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Author Archives: Kellie Houx
Review by Kellie Houx
Musical Theater Heritage’s A Spectacular Christmas is a smorgasbord of sassy and sublime singers and storytellers, sentimental holiday favorites, straightforward and uncomplicated sets, which when all are rolled together produces a truly satisfying theater experience.
Musical Theater Heritage is a strong force in the theatrical and musical world here in Kansas City. I appreciate their approach to presenting musical theater. There are almost no set and limited costumes and props. The singers, for the most part, sing to the audience and the fourth wall gets very flimsy. Just for a quick refresher, the fourth wall is the imaginary boundary at the front of the stage in traditional theater through which the audience sees the action and the actors. It is that demarcation that separates the audience from the play. Another joy is how close the audience gets to be from the cast. There’s an intimacy that can be so appealing.
For the Christmas show this year, singers Lauren Braton, Bryan LaFave, Justin McCoy and Stefanie Wienecke led the program. Braton is a fan favorite. Vocally she has a range that moves from operatic to seemingly being the direct descendant of the voice of Patty Andrews of the Andrews Sisters. By the way, I truly believe she is as sweet and kind as she is lovely and talented.
McCoy is one of my favorites of recent months. I met him at the Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre’s rehearsal of Ragtime. I knew he was going to be a success. Here’s a handsome man who can play piano, organ and sing. He’s got this deep voice that fills the space and a charm that seals any little leaks. If I can make my predictions, McCoy will continue to develop his talents and be another strong force in town.
Wienecke and I have not met in person, but I am huge fan of her composing skills. She wrote some original music for the She & Her production of A Feminine Ending. She sent in a recording of the first minute of a piece and I was enamored. Hearing her sing just proved that Kansas City is blessed with people who can sing, act and play an instrument. Both she and McCoy got a chance to sit at the piano usually reserved for the wonderful Jeremy Watson, assistant music director. He does a mean version of The Nutcracker as a solo piano piece. It’s downright amazing.
LaFave is a new voice for me. However, I sure hope to hear more. He’s got that sort of cool, higher registered voice that is enchanting.By the way, LaFave was struck by a car on Dec. 10. He suffered serious leg and head injuries. He required surgery and by all accounts he is going to be just fine. However, in the true spirit of the theater, “the show must go on.” An understudy has stepped in. However, to help LaFave, donations are being accepted to help cover his expenses.
The other charmers came in the form of storytellers Marilyn Lynch and Richard Alan Nichols. I really enjoyed Lynch; she’s still that sort of feisty broad who tells just the right sort of naughty tales. (Of course there are no saucy tales here, but I am sure she could tell them.) Nichols, who is 79, told a lovely version of MTH founder George Harter’s 19 Cents Worth of Christmas. The other wonderful story came from Brendan Hulla who recited the story of The Bicycle of Julio Gonzalez. Maggie Marx, Willa Hope Walberg and Jordan Haas round out the youthful choir participants.
So sure, it’s a Christmas show and the Christmas songs are familiar such as What Child is This, Deck the Halls, White Christmas and Carol of the Bells, but as my father noted, the arrangements are different and a little bit unorthodox. As an example, Baby, It’s Cold Outside updates the gender roles. Of course, my favorite piece ends the show, We Are Not Alone, written by Pepper Choplin. This a cappella piece speaks to the heart and soul. It’s atypical for a Christmas show, but so moving. I dare anyone not to be singing this when they leave the show.
Subsequently go see the show. It’s a wonderful two-hour excursion from the creative mind of Artistic Director Sarah Crawford, Executive Producer Chad Gerlt and Executive Director George Harter. Performances are Thursday through Sunday, Dec. 12-15 and 19-22. The show times are 7 p.m. Thursdays; 8 p.m. Fridays; 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturdays; and 2 p.m. Sundays.
Toy and Miniature Museum Staff Prepare for Work to Become the National Museum of Toys and Miniatures
By Kellie Houx
In about three months, the Toy and Miniature Museum, nestled on the UMKC campus, will close and in about a year, sometime in early 2015, will reopen officially under the name of the National Museum of Toys and Miniatures.
The official announcement about the name change came in late October 2012 during the start of the museum’s 30th anniversary celebration. Within the turn of the calendar, more than $8.5 million has been raised of the needed $9.2 million for renovations and the timeline has been set.
The museum’s last official day will be Jan. 5, 2014. On Jan. 6, the museum closes for about a year as major renovations begin to the facility including the replacement of the HVAC system. Along with the improvements to an aging structure, the museum staff will also gain new exhibition spaces and more interactive displays.
Board Chairman Vincent Gauthier says the national search, the museum staff and board selected Oakland, California-based West Office Exhibition Design to create a master plan and craft new exhibitions for the museum. Steve Wiersema, principal, was in town for the announcement. “We are going to focus on visitor experiences and making them better. There will be engagement and new information. We are going to help move the museum from a collections museum to that national museum where people know the untold stories.”
The museum board has also hired the firm of Helix Architecture + Design to work with West Office Exhibition Design and McCown Gordon will manage the construction project. Gauthier says the University of Missouri-Kansas City has also been helpful in planning. The museum opened on October 20, 1982.
Museum Director Jamie Berry says the combined efforts of the board and staff with the help of benefactors and community philanthropists should make up the needed $700,000 before the end of the year. After the museum closes, the community can follow the renovation on the museum’s Facebook page or the new blog. Donations can be made right now, she says. “We want to keep the community engaged,” she says. “The steps we are taking put us on the pathway to becoming nationally accredited.” After the museum has closed, the community can follow the renovation on the museum’s Facebook page, facebook.com/toyandminiaturemuseum, and new blog, toyandminiaturemuseum.org/blog.
Gauthier hopes that when people are heading to the Plaza, they think of three museums to visit – The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art and The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures. “There is going to be real opportunity to see lots of improvements to this world-class museum. Personally, over the next decade, I also want to make the grounds more appealing.”
Before the doors close for about a year, there will be several opportunities to take a stroll through the museum.
Into the Night Sea
Saturday, November 16
6-9 p.m. | Free
Between waking and dreaming there lies a magical, haunting world. Into the Night Sea navigates the unsettling world of childhood nightmares through a series of short films combining visual art, photography, and dance with an accompanying soundtrack of re-imagined traditional lullabies. Don’t miss the family-friendly project’s free public screening and live performance at the museum. For more information about the project visit intothenightsea.wordpress.com.
Family Day: Optical Illusions
Friday, November 29
10 a.m.-4 p.m.
You won’t believe your eyes! Skip the long lines of Black Friday and bring the family to the museum to explore the magical world of Victorian optical illusion toys. Search for these toys throughout the museum to experience the fun and simple technologies that led to modern-day animation and film. Then, create your own spinning optical illusion toy and participate in the earliest form of cinema: a grand magic lantern show. Have fun and be mesmerized during this special family day! Included with the cost of admission.
Coleman Open House
Saturday, December 7
10 a.m.-4 p.m. | Talks at 11 a.m., 1:30 p.m., and 3 p.m.
Explore the museum’s largest dollhouse from the inside out at this special event! Once a year, museum educators open the doors to the nine-foot tall and seven-foot wide Coleman House for visitors to discover the treasures hidden inside. Find evidence of gas lighting and much more during three special talks. Included with the cost of admission.
Sunday, December 22
Hear stories of Christmases past from Father Christmas himself! Before passing along your wish list, assist professional storyteller Jim “Two Crows” Wallen as he tells interactive tales of the role of Santa Claus throughout American history. Included with the cost of admission.
Saturday, January 4
1-2 p.m. and 2:30-3 p.m.
Relax after the holiday hustle and bustle with a free concert at the museum. Simply Strings will fill the museum galleries with merry 19th century tunes played on a variety of stringed instruments. Included with the cost of admission.
Mid-America Arts Alliance’s story is part of a recent KCPT The Local Show. Here is the link to the YouTube clip.
American Royal Announces Events for 34th Annual World Series of Barbecue® Championship Weekend in Kansas City
Families, Foodies, and Fans of BBQ Invited to Experience World’s Largest Barbecue Contest Featuring More Than 500 BBQ Teams Competing to Win World Championship of BBQ
The American Royal Association, located in the Historic West Bottoms of Kansas City, is preparing to welcome more than 500 barbecue teams from around the world to the American Royal 34th Annual World Series of Barbecue® contest this Oct. 4-6. The annual event is presented by UMB. More than 20 acres in the heart of historic Kansas City are transformed into the world’s largest celebration of barbecue, featuring family-friendly events, cooking demonstrations from culinary experts, live music, interactive entertainment, and a Kids Korral with mutton busting, a petting zoo of exotic animals, and face painting. The three-day festival celebrates all things barbecue – from its rich history in Kansas City to the latest and greatest developments in grilling, smoking, and preparing championship quality barbecued meats.
The American Royal, which officially became the home of the Barbecue Hall of Fame last year, will host a special celebration ceremony on Saturday, Oct. 5, honoring the 2013 Barbecue Hall of Fame inductees for each of the three award achievement categories: Pitmaster, Business/Industry and Celebrity/Humanitarian. Information about the 2012 inductees and all previous inductees can be found at www.AmericanRoyal.com.
The World Series of Barbecue® is a “must attend” event for competitive pitmasters and backyard barbecue enthusiasts alike. The competition is intense – world-renowned pitmasters and top-ranked BBQ teams compete in regional contests throughout the year, and the American Royal is considered the season finale for teams in the competitive barbecue circuit. The Open Contest, presented by Joe’s Kansas City, consistently draws the largest number of contestants, which makes it the toughest contest to win in the world of competitive barbecue. The Invitational Contest, presented by KC Masterpiece, has become the most acclaimed contest each year because only teams earning a Grand Championship in other state and designated contests are allowed to compete.
In 2012, the Royal was able to give $1.4 million in scholarship and educational awards. In addition to its educational mission, the American Royal generates some $60 million of economic impact, $4.4 million in local tax revenues, and supports 450 jobs. The 2013 American Royal is presented by Bayer HealthCare Animal Health Division and includes many other events. For more information, visit www.AmericanRoyal.com or call (816) 221-9800.
There’s something almost magical as the calendar year rolls toward September and October. Opening seasons for performing arts groups across the metropolitan area are getting ready for opening season. Some artistic directors and spokespeople for various venues offer their thoughts about the opening show or the shows early on that might just stand out for the audience.
Olathe Civic Theatre Association
Company by Stephen Sondheim, book by George Furth
Directed by Jason Coats
Sept. 6-Sept. 8, Sept. 13-15, Sept. 20-22
The Olathe Civic Theatre Association, renamed from Olathe Community, kicks off its 40th season with Stephen Sondheim’s COMPANY.
Coats says, “COMPANY is considered by many to be the first ‘concept’ musical. That is, there is a concept, or idea, that drives the show forward, rather than a linear plot. Events occur out of ‘real time.’ In our version, these occur in the main character Bobby’s memory, as he tries to process the consequences of turning 35 and being single. These memories, and the commentary that surrounds them, push Bobby through his personal crisis. The music was first produced in 1970 and was very reflective of the time’s culture. When it was revived on Broadway in 1995, some revisions were made to make it feel more current. There is still controversy among some as to whether the themes of COMPANY are too unique to the 70s culture to be re-set, or are universal and can surpass time restrictions. OCTA’s production is set in the present, and subtle elements of the design help accomplish this without altering the show itself.”
And Coats wants people to hear a jazz club with the sounds similar to Vince Guraldi Trio. “The orchestrations are going to lean this way for this show,” he says.
Venus in Fur
To kick off the 40th season at the Unicorn, Director Cynthia Levin takes the 2012 Tony-nominated play and puts it on the Jerome Stage as the season opener. Actors Vanessa Severo and Rusty Sneary play the actress and playwright who take an audition to a whole new level.
“I will continue the mission to find the best, most interesting and most provocative plays. The trick is to grab them when I find them. First and foremost, I fall in love with the plays and then I go about getting the rights. With Venus in Fur, it was one of the first plays I got for the 2013-2014 season and I always like the opening show to be provocative. It’s not the typical Broadway show, but when I saw it, 15 minutes in, I knew I had to do the play. Two-character plays are interesting and for these two characters, you have an actress who seems to be ill-prepared for an audition, but slowly through the play, this seemingly powerless woman shows how to use sex and power. It’s shifting roles and male and female relationships and as things get brought up, they are a surprise to the audience and to the characters.”
Levin knew she had to have two actors who trust each other and her. “I have worked with Vanessa and Rusty worked several times so I wanted to dive right in. … I have been doing this for 35 years because of what we get to learn about behaviors and situations. The journey is so exciting with this play. It’s not a safe and easy play, but it’s the perfect Unicorn Theatre show.”
City in Motion
Dance in the Park
Artistic Co-Director Andrea Skowronek says City in Motion’s professional company has started its season with the Dance in the Park. “We are co-producers with five neighborhood associations – Volker, Roanoke, Valentine, Coleman Highlands, and West Plaza. The show in Roanoke Park marks our 15th anniversary. It’s really special because we have gotten to know the great people of the neighborhoods and because it is a free program.”
The dance program brings in different ethnic groups to offer up their cultural dances, Skowronek says. “In the past, we have had West African dance, Flamenco and Indian. We also had an aerial group, the Moon Drop Circus. It’s a way for local groups to get exposure.” The average attendance is about 1,000 people. “Some people may not be able to afford a dance performance, but with the wide variety of dance, we can inspire people, perhaps even inspire them to take a dance class. It’s a feel-good event to see all these people in the community enjoying the performance.” The children’s dance theater also performs, she says.
The Pinnacle Award winners for this year are five diverse people from five distinct walks of life. What do they have in common? The singular desire is to do good in the community, to fill a void where needed and provide enrichment in many ways. The Pinnacle Award was launched by the Johnson County Library Foundation in 2002 to recognize excellence in the arts, and has since grown to include advocacy and public engagement, business and entrepreneurship, and literacy and education. Each year, the Library Foundation honors community leaders who demonstrate excellence in these four areas. The presenting sponsor is Hen House.
Lynne Brown, who serves on the Johnson County Library Foundation Board, leads the Pinnacle Awards as the committee chairwoman. She says the foundation seeks to recognize the individuals whose work mirrors many of the foundation board objectives. “The types of programs offered at the library are substantial and libraries make communities stronger by bringing so many assets together under one roof. Libraries are connectors to ideas and the broader communities. The honorees represent a similar drive that makes our community a great place. They are unsung heroes who don’t often get the spotlight.” The event is Oct. 17.
For Kim Bowen Harbur, the award for community advocacy is appropriate. In 1996, Kim and Nate Harbur learned that their infant son, Luke, needed a life-saving liver transplant. When an Olathe family, the Drakes, lost their 8-year-old son Aaron, the decision to donate his organs gave life to Luke. “No one had talked to us about organ donations. Our son was 8 weeks old when his diagnosis came. Luke received Aaron’s liver. We knew we needed to help educate others and two years later, we founded Gift of Life to build awareness.” As director of education, Harbur developed the Life Savers high school program for students to learn about organ and tissue donation. Life Savers reached 25,000 last year with the message. She has made more than 550 presentations. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to get Gift of Life’s name out into the public even more with this presentation,” she says.
As for the future, expanding current programs are very real possibilities, Harbur says. Life Mentors are volunteer transplant recipients and their family members who offer encouragement and support to those waiting for a life-saving transplant, new transplant recipients or living donors. “They walk the journey together,” she says. “We get calls from all over the nation and there is interest in Wisconsin and California. Our board is trying to decide where to go.” The Life Savers program has been in 90 high schools in the metropolitan area, but there are 30 more yet to reach, she says. “I just want to save lives.”
For the first time in the award history, the community advocacy award is being shared with Dr. Harold Frye, founder of Music 4 Jeremy’s Cherubs. “I completely echo the worth of this recognition. However, the goal is to make sure the work and the mission are even more effective.” Similar to Harbur, Frye dealt with his son’s illness, but the promising band conductor succumbed to a brain tumor the same month he graduated from college. As we stood in the hospital, family members commented that Jeremy was probably was already teaching the cherubs how to sing and play instruments. That grieving process was aided by the charity’s creation,” he says. “My heart continues to lead me and we find instruments for schools that have definitive needs.”
The Foundation collects, restores and distributes musical instruments to children in need. To date, more than 750 instruments now have new life. M4JC provided enough instruments to begin music programs at Banneker Charter, Hogan Prep, Cristo Rey High School, Tolbert Academy, and Allen Village Charter, all in the urban core. Many have been donated to individual students in need in Johnson, Wyandotte, and Jackson counties. In addition to these, M4JC sent more than 100 guitars to deployed soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan and, most importantly, to traumatically injured soldiers at Walter Reed and other medical facilities. M4JC awarded 22 scholarships to college music students and future music educators.
Emily Berhmann, the general manager at the JCCC Performing Arts Series, calls the Pinnacle Award “a gratifying honor.” However, it is her passion for the performing arts that keeps her moving forward each day. After receiving a Bachelor’s degree in Music with an emphasis in Voice from the UMKC’s Conservatory of Music, Behrmann began her work in arts administration. Over the past 20 years, she has held positions with the Lyric Opera of Kansas City, the Kansas City Symphony, and the Performing Arts Series at Johnson County Community College.
After 14 years in the Foundation Office at Johnson County Community College, where she was involved in the capital campaign to raise $20 million for the construction of JCCC’s Regnier Center and the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, she returned to her first love – the performing arts. As General Manager of the Performing Arts Series, she is responsible for booking artists, marketing events, and raising money. “It’s a gift – no two days are alike. Personally, I want to use the performing arts to make an impact on the entire community, by presenting quality artists, championing arts education and collaborating with the many talented organizations and individuals in the Greater Kansas City arts community. We have gained new audiences and the people are making return visits. I would like to see this energy continue.” She also wants to see even more K-12 educational outreach. “Kids introduced to the arts often want to continue exploring that art world.”
Larry Louk, founding principal of Selective Site Consultants, a leading provider of services to the telecommunications, development, and construction industries, has guided the firm since its inception in 1997. Upon starting SSC, he and his three partners had a vision: build on their joint experience in the wireless communication industry, provide great client- focused service, aggressively seek opportunities for expansion and diversification, and re-invest in the people who helped make it happen. Within three years SSC grew to more than 110 employees with a second office in St. Louis, Mo. Today, the firm employs more than 110 people in six key markets throughout the Central United States. “We were asked to form our own company,” he says. “I guess we fell into it. The growth is steady and I expect we double in size during the next few years.”
As a grateful heart patient who experienced his first heart problems at 37 years old, in 2009, Louk and his wife JoLinda Vega founded Golfology Fore Cardiology, a premier golf event to raise money for the cardiac rehabilitation program at the University of Kansas Hospital Center for Advanced Heart Care. After just four years, this tournament has contributed more than $180,000 to the hospital. Ironically he learned about the Pinnacle honor while golfing. “It’s a great recognition.” Additionally, in order to expand the reach of his fundraising efforts, in 2012, he joined forces with long-time friend, Shirley Allenbrand, to form The Larry and Shirley Fund.
Children’s author and illustrator Shane Evans receives accolades for his work in education and literacy. Evans is a multi-talented artist and visionary who combines his world travels with his art to influence others’ creativity. His illustrations can be found in such books as Shaq and the Beanstalk, Bintou’s Braids and Down the Winding Road. He has been honored by First Lady Laura Bush at the 2002 National Book Festival. He also received the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Award for The Way a Door Closes. His travels to Africa, South America, Asia, Europe, the Caribbean and throughout the United States are often attached to education. He shares his gifts with all ages, cultures, ethnic groups and backgrounds, often with his book, Olu’s Dream or the book he illustrated with his best friend, actor Taye Diggs, Chocolate Me!
“When I receive an award, it always means that someone connects with something I do,” Evans says. “It’s also that stamp of approval, that reflection of the things that I have been doing is right. I am honored, but I am also inspired to keep growing. With an acknowledgement like this, it challenges me to be even better and more responsive to the next step in journey.” He is working on illustrations for 28 Days with author Charles Smith and The Red Pencil with Andrea Davis Pinkney.
For information about the Pinnacle Awards, including sponsorship and ticket information got to: www.jocolibraryfoundation.org
The Kansas City metropolitan area is full of art. That’s a pretty cut-and-dry statement, but what about the where and when? Sure, the Plaza Art Fair runs Sept. 20-22 and the Unplaza Art Fair is Sept. 21-22. The Westport Art Fair, designed exclusively for Kansas City artists, is Sept. 6-8. Here are a few dates and events that might be worth checking out.
Brush Creek Art Walk
The Brush Creek Art Walk’s goal is simple, “to help unify the artists and the people.” Unlike the Plaza Art Fair and Westport, this is a chance to see the artists, whether performing or visual artists, creating their art from start to finish,” says painter and co-program chair Greg Summers. “The city wanted a way to get people to find out more about the new Brush Creek Streamway that they had been working on since the flood during the early 1990s. Splitting the four miles into four different zones that the artists painted in helps in our own little way to get people east beyond the Country Club Plaza. And for those who can’t get there along the streams to see the artists paint, you can always learn about the area through the eyes of those artists when the work goes to the Bruce R Watkins Cultural Center for exhibition and sale.” The other co-chair is Anne Garney.
The art walk is Sept. 13-15. Plein-Air painters will have three days to complete paintings on-site along the creek. Music is planned for Sept. 15 at Theis Park amphitheater. Some of the line-up includes Barclay Martin & Rick Willoughby, Marking Music, Az One, She’s a Keeper and Expassionates.
Artists will enter their finished paintings for a chance to show in the gallery at Bruce R. Watkins on Oct. 3. The art opening is from 5-8 p.m. The exhibition is juried and the art will be for sale. The paintings will remain on display for three weeks until Oct. 24. The gallery, located at 3700 Blue Parkway, is open to the public: Tuesday – Saturday 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
RAW: Kansas City presents TRANSLATIONS
On Sept. 26 at the VooDoo Lounge at Harrah’s Casino, artists who work in fashion, music, film, performance, photography and hair & makeup gather together for a RAW event. RAW: natural born artists is an independent arts organization, for artists, by artists. The mission is to provide independent artists within the first 10 years of their career with tools, resources and exposure needed to inspire and cultivate creativity. As of the end of July, artists committed to the event include fashion designers, hairstylists and visual artists.
RAW currently operates in nearly 60 cities across the United States, Australia, Canada and London, England. Brie Henderson, a local actress and model, is currently serving as emcee for the year’s productions. “It’s important to support RAW as a community because it is a unique opportunity for a select few artists to showcase and sell their work to a wide variety of people who may not have seen it otherwise. The shows themselves are hybrids, part art show, part concert, and part party, to be honest. The public gets a chance to experience local art and talk with the people who created it, which I also think is a very special thing. I hope that Kansas City’s RAW community continues to expand and reach as many artists and art lovers as possible,” Henderson says.
Photographer Robert Hoops, who has participated in past RAW events, explains the benefits. “I’ve met models, designers, other visual artists and more and we stay connected to help each other out with our own various projects.
Bringing in other creative friends and giving them a chance to network and show off their work to the public has been great too. At the last event, four of the other featured artists were some of my best friends. And thirdly, it makes you create work. You go in to a show a few weeks out thinking ‘All my stuff is old, it’s been seen already!’ so it makes you create new work. I think I value that the most.”
Jewish Arts Festival & Events
Jill Maidhof, the director of Jewish Life & Learning, calls the Jewish Community Center a cultural powerhouse, offering some of the most vibrant and varied arts experiences in the metropolitan area. Here’s a small sampling of fall events. Victoria Tzykun, a well-known set designer for opera companies all over the world and art direction for Lady Gaga’s ABC Thanksgiving Special, is coming to town to be the scenic and costume designer for The Kansas City Lyric Opera’s presentation of The Capulets and the Montagues, based on a Renaissance legend (rather than Shakespeare’s play) about the tragic consequences of a bitter and longstanding political feud. The opera strikes a personal chord with this highly accomplished artist, who gained a powerful understanding of conflict and the human condition during her youth in the unstable and often violent Middle East. At 7 p.m., Sept. 11, she will share a stage at the Jewish Community Center with Deborah Sandler, CEO and General Director of the Lyric Opera.
There’s the Community Arts Fellows Program, where in early 2013, eight prominent artists gathered at the JCC to explore Jewish sources on the subject of rebellion. The group, recruited in partnership with the InterUrban Art House, included a poet/muralist, painters, choreographers/ dancers and installation artists from widely diverse backgrounds. For months, they learned from visiting scholars and artists about art as a form of defiance during the Holocaust, the current feminist movement among observant Jews, spiritual revolt, and Jewish values related to armed conflict. The community is invited to engage with their stunning and often disturbing works from 3-5 p.m., Sept. 29 at the Jewish Community Center.
All these events lead up to the Jewish Arts Festival. The one-day festival, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Oct. 6, comes around every three years and usually brings in 5,000 to 7,000 in attendance, Maidhof says. ARTicipation, a program of the Epsten Gallery is hosting a sukkah or booth created by three canvas walls waiting to be painted by anyone who’s at least 8 years old.
For seasoned patrons, the festival will, in a separate pavilion, offer the general and Judaic works of a small number of nationally and internationally acclaimed artists including Israeli David Sharir, silver master Robyn Nichols, Mordechai Rosenstein, Yoshinori Hagiwara and, for auction, a piece by potter Ken Ferguson.
“We also will offer some food demonstrations similar to an Iron Chef competition,” she says. “It’s going to be a great way to start folks thinking about the 2014 anniversary of the center. The Jewish Community Center opened in 1914 in midtown Kansas City. Look at how we have grown! What we recognize at the Jewish Community Center is that the cultural arts can provide powerful tethers to our traditions while allowing us to share that vitality.”
Bill Shapiro, host of Cyprus Avenue, often shares discoveries and treasures from the world of rock. While new music or the latest cool musician may be on tap for the Public Radio show, Shapiro also relies on the trusted sound of musicians whose presence and sometimes their legacy is long and steady.
Here are his top 10 albums:
1. Elvis Presley, Sun Sessions
2. Beatles, Revolver
3. Bob Dylan, Highway 61 Revisited
4. Marvin Gaye, What’s Going On
5. Van Morrison, Astral Weeks
6. Ray Charles, Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music
7. Frank Sinatra, Only the Lonely
8. Bruce Springsteen, Born to Run
9. Aretha Franklin, I Never Loved a Man The Way I Love You
10. Bob Marley, Legend
Best concert: The best concert Shapiro ever saw took place at Memorial Hall in Kansas City, Kan. on a Sunday night in 1976. He saw Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run tour. “It was not even sold out. He came on about five or six minutes after 8 p.m. and left five or six minutes before midnight. It was the essence of the heart of Rock and Roll.”
By Kellie Houx
It’s always surprising that the quiet and often simple things in life can be so impactful. Chalk is a porous sedimentary form of limestone. For school chalk, it’s usually the mineral gypsum and then there’s sidewalk chalk which is often pressed into larger and more colorful sticks.
Many a driveway and sidewalk has been decorated with rainbows, fairy tale kingdoms, jungles and other imaginative destinations and creatures. There’s something so comforting to see a child return to his imagination, his own senses and to truly look at the world around him. And the Kansas City Chalk and Walk Festival will do just that on the weekend of Sept. 7 and 8 at Crown Center.
Turn off those cell phones and slide the to-do lists away. Why not try a little creativity? The festival has a significant section set aside for children and families. Each child will be provided a bucket of chalk at no charge. This area is called Children’s Creative Corridor.
For Executive Director Lotti Halpern, the festival fulfills so many needs in the community. First, there is collaboration. For her, it’s the chance to pull seemingly divergent organizations together to help keep the event free and fun. She has several businesses pulling for her and sponsoring artist stone canvases.
Then she brings in groups such as Jumpstart-Kansas City. Many of the volunteers are University of Missouri-Kansas City students who help with the children’s corridor. Jumpstart’s mission is to have every child in America enter school prepared to succeed. To this end, Jumpstart trains and supports college students to serve as part-time Corps members, working individually with young children to build skills crucial to school success through fostering their early language, literacy, social and initiative skills; encouraging strong family involvement to help families support children’s learning; and training college students to be future teachers and leaders in early childhood education.
Artist and teacher Jenny Mendez has come in to share Mattie Rhodes’ arts programming. She also helps out, Halpern says. There’s also a hope to bring in some students to talk about science and math such as the creation of chalk or the mathematics within the grid used to create a sidewalk masterpiece.
“So many schools have limited art and I want to give them a chance to see adult artists and others involved in the arts with the festival,” she says. “We also take our programs into area shelters and into schools without art programs. We want children to find inspiration. Sometimes the adult artist talks about his or her challenges as a child and teen.” Halpern says artists have even provided demonstrations at other events and corporate settings to encourage adults too.
Even some of the younger artists who have participated in the past are interspersed with the older artists. “We have had teenagers in the mix,” she says. Watch artists – student, amateur and professional – create a full-fledged work of art on the sidewalk near Crown Center. Some are comfortable on their knees while others have more inventive ways to roll around such as skateboard and lounge chairs.
Visitors can casually stroll through the event and watch the artists as they create their classical and modern paintings. Artists submit sketches so Halpern knows where to place them. This year’s theme is Around the World while the Originals and the Masters remain. Halpern says so many artists live a sort of insulated life, producing their art, but putting them front and center at the festival gives them a chance to share what they do.
Never fear, last year, at the fifth annual event last year, there were more than 120 artists and assistants to chat with and ask questions. Some of the chalk creations are done by families or several generations working together. Halpern hopes to have as many participants, if not more.
The mission of the Kansas City Chalk and Walk Festival is to engage with all members of the community regardless of social or economic status using art as a means of education, expression and “common ground.” “It’s camaraderie with chalk,” Halpern says.
Sometimes, as parents, the search for schools and organizations for children can be time consuming. While this list is not comprehensive to all the many hundreds of organizations in the metropolitan community that touch children and the arts, it is a good place to start.
TODDLERS AND PRESCHOOL
Kindermusik programs through http://www.act1kc.com
These programs can be found all over the metropolitan area. Kindermusik with Joy covers Overland Park, south Kansas City and around the University of Missouri-Kansas City campus. Karen Anderson offers the Kindermusik program through ACT One, the Academy of Christian Theatre. Kindermusik offers developmentally-specific educational programs for children from newborn to 7 years of age, plus some family classes. According to the program, “music is the best vehicle for early childhood development and learning.”
PAINTING & DRAWING
Wet Canvas, LLC is the parent company for ARTichokes. The Wet Canvas website is the online store for products designed to encourage creativity in people of all ages. Two sisters, Laurie Barling and Rebecca Pashia, are the owners of both companies. Rebecca Pashia is an interior designer, professional artist and teacher. In January, 2013, ARTichokes changed to a mobile concept, bringing their creative activities into the community. In addition to group painting parties and private art classes, there is Scribble Shop.
With school budget cuts being the norm these days, maintaining the arts in education has long been a passion of Becky’s. For this reason, the sisters offer teacher’s Guides, written by Kristin Erickson, a kindergarten teacher and a reading specialist in Kansas.
Kansas City Art Institute
At both locations, the central on the main campus and the Northland campus, the School for Continuing and Professional Studies offers art and design classes for ages 6 through adult as well as programs for high school students, art educators and professionals. The ear-round KCAI offers programs to foster youth art development and creativity for those 6 to 14 years old. We focus our classes on skill development and fun. During the summer we offer week-long summer camps in a wide spectrum of arts ranging from computer animation to photography to drawing.
Mattie Rhodes Art Center
Mattie Rhodes Center believes that the arts are a basic and integral part of every person’s education and growth. Our goal is to educate the community about Latino culture and traditions through the visual arts. The Mattie Rhodes Art Center and Art Gallery offer a wide range of creative programs and opportunities for children and adults, including: visual art classes, camps, art exhibits, and other cultural heritage events.
There is also an after-school art program for elementary school students.
Primary Colors Gallery
The gallery offers art classes in media such as watercolor, acrylics, oils, soft pastels, oil pastels, graphite and colored pencil. Subjects can be varied including portrait, landscape, still life, animals and non-objective, while the style may be realism, impressionist, cubism, abstract, pop art and collage.
DANCE, THEATER & VOICE
Act One, Academy of Christian Theatre
ACT One Christian theater ministry offers instruction in dance, drama, music and related areas. Classes and training offered in these areas focus on excellence in performance “while building relationship with the Lord and others. Christ is the foundation of the program with compassion, cooperation, commitment and character as the four pillars of integrity.”
Christian Youth Theatre, Kansas City
CYT is an after-school theater arts program for children ages 4-18. We offer three sessions of classes each year beginning in August, November, and February. Each session lasts 9-10 weeks and classes are held for 1 hour and 45 minutes, once per week. Professionals, dedicated to building confidence and self-esteem in students, teach all classes. Classes include: drama, voice, dance, and specialty theater classes. The youngest class is called Our Gang for ages 4-7. Each class performs a showcase at the end of the session to show family and friends all that they have accomplished.
Culture House Arts Academy
Cultural House is an arts organization that specializes in dance, theater and music. The vision includes influencing communities and educating youth in the performing arts and striving to support professional artists in a community of excellence while modeling a healthy perspective on life and the arts. The school offers a complete curriculum of classes for all ages in ballet, modern, jazz, tap, and hip hop, plus theater and music.
Ibsen Dance Theatre
The school of dance, drama and voice opened in 1983 by Susie and Van Ibsen. The school teaches dance, theater and voice training. The Ibsens founded Gladstone Theatre in the Park and started the Northland’s original Nutcracker Ballet. The school, like many, stays busy all year long with summer dance intensives and other classes.
Jewish Community Center
Encore! School of the Arts includes classes for dancing and singing. Classes are available for preschool, beginners, intermediate, and advanced students in a wide range of performing arts skills such as creative movement/ballet basics, ballet/tap combo, tumbling, cheerleading/pom and jazz/hip hop. The center also offers after kindergarten care which includes arts and crafts and other enrichment. There is also after-school care for those in first grade to sixth.
Miller-Marley School of Dance & Voice
Miller Marley’s instructors are among the most sought after choreographers by professional and community theater companies in the city. They train six performance groups comprised of students from 6 years old through high school. They often perform Broadway-style musical revues. There is also the youth ballet company and the competition team. Voice lessons are also offered.
Music Theatre for Young People
Music Theatre for Young People works with students in grades 2 through 12. MTYP provides young people who have a passion for musical theater an opportunity to grow through unique one-week performance experiences. Each show is auditioned, cast, rehearsed and performed in 7 days. Students who participate in Music Theatre for Young People learn from professionally trained vocal, dance and acting coaches to create a truly professional Broadway experience.
Ballet North is the only specialty ballet company and school in the Northland region of Kansas City, with ballet classes available from ages 3 and up, as well as comprehensive professional training. The school performs many full-length ballets.
Heidi’s Dance Center
Heidi’s Dance Center serves students two years of age through adult. This is the Studio’s 25th year, although Heidi has been teaching for more than 30 years. Heidi’s students have numerous accomplishments including state, regional, national and world championships in various styles of dance and baton twirling.
Kansas City Ballet
Ballet school classes run year round. The Kansas City Ballet School (KCBS) offers classes for children, men and women of all levels of experience. In addition the Academy courses are aimed at aspiring dancers, plus the KCBS offers a wide selection of studio classes. These dance classes are an ideal way to get fit and have fun.
Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey
Free and low cost programs in KCFAA’s studio space are designed to introduce students in the second through sixth grades to the joy of dancing. The program for students in the second to fourth-grade program, which meets once a week, includes elements of classical ballet, modern, jazz, social and African dance. The fifth and sixth grade program, meeting twice a week, looks at ballet, jazz, nutrition and fitness. Both programs run from September through May. Classes are held in KCFAA’s Studio at 1714 East 18th St., Kansas City, Mo.
Pulse Performing Arts Center
The Pulse is a full-service dance studio that provides classes for ages 3 to Adult for those students who wish to take class recreationally for fun, for those who wish to pursue professional careers in the arts, as well as for those students interested in competing and performing regionally and nationally at talent competitions. The regular session runs from September through May. Class choices include Pre-K Combo which emphasizes basic ballet and tap movement, memory, musicality, listening and following directions. The K/1st Combos progress with fundamentals in tap and ballet. The Jazz/Hip Hop Combo for 5-6 year olds is a high energy, fun intro to jazz and hip hop movement. The skills children learn enhance coordination, listening, and self-discovery.
United Dance is owned and directed by Vickie Zachary. Ms. Vickie, as she is affectionately known by her students, opened United Fitness and Dance 24 years ago to serve the expressive minds and bodies of Kansas City. Since that time, the name has changed to United Dance, but the philosophy of the studio is the same: Learn to Dance, Love to Dance. The classes are designed for those ages 3 to 21.
The John Wornall House offers field trips for schools and scouting troops. A visit to the museum is the perfect way to enhance curriculum or help scouts earn badges on Missouri history, Civil War history and the Border Wars, women’s history, slavery, and more. Knowledgeable docents help students get a firsthand look at life in the 1850s. Activities and presentations might include making corn husk dolls, churning butter, candle dipping, making hard tack, spinning wool with a drop spindle, making ink with berries, growing up in the 1850s, open hearth cooking demonstrations or visits with historical figures such as Harriett Tubman or Civil War soldiers.
Coterie classes offer exploration from elementary to master actors. As an example, the Coterie Acts, is a chance to learn about theater and acting from local theater professionals. Skills include acting to be onstage or for those who want to have fun. Students in kindergarten through high school will be challenged to stretch their imaginations and flex their acting muscles in age appropriate theater activities specially developed for each class. The creativity cultivated in drama classrooms is carried through every aspect of life and into adulthood, building students into great thinkers, says Education Director Amanda Kibler.
Heart of America Shakespeare
The mission of the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival is make Shakespeare’s works accessible to a diverse audience through free professional theater and educational programs. Education comes year-round, not only with Camp Shakespeare, but with the Shakespeare Studio, workshops, performances and residencies through the city.
Theatre of the Imagination
Founded in 1998 by Miles McMahon, the programs encourage creativity, build self-esteem and improve communication skills. While there are summer camps, during the school year, there is Play in a Day where shows designed around an array of topics such as bullying, friendship, sharing, conflict resolution, and more. Most are appropriate for ages 4 and up.
Theatre for Young America
For 37 years, Theatre for Young America has offered drama classes on its stage and at schools and community centers in the metropolitan area. Students also work on their personal voice, imagination, and body movement skills. TYA Drama Workshops increase the group’s ability to communicate and work together.
CHEERLEADING, DANCE & GYMNASTICS
Creative Arts Academy
The academy offers gymnastics, dance and a preschool. The school offers traditional tap, ballet, jazz, hip hop, and pom-pom work.
The school offers a wide variety of recreational gymnastics, tumbling, trampoline and parkour classes to fit many skill levels. Participants can find age-appropriate activities from 12 months to 18 years old.
Boys and girls gymnastics is an excellent sport to improve balance, coordination, strength and flexibility. It teaches self-discipline and total body awareness that will carry over to numerous aspects of your child’s life. We offer gymnastics for youths of all ages, both recreational and competitive.
TOTAL ARTS CURRICULA
Kansas City Young Audiences
The mission of Kansas City Young Audiences is to engage all youth in the arts, promote creativity, and inspire success in education. The programs also encourage critical thinking and problem solving. Founded in 1961, KCYA’s original mission was to bring classical music programs to area school children. Since that time, KCYA has expanded to deliver programs in all arts disciplines including music, dance, theatre, creative writing and visual arts through partnerships with professional Teaching Artists and Arts Partners. KCYA helps schools provide arts programs to their students and operates the Community School of the Arts which provides children the opportunity to further explore their own artistic and creative abilities beyond the regular school day.
Lawrence Arts Center
The Arts-Based Preschool is for children ages 3-5 and provides social, motor, and creative experiences that excite love for learning. Music, sculpture, painting, drawing, and creative movement are integral parts of this exciting program. Through rich and varied experiences with the arts in combination with a sound preschool education, children grow in both self-esteem and intellectual ability. The Lawrence Arts Center Arts-Based Preschool curriculum allows students the opportunity to work with professional artists, actors, dancers, and musicians; attend performances; and create in the ceramics studio. There are also schools of dance, plus theater, film and music. Kindergarten through senior in high school The Lawrence Arts Center’s visual arts education program features a variety of day and evening art classes for children and adults. Courses are offered in drawing, painting, ceramics, textiles, papermaking, mixed media, photography, creative writing, poetry, stained glass, mosaics, and jewelry.
Trilogy Cultural Arts
Trilogy Cultural Arts Centre seeks to provide excellence in a nurturing arts training environment where the artist and family can flourish in community, creativity and integrity. The classes available include acting, improvisation, musical theater, ballet, musical theater jazz, showbiz tap and stunts and combat. There’s also a youth choir, plus private and group lessons in piano, guitar, bass and voice. And related to the world of theater and film, there is also costume design and construction.
Heartland Chamber Music Academy
The Heartland Music Academy inspires young musicians through the study and performance of chamber music within a community of nationally recognized artists serving as mentors. The program includes a summer festival and offers programs for beginners, students and elite ensembles. There are also programs that run during the school year and lessons.
Serving Kansas and Missouri for 42 years, music education is the backbone of Meyer music. A Staff of teachers at all three locations offer lessons in many instruments:piano, bari sax, French horn, acoustic guitar, clarinet, tenor sax, percussion, flute, bass clarinet, trombone, electric guitar, piccolo, alto sax, bass guitar, oboe, bassoon, trumpet, tuba, voice, violin, viola and cello.
Music House School of Music
Music House is more than just a place to take music lessons. Professional musicians and educators committed to offering something better than the traditional, isolated approach to teaching music. Students — backed by a team of teachers and administrators who work together — play together, perform on stage, and become part of something bigger. They experience not only the practice, but the payoff. There are group classes for piano and guitar, plus private lessons. Concerts and jam sessions are also part of the school.
School of Rock
Through a performance-based approach to music lessons, School of Rock students are more inspired to learn, more motivated to excel and more confident as a result, according to instructors. Lessons include guitar, bass guitar, keyboards, drums and vocals in an interactive environment.
Musicians Ahafia Jurkiewicz-Miles and Molly Frank are two of the dedicated students who are participants with the Heartland Chamber Music Academy. Both have spent time with the year-long program as well as the summer festival. They will continue this year to be part of the summer fun.
Ahafia plays piano, violin and viola while Molly primarily plans piano, but also plays cello for various chamber events. Both are homeschooled students and have been part of the Academy for about five years. Ahafia just completed her high school sophomore year and Molly just graduated and will be heading to Loyola University in Chicago.
“It’s special to work on chamber music,” Molly says. “I have worked on piano trios with my siblings. Music pulled us closer to each other. We have improved how we interact with others and an attention to detail. The same can be said with the Academy. You learn to lead and to follow. I actually had someone once say that because we didn’t participate in sports, we would not understand team work. Being in chamber music is the ultimate team.”
Ahafia believes chamber music is not often part of a school program. For the students who participate in the Heartland Chamber Music Academy, the benefits include exposure to chamber pieces and instruction from quality teachers. “We are in a safe and comfortable environment which helps us move toward perfection. The camp just extends that. I have attended every camp every year it has been offered. For 9 days, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., you become a better performer. There is also a sense of community.”
Empowerment comes as well, Molly says, and beauty. “That’s what music has given me. That beauty comes from exposure and experience. Every person needs it, just like food, water or air. And that beauty can come from any organization. It’s not only for the people making the art, but for those in the audience too. You gain an appreciation. The purpose of music is to give it away. That’s why we also go into the schools during the school year is important. It’s outreach.” The other skills move into other arts such as theater. Molly will also be part of Culture House’s production of Les Miserables. She’s playing Fantine.
For Ahafia, music and performing gives her a chance to take her personal skills and musical loves and work with toward a common goal with others. Ahafia appreciates those skills with the apprentice group, Team Shakespeare, as part of the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival.
They have also been pushed as musicians because Stringendo, the school-touring group participating in Hall Pass concerts, needed another viola so Ahafia stepped up and Molly played harpsichord. The other premiere group is the Camerata Chamber Orchestra. Molly has played with this group, which does not have a conductor. Rather the musicians use their advanced listening skills.
Two teachers, David Kovac and Vicki Olson, are diligent when it comes to auditions and uniting students into their respective groups. The summer festival runs about 130 students, faculty and staff. This year includes the Festival Scholars program which takes 12 gifted musicians and ramps up the intensity. They will have their own performance and be featured on Kansas Public Radio. Olson says most participants come from the area, but 20 percent are from out of state and out of the country.
There’s also the Junior Festival that runs for six days. “A beginning ensemble deserves the applause and the praise. They need to see that what they are playing matters,” Molly says. Ahafia agrees. “That applause makes you feel confident,” she says.
All the concerts are in Yardley Hall at the Johnson County Community College. Olson says the partnership offers participants a chance to perform on a top-notch stage. Kovac says the students perform for 400 to 500 people. “They gain such confidence and they are finding teaching quality similar to Tanglewood or Aspen.” Olson says the program is similar to the Boston University Tanglewood Institute, the Aspen Music Festival and School and even Interlochen Arts Camp. “We have the resources and the faculty. We don’t have to farm out our students. We can build our own sense of community here.”
This summer, Molly plans on working with students and coaching. “I have seen what good teachers can offer and I want to provide the same.” Ahafia teaches a young piano student. “It’s empowering when you are appreciated.” The youngest players, especially those with more novice skills, participate in Overture, which starts the exposure to chamber music. “We keep growing and offering more opportunities to hear and be part of chamber music. The future looks and sounds bright,” Olson says.
The festival runs July 26 to Aug. 3. The student concerts are Junior Festival, 7 p.m., Aug. 1; Festival Scholars, 7 p.m., Aug. 2; and two student concerts, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Aug. 3. All the concerts will be in Yardley Hall at Johnson County Community College.