The fall season itself, with brilliantly hued foliage, is an artistic celebration. And in Kansas City, this colorful time of year is an ideal backdrop for an exciting array of art-themed events, all of which celebrate the city’s vibrant creative community. Grab your calendar and prepare to spend the season entertained, awed, and inspired.
Macrocosmos Caterpillar: Monarch Streetcar, Through Nov. 6
The black, yellow, and white-wrapped KC Streetcar is more than an eye-catching mode of public transportation. Artists Christina Bereolos and Amanda Gehin created the streetcar wrap to bring awareness to the monarch butterfly caterpillar, a Kansas City native. “Scaling the monarch to the size of the streetcar magnifies its essential role as a pollinator while celebrating Kansas City’s position within the monarch migration flyaway,” according to Art in the Loop. Streetcar riders can experience this mobile work of art through early November. The installation also includes planters along the streetcar line (Main Street from Union Station to 3rd Street in the River Market) that have been transformed into micro prairie habitats. A carefully selected blend of perennial native plants nurtures caterpillars, butterflies and bees, including native milkweed, the only plant that sustains the monarch caterpillar. Might we suggest a nightcap at The Monarch Bar to continue the butterfly-themed celebration?
Golden Prospects: California Gold Rush Daguerreotypes, Opens Sept. 6
Experience the California Gold Rush through a collection of daguerreotypes that include urban panoramas, street views, and studio portraits. The photography itself is an important historical milestone, as the California Gold Rush “was the first broadly significant event in American history to be documented in any substantial depth by photography,” according to exhibit host, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. Accompanying events include Gold Fever-themed Third Thursday celebration on Sept. 19 and a discussion with curator Jane L. Aspinwall on Oct. 24.
KC Repertory Theatre, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Opens Sept. 6
See what KC Repertory Theatre calls “one of the most powerful plays of our time written by one of the giants of American theater” when the KC Rep’s season opens with Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Directed by Lisa Rothe, performances will be at the Spencer Theatre on the University of Missouri – Kansas City campus through Sept. 29.
Kansas City Latino Arts Festival, Sept. 7
Head to Bethany Park (Central Avenue and 12th Street) in downtown Kansas City, Kan., for the third annual Latino Arts Festival, a vibrant and family-friendly celebration that kicks off with a parade at 1 p.m. After the parade, enjoy an art exhibition and sale, live music, food trucks, a children’s area, and a lowrider car show that features custom-painted cars. The festival is the work of the Latino Arts Foundation, which, along with director Deanna Munez, is featured on season 4 of Queer Eye.
Open Studio Night with KC Friends of Alvin Ailey, Sept. 6, Oct. 4, Nov. 1
Why not put yourself in the midst of the art during First Fridays? Each month, the Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey hosts free hip-hop dance lessons at 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. The lessons are open to all ages and skill levels and held at the KCFAA studio, 1714 E. 18th St.
Need a Creative Boost? Creative professionals and creativity enthusiasts gather monthly for CreativeMornings Kansas City. A featured speaker shares stories, advice and insight, all tied to a one-word theme like authenticity, chaos, and craft. Local businesses provide light breakfast and coffee (bring your own mug to help reduce waste). Tickets are free but go quickly and are released the third Monday of the month, ahead of the event on the third Friday.
Art Westport, Sept. 6-8
Browse original art, jewelry, fine crafts, and more during a favorite fall event, Art Westport. During the three-day event, the streets of Westport will be lined with booths and displays by 150 artists, all local. This year marks its 40th anniversary.
Theatre Lab with Kansas City Public Theatre, Sept. 9, Oct. 7 and Nov. 4
Enjoy new and experimental work in development by area artists during Kansas City Public Theatre’s Theatre Lab, held the first Monday of the month. All events are free and open to the public. Upcoming shows include THANK YOU NOTES: Headed to Heaven with Jimmy Fallon by Vicky Vodrey at 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 9; Play Rights by Inas Younis at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 7; and Raising Less and More Hell by Lavinia Roberts at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 4. All performances take place at Capsule, 1664 Broadway.
Plaza Art Fair, Sept. 20-22
Stroll nine city blocks packed with more than 200 artists, live-music performances and pop-up versions of favorite Plaza-area restaurants during one of the city’s favorite fall events. Now in its 88th year, the Plaza Art Fair offers art-themed fun for the whole family. Exhibits from arts-centric organizations like ArtsKC and the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art offer interactive experiences and a chance to learn more about local art.
Deaf Cultural Festival, Sept. 20-22
Explore the rich history of deaf art, identity, and empowerment during this annual event hosted by the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. The festival is also a celebration of American Sign Language, giving attendees a chance to learn more about and experience ASL through hands-on art activities, live entertainment, poetry, storytelling, and more.
Troostapalooza, Sept. 21
This family-friendly festival is a celebration of all things community. The day-long event is filled with things to see, do, and try, including live music, food trucks, craft vendors, games, live art, and more. Not only do attendees have a chance to experience this vibrant part of Kansas City; they’ll also help support artists and makers. Troostapalooza proceeds benefit the Troost Market Collective, a non-profit that strives “to create equitable economic opportunity for creative entrepreneurs, inspiring future generations through innovative partnerships and programming. Troost Market Collective will host artists, makers, and innovators in collective, creative spaces,” according to the Troostapalooza website.
2019 Charlotte Street Visual Artist Awards Exhibition, Oct. 3
The Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art and the Charlotte Street Foundation are teaming up again to host the Charlotte Street Visual Artist Award exhibition. The event will feature the work of three local artists — Boi Boy, Megan Pobywajlo and Fatimah Tuggar. The Visual Artist Award Fellows were announced earlier this year and each receives an unrestricted cash grant of $10,000. The Kemper Museum exhibition will continue through Jan. 26, 2020.
Finlandia and Schumann’s Piano Concerto, Oct. 4-6
Not only does this performance mark the start of the Kansas City Symphony’s 2019-20 season, it also celebrates music director Michael Stern’s 15th season with the Symphony. The performance will include Sibelius’ Finlandia, Schumann’s Piano Concerto, Smetana’s Blanik from Má Vlast, and the world premiere of the Kansas City Symphony commission, Daniel Kellogg’s The Golden Spike.
Kansas City Ballet Performs Carmina Burana, Oct. 11-20
Celebrate life and love with a rare opportunity to see the Kansas City Ballet perform Carmina Burana as it was originally intended. “Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana is a pulsating choral work that provides an incredible landscape for choreographed spectacle,” according to the Kansas City Ballet. “Most have experienced Carmina Burana in choral presentation, but few have seen it as it was originally imagined.”
Visions of the Flint Hills Art Benefit and Sale, Oct. 4 – Nov. 21
The Flint Hills region is the focal point of this 11th annual event. The juried exhibition benefits Friends of Konza Prairie, which “promotes educational research and experiences in the Konza Prairie Biological Station, an area of the Flint Hills just south of Manhattan, Kan.,” according to Buttonwood Art Space, which will host the benefit. An opening reception will be held on Oct. 4. Fifty percent of net sales from each artwork purchased will benefit Friends of Konza Prairie, with the remaining 50 percent to the artist.
Love Songs, Oct. 12
The world premiere of Owen/Cox Dance Group’s Love Songs will be held at Johnson County Community College’s Polsky Theatre. The dance work shares the name of Krystle Warren’s acclaimed double album, and the Paris-based singer/songwriter will join OCDG to perform live with a full band as part of the production.
Your Local Arts Resource Stay up-to-date on all things art with ArtsKC—Regional Arts Council’s ArtsKCGo, an online resource for arts and cultural events. The site includes a robust events calendar that enables organizations and artists to list upcoming events, free of charge. ArtsKCGo also includes an artist, organization and venue directories.
PorchFestKC, Oct. 12
Stroll through the streets of three Midtown neighborhoods—Roanoke, Union Hill, and Longfellow—while listening to regional bands perform on front porches. Now in its fifth year, PorchFestKC brings more than 100 musicians of different genres together for a festival to remember. Admission is free, and food trucks will be available throughout the area. Wear comfy shoes, bring a lawn chair and prepare for a live music experience like no other.
Día de los Muertos, Oct. 20
Celebrate Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, a Mexican tradition that, according to National Geographic, “demonstrates love and respect for deceased family members.” This year marks the Kansas City Museum’s sixth annual Día de los Muertos event in partnership with Kansas City, Kan.-based Mattie Rhodes Center. Although the Kansas City Museum is undergoing extensive renovations, the Día de los Muertos celebration will take place next to Corinthian Hall on the surrounding lawn. The family-friendly event includes plenty of activities for kids, such as face painting and crafts. Food trucks will be on hand, or pack a picnic. The celebration will also feature a performance by Stone Lion Puppets, an interactive Día de los Muertos altar, and a marketplace featuring local vendors. Día de los Muertos events will also be held at Mattie Rhodes Center and the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.
Kansas City Chorale Season Opener, “Faure, Brahms, Mozart,” Oct. 25
Immerse yourself in the captivating sounds of the Kansas City Chorale as they open their season with “Faure, Brahms, Mozart.” The performance begins at 7:30 p.m. at Village Presbyterian Church and includes Faure: Requiem (organ), Langlas: Messe Solenelle (organ), Brahms: Gesitliches Lied (organ) and Mozart: Laudate Dominum (organ). Several holiday-themed performances begin in early December.
The Phantom of the Opera Silent Film & Live Organ, Oct. 29
Plan a haunting, pre-Halloween evening at the majestic Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. The 1929 silent film, starring Lon Chaney, will be accompanied by a live solo organ played by acclaimed organist Dorothy Papadakos.
Folly Kids Series Presents The Rainbow Fish, Nov. 6
Kids and adults alike will delight in a live performance of The Rainbow Fish, based on the best-selling book by Marcus Pfister. See the adventure of the title character come to life as he battles resentment from other sea creatures because of his vivid, shimmering scales. The performance begins at 9:45 a.m. at The Folly Theater.
“The Vietnam War: 1945-1975,” a Traveling Exhibition from the New York Historical Society, Opens Nov. 8
Embark on a journey of U.S. involvement in Indochina with photography and artifacts. This traveling exhibit features objects like anti-war posters, a Viet Cong bicycle, the Pentagon Papers, and a troopship berthing unit to help tell the story of this divisive war and how it “challenged democracy, citizenship, patriotism, and the foundations of American life, as well as the connections between the conflict and its confounding cousin, World War I,” according to The National World War I Museum and Memorial, which will host the exhibit.
La Bohème, Lyric Opera Kansas City, Opens Nov. 9
Is there a more sweeping, transcendent operatic experience than seeing La Bohème? You’ll be riveted by the story of “an unrivaled romance” that “sets bright bohemian rhapsodies against a tragic trajectory, blending into one of opera’s quintessential tearjerkers,” according to the Lyric Opera of Kansas City. Don’t forget a handkerchief! Performances will be held Nov. 9, 13, 15, and 17 at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.