It’s the first Friday of the month, a warm May evening in Kansas City, and poet Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg is answering a question about a photograph of a tornado framed next to one of her poems hanging on the wall of the Genevieve Guldner Gallery. The former poet laureate of Kansas is explaining how she worked with professional storm chaser Stephen Locke to pair his dramatic images of twisters darkening the night skies over the Midwest with her lyrical, other-worldly poetry. She’s had a steady stream of people view the exhibit, titled “Chasing Weather,” and some walk away with a copy of the book of the same name, which is for sale at the center of the exhibit. Mirriam-Goldberg’s exhibit isn’t located in a packed art gallery in the Crossroads. She’s set up in the Guldner Gallery on the main floor of the Kansas City Public Library.

Mirriam-Goldberg was part of the Library’s first Art Starts at the Library event. Visitors are invited to begin their First Friday outings at the Central Library to enjoy its art galleries, live music on the rooftop, a special story time for families, and a complimentary bar. Art Starts at the Library started in May, and will continue Friday, August 5, from 5:30 - 7:30 p.m., and every other month thereafter.

The library’s galleries feature new exhibits every six weeks or so. In August, the Guldner Gallery houses “Second Time Around,” a thought-provoking exhibit featuring 35 discarded hubcaps transformed into pieces of art. Upstairs, guests can browse the “Republican Showdown in Kansas City” installation in the Rocky and Gabriella Mountain Gallery. It focuses on the three days in 1976 when Kansas City hosted the GOP Convention.

After taking in the galleries, the next stop is the Library’s famous rooftop terrace, where musicians Mikal Shapiro and Louise Thiolon will perform against the backdrop of a gorgeous Kansas City skyline. In May, the library welcomed the band Ruddy Swain, seen above, performing to a rooftop crowd.

Art Starts at the Library is also family friendly. Parents looking to entertain their children, during their evening out, can bring their small ones to the children’s area for a special story time, then head to the roof for live music.

The May event saw nearly 200 people come through the doors of the Central Library. Many live and work downtown, and the Library expects to see crowds grow over the months. Patrons and artists say it was a hit. Mirriam-Goldberg enjoyed discussing her work with individual visitors, and later the music on the roof. “I even sold enough books so my husband and I could go out for a late dinner date after this,” she said.

 

Free parking is available in the Library’s garage and the nearest KC Streetcar stop is only steps away on Main St. For more information go KClibrary.org. Attendance is free. 

Courtney Lewis is the Media Relations Coordinator for the Kansas City Public Library. A previous career as a TV news producer brought her to Kansas City from her native New England, but KC’S architecture, people, and food have kept her here. She will also always ask you what you are reading.

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