This Week in Open Spaces: Oct 8 – 14

Oct 10, 2018

Thursday

10/11 Manual Cinema, The End of TV

With their newest work, The End of TV, the Chicago-based performance Manual Cinema stages and screens a movie simultaneously as they present a poignant reflection on the heyday of American television. The musical performance ensemble comes to the Polsky Theater of Johnson County Community College on  Thursday, Oct. 11, at 7:30 p.m. As part of the Open Spaces Beyond the Village series, tickets for this event are only $20 for any seat. Reserve yours at openspaceskc.com or on the Open Spaces app.

Thursday

10/11  21c Salon: Mary Lou Williams

This week’s Open Spaces 21c Salon, hosted by Chuck Haddix, will explore the legacy of composer, arranger and pianist Mary Lou Williams, a mentor to countless jazz greats. Williams’ leadership in the Kansas City jazz scene of the 1930s helped form the classic Kansas City sound. Guests will include Bobby Watson and Clint Ashlock, 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct 11, at the 21c Museum Hotel.

Friday, Saturday and Sunday

10/12, 10/13 and 10/14

The Weekend performance festival at Starlight Theatre offers three nights of cutting-edge world and local music. Choose your ticket package at openspaceskc.com or on the Open Spaces app.

Friday, hear The Roots at 9:15 p.m. with opening acts Red Baraat at 6 p.m. and Soul Rebels at 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, hear Janelle Monáe at 9:15 p.m. with opening acts Sankofa Danzafro at 4:30 p.m., The McFadden Brothers at 6 p.m. and The Marcus Lewis Big Band at 7:30 p.m.

Sunday, hear Vijay Iyer Sextet at 9 p.m. with opening acts Innov Gnawa at 5 p.m., DakhaBrakha at 6 p.m. and Hermon Mehari Quartet at 7:30 p.m.

Saturday and Sunday

10/13, 10/14 Strawberry Swing craft fair in the Village.

Strawberry Swing will fill the Swope Park Village from noon to 6 p.m. with a highly curated selection of the Midwest’s finest crafts and their makers. With arts pavilions, free live performances and food vendors in the mix, the Strawberry Swing weekend in the park will be the ultimate fall browsing and shopping experience.

10/13 and 10/14 Tom Styrkowicz/53Tom creates ONEbyONE Community Portraits in an ongoing performance in the Village.

The faces of Open Spaces appear one by one on 53Tom’s community portrait. When you have your portrait taken by Tom Styrkowicz, he gives you one copy to keep and adds another to the growing community portrait in the Open Spaces Village. Yours will join the artwork with well over 1,000 others by the time the Open Spaces festival draws to a close. Free, from noon to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, Oct 13 and 14, in the Open Spaces Village in Swope Park!

Saturday

10/13 The Last Carnival Acrobats bring circus arts and aerial dance to the Open Spaces Village

The Last Carnival, a Lawrence, Kansas, based school of circus arts, will present a special Open Spaces performance by their professional acrobats, fire artists and aerialists on Saturday, Oct. 13, on the Open Spaces Village Stage, beginning at 1 p.m.

10/13 Yosh The Fire Guy and fire dancers perform Lit on the Village Stage in Swope Park.

Yosh Gregory is The Fire Guy, and he takes the fall bonfire party to a whole new level Saturday, Oct. 12, with his fire-art performance, Lit, on the Open Spaces Village Stage! Starting just after dark at 7 p.m., the entrancing performance presents a troupe of fire dancers and an array of apparatuses for making art with fire. The show is free and open to all.

10/13 Vodville Entertainment bedecks the arts crowd on Saturday in the Village

In a specialty performance by Vodvill Entertainment company of Lawrence, Kansas, Hedge People, who look as you might imagine, will mingle their greenery with the Village crowd from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday in the Village!

Sunday

10/14 Sankofa Danzafro, Afro-Colombian dance and drumming ensemble, performs The City of Others on the Village Stage in Swope Park.

Sankofa Danzafro’s The City of Others sends an Afro-Colombian dance message from Medellín, Colombia, to the world. It combines tight choreography, numerous dance languages and exciting drumbeats to show the value of ancestral awareness in building inclusive communities. Free on the Village Stage Sunday, Oct. 13, at 4 p.m.

Exploring Open Spaces

The Weekend: The Open Spaces Performance Centerpiece spans three nights at Starlight Theatre.

The Weekend performance festival presented by Open Spaces from Oct. 12 to 14 will take its audiences where popular music dives deepest into tradition, and tradition reaches the global stage. Every ensemble on The Weekend schedule pushes contemporary music forward with unique insight on the world music scene. The lineup included in your ticket for any evening, or for The Weekend, a 3-night package, immerses you in the edgy combinations of culture and tradition that are driving new music.

Outside Starlight. Before and overlapping with Starlight Theatre events on Saturday and Sunday, people will enjoy the highly curated indie crafts fair, Strawberry Swing, along with circus performances, arts activities and food trucks in the Open Spaces Village. The Village experience is topped on Saturday with a 7 p.m. fire-art performance by Yosh, the Fire Guy, and on Sunday at 4 p.m. with the Afro-Colombian Dance ensemble, Sankofa Danzafro.

Friday. The Weekend’s artistic synergy starts with Friday’s bands! Each one combines diverse musical traditions to deepen their meaning and their musical sound. Friday’s headliner is the Grammy-winning brass-band, hip-hop, R&B powerhouse, The Roots; and the two acts before them, Red Baraat and Soul Rebels, bring equal parts of passionate worldliness. Red Baraat, Friday’s opening act, is described as “Punjabi funk” and “big brass psychedelic.” The sextet’s cultural palette is rooted in Southeast Asian traditions, but is also deeply funky and driven by rock grooves. Soul Rebels, a horn-centered sextet with great vocalists and driving rhythms, brings Friday’s lineup into the rallying music of New Orleans brass. Connecting easily with jazz, hip-hop and funk, Soul Rebels grasps the potential of a brass and drum group to march in anywhere and make people move. By the time The Roots start sending their righteous message over Tuba Gooding’s bass lines, Kansas City will feel a strong connection to popular music’s global force. Red Baraat, 6 p.m., Soul Rebels, 7:30 p.m., The Roots, 9:15 p.m.

Saturday. The Weekend’s Saturday lineup, headlined by KC native, performance star Janelle Monáe, showcases physical movement and the power of collaboration. From the Afro-Colombian dancers and drummers in Sankofa Danzafro’s The City of Others, to the high-energy tap and song of Kansas City’s much-loved McFadden Brothers, the music will focus on what makes us move together. Globally renowned big band leader Marcus Lewis brings his groundbreaking arrangement, Brass and Boujee, to launch us far beyond, “Can rap and jazz be friends and not just neighbors?” Lewis has carried big band swing into the rap vocal tradition with beautiful compositions featuring KC’s top rapping talents. When Janelle Monáe brings home her radical pop energy to top Saturday’s show, the diverse voices of The Weekend will have fully prepared us for her dance-filled stage show and intrepid call for multi-cultural unity. Sankofa Danzafro, 4:30 p.m., McFadden Brothers, 6 p.m., Marcus Lewis Big Band, 7:30 p.m., Janelle Monáe, 9:15 p.m.

Sunday. The Weekend festival continues to explore intersections of musical tradition on Sunday, when the ambience shifts to harmonic nuance and acoustic texture. The evening opens in the gnawa musical tradition of Morocco, when Innov Gnawa delivers heartfelt new interpretation to rhythmic spiritual chants. As he plays the three-stringed guembr, gnawa master Maâlem Hassan Ben Jaafer layers his poetic calls with the responses of a five-man vocal and percussion ensemble. Innov Gnawa’s tapestry of song leads into the Ukrainian vocal escapades of DakhaBrakha, an adventurous folk quartet from Kiev, with three female and one male voice weaving tight harmonies, sonic novelties and dramatic melodies. They use a myriad of instruments, from cello and piano to squeeze box, harmonica and Jews harp. From innovators of Ukrainian and Moroccan traditions, the Sunday experience turns to innovators of American classical music. Hermon Mehari has once again brought his trumpet from his home in Paris to hometown KC. Ascending on the global jazz scene after graduating from the UMKC Conservatory, Mehari is proving to be not only an award-winning trumpeter, but also a great educator and innovative band leader, always directing his virtuosic sound from the heart. The Hermon Mehari Quartet will be a warm entrée to the Vijay Iyer Sextet, who will close out the Weekend with their Kansas City debut. With superlative skill as a pianist, Iyer leads jazz ensembles into highly acclaimed innovations. Vijay Iyer Sextet will put a fine finish on The Weekend with renowned jazz musicianship and a strong taste for adventure. Innov Gnawa,

5 p.m., DakhaBrakha, 6 p.m., Hermon Mehari Quartet, 7:30 p.m., Vijay Iyer Sextet, 9 p.m.

Choose your ticket package for The Weekend on the Open Spaces app or at openspaceskc.com.

Sankofa Danzafro: Open Spaces offers two opportunities to enjoy a kinetic message of peace, from Medellín, Colombia.

Sankofa Danzafro’s dance and drumming ensemble comes from Colombia, a country with an especially high density of people of African descent. The Afro-Colombian street performers in modern Medellín inspired Sankofa Danzafro’s founder, Rafael Palacios, to begin training them alongside professional dancers in the traditions of their ancestral roots, to expand a vision of inclusive living steeped in African art and history. La Ciudad de los Otros, City of Others, tells a story through dance and rhythm about the struggle of people living in marginalized urban spaces and the possibility of living in acceptance of otherness. The tightly choreographed, often acrobatic performance uses many dance languages to convey the value of ancestral awareness in building inclusive communities in contemporary life. Sankofa Danzafro opens the musical lineup for day 2 of the Open Spaces performance festival, The Weekend, on Saturday, Oct. 12, at 4:30 p.m. in Starlight Theatre. They also perform for free in The Open Spaces Village on Sunday at 4 p.m.

A Tour of Time and Space from the Truman to the Nerman: The Open Spaces I-435 Suggested Route.

It takes about a half hour to drive from the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum in Independence, Missouri to the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art in Overland Park, Kansas, or the other way around. The journey takes you across cultures, over a state line and through diverse perspectives on Kansas City. At the endpoints of the route, each of the museums presents time and space with extraordinary design. Open Spaces artworks transform the Truman and the Nerman by asking us to radically shift our approaches to time and space while we visit them.

Inside the Truman Museum, Missouri artist Sarah Nguyen has installed a stylized replica of Little Boy, the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan during Truman’s Presidency, in August of 1945. Borrowing from a fantasy short story for her sculptural work, Break into Blossom, Nguyen presents the bomb as a harmless dud, left in a field and covered in moss. Nguyen’s work offers a quiet place to meditate on critical and decisive turns in history and how such moments reside in our memory long after. After Open Spaces closes on Oct. 28, you will not again have the chance to discover the replica of Truman’s Oval Office and all the impact of his Presidential Library alongside this poignant work of fiction that recasts and refreshes historical imagery.

At the other end of the I-435 Open Spaces Route, in Overland Park, Kansas, another, radical artistic journey transforms another great museum, this one fixed on contemporary perspective —The Nerman. Kansas native and New York sculptor, Michael Rees, has created a kinetic journey into perception with his incomparable, Pneumatopia. Wander through several galleries as the space around you takes on startling dimensions in light, volume and texture. Thin sheaths of plastic are the main medium for Rees’s large-scale, inflated, transparent sculptures. To experience this exhibit, you have to move among them and feel how your movements continually reset your senses; but you can pause if you wish, to look at mobile, digital tablets that display virtual reality views of the space that is visually unfolding around you. Pneumatopia takes you into a fantastic, highly technical rediscovery of your own perception, animating the airy galleries of the Nerman’s contemporary collection.

The half hour drive between Break into Blossom, at the Truman, and Pneumatopia, at the Nerman, is a journey in time and space only possible until Oct. 21, when Rees’s exhibit will be dismantled. Nguyen’s work will stay up until Oct. 28. Check the museums’ websites for hours.