The culture scene is jumping in Kansas City this fall, as reflected in this issue’s previews and reviews of what’s up in classical music, theater, the visual arts and more. The season also marks an important literary event: the publication of veteran KC writer and editor Steve Paul’s “Hemingway at Eighteen: The Pivotal Year That Launched an American Legend.”
The book marks a culmination of Paul’s lifelong study of the eminent American writer, who got his start at “The Kansas City Star.”
The “pivotal year” of the title includes the 18-year-old Hemingway’s six and a half months at “The Star,” beginning in October 1917. It is a topic Paul understands intimately, having worked at the newspaper for more than four decades in various posts, but making his most indelible mark as the paper’s arts editor.
A deep love and respect for artists — Paul’s wife is the accomplished painter, Carol Zastoupil — has always formed part of Paul’s intellectual bedrock. He is a symphony enthusiast, jazz lover, photographer, art collector, a reviewer of books, architecture and art, including a review in the current issue of “KC Studio” of the Stuart Davis exhibition at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.
In fact, “KC Studio” would not be the publication it is today were it not for Paul and his contribution to Kansas City’s culture scene as a thinker, writer, editor, mentor and thoughtful colleague to me and many of the writers who now contribute to “KC Studio.” The magazine is in many ways a tribute to his years of hard work to make “The Star’s” Arts Section one of the biggest and best in the country before it was decimated by cutbacks in its staff of arts experts and changing priorities.
In short, Steve Paul provided “KC Studio” a model to emulate and a developed cadre of writers who continue to fulfill his high standards for covering “the performing, visual, cinematic and literary arts.”
He can also take a great deal of the credit for Kansas City’s rise in cultural awareness over the past quarter century and the concomitant outpouring of support for the arts that has transformed the city’s image in the eyes of the outside world and itself.
Paul never took a bow for the extraordinary arts coverage he presided over at “The Kansas City Star,” and that’s typical. In all those years, content came first — it was never about him.
But this fall, it is about him, and “KC Studio” is delighted to offer our readers one of the first reviews of “Hemingway at Eighteen,” by talented local writer and author Andrew Johnson (page 64). To learn more, don’t miss Paul’s Oct. 3 talk and book signing at 6 p.m. at the Kansas City Public Library Plaza Branch, his first stop on a national tour.