlikely place to look for the hopes and dreams of children, but for one photographer, it's a way to shine a light for children stuck in bad situations.

Laura Spencer / KCUR

In the exhibition Laura McPhee: River of No Return at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, the more than two dozen photographs - each six by eight feet - loom large. McPhee's series explores the grandeur of the West, tensions between ranchers and environmentalists, and human impact on the land - and its often unintended consequences. 

Growing up McPhee

Gloria Baker Feinstein

It was just last year when Gloria Baker Feinstein and her husband had to move out of their house and into a condo, and get rid of many their possessions.

"It's not stuff," she said. "Everything had a reason. Everything had a memory. Everything felt really dear to me."

The couple had an estate sale, and Feinstein, a photographer, decided to document each item as it left her house. But the endeavor quickly turned into a different project -- one that is now on display in a local gallery.

The Art Fantastic

May 16, 2013

When you watch a film like Star Wars or Harry Potter, the fantastical worlds they present seem to come alive on the screen with colorful planets and moving portraits. 

Laura Spencer / KCUR

The first floor galleries at the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art are filled with glass display cases. Inside: the glittering black ceramics of Navajo artist Christine Nofchissey McHorse. Her abstract works bridge modern sculpture and traditional Southwestern pottery.

Juan Montana

The cultures of Kansas and Missouri was shaped by wave after wave of immigrants: from Germany, Ireland, Italy and Eastern Europe. A new exhibit called, The Missouri Immigrant Experience: Faces and Places portrays vivid images of the state’s diverse immigrants from the early nineteenth century to today.  The exhibit was sponsored by the Missouri Immigrant and Refugee Advocates (MIRA), a coalition of organizations that advocates for immigrants.

Mike Sinclair

Two Kansas Citians were announced yesterday as winners of this year's very prestigious Guggenheim Fellowships.

Mark McDonald / Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

The Kansas City Sculpture Park, the more than two dozen sculptures outside the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, opened in 1989. In honor of the park’s 25th anniversary in 2014, the museum will change the park’s name to reflect its roots.

Around The World With A Camera

Mar 18, 2013
Catherine Karnow

From the Australian Outback to Bollywood, Albanian farmland to Vietnam, National Geographic travel photographer Catherine Karnow has been around the world to capture its images with her camera.

Ruth Thorne-Thomsen, American (b. 1943) / Courtesy: Nelson-Aktins Museum of Art

A pinhole camera is a simple tool – and it can be constructed with basic materials. You could even make one at home with your child on a snow day. All you need is cardboard, tape, and aluminum foil. But, it’s the eye behind the camera that draws a line between child’s play and the potential for photography.

Brian Skerry was inspired by National Geographic at a young age but it took several decades for this underwater photographer to land his dream job.

Behind The Lens In The Middle East

Feb 4, 2013
Gil Cohen-Magen

It’s one thing to open up Time magazine and flip through the pages, briefly noticing the images from the latest Middle East conflict. It’s quite another to stand behind the camera.

Gordon Parks' 100th Birthday

Nov 27, 2012

On Wednesday’s Central Standard, we examine the legacy of Gordon Parks; the photographer, essayist, film maker, and native Kansan whose 100th birthday is this Friday.

Laura Spencer / KCUR

At the new South Branch Library in the Argentine district in Kansas City, Kan., nine 700-lb. bronze panels flank the entrance, some with images of vertical stacks of library books.

Terry Evans / Courtesy: Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

It’s fitting that the first career retrospective for photographer Terry Evans takes place in her hometown of Kansas City, Mo., at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, a place where she took art classes as a child.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

The 300-acre Overland Park Arboretum and Botanical Gardens garnered national attention in recent months over a bronze statue titled "Accept or Reject." The work, by Chinese artist Yu Chang, depicts a headless, bare-breasted woman holding a camera, pointing it at herself.