Downtown to get its ‘Backyard’ back!

LiveKC is coming together with a number of community partners, including the Downtown Council, this summer to transform Barney Allis Plaza into Kansas City’s best backyard complete with regular programs, art, food trucks a beer garden and more…

LiveKC and numerous partners are transforming one of Downtown Kansas City’s precious public spaces into a shared urban backyard for the summer. Located in the center of Downtown Kansas City and at the front door of some of the area’s busiest hotels, Barney Allis Plaza has an opportunity to become a bustling town square.

The Backyard at Barney Allis Plaza is a placemaking concept designed to bring together a refreshed look and vibrant energy to the park. The concept includes amenities such as food trucks and a beer garden, plus imaginative programs such as leisure sports, art, and music, all with the goal of adding more vibrancy to the downtown area.

“One of the most appealing things about cities like Denver, Portland and Austin is the fact that you see people everywhere,” said Erik Wullschleger, director of LiveKC. “Adding some basic programs that give people a reason to come over to Barney Allis Plaza will help build density in a very important part of our city.”

This summer will be an opportunity to test and learn from a number of concepts that could lead to permanent improvements over the long term. Food trucks, a beer garden, community artwork, recreational sports and new seating surfaces are just some of the first improvements visitors to The Backyard will get to take advantage of.

And, beginning last night, a competitive “Leisure Sports League” will kick off and run every Thursday at 5 p.m. for the next six weeks. While registration for this session is full, all are invited each Thursday evening for pick-up leisure sports games on designated open courts.

There will be an official preview event on Friday, June 5. The happy hour will begin at 5 p.m. and is a great way to kick off First Friday plans Downtown. This will be an opportunity to view proposed changes and add suggestions on how to further transform Barney Allis Plaza. Visitors will also have the opportunity to eat from food trucks, enjoy beverages from the beer garden and play lawn sports against friends.

Programs will continue to roll out over the summer but the community can already start to see what’s coming up and provide their input at or on LiveKC’s Facebook, Instagram & Twitter.

LiveKC will contribute funding and staffing that will be required for a number of the programs this summer but many of the permanent improvements are made possible by the newly available money from the City Trust.

A private donation was made in the early ‘80s to commemorate the life of Dutton Brookfield.  The “Bronco Buster” statue located on the north end of the plaza was purchased but this money earmarked for improvements to Barney Allis Plaza has gone unused for the last 30 years.

Through the collaboration of a number of local design and construction firms, downtown residents, workers and visitors can expect to see a reinvigorated park over the next 3-12 months.

About Barney Allis Plaza

Barney Allis Plaza is located to the south of the Downtown Marriott and north of the Municipal Auditorium between 12th & 13th streets. Built on the site of Kansas City’s original Convention Hall and located in the center of downtown, Barney Allis Plaza has been the site of many public gatherings including enormous Cinco De Mayo festivals, parades commemorating Elvis and even a professional tennis team.

In recent years, this plaza that is one of the downtown district’s precious few green spaces has been overlooked. People retreating from downtown in search of their own backyard found refuge in suburban neighborhoods and slowly what was once an active park turned into a passthrough for visitors to get from their hotel to the convention center.

Barney Allis Plaza is easily accessible on foot from all four corners, has a MAX Rapid Transit stop, a B Cycle station on the east side and sits atop nearly 1,000 parking spaces.

About LiveKC

LiveKC was founded in 2013 and aims to make Kansas City a more attractive place for Millennials to live, work and play. LiveKC is a privately funded organization managed out of Sporting Club and supported by 19 of the largest employers in the Kansas City region. For more information, visit or follow on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Open letter – on First Friday – by the Mayor

An open letter on the arts and ArtsKC by Mayor Sly James.

An open letter on the arts and ArtsKC by Mayor Sly James.

Last fall, I wrote An Open Letter to America addressing the many assets Kansas City has to offer. It came on the heels of our Kansas City Royals playoff run, but it wasn’t about baseball. Instead, the letter was intended to draw attention to our elevated profile across the U.S. and to highlight all the ways in which Kansas City is winning.

The Kansas City Arts Community is a large part of our rising profile – and rightfully so. Our Arts are incredibly vibrant and we are being recognized as a leader in many disciplines including fashion, theater, jazz, song and dance – just to name a few! In fact, we are one of only a handful of cities across the country that have all four of the major arts – opera, repertory theater, symphony & ballet. As we continue to build our reputation as a world-class city, the Arts are truly making us shine.

This Friday (today) our regional arts council, ArtsKC , will launch their annual digital giving campaign – #timetogive. This important campaign is essential to the vibrancy and vitality of Kansas City’s world-renowned arts scene.  By contributing to the ArtsKC Fund, you are funding grants to artists, arts organizations, and arts programs from all over the region.

Accessibility to the arts should be open to everyone and ArtsKC does that by funding grants that support transportation and education programming in diverse and underserved communities, and by working with organizations to provide free events throughout our five-county region.

I love this City and I find more reasons to appreciate & celebrate it every day. As we continue to see our name landing on Top 10 lists, our Arts will continue to propel us straight to the top. I hope you’ll consider making a contribution – yes, right now – consider it a significant investment in your City.


Mayor Sly James, Kansas City, Missouri

One day Flower & Art Show in Downtown on Friday

Westport Garden Club

Fleur-ishing Art: An American Impression

The Westport Garden Club is collaborating with The Box Gallery and Commerce Bank for a one-of-a-kind art and flower show in Downtown Kansas City from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday.

Members of the Westport Garden Club will create 26 artistic flower arrangements – each inspired by a work of fine art from the Commerce Bank art collection. Judges from five states will help select prize winners.

Join us for a public reception from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Friday at the Box Gallery, 1000 Walnut St., as the show continues next door in the Trust Art Gallery. Parking will be available in the 1025 Main garage.

For more information contact Robin Trafton, director of The Box Gallery, 816-760-7885,

Charlotte Street’s Open Studios: April 24-25


On April 24-25, Charlotte Street will hold its annual Open Studios event. 21 visual artists, 5 writers, and 11 performing artists and ensembles will open their studios for this annual event. The public is encouraged to take an insider’s look at these studios, interacting with the artists, viewing works in progress, and witnessing special performances.

On Friday night, all studios will be open from 6-10pm. There is also a special lineup of performances, happening in the Town Pavilion studio spaces.

On Saturday, Paragraph Gallery will be open 12-5pm for the exhibition 1 Infinite Loop, featuring the work of Studio Resident artists. At 1pm, several of the Writers in Residence will present an interactive reading. At 2pm, exhibiting artists will be present in the gallery for a walk and talk event, and a live musical performance.


Dates: Friday, April 24, 6pm-10pm + Saturday, April 25, 12pm-5pm


• pARTnership Place/906 Grand, 13th Floor

• Town Pavilion/1100 Walnut, 6th Floor

• Paragraph Gallery + Project Space/21-23 E 12th Street

Click here for more information including schedule, map and artist information.


‘Map of Rain Hitting Water’ performance set for April 15

Wednesday, 4/15, 7 p.m.
Map of Rain Hitting Water
@ Prairie Logic

Join us for an evening of the compositions by Mara Gibson, an award winning local composer who also teaches  at the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance, culminating in the first live outdoor performance of Map of Rain Hitting Water. Map will be performed by renowned percussionist Mark Lowry, founding member of the newEar contemporary music ensemble,  and is a collaboration with artist Caitlin Horsmon who is also an Associate Professor of Film & Media Arts at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Also included in the program are Gibson’s works with moving-image accompaniment, E:Tip (images by Caitlin Horsmon) and E:Vespers (images by Rebecca Dolan). Click here for more information about the performance and collaborators.

The performance is free and open to the public. It will take place Wednesday April 15, 7 p.m. at Prairie Logic, the box car stage on the Green Roof above the Cosentino’s Parking Garage, 1271 Main Street, 6th Floor. Parking is available in the garage with automobile entry from either Walnut or Main Street between 12th and 13th Streets (first 30 minutes free; $1.00 per 20 minutes after, $15 max).

These performances are part of the Art in the Loop: Creative Placemaking Project, a series of performances and art installations with the goal of activating Oppenstein Park and the sidewalks of Downtown Kansas City with innovative, engaging and temporary art. Applications for 2015 Project will be accepted through April 15; apply on-line at

For more information about Art in the Loop and upcoming performances and installations contact Ann Holliday, program director for Art in the or Jessica Borusky, curator,

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Receive 20% Off Tickets to KC Rep’s Angels in America

Get 20% Off* Tickets to
Angels in America when you order online at or by phone at 816.235.2700 using promo code: DOWNTOWNDISH
Limit four (4) discounted tickets per household. Valid on adult tickets only. Cannot be applied to previous purchases, used in combination with other offers, or applied to Level C or student seating.

Also, join us 30 minutes prior to the show for Making the Play!
Making the Play is a free conversation series at every KC Rep performance, 30 minutes prior to your performance, where you can learn more about the incredible history behind the play and get a peek behind the scenes with our artistic staff! 

Part I: Millennium Approaches & Part II: Perestroika
Copaken Stage / 13th & Walnut St.

Written by Tony Kushner
Directed by David Cromer

A world-class revival of a modern classic. The most honored play in a generation, winner of the Tony Award for Best Play and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama,Angels in America melds love, hate, religion and politics into a uniquely American epic. Sensitively reimagined, Angels in America changed the landscape of American theatre.

Part I: Millennium Approaches and Part II: Perestroika will be presented in rotating repertory at Copaken Stage.

Part 1:  Millennium Approaches – Filled with poetry and haunting imagery, heroism and humanity, Millennium Approaches begins the story of two couples whose lives intertwine in New York City during the mid-1980s. This classic of American theatre begins KC Rep’s epic rotating repertory at Copaken Stage.

Part 2:  Perestroika – This seldom performed work completes the epic story of Angels in America, as eight incredible actors perform in multiple roles. Perestroika provides Kansas City audiences with a rare chance to see Tony Kushner’s work as it was meant to be seen – with the quality you’ve come to expect from KC Rep.

Appropriate for ages 17 & up. Contains adult language, sexual content, and brief nudity.

MAAA lights up Downtown with artistic ‘LUV’

For the month of February, Downtown Kansas City will be the site of Message Matters, a site-specific light installation by Nebraska-based artist Jamie Burmeister.

Featuring lights installed in key window locations throughout the area, the artwork, titled Message Matters (2015), will fade in and out sending the Morse code message,  “LUV U.” Seeking to transform Downtown into a message of love and community, the work will be on view at night throughout February at eight locations. The installation is organized by Mid-America Arts Alliance, which will serve as the hub at 2018 Baltimore Ave.

The artist’s expectation is that Downtown residents and visitors will be able see at least one of the lights sending the Morse code message “LUV U” each night.

Message Matters installation sites:

  • Mid-America Arts Alliance, 2018 Baltimore Avenue
  • Commerce Bank Building, 1000 Walnut Street
  • Kansas City, Missouri, City Hall, 414 E. 12th Street
  • Kansas City, Missouri, Public Library-Central Branch, 14 W. 10th Street
  • Sheraton Kansas City Hotel at Crown Center, 2345 McGee Street
  • Fine Folk, 122 Southwest Boulevard
  • Meers Advertising, 1811 Walnut Street
  • Charlotte Street Foundation/Paragraph Gallery, 23 E. 12th Street

Learn more about the installation and meet Jamie Burmeister on 6:00–8:00 p.m., Friday, February 6 at Mid-America Arts Alliance.

A previous installations of Message Matters occurred at the Bemis Center for the Contemporary Arts in Omaha, Nebraska:

“Message Matters” – Jamie Burmeister – Bemis Center for Contemporary Art from Jamie Burmeister on Vimeo.

Gigabit Summit attracts tech leaders to KC

Ilya Tabakh (right), who works for Somametric, an interaction agency, discussed technology with Anurag Patel of the University of Kansas Medical Center at the Gigabit City Summit at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

“Kansas City has been a lot of hubs over the years: cattle hub, railroad hub, greeting card hub, college hoops hub. And now … tech hub?

“We’re not there yet, but last week brought the city closer to being a place recognized for its appetite for innovation,” according to a story in today’s Kansas City Star.

‘“Yes, Kansas City has buzz around the country,” said Heather Burnett Gold, who lives in Virginia. “Have you ever had buzz before?”

“Ouch. But her point had merit as Gold, an advocate for threading homes with high-speed fiber, joined delegates from more than 40 cities at the University of Missouri-Kansas City for a three-day conference called the Gigabit City Summit.”

The Gigabit City Summit began just days after the Downtown Council introduced its new LaunchKC tech startup business plan competition. LaunchKC will award up to 10 (ten) $50,000 grants at the new Techweek Kansas City conference in September to aspiring tech entrepreneurs with plans to build high growth potential starts right here in Kansas City.

The Gigabit City Summit was designed to attract tech leaders and players from around the country to learn from Kansas City and get the opportunity “to explore ways of juicing up their communities with ultra-fast Internet connections.”

The Star’s story continued:

Midway through the meeting, even the White House lauded Kansas City’s emergence on the high-tech stage.

Just before President Barack Obama’s appearance in Iowa last Wednesday to pitch a plan to boost bandwidth around the country, the White House released a video of him cradling an electronic tablet displaying a bar chart.

On his screen glowed the words “Kansas City,” among the pioneers of a small pack of communities with a “huge competitive advantage,” he said, because of the bistate venture into wiring neighborhoods with Google Fiber.

Throw in Kansas City’s victory this month in landing a prestigious technology expo known as Techweek, coming in September, and gee, maybe we are becoming an “it” place for geeks.

Not quite yet, said one of them.

“I think a lot of things are converging,” said local native Jonathan Wagner, founder of a startup called Big Bang. “But it’s still harder to raise money here than on the coasts.”

He said Kansas City needs to attract more deep-pocketed venture capitalists and software developers “willing to take a chance on a big idea and swing for the fences.”

Still, there’s broad agreement within the local technology set that area leaders have made huge strides toward becoming the capital of Silicon Prairie.

“The local average Joe working at a restaurant probably doesn’t recognize it,” said Mike Burke, co-chairman of the Mayors’ Bistate Innovations Team, which was coordinating efforts. “But I can tell you, the energy within our entreprenuerial and technology communities is a thousand times greater now than a decade ago.”

Outsiders are watching.

They’re watching from Portland, Ore.; Charlotte, N.C.; Nevada City, Calif.; and Provo, Utah. All sent delegates, often teams of them, to the Gigabit City Summit.

In total, more than 200 people showed up to hear about the Google experiment from local planners, from national experts in the “smart city movement” and from the mayors of Kansas City and Kansas City, Kan. The summit was co-sponsored by several organizations and companies, including Google and the Kauffman Foundation.

Although the selection of the two Kansas Citys by Google as its starting point for Fiber launched much of the tech drive, the movement now includes other providers and startups.

Gail Roper flew in from Raleigh, N.C., where she works as the city’s chief information officer. She held a similar job in Kansas City until she left eight years ago.

“You wouldn’t have seen this conference in Kansas City back then,” Roper said.

To read more of reporter Rick Montgomery’s story, click here.

Art in the Loop Reception & Artist Talks, 11/13/14

ArtintheloopArt in the Loop will celebrate the success of its 2014 Downtown KC Street Art/Placemaking Project with a reception and artist talks on Thursday, November 13, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Downtown Council, 1000 Walnut, Suite 200.  Artist talks will begin at 6 p.m. This event is free and open to the public. Register for the event at

Art in the Loop’s 2014 Downtown Kansas City Street Art/Placemaking Pilot Project infused the sidewalks of Downtown Kansas City with innovative, engaging and temporary art.  The art was intended to have a positive and regenerative effect on the neighborhood while adding interest, intrigue, and an air of surprise to the Downtown experience. Art in the Loop collaborated with the Downtown Council, Downtown Community Improvement District and local businesses in this tactical urbanism approach, which focused on implementing short-term actions and pilot projects to test new ideas for placemaking.

The pilot project included six two-dimensional installations and six performance art pieces. The projects were installed and took place in and around Oppenstein Brothers Memorial Park, 12th & Walnut in Downtown Kansas City.  Working with twenty artists to develop projects that respond to the climate, architecture, and composition of Downtown Kansas City, Art in the Loop facilitated a series of works that ask businesses, visitors, and residents to re-imagine the Downtown landscape.

Visual artworks from Mark Allen, Rachelle Gardner, Madeline Gallucci, and Robert Bustamente express new ways of exploring our downtown businesses, generating lively two-dimensional pieces. Muralist Phil Shafer developed a street art-inspired work illustrating identification politics within a robust, colorful aesthetic. Multimedia artist Laura Isaac utilized video, technology, and narrative to envision the Downtown landscape through a dream-like lens.

Performances in Oppenstein Park promoted a relationship between existing public art projects and a vision for further performative practice within this public space. These performances were eclectic in scope, ranging from the experimental jazz of Mnemosyne Quartet, game playing with artists Charlie Mylie and Lindsey Griffith, interactive installation and storytelling with Jose Faus and Emily Evans Sloan, a site- specific night performance by local band Quadrigarum, a video and sound performance installation by Mara Gibson, Caitlin Horsmon and Mark Lowry, and a community engaged performance by Sean Starowitz.

In the words of guest curator, Jessica Borusky, “Connecting local visual artists with downtown Kansas City is a mutual benefit. By creating a relationship between these artists and the downtown community, Kansas City is developing a new type of local visual arts visibility”

For more information, please contact Art in the Loop program director Ann Holliday, 816-979-1072/, or guest curator Jessica Borusky,  Visit for additional information about the project and its artists.  Register for the event at

About Art in the Loop

Founded in 2004, Art in the Loop is an established 501c3 nonprofit arts organization committed to engaging artists in the continued revitalization of Downtown Kansas City.  The organization’s strength stems from its unique partnership with three prominent Kansas City entities, the Kansas City Art Institute, the Kansas City Municipal Art Commission and the Downtown Council of Kansas City.  Common ground is found in a shared belief that the development of the downtown area and enhancing the cultural life of our city are directly linked.

Become Part of the Art in Oppenstein Park

People as Monuments

Thursday, 10/16, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
@Oppenstein Park, 12th & Walnut

People as Monuments is an interactive public monument series that challenges the here and now of Kansas City. This temporary public art installation will include a plinth/platform for people to activate where they become instant “public monuments”.

Alongside organized performances by Jose Faus, Mark Southerland and Jordan Stempleman, the general public is also invited to step up on the plinth and become an instant public monument. A camera will be set up to document Citizens as public monuments and an online database will be created.  The project challenges the typical approach to place-making by commissioning permanent monuments stating “We were here”, while People are Monuments shifts the conversation and context to “We are here and now” challenging the typical public art infrastructure.

This performance is created by local artist Sean M. Starowitz. Starowitz’s work is executed in a variety of social, political, and community engaged contexts. Notable projects include Fresh Bread, BREAD! KC and Byproduct: The Laundromat. He currently resides in Kansas City, Missouri as the artist-in-residence at the Farm To Market Bread Company. He is a 2010 graduate of the Interdisciplinary Arts program at the Kansas City Art Institute and a 2012 Rocket Grant recipient with support from the Charlotte St. Foundation, Spencer Museum of Art and the Andy Warhol Foundation. More recently, he is a 2014 Charlotte St. Foundation Visual Art Award Fellow.

This performance is part of Art in the Loop Foundation’s 2014 Downtown Street Art/Creative Placemaking Pilot Project, a series of events and art installations with the goal of activating Oppenstein Park and the sidewalks of Downtown Kansas City with innovative, engaging and temporary art. For more information about these performances and installations contact Ann Holliday, program director for Art in the or Jessica Borusky, guest curator,

Visit for more information about upcoming events.

Zebra looms large over Downtown


Phil “Sike Style” Shafer recently completed this “Angry Zebra” mural on the side of the Bonfils building at 12th and Grand, and opened a one-person show at the 19 Below gallery on Oct. 3. (Photo credit Rich Sugg)

There is an Angry Zebra loose in Downtown Kansas City.

In mid-September, a provocative new mural joined Kansas City’s Downtown streetscape, the Kansas City Star reported.

“Angry Zebra,” a signature image of KC artist Phil “Sike Style” Shafer, rises 50 feet high on the south wall of the Bonfils building at 12th Street and Grand Boulevard.

The project, sponsored by the Art in the Loop Foundation, coincides with the recent opening of “State of Shock,” a one-person show by Shafer at the 19 Below gallery.

To read more, follow this link.

Westside to celebrate Day of the Dead with art, street festival


The Mattie Rhodes Center and its Westside neighbors will begin their annual Dia De Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebration on Friday and Saturday with an art exhibit and street festival.


Day of the Dead celebrates the colorful and loving history of Mexico, explained Paul Gutierrez of Mattie Rhodes. Festivities will run from 6-10 p.m. Friday at Mattie Rhodes with a Dia De Los Muertos art exhibit, live music food and fun. Mattie Rhodes is located at 917 & 919 W. 17th St.

“Come dressed as your own Day of the Dead inspired character, and experience the celebration, memories, love and creativity,” Gutierrez.

The First Friday fun will be followed by the Day of the Dead street festival from 1- 10 p.m. Saturday. The celebration will feature live entertainment, local food vendors, handmade arts and crafts and many children’s activities.

For more information, visit the Mattie Rhodes website at