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





Talent table set for 18th & Vine Jazz & Blues Festival

The countdown has begun! Kansas City’s premiere Jazz & Blues Festival will return to 18th & Vine on Saturday, Oct. 11 with four stages and more than 25 acts.

Festivities will begin at 11 a.m. on Oct. 11 at the American Jazz Museum on all four stages at 18th & Vine, and will run until about midnight. Closing out the fun that night will be Midnight Star on the Main Stage; KC Blues Express in the Gem Theater; and a KC Jam Session hosted by Dominique Sanders with Tivon Pennicott in the Blue Room.

Gates will open at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 11 for the annual Kansas City 18th & Vine Jazz and Blues Festival. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster and  at the American Jazz Museum Box Office for $25 (general admission) or $75 (VIP). Children are admitted free.

For more information, visit the American Jazz Museum. 



UMKC selects architects for Downtown Arts Campus

The UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance on Thursday selected an architect for its Downtown Campus for the Arts.

Now comes the hard part: fitting 170,000 square feet of needed space on an 80,000-square-foot site, The Kansas City Star reported.

About 30 architects and engineers from Helix Architecture + Design of Kansas City and HGA of Minneapolis will design the proposed Conservatory of Music and Dance facilities on the block bounded by 17th and 18th streets and Broadway and Central Street.COURTESY OF HELIX/HGA

“But the Helix/HGA architecture and design team isn’t complaining. It has won the phase one contract to design a new downtown arts campus for the University of Missouri-Kansas City,” wrote reports Diane Stafford and Steve Rosen

The Star continued:

The team — about 30 architects and engineers from Helix Architecture + Design of Kansas City and HGA of Minneapolis — will design the proposed Conservatory of Music and Dance facilities on the block bounded by 17th and 18th streets and Broadway and Central Street.

The university announced Thursday it expects the concept design to be completed in early 2015.

“Obviously, all the needs don’t fit on one floor,” said Jay Tomlinson, who leads the project at Helix. “So we showed them creative ways to fit all the parts while respecting the neighborhood and the primacy of Kauffman (Center for the Performing Arts) across the street.”

The UMKC site, directly south of the Kauffman Center, was acquired with a $6 million donation assembled through the Downtown Council and anonymous donors.

The full cost of building the first phase of the campus is estimated at $96 million. Planners want to reach the fundraising goal by the end of 2016.

Helix and HGA were selected by a 17-member committee over four other teams: BNIM with Ann Beha Architects, El Dorado Inc. with Ennead Architects, Hoefer Wysocki Architecture with Pfeiffer Partners Architects and International Architects Atelier with Snøhetta. All of the teams presented their concepts to the public Sunday afternoon.

Kansas City-based Helix, with headquarters at 1629 Walnut St., has designed many projects in the Crossroads Arts District between Crown Center and the Downtown core. It previously worked with UMKC to convert a building that formerly housed the pharmacy school into its architecture department.

Tomlinson said Helix also has an ongoing project with UMKC to update the existing campus building that holds Spencer Theatre and White Recital Hall. The downtown campus, designed for use by the Conservatory of Music and Dance, will not include performance venues.

The Downtown facility will hold practice spaces for the music and dance schools, administrative offices and a music library, he said.

To read more, click here to read The Star’s complete story.


Good Eats & Games at Oppenstein Park on Thursday 9/11

Construction Players and friends play four square in the “Play Zone” at Oppenstein Park on 9/9.

Construction Players  with Jerusalem Cafe Food Truck
Thursday 9/11, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. 

Take your lunch break outside and join the Construction Players, Charlie Mylie and Lindsey Griffith, for fun and games in Oppenstein Park. These merry workers whose jobs are to play are re-engaging urban work spaces as a rich and ready playground.

The Jerusalem Cafe food truck will also be there to satisfy your hummus, baba-ghanoush and falafel cravings!

These performances are 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. Visit the project website for more information.

For more information about these performances, contact Ann Holliday, program director for Art in the or Jessica Borusky, guest curator,

Visit for more information about upcoming events.

Poetry in the Park (Oppenstein Park), Wed. 9/17

Jose Faus Emily Evans Sloan

Wednesday, September 17
Performances at 11 a.m. ans 12 p.m.
Oppenstein Park, 12th & Walnut, Downtown Kansas City

You are invited to the Lunch Hour Knitting Circle and Café to hear the unknown history of the Cuban missile crisis as revealed in the correspondence of the participants. The documents were discovered under skeins of knitting yarn tucked away in the attic of renowned socialite and knitting maven Genevieve Westover.

Knitting not your thing? That’s fine, bring your lunch and indulge in the guilty pleasure of eavesdropping on the private letters, notes and memos of the rich and famous or not.

José Faus is an artist and writer and longtime resident of Kansas City. He is a 2012 Rocket Grant recipient for the community project VOX NARRO and is a founding member of the Latino Writers Collective. He is president of the board of the Writers Place.

Emily Evans Sloan is a photographer, a film maker, a knitter, a performance artist, a curator, a collaborator, a painter, a maker, and a mother of 6. Born in Springfield Missouri, Emily received her BFA in photography at Missouri State University and her MFA in photography at Massachusetts College of Art. Emily’s spirited approach to art and life in general, has allowed her to collaborate with other unique, like-minded artists in Kansas City where she has lived the past 25 years.

Click here to learn more about the performance.

These performances are 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. Visit the project website for more information.

For more information about these performances, contact Ann Holliday, program director for Art in the or Jessica Borusky, guest curator,

Visit for more information about upcoming events.

First Friday to take flight at Grace & Holy Trinity

A very special First Friday celebration of the arts is on tap this coming Friday at Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral.

Not only are you invited to enjoy the fabric art exhibit by Sonie Joi Thompson-Ruffin, but also live jazz by the legendary Bobby Watson — all on First Friday.


The festivities and refreshments are free and open to the public from 5-8 p.m. at the Cathedral, 13th & Broadway in Downtown. Free parking is available on site.

The exhibit, Let the Church Say Amen, celebrates spirituality with artwork in mixed media by renowned fabric artist Sonié Ruffin. Sonié’s artwork is deeply rooted in the African American experience.

“Through all our tragedies and hardships as a people, we have experienced the ugliness of life only to rise up and celebrate our gifts and talents through God’s unwavering grace,” she said.

Kansas City-based Sonié Ruffin is a renowned, self-taught textile artist, author, lecturer, teacher, curator and cultural storyteller.

For more information, visit Grace and Holy Trinity.


Mnemosyne Quartet Performs Thursday, Aug. 28

Mnemosyne Quartet will perform this Thursday, Aug. 28, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Oppenstein Park at 12th & Walnut Streets.  The performance is free and open to the public.

Mnemosyne Quartet improvises music inspired by the surrounding environments while nudging the listener towards a moment of peaceful contemplation in the middle of our hectic lives. This performance is inspired by the Celestial Flyways public art installation in Oppenstein Park and will utilize native bird songs and the idea of migration.

The performance is the first in a series of events and installations that will take place as part of the Art in the Loop Foundation’s 2014 Downtown Street Art/Creative Placemaking Pilot Project. The goal of the project is to activate Oppenstein Park and the sidewalks of Downtown Kansas City with innovative, engaging and temporary art. The pilot project includes six two-dimensional installations and six performance art pieces. Visit the project website for more information.

The Mnemosyne Quartet consists of Russell Thorpe, Michael Miller, Elizabeth (Eli) Hougland, and Ted King-Smith. Click here to learn more about the quartet and sample their music.

For more information about the performance or the project, contact Ann Holliday, program director for Art in the Loop, or Jessica Borusky, guest curator,

Charlie Parker celebration set for Aug. 14-30

A city-wide, 17-day celebration of legendary Charlie Parker will get underway on Thursday in Downtown and throughout Kansas City, Missouri. The festivites will run from Thursday, Aug. 14 to Saturday, Aug. 30.

Events will include performances at 12 Kansas City jazz clubs; a Charlie Parker historical tour and musical salute; several educational programs including a Bird Lives musical boot camp; a 21-sax graveside salute for Parker’s birthday on Aug. 29; a special panel session on Parker; and a special presentation of a Paul Messner puppet show, “Rag, Swing, Bop: The Kansas City Jazz Story.”

Of the 12 participating jazz clubs, half are located in Downtown including the American Jazz Museum, Blue Room, Gem Theater, Green Lady Lounge, the Majestic and 12 Baltimore.

For more information, check out the Charlie Parker Celebration.



The Charlie Parker Celebration is a joint effort by KC Jazz ALIVE, the American Jazz Museum and the Elderstatesmen o f Kansas City Jazz, The celebration is a series of events that will explore and celebrate the life and legacy of Kansas City native Parker.