Posts Tagged ‘kansas city’


Photo: Nelson Atkins Museum of Art
Staff wondered what kinds of art these Humboldt penguins from the Kansas City Zoo would gravitate toward when given leave to wander in a museum.  

You’ve probably seen as many invitations as I have to tour closed art museums online, and maybe you’ve already accepted an offer. I myself needed the extra nudge of touring a museum in the company of penguins.

Sarah Rose Sharp writes at Hyperallergic, “As reported by Time, three art-savvy Humboldt penguins from the Kansas City Zoo were given leave to wander a couple of the galleries at the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art earlier in May.

“A video produced by the museum shows the little fellas wandering the marble floors and pausing to look at Impressionist and Baroque master paintings in galleries that were carefully checked to ensure the safety of both the works of art and their avian visitors.

“ ‘We’re so happy to welcome our colleagues from the zoo,’ said Nelson Atkins Executive Director Julián Zugazagoitia, in the video, ‘and they’ve brought special friends, and actually, we’re seeing how they’re reacting to art.’ ” More.

Back at Time, Tara Law wrote that Zugazagoitia thought the penguins “would be most interested in the works by Claude Monet, because they are ‘soothing’ and resemble water. However, the waddling visitors seemed to be most engaged with the Baroque works, including those by Caravaggio. …

“ ‘They stop, and look and wonder. … It really brought us joy, and I think it brings the community together when the love of animals and the empathy we feel for them is also reinforced by the love that we feel for art.’ …

“Although the museum has not yet announced a reopening date, Zugazagoitia says it has been working to keep its community engaged, including by migrating its festival celebrations online.” More at Time.

I sure do like people who have ideas. Although the Duchess in Alice in Wonderland insisted, “‘Tis love, ’tis love that makes the world go ’round,” I can’t help thinking that inventiveness, playful and otherwise, is pretty important, too.

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Photo: Sergey Kelin/istock, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
Casts of the original Gates of Paradise are installed on the outside of the Baptistery in Florence. Perfect copies are now at a Kansas City museum.

Victoria Stapley-Brown, at the Art Newspaper, has a nice story about Florence’s famous Gates of Paradise and how a replica landed in Kansas City.

“The original gilded doors were made for the east entrance of the baptistery in front of Florence Cathedral by Ghiberti and his workshop from 1425 to 1452. They depict scenes from the Old Testament and their startling virtuoso relief — figures are placed in landscapes or perspectivally rendered architecture to suggest depth — influenced generations of artists.

When Michelangelo saw them, he said: ‘They are truly worthy to be the Gates of Paradise.’

“Now the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri, is installing a bronze copy of the famous doors in its entrance hall. …

“In 2015, when the Nelson-Atkins trustee Paul DeBruce and his wife, Linda Woodsmall-DeBruce, were visiting Florence, [they went to] the Marinelli Foundry for the Frilli Gallery.

“The DeBruces discovered that when a copy of the gates was cast at the foundry in 1990 to replace the original doors on the baptistery … another bronze version was made for the Japanese collector Chochiro Motoyama, an importer of Italian luxury goods, who funded the restoration of the original doors and the casting of a replacement.

“The second copy of the doors, which belonged to Motoyama, had been left in storage ever since, apart from appearing in an exhibition in India and South Korea (2013-16).

“The DeBruces bought the copy from the Japanese collector. They transported the gates to New York by ship, then on to Kansas City by train and truck. The 17ft-high doors, which weigh four-and-a-half tonnes, have been hung on the walls of the lobby of the museum’s Bloch Building. …

“The scenes depicted, including the Creation of Adam and Eve, fill ten square panels. To create the illusion of depth and movement, ‘the relief is shallow at the bottom and deeper at the top,’ the museum’s senior curator of European arts, Aimee Marcereau DeGalan, explains in a statement.”

According to the museum’s director, Julián Zugazagoitia, the replica creates a “ ‘nice dialogue and tension’ with a contemporary work in the lobby, a tapestry made from recycled bottle tops by the Ghanaian artist El Anatsui.” More.

Don’t you love Art Speak? For artists and museums, the word “tension” is positive. Bless their hearts.

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One place that refugees are making a life for themselves is in Kansas City, Kansas, where some are bridging their current and former lives through farming.

Oluwakemi Aladesuyi reports at National Public Radio, “In the midst of boxy yellow and brown public housing, beyond the highway and past empty grain elevators, sits Juniper Farm. It’s spread over nine acres on the Kansas side of Kansas City.

“As their children play on the grassy knoll behind us, four women sit at a plastic picnic table speaking in Karen, a language spoken in parts of Myanmar [Burma].

“They’re students at a program called New Roots for Refugees. The program aims to teach the basics and business of farming [in America] to refugees over the course of four years. At the end, many of the graduates are ready to start farms of their own.

“It’s a joint effort between Catholic Charities and Cultivate Kansas City, a nonprofit that encourages locally grown food and urban agriculture. …

“Many of the men and women at New Roots come from Myanmar or Bhutan. Some were farmers in their homelands. But farming on the outskirts of Kansas City is different: the land, the crops and even the weather. …

“Many who’ve come here are happy to have escaped violence. But adapting to life in a new country, with a different language and customs, is still difficult. Many refugees struggle economically. …

“August Gaw [is] 25 years old and often translates for her mother, Beh paw Gaw, who graduated from New Roots a few years ago. …

“August used to come here to help her mother. But now Beh paw has her own 3-acre farm which she runs with her sister. Last year the operation made more than $10,000. The potential to make money is important; many refugee families live below the poverty level.” More here.

Read the story if you have time. One striking aspect: farm manager and adviser Sam Davis, an African American, experienced real intolerance when moving to Kansas from Arkansas, but to one of the Karen women, who had seen extreme isolation of different ethnic groups in Myanmar, America seems prejudice-free.

You might also be interested in this article on Karen people who were relocated to Waterbury, Connecticut. Written by John Giammatteo, it appeared in Communities & Banking magazine in 2012.

Photo: Oluwakemi Aladesuyi/NPR
Beh paw Gaw is a New Roots graduate and a Karen refugee from Myanmar. Now she has her own three acre farm which she runs with her sister.

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Here’s an idea that could give a welcome boost to underprivileged children: a free connection to the Internet at their home.

It seems that Google, in the spirit of its discontinued motto “Don’t be evil,” is piloting a new public service.

Matt Hamblen at Computerworld reports, “Google Fiber [recently] announced free gigabit Internet service to residents of selected public housing projects connected to its fiber optic service in U.S. cities.

“The program was launched at West Bluff, an affordable housing community in Kansas City, Mo., where 100 homes have been connected to Google Fiber. Across the Kansas City area, Google is now working with affordable housing providers to connect as many as nine properties that could reach more than 1,300 local families.

“Google described the program as an extension of its work with ConnectHome, an initiative of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Obama administration. …

“In addition to free Internet, eligible residents will work with ConnectHome partners like Connecting for Good and Surplus Exchange to be able to purchase discounted computers and learn new computer skills, Google said.” More here.

Depending on what the housing developments are like to live in and whether they provide supports like the Family Self-Sufficiency program to move people to independence, this could be a useful piece of the difficult poverty-reduction puzzle. So, good on Google!

Photo: ConnectHome 
A resident of West Bluff in Kansas City and her son are among the first of 1,300 families in area affordable housing units to receive Google Fiber gigabit Internet service at no cost.

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