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Arts in Brief, September/October 2020

Outdoor Sculpture at KCAI

A second sculpture by German artist Ewerdt Hilgemann has been installed on the grounds of the Kansas City Art Institute. Hilgemann’s “Double Stack,” a 20-foot-tall piece in stainless and corten steel, is on loan to the college from the artist and Zahner Metal Conservation. The firm previously lent the artist’s “Dancers” to KCAI as part of a plan to site large-scale works on campus on a changing basis. Both artworks were displayed on Park Avenue in New York before coming to Kansas City; “Dancers” found a permanent home in Leawood, where it can be seen north of City Hall. – Alice Thorson

Kansas City Chorale Releases World Premiere Recording of WWI-Era Requiem

Composed during World War I, Russian Alexander Kastalsky’s “Requiem” was nearly lost. This “musical collage” from the “prayers for the dead,” as it was imagined by Kastalsky, received its full performance over a century later, in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Armistice. The Kansas City Chorale joined three other choirs and the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, conducted by Leonard Slatkin, at the Washington Cathedral for this live, world-premiere recording, released August 2020.

Lisa Hickok Joins Park University’s International Center for Music as Executive Director

Lisa Hickok officially took on her role as executive director of Park University’s International Center for Music on July 13. The founder of the consulting firm Merrill, LLC, Hickok worked with ICM as a consultant for the past three years. She brings a wealth of experience in marketing, communications, development and fundraising to the role, as well as a deep connection to Kansas City’s arts community. Her career in the arts started as a member of the Kansas City Ballet and expanded to engage with many of the city’s leading arts organizations throughout the last 30 years.

National WWI Museum and Memorial Expands Collection Digitization Project

When Kansas City closed in March, many arts organizations scrambled to find suitable work for their staff, if they were able to at all. The National WWI Museum and Memorial made headlines with their creative approach: Reposition its service-facing staff to transcribe and digitize the thousands of handwritten letters, diaries and journals in the collection, scribbled with urgency and faded with time. It’s a task that would take, under normal circumstances, decades (if not longer) to complete. With closures lasting for the indeterminate future, the Museum received a Cares Act grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities for $125,000 to preserve jobs and continue this work, which will add thousands more pages to their online collections database, already available to explore.

Art Advertising in Spain is Going Green

The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao announced that it will start using a special coating called Pureti® Print to turn its outdoor advertising campaign materials into giant active air purifiers. The technology is based on the natural process of photocathalysis, which is the process that allows trees to convert impurities in the air into oxygen. According to a statement from the museum, “The present impact of these outdoor advertising campaigns could be equivalent to the air purifying effect of over 700 trees.” As institutions seek to extend their cultural influence, it’s comforting to see them take responsibility for their environmental impact, too. What happens next to those huge banners once the marketing push is over? They are recycled into purses, aprons, bags and more, to extend their life and bring a slice of art into our daily routines.

Folly Theater Jazzes Up Lobby with Thomas Hart Benton Mural Reprints

When we do return to arts venues, patrons of the Folly Theater will have a new reason to linger in the lobby, which is now adorned with art from Missouri-son Thomas Hart Benton. Two large-scale panels from Benton’s 1929 “America Today” murals, reprinted from the originals in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, depict leisure pursuits in a collage of city vignettes. “City Activities with Dancehall” and “City Activities with Subway” look like scenes pulled directly from the Pendergast Era. While other panels in the set feature agrarian scenes from the South, or workers and technology, these panels harken back to the Folly’s jazz age history, featuring characters boozing, kissing and dancing, along with acrobats, movie-goers, burlesque dancers and boxers, juxtaposed with missionary bands, prayerful sinners and delicate family scenes. — Libby Hanssen

CategoriesPerforming Visual
Libby Hanssen

Libby Hanssen covers the performing arts in Kansas City. She maintains the culture blog, “Proust Eats a Sandwich,” and writes poetry and children’s books. She holds a master’s degree in trombone performance from UMKC Conservatory and currently works at UMKC’s Music/Media Library.

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