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Category Archives: Arts Council
Spring by Jennifer Bricker-Pugh
Employee-owners at Burns & McDonnell don’t have to go to First Fridays to enjoy local art. They get to see it every day, hanging in lobbies and conference rooms and along corridors inside the world headquarters in Kansas City, Mo.
The firm participates in Now Showing, a program sponsored by the Arts Council of Metropolitan Kansas City that showcases working artists while bringing inspiration and diversity into the workplace.
More than 100 companies support the workplace exhibitions ranging from black-and-white photography to paintings on canvas that are rotated every quarter.
At Burns & McDonnell, the showcased artists are chosen by a volunteer committee composed of employee-owners who love or collect art or are artists themselves.
“It’s so interesting to see someone’s art and then get to meet the people behind the work,” said Gerilyn Goeddel, a Burns & McDonnell architect who helps select the firm’s art.
The selection committee has tried to choose art representing a variety of mediums, such as abstract acrylic on canvas, colored pencil and textural photography, said Goeddel, who loves to paint.
“This is such a great opportunity for the artists to be acknowledged and for us to share in their inspiration,” Goeddel said. “The program also has helped us build lasting partnerships within the arts community.”
Employee-owners have purchased numerous pieces from the featured artists, including some that were customized, she said.
“Viewing my work in these spaces allows me to step back and see the art through a fresh lens and determine the direction of my art practice,” said Sandra Van Tuyl, whose emotional landscapes were recently shown at Burns & McDonnell. “I value the input and support created by the Now Showing program as well as the longstanding friendships and contacts that have come out of it.”
Jennifer Bricker-Pugh, another featured artist, said one of the things she loves about the Now Showing program is that it transcends the gallery space.
“Suddenly your work is being seen by an entirely different community in a unique venue outside of the traditional gallery setting that draws a certain crowd,” said Bricker-Pugh, who enjoys meeting the people who view her paintings, many of which are inspired by the rolling hills and organic colors of the Kansas landscape.
“I want to blast through that shield of people thinking art is elitist,” she said. “Artists are people with a soulful urge to create, and our work is meant for those who just love what they see. You don’t have to be a collector or ready to buy a piece for that.”•
Companies around the metro are putting away the mass-produced décor and furniture art purchased from box stores for something with some local flavor. ArtsKC – Arts Council of Metropolitan Kansas City’s program, Now Showing, which started in May 2005, unites businesses with local artists to fill their corporate space and offices with the creativity and artistic quality traditionally only available in galleries and private collections. And the
benefits aren’t reserved for the artists, who enjoy an opportunity to exposed new audiences to their work and potentially make sales. Businesses report the program enriches their corporate culture and excites the workplace for employees and visitors alike.
For Roger Hoadley, Vice President and Director of Communications at Waddell & Reed, Now Showing has been part of the main building on the campus at Shawnee Mission Parkway and Lamar since May 2010. Upgrades to their space made company leadership realize local artwork would perfectly complete their renovations. “We really do give the employees and guests a chance to see some of the best local art. It’s also another chance to get engaged in a variety of work,” he says. The art is rotated quarterly and promoted through the company intranet. Hoadley says internal communications often includes a brief story about the artist, allowing an opportunity for employees to connect more deeply with the pieces exhibited in their space. “We want our employees to spend time with the art. As a consequence, several have purchased individual pieces.” These first-time art buyers are one of the core program goals, according to the Arts Council, which hopes that area employees will realize they can have private collections of their own for a much lower cost than one might expect.
Waddell & Reed has been part of the Kansas City community since 1937. “We are a long-time community supporter and believe it is important to give back to a variety of organizations,”” he says. The company, an asset management and financial planning firm, may not seem like a place that encourages art, but art is found everywhere. “I suppose folks would see us as a seemingly more academic place, but we all have creative aspects to what we do.” The campus houses about 1,200 employees.
The Now Showing portfolio includes artists working in a variety of mediums. “We have featured photography, sketches, watercolors, oils, acrylics and more. The pieces are vibrant and really do appeal to everyone from the senior executives to the new employees. It simply livens up the work place.” While company coordinators are encouraged to review the portfolio and make artist selections of their own, Arts Council staff is also available to assist those first-time participants in choosing the right work for their workspace. “We have had traditional and impressionistic pieces, as well as those that are very contemporary. That variety has been fun.” For broker Mike Stolberg at Lawing Financial, the Now Showing program has gone hand in hand with the company’s participation in the Art@Work competition. And similar to Waddell & Reed, when the company made physical changes including a move to the College Boulevard location, Now Showing seemed to fit. “We are more than bricks and mortar; we are a great group of people. Kerry Lawing,
President and CEO of Lawing Financial, allows us to have those sparks of creative fun.”
Stolberg has a diverse background, thoroughly immersed in the arts, which includes musical theater and piano. He grew up with family members involved with The Western States Arts Federation, including a father who was a broker and returned to school to become a choral conductor. He sings lead for the
company band, Toxic Assets, which includes three guitarists, a bassist and drummer. They won last year’s Art@Work performance category. The success there turned into gigs at the company Christmas party and a few local venues.
The Lawing Financial team is another group, ensconced in giving to its community, while having fun in the process. The 60 employees have held their own sorts of corporate challenges and other creative events to generate interest in the arts.
“Creativity really does begat creativity. People may not see themselves as artists, but you never know what the person in the office next to you can do,” he says. “It helps the office and the power of the team approach. Now Showing just adds to that. Our clients can see what local artists do. The art has also started conversations about the art people like and don’t like. We even have clients who want to know what artists we are bringing in. With all these aspects, we are raising awareness of the local art scene.”
Burns & McDonnell has long been a supporter of the rich and diverse arts community in Kansas City. Through its partnership with the Arts Council of Metropolitan Kansas City, the engineering, architecture and consulting firm has helped support local artists across the region gain momentum and develop successful paths for their work.
But the firm’s true inspiration of artists begins at home with its employee-owners.
“We are a culture of employee ownership — individuals are very important as our roles here are crucial to the success of this company,” says Caroline Cooper, a marketing coordinator and author. “Our art program gives us the chance to further demonstrate our sense of individuality and creativity.”
Burns & McDonnell celebrates its artists in an annual art show featuring their work at the world headquarters in Kansas City, Mo. The show ties in with Art@Work, a citywide corporate competition sponsored by the Arts Council, showcasing employees’ talents in visual and literary arts, music, dance, and film.
“We work primarily with engineers and architects, so creativity is a big part of what they do every day,” says Kerri Cole, a marketing coordinator and an art show organizer. “Utilizing the arts either in visual aspects or music performing is just another way to showcase that creativity.”
The annual sharing of art not only inspires others, it fosters the family friendly atmosphere Burns & McDonnell is widely known for.
“It really brings people together who maybe would never work together,” Cole says. “Once you experience your colleagues’ art, you learn something you never knew about them.”
Outside of the annual art show, Burns & McDonnell inspires its employee-owners to share their talents all year long.
Carol Schumacher is one of eight Burns & Mac carolers who began performing at company functions 12 years ago and recently joined the annual art show. The group sang at numerous company luncheons throughout the recent holiday season as its members continue to inspire others to share their artistic talents.
“I was inspired by my colleagues to get involved five many years ago,” says Schumacher, who also sings professionally with the Kansas City Chorus of Sweet Adelines. “It gives me great joy to now be sharing in the inspiration of other Burns & Mac artists.”
Ian Lacy, an assistant engineer, shares in that sentiment.
“Photography gives me the ability to capture beauty and emotion in a single frame and then play that back whenever I want — to slow down my own life and relive those special moments that have been glossed over or forgotten as time has increased in speed,” Lacy says. “It’s great. Not only can I do that for myself, I can do that for other people, too.”
Lacy’s photography has been showcased for several years in the firm’s art show in addition to being featured in marketing materials and other areas of the company.
“I am who I am. When I come to work I don’t automatically become an engineer. When I go home I don’t automatically become a photographer or artist or musician,” Lacy says. “Being part of a company that recognizes we all have different interests and to have it facilitate a venue where I can display my passion lets me feel a lot more integrated.”
Arts Council Funds Support Up-And-Comers
Nick Naughton and Angelica Sandoval are young up-and-coming artists in Kansas City. They have experienced their formal education and spent some time training through the Artist INC II, which helps by providing training in traditional business skills to artists. Plus they also experienced mentoring and peer networks. The two know of each other through the program. They also know each other’s drive through the acquisition of an Inspiration Grant from the Arts Council of Metropolitan Kansas City. Inspiration grants, a section of the ArtsKC Fund, are provided to artists living in the five-county area for specific projects or professional development.
Sandoval, who defines herself as a designer and sculptor, creates sculptural lighting. Her translucent spheres are individual with constant flow that often mirrors architectural elements. Her work, Celestial Bodies, placed in the BNIM windows, reminded Sandoval of little worlds, especially during the day. “The pieces really work individually or as a group. There were 150 in the BNIM windows and clearly have a feeling of movement,” she says. Along with the porcelain pieces, Sandoval welds with steel and electrical wiring. She also creates larger single pieces. “I also teach sculpture at Johnson County Community College.”
The porcelain spheres are a process of painting and dripping after casting the forms so no two appear identical. Even some appear as jellyfish sunbathing on a beach ball. “I suppose there are anthropomorphic forms.” Celestial Bodies was made possible in part by an Inspiration Grant and proves the significant connection between art and business. “My art became accessible to a non-traditional audience, a benefit of having it in a non-traditional space.”
Ironically, Sandoval started with a Kickstarter fund drive and a video. She is working on self-marketing. “I have learned how to video edit and manage a website. It’s part of my responsibilities if I want to be an artist.” Receiving the Inspiration Grant added to Sandoval’s confidence. “I knew I could get funding. It gave me funding.” The funding helped purchase the LED lights for the installation. “Visual artists tend to be more introverted. When I looked at the grant, I knew I had to communicate what I needed and I knew I needed help with funding. It was the first try for such a grant. I knew being part of the BNIM offices, I would have the opportunity to get a diverse group of people to see my art as part of First Fridays.”
According to the Art Council, an Inspiration Grant is a way for an artist to also receive some training on budgeting, writing about their work, and the granting process. The Arts Council staff commits hours to each applicant to help them through the process, a wonderful take-away even for those who are not finally awarded grant funds. Inspiration Grants are an investment in a small business. Each artist has their own small business and these grants are one way to support ART-repenuers in the community.
Artists are often able to leverage a small amount of money into more grants, more community support and more. An Arts Council Inspiration Grant can act as a stamp of approval for a project that brings in commitments from other parts of the arts community or philanthropic community.
Sandoval says she hopes guests to BNIM saw her work. “I hope to be part of a gallery and I would also enjoy seeing some of my sculptures in office buildings.” Her next big project will be one featuring smell as well to trigger memories. “In five years, I would like my own studio where I could teach small classes and focus on welding, clay and ceramics.”
Naughton has a fine arts background, but like Sandoval, he moved into a slightly different realm which he describes as eclectic. He also has two degrees in printmaking. “I may also be seen as a mixed media artist who happens to be one of three co-owners of a printing press company. Really, I like process-based media. It’s the meticulous troubleshooting; it’s thinking on my feet.”
Much of his personal art looks at social issues such as the immigrant work force that toils in the fields of the Southwest including New Mexico where he taught at Las Cruces. He spent time with the workers and created the worker series called Los Trabajadores. “Can you speak for another culture? That has been a battle in myself,” he says.
Naughton worked in the print shop at the Arts Incubator. “Then I realized I wanted to buy a press and the equipment. Applying for the Inspiration Grant encouraged me to seek this out.” Naughton and friends Eric Lindquist and Jordan Carr now own La Cucaracha Press in the City Ice Arts area of town, not far from Hospital Hill. The press projects are from many local clothiers, restaurants and individuals seeking that artistic flair. “We are building our business organically. We needed a studio and now with the equipment available we can design with a personal touch. We are building relationships.”
Naughton says he might try for another Inspiration Grant. “We are looking at what will change and grow the business. What programming do we need? Can we offer the community even more? Could we teach screen-printing? What other collaborations are possible? Grants such as the Inspiration Grant or the Rocket Grants linked to the Charlotte Street Foundation.”
He also teaches some classes such as screen-printing at the Kansas City Art Institute. He’s looking at teaching a pre-college course in the summer that gives high school students a taste of college life. “I am drawn to aesthetically beautiful and functional art. It is a craft as well. I like what I do. We just celebrated our first anniversary and that was a thrill to celebrate with friends, supporters and people have helped us move presses.”
In five years, Naughton wants to see the press shop grow and add more artists. “Not only are we a commercial business, we are also a place for fine artists. I want to diversify and meander.”
Just as Burns & McDonnell employee-owners draw on creativity and inspiration in their daily work, the firm is leading local efforts to support the artists shaping Kansas City’s unique and diverse mosaic.
The effort started six years ago with the celebration of its own artistic employee-owners in an annual art show featuring their work at the world headquarters in Kansas City, Mo.
The show ties in with Art@Work, a citywide corporate competition showcasing employees’ talents in visual and literary arts, music, dance, and film. This year the art show blossomed into more companywide events and performances to raise money for the ArtsKC Fund, a program of The Arts Council of Metropolitan Kansas City that supports more than 300 arts and cultural organizations across five counties.
Known for building strong partnerships in the communities it serves, Burns & McDonnell is continuing that work using its nonprofit foundation to connect with the arts.
“We’ve really started something here,” said Kelly Ellison, director of development for the Arts Council. “My hope is that next year we continue showing people that even a small donation strengthens the economy and builds momentum around the entire arts community we appreciate every day.”
Dale Trott, senior vice president and general manager of Environmental Studies & Permitting at Burns & McDonnell, is pioneering the firm’s evolving efforts of support.
“Life is sometimes gray and somewhat dull — art adds dimensions you don’t normally see,” said Trott, a musician and member of the Arts Council board. “It represents our enrichment of life.”
As part of the Burns & McDonnell art show this year, the foundation hosted a happy hour capped with a performance by the Kansas City Ballet. The event provided a platform for the Arts Council to share its message with more than 100 employee-owners. The foundation also featured a Kansas City Crossroads Arts District First Friday bus tour, which included four gallery stops, drinks and hors d’oeuvres — all for a good cause.
“We would love to see this event continue and grow not only among Burns & McDonnell employee-owners but with other arts supporters across the city,” said Melissa Lavin-Hickey, Burns & McDonnell Foundation director.
Building off its growing partnership, the ArtsKC Fund this year also joined Burns & McDonnell for its annual company picnic. Employee-owners and their families used quilt squares as their canvases for creating artwork. The squares were then used to make quilts donated to homeless families across Kansas City.
“Our volunteers had such a great time raising awareness for how important the arts are,” Ellison said. “And everybody who participated seemed to enjoy contributing to such a great cause.”