Editor’s Letter, September/October 2018

KC Studio editor Alice Thorson, photo by Mark Berndt.

Sorry to swamp you.

But … as the September/October issue of “KC Studio” attests, Kansas City’s culture scene is robust. The fall season is one of non-stop events by a multitude of presenters across the metro, and, as seen in our illustrated calendar of fall highlights, the mix is rich, balancing sophisticated selections of top performers from around the world with works by talented artists based in Kansas City.

Our features section includes in-depth coverage of many of them, including tenor Ben Gulley, actors Elroy Hawkins and Brian Paulette, and photographer Deanna Dikeman, whose “Sprinklers, Birdbaths and Puddles” featured in our Artist Pages pays eloquent tribute to family.

Talent brings opportunities for artists, and, sometimes, losses for a community. With this issue, we say goodbye to Kansas City Symphony Concertmaster Noah Geller, who will be a soloist in the Symphony’s opening concert before assuming his new post as Concertmaster of the Seattle Symphony. We also say farewell to KC Rep artistic director Eric Rosen, who, in the words of theater critic Robert Trussell, “directed some of the best theater I’ve ever seen.”

That’s high praise and big shoes to fill for Rosen’s successor.

The Rep — and all of Kansas City’s top cultural organizations — face the challenge of how to balance programming that appeals to a broad audience, with art that challenges and provokes. The fall season brings both: The Lyric’s production of “West Side Story,” KCAT/UMKC’s “Dracula” and KC Ballet’s “The Wizard of Oz” offer reinterpretations of familiar favorites. In the more challenging category, KC Melting Pot’s “Hollow Roots,” the “Michael Rees · Pneumatopia” exhibit at the Nerman Museum and the Unicorn Theatre’s “Sweat” push viewers to engage with our society’s problems, values and ideals — where we’ve been and where we want to go.

Many area artists actively address these questions, as seen in our stories on artist and activist Michael Toombs, filmmaker Kevin Willmott and Kansas City’s African American Artists Collective. Joining them is the global roster of artists featured in the 21c Museum Hotels’ “Refuge” exhibition, covered in our Arts News section. Complementing the activities of these artists is the work of musician Pablo Sanhueza, whose new Kansas City Latin Jazz Orchestra seeks to extend the reach and understanding of Latin American culture and music. A commitment to community also drives Daniel and Ebony Edwards’ bid to rebuild the Wendell Phillips neighborhood into a jazz center and Cherokee artist Joseph Erb’s multifaceted efforts on behalf of his people.

As the September/October issue of “KC Studio” arrives in mailboxes, Open Spaces, KC’s first visual and performing arts biennial, is underway in Swope Park and venues across the city. See page 52 for our story on the event by former “Kansas City Star” editor and culture writer David Frese, now a contributing writer to “KC Studio.” We are thrilled to have his expertise.

CategoriesKC Studio
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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