ARTSPEAK RADIO with Christopher Leitch, Michael Schonhoff, Susana Bruhn, & Christel Highland

Host/producer Maria Vasquez Boyd talks with artist Christopher Leitch, KCAI Crossroads Gallery Director Michael Schonhoff, Guildit Founder Susana Bruhn,, and artist Christel Highland.

Christopher Leitch is a multifaceted artist, a Buddhist adept at balancing the insistence of self with the workings of chance and the unexpected. Following early acclaim as a textile innovator, Leitch turned his focus to word works.
Featuring scrawled words and phrases in formats ranging from single drawings to multi-piece ensembles to room-scaled installations, the word pieces share a crudeness and immediacy arising from Leitch’s use of various self-distancing techniques, including writing upside-down and backwards or with closed eyes. Words are also a key element in Leitch’s long-running series of “dream drawings,” pairing intimate narratives with fanciful images of the bizarre encounters and occurrences that populate his nocturnal imaginings. “I’ve been making dream drawings and diaries since age 17,” Leitch said in a recent interview at his Merriam studio, where black boxes hold stacks of the drawings he has created since 2010. That’s when he devised the format he is using now, of typed descriptions around an area of white space. “I make notes when I wake up; then I type a detailed description,” Leitch said. Later he adds watercolor images in the allotted white space, using spinners and dice to determine which paragraph he will illustrate. Chance has always played an important role in Leitch’s work. So has discipline. He describes his routine of daily writing as “a regular part of Buddhist practice of developing qualities of mind and being observant.”
Leitch’s accounts of his dreams are vivid and detailed. Friends and family members, do certain settings. “Lots of things happen inside cars, restaurants and gardens,” Leitch said.
The images range from surreal, such as his portrayal of a dwarf in a shopping cart, to sweet. A charming vignette shows a hawk asleep in a shoe box; cats weave through many of these scenes.
Why the fascination with dreams? One obvious reason is their freedom from conscious control. They are also exceedingly private. “I had attended seven schools by 8th grade,” Leitch said. “Those rapid-fire life changes made me more of an introvert, which gave me a way of being in charge in a sea of change.”

The KCAI Crossroads Gallery: Center for Contemporary Practice is pleased to present chance diaries: dream things by Christopher Leitch. This exhibition and gallery residency includes new objects and drawings detailing the artist’s extensive dream journals. Leitch has had a wide-ranging artistic career as a costume designer, artist, illustrator, actor, graphic designer, and museum director. He earned his Master of Arts in Visual Arts from Goddard College in Vermont, and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Kansas City Art Institute (’84 Fiber). His works have been included in solo and group exhibitions across the United States, and have been published in Art in America, New Art Examiner, American Craft, and Surface. Leitch lives and works in Merriam, Kan.
“Chance operations are not necessary when the actions that are made are unknowing.” – John Cage
Opening Reception: Friday, February 2 from 6 – 8 p.m.
Public Program: Gallery talk with the Artist on Saturday, February 10 at noon

Michael Schonhoff Director of KCAI Crossroads Gallery: Center for Contemporary Practice- In 2015, a longtime supporter of KCAI generously gifted to KCAI 1819 Grand Boulevard, located in the Crossroads Arts District in Kansas City, Mo. This facility includes two galleries, a large studio space and an artist-in-residence apartment. Renamed KCAI Crossroads Gallery: Center for Contemporary Practice, the location provides an exciting opportunity for the college to extend its curricula to students and our connection with the community. This new facility serves as an experimental site for exhibitions, courses, creative residencies, performances, generative studio practice and special engagements.
KCAI Crossroads Gallery: Center for Contemporary Practice 1819 Grand Blvd.
Kansas City, MO 64108

Christel Highland is a fine artist, clothing designer, curator, writer, entrepreneur, and mother. Her studio practice focuses on elevating natural material. Currently, in her new studio, she’s finished her largest permanent installation in the gorgeous Equitable Building in downtown Des Moines, IA.

Christel is the co-owner and co-curator of Veritable Art, LLC, along with her beautiful and absurdly talented partner Lori Raye Erickson. Veritable Art is a new gallery concept going on a year old now. Currently showing at Veritable Art is Emily Sall, who has produced a next-level body of work. Christel is here to talk about Sall’s show, the rest of their roster, their talented photographer/ collaborator Lauren Schrader, and what they have in store.

Susana Bruhn is GUILDit’s Founder and Executive Director, as well as a visual artist, poet and owner of FluidUI Web Design. She has worked for the Kansas City Art Institute, Hallmark, Sprint, and a number of other organizations as an employee and consultant. Susana has a Masters in Education and a B.F.A. in Art from Iowa State University. She has also founded a local design group, held board positions, and curated art shows.
The founding of GuildIt was a collaboration among its’ Executive Director Susana Bruhn, Ewing M. Kauffman Foundation, Interurban ArtHouse, and ArtsKC. The organizations provided Ms. Bruhn with resources to formally establish GuildIt in 2015. One of her first moves was to invite leaders from various art disciplines to a pre-launch brainstorming session. Some of these leaders become GuildIt’s first advisors, event facilitators, and presenters.

In the past two years, GUILDit has built an excellent reputation in the offerings of forums, panels, and lectures. In addition, we launched GUILDit Bit, an electronic newsletter that highlights art and business entrepreneur opportunities, classes, events, articles, and videos. GuildIt’s Board is completing its first year of governance. Our board and staff are diverse, highly educated, represent various industries, and bring to GuildIt their experience in establishing and succeeding in art, business, education, and nonprofit work.
4th Thursday Forums- Our artists present their business for 6 minutes, followed by 20 minutes of brainstorming on their challenges, goals, and needs. // Forums are 4th Thursdays, 12-1pm, at the beautiful Kemper Museum. On 4/12/18 from 6-8pm at the Johnson County Central Library

Marriage Equality Dawns Down Under + A “Joy” Jock Loves His Mums + More!

This week on This Way Out:

Marriage Equality finally dawns Down Under; A Joy disc jockey loves his lesbian mums; an Inter-American Court ruling requires regional rights for same-gender couples, a Euro-Court Advocate General says spouse is inclusive, India’s top court reassesses the country’s infamous Section 377, a Wisconsin trans teen wins his school district anti-bias lawsuit, Cher confirms that shell be headlining this years 40th Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras, and more LGBTQ news from around the world!


Ben Hull; Diana & Dianne Ribero, Craig Burns & Luke Sullivan, Gillian Brady & Lisa Goldsmith, Michelle Edwards & Zoe Nolan, Antony McManus & Ron Van Houwelingen. 


Hosted this week by Greg Gordon and produced with Lucia Chappelle. NewsWrap reporters: Sarah Sweeney & Michael LeBeau; Producer: Steve Pride. Correspondents: Ben Hull; Barry McKay. Theme music: Kim Wilson. Add’l music: Bette Midler, Abba, Elton John. 

Living in the Shadow of the Border

As anti-immigrant elected officials turn Dreamers into bargaining chips for more border walls, the Heartland Labor Forum this week talks to three citizens who live at the U.S.- Mexico border, including one whose Indian reservation spans the border. We’ll find out what it’s like to face constant checkpoints and armed patrols, and why they want less walls and more cross-border community. Thursday at 6:00 PM, rebroadcast Friday at 5:00 AM.

Jane McAlevey on #MeToo & Labor, Art Way on Pot Recriminalization

This week on CounterSpin: Just as the #MeToo initiative to fight workplace sexual harassment underscores the power of standing together, a little-noticed Supreme Court ruling may fundamentally undercut the ability of women (or anyone) to band together in the workplace to fight harassment, pay inequity and discrimination. Jane McAlevey is a labor organizer and author of, most recently, No Shortcuts: Organizing for Power in the New Gilded Age. She joins us to talk about the potential role of organized labor in fighting for an equitable workplace, and world.

Also on the show: Marijuana is in a strange place these days—legal for recreational use in an increasing number of states, most recently California, and for medical use in many more—yet still illegal under federal law. It may sound like an issue that will shake itself out in time, but Attorney General Jeff Sessions hates marijuana, and looks set to use its legally uncertain status to link it back into the widely discredited “war on drugs” that has particularly devastated communities of color, while doing nothing to improve public health. We’ll talk about Sessions’ latest moves on pot with Art Way, senior director for national criminal justice reform strategy at the Drug Policy Alliance, and state director for DPA’s Colorado office.

KKFI Goes to the Dogs!!

Representatives from SPCA, Humane Society of Greater Kansas City, and Spay & Neuter KC will join host Craig Lubow to discuss homelessness among pets and services available to homeless dogs and cats.

Sean Roman, Beste Modus, Love Vibration Nation Label Spotlight, DISC 2 w/ RUBEO!

It’s an extra-special edition of Mind The Gap this weekend as J Zed features a new track by Sean Roman, one more track off the Beste Modus label, and a DISC 2 w/ RUBEO ahead of his Riot Room debut on January 22nd…but the big news belongs to the Love Vibration Nation label group and the myriad of 2018 signings they’ve accumulated. We’lll hear from label boss Marco DiCristo as well as Nicky Dee about what they’ve got lined up for the next 12 months (SPOILER WARNING: It’s gonna be a MADNESS). LOG ON, OR JOG ON…stream us worldwide at KKFI.ORG, or on your radio dial at 90.1 FM.

Evie Ladin and Deep Insights of the Buddha

Evie Ladin is our musical guest this week on Art of the Song. Evie is a banjo player, step-dancer, singer, songwriter and square-dance caller with a lifetime of experience in traditional American cultural arts. To quote the Folkworks website, “You don’t often hear words like “traditional,” and “authentic” paired with “innovative” and “unique,” but Evie Ladin brings them together brilliantly.” We visited with Evie and her partner Keith Terry in our Albuquerque studios. In the second half of the show for the Creativity Corner, we’ll hear from Thomas Bien, PhD, psychologist and author, with an essay entitled, Deep Insights Of The Buddha Part 2.

Evie Ladin

Evie has always been surrounded by music – credit to her upbringing as daughter of an international folk dance teacher, and an old-time folk music devotee, she grew up thinking that playing music, dancing, singing with others was what people do.  Though entrenched in the traditional cultural arts of Appalachia, her home was in Northern New Jersey, New York City, Baltimore – in cities, not mountains. But the tradition bearers came through these towns, and stayed in her house. They played in her living room, and weekends were spent running free at music festivals and house parties.

The neo-trad kinetic-folk of the Evie Ladin Band is a mingling of the deep Appalachian sound of clawhammer banjo, guitar, bass and percussive dance, with contemporary storytelling and original, conversational interplay among the band members. Some of their adventurousness comes from early hip hop in the high school cafeteria, some from Evie’s early attraction to, and study of, the African roots in Appalachian music and dance. She created an African Studies In Dance major at Brown University, then studied dance in Eastern Nigeria on a Fulbright Fellowship. While myriad world and contemporary music influences permeate the band’s choices, they never reach too far, remaining seamless and true to the stories they tell.

Her band has gathered an eclectic, devoted following, from A Prairie Home Companion to Celtic Connections, Lincoln Center to Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, First Nations reservations in Canada to a premier jazz club in Istanbul.

Precisely because Evie was raised to know that music, dance and singing are what humans do together, she is an avid educator and community facilitator, at all ages and levels, in diverse communities.  An electric and entertaining live performer, balancing performing with hands on teaching has proven extremely satisfying.  Music is meant to move. Music is to do. In listening, live or on record, Evie keeps bringing you back to these basics, while savoring the real stuff of life.  Jump the Fire!

Thomas Bien

Dr. Bien is a licensed psychologist, author, and mindfulness teacher.  In addition to his doctorate in psychology, he also holds a masters degree in theology from Princeton Theological Seminary.  He has been a life long student of Asian spirituality and meditation and is a former United Methodist pastor. His psychology background includes extensive clinical practice and research in the field of addictive behavior.

Final Show at The Factory

The Factory in Nashville has been the home of Music City Roots for the past few years and here we present our final live program from this historic venue.  Listen to great artists Anthony DaCosta, Dawn Landes, The Whiskey Gentry, and Suzy Bogguss putting down an excellent event to close out our season.  We’ll be on the road for the next few months with gigs from various cities as our new digs are constructed in downtown Nashville.

Anthony DaCosta

Anthony DaCosta‘s songs don’t extend metaphors or spin yarns. They shoot straight. The singer-songwriter and guitarist speaks plainly, from the heart and the gut.

da Costa grew up listening to everything: folk singers, rock icons, bluegrass revivalists, roots-rock storytellers like Dylan, as well as the pop on the radio. “I grew up listening to boy bands, singing in the church choir, performing in school musicals,” recalls da Costa. “There’s always a pop aspect to what I do, but one of my favorite singers is George Jones,” whose influence resounds in da Costa’s often tender tenor.

A seasoned sideperson, he’s toured extensively with Grammy-winning performers (Sarah Jarosz) and Americana darlings (Aoife O’Donovan). He’s shared the stage with everyone from Judy Collins to Kenny Loggins, played major festivals and late-night shows (CONAN), and written songs with hitmakers (Steve Poltz).

With his latest work, including his recent solo album DA COSTA, he adds the musical force of some of American folk and roots’ seminal cities to his forthright style. “In the past few years, since I moved from New York to Austin and then to Nashville, I’ve found my voice as a songwriter,” muses da Costa. “I’ve honed my band, made strong musical friendships. I felt like I started over and found what I needed to say.” You can hear it clearly in his songs, whether they are steeped in rock-country grit or frank folk.

Dawn Landes

Dawn Landes is a unique musical artist who presents the following as her bio…

“Other echoes inhabit the garden. Shall we follow? Quick, said the bird, find them, find them, round the corner. Through the first gate, into our first world, shall we follow

The deception of the thrush? Into our first world.

There they were, dignified, invisible, moving without pressure, over the dead leaves, in the autumn heat, through the vibrant air, and the bird called, in response to the unheard music hidden in the shrubbery, and the unseen eyebeam crossed, for the roses had the look of flowers that are looked at. There they were as our guests, accepted and accepting. So we moved, and they, in a formal pattern, along the empty alley, into the box circle, to look down into the drained pool.

Dry the pool, dry concrete, brown edged, and the pool was filled with water out of sunlight, and the lotos rose, quietly, quietly, the surface glittered out of heart of light, and they were behind us, reflected in the pool. Then a cloud passed, and the pool was empty.

Go, said the bird, for the leaves were full of children, hidden excitedly, containing laughter. Go, go, go, said the bird: human kind cannot bear very much reality.
Time past and time future

What might have been and what has been point to one end, which is always present”

The Whiskey Gentry

Following the release of their first two acclaimed albums, Please Make Welcome (2011) and Holly Grove (2013), the Atlanta-based band The Whiskey Gentry are set to release their third full-length studio album entitled Dead Ringer this spring. On it, the husband and wife duo of Lauren Staley & Jason Morrow and bandmates have created an effort that builds on many of the sounds of their previous albums – incorporating deep country, Americana, honky-tonk, bluegrass and a stiff shot of gritty rock ’n’ roll, yet it also finds the band testing themselves and pushing beyond their own boundaries.

Dead Ringer deals with growing up, and how that’s affected the band’s relationships, and the places they’ve gone and people they’ve met in the process. As singer/songwriter Lauren Staley puts it, “There’s also a lot of questioning where you are in your life: are you going to follow your dream, or are you going to do what society thinks you should do?”

It’s apparent with this effort that Staley & Co. have opted for the former. “A common lyrical thread throughout this album are stories about being on the road,” Lauren admits, “and chasing your dreams and the outcomes – either good or bad – in doing that.”

Stepping outside of the comfort zone of their previous recordings, the band has moved in a different direction musically. “Sonically, the biggest difference of this record is that we recorded it live together in the same room at Echo Mountain Recording Studio (Asheville, NC),” Lauren explains. “There are less overdubs, which makes it sound more like how it would if you were to see us in person – it’s raw, it’s not perfect. We worked with a producer for the first time (Les Hall), and he had so many amazing ideas we’d never thought of and really pushed us to think outside of our box. There’s an energy on this record that we’ve never captured before, and I think it was a complete game changer for our sound.”

Dead Ringer has more guitars, more attitude and more of an edge than anything the band has done before. It’s not such a massive departure in sound that fans won’t understand it, but they will notice. “We are not a different band,” Lauren explains, “but we’ve definitely grown up and are changed people from the time we started this band. I think we’re better musicians, better songwriters. We’ve learned lessons and we’ve worked hard, and we want to tell our current fans and new fans the stories of what we’ve experienced on this journey. Musically, there are still elements of bluegrass and honky-tonk in our sound, and there always will be. However, I think we’ve expanded the scope of what we can offer people – there’s something for everyone on this record.”

The Whiskey Gentry has been tearing up the road for the better half of the last decade, logging over 150 shows each year, and winning over crowds at major festivals such as Shaky Knees, Shaky Boots, Merlefest, Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion, FloydFest and many others. With the release of Dead Ringer they’ll continue this trend, bringing their raucous, high-energy shows to audiences from coast-to-coast.

The Whiskey Gentry’s Dead Ringer will be available on limited vinyl, CD and digital formats on April 7th via Pitch-A-Tent Records.

Suzy Bogguss

Suzy Bogguss didn’t set out to craft a Merle Haggard tribute record. Some might call that serendipity; she just calls it Lucky.

“Merle Haggard is a hell of a storyteller,” says Suzy. “When I hear his songs, I feel like I’m listening in on someone’s life.” On her new album, Lucky, a collection of songs all written by Haggard, Suzy does more than just listen—the CMA, ACM and Grammy Award-winning singer makes the country rebel’s compositions her own, reinterpreting classics like “The Bottle Let Me Down,” “Silver Wings” and “Today I Started Loving You Again” from a female point of view.

“Merle is one of the most masculine songwriters I’ve ever heard, and I’ve been watching boys cover his music for years. I just thought, ‘Why couldn’t a girl do this?’” Suzy says.

Turns out, a woman can—especially if that woman is Suzy Bogguss, one of country music’s most pristine and evocative vocalists. With the release of the Illinois native’s 1989 major label debut, Somewhere Between, Suzy quickly became one of the key artists that defined those golden days of ’90s country. She scored a string of Top 10 singles with country radio staples like “Outbound Plane,” “Drive South,” “Hey Cinderella,” “Letting Go” and “Aces,” and her 1991 album of that name was certified platinum. In addition, she scored a trio of gold albums and notched more than 3 million sales.

With Lucky, released on Suzy’s own label Loyal Dutchess, the singer comes full circle, returning yet again to her early inspiration.