Friday Feature ~ “The Lively Arts in Kansas City!”

“The Lively Arts in Kansas City!” was my third published short story, way back in 2008. As I recall (across more than ten years), the story mostly wrote itself.

I’m sure the genesis of the story was the Botero statue you see above, which is in the collection of the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art here in Kansas City. The poor woman in bronze is using her hands to cover herself, fore and aft. I thought about her obvious distress and what she would want if she could have it; the obvious answer was clothing. The more I looked around at the sculpture in the city, the more I saw that they’d probably like to take a break from their artiness and do what they want for a while. (The pioneer mother, forever astride a broken-down horse, would probably like a bath. The giant spider sculpture would probably like something to eat. And so it went.)

And so I had them come to life and go about the city getting what they really wanted. The city marveled at them for a while but soon grew bored. The media covered it until the ratings dropped. And eventually all of the statues returned to their pedestals, having satisfied themselves. The bronze woman above, for example, now wore a modest dress (from Lane Bryant). My “point” was to poke a little fun at my hometown, which has a reputation for not appreciating its art or its history.

This story still holds the record for the fastest acceptance I’ve ever received. Knowing that it had an extremely local focus, I figured only a local publication would be interested in it. I had submitted it to a local ezine called Present, and within about three hours the editor wrote back saying the story was “brilliant” and that he wanted to publish it immediately. That was gratifying, especially since I still doubted my credentials as a fiction writer, certain that my two earlier publications were flukes.

Update 20MAR21 – The comment referencing putt putt golf is about Kansas City’s Nelson Atkins Museum of Art’s second year of hosting miniature golf on its lawn. Patrons, who pay for the chance to play, can putt their way through giant mock-ups of works of art. I’m not in favor of this; it think it cheapens the purpose of the art museum. But apparently it is quite lucrative, and museums are ailing financially during the pandemic. Perhaps I should write a sequel to the story I mention here. I could call it “The Lowly Arts in Kansas City.”

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2 Comments on “Friday Feature ~ “The Lively Arts in Kansas City!””

  1. Libby Says:

    I remember this story! Now one about the putt putt golf!

  2. markparis Says:

    Ha! Smart and original story idea. I wish I could think of something like that.


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