Editor’s Letter, July/August 2022

KC Studio editor Alice Thorson, photo by Mark Berndt.

Kansas City’s creative energy never flags. Currently the field of documentary filmmaking has moved front and center, with new works by local producers racking up awards and screenings, thanks in part to the support of local institutions.

In June Kansas City PBS announced that three of its documentaries were honored at the 2022 Missouri Broadcasters Association (MBA) Awards. “Fade to Black,” produced by John G. McGrath and Brad Austin, took first place in the “Documentary/Public Affairs” category. Austin was recognized again with a Certificate of Merit for “All These Delicate Sorrows”; Michael Price’s “The Hidden Pandemic” also received a Certificate of Merit.

The Charlotte Street Foundation recently held a screening of a new documentary by another award-winning Kansas City filmmaker. Stinson McClendon’s “Fred and Rozellar Jamison,” tracing the history of an African American sharecropper’s family from the 1940s to the present, received support from the Reel Images Film & Video Group, a recipient of a 2022 Charlotte Street Foundation Cultural Producer Grant. (See page 18.)

Our current issue includes a report on Sandy Woodson’s “Womontown” documentary, the story of a short-lived but important settlement in Kansas City’s Longfellow Neighborhood. In the early ’90s, this area from 25th to 31st Street, bounded by Troost Avenue and Gillham Rd., became home and haven for a tight-knit community of lesbian and bisexual women.

Local history also informs the work of filmmakers Bob Hurst and Tosin Morohunfola. Hurst’s “Garden City, Kansas” documents a white supremacist plot in the small community that gives the film its title. (See page 56.) Domestic terrorism in the state of Kansas similarly inspired the plot of Morohunfola’s drama, “The Pulpit.” (Page 61.)

“KC Studio” is ever mindful that generous patrons are our lifeblood, enabling us not just to survive but thrive. Funding is one thing, but just as important is the vote of confidence in our endeavors represented by donations.

We are pleased to report that one of our major funders recently received some important professional recognition of her own.

A work by Kansas City ceramic artist Linda Lighton, whose Lighton Fund enables “KC Studio” to publish two online visual arts reviews every month, appears on the cover of the May/June issue of L.A.-based “Artillery” magazine. Inside is an article titled “Psycho Ceramics: Linda Lighton doesn’t care if you’re uncomfortable,” by “KC Studio” contributing writer Elisabeth Kirsch, part of the issue’s focus on art “Beyond L.A.”

Lighton’s cover artwork is her white porcelain gun mandala, “44 Magnum” (2011), which feels more topical than ever in light of recent mass shootings. See an image of the cover in our “Arts in Brief” section.

Lighton is the doyenne in the field of ceramic sculpture in KC, which is also rich in new talent. In the current issue, Dana Self explores the inventive organic abstractions of Sun Young Park, and Carmen Fanning previews the upcoming show at plug gallery by Jada Patterson, whose ceramic and beeswax church hats pay homage to the strength and style of Black women.

Also in this issue, we say good-bye to two beloved members of Kansas City’s visual arts community: Wilbur Niewald, an artist who painted what he saw, and Laura DeAngelis, whose sculptures were inspired by her inner vision. The city is fortunate to be able to continue to enjoy works by both artists in local museums and public collections.

Alice Thorson

Alice Thorson is the editor of KC Studio. She has written about the visual arts for numerous publications locally and nationally.

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