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Category Archives: Visual
When reminiscing on a favorite First Fridays experience, what first flashes through your memory? Is it a specific artist or artwork, or the cacophony of street vendors, performers, smells from food trucks, and musicians as you wove through busy Crossroads streets? Where does a party become a serious event, and how does an event become an elevated experience? In the city most densely populated with art organizations per block in the country, it is no wonder that solutions for drawing passerby from the street are becoming more prevalent and creative. Those artists who are brainstorming these solutions are some of the most infectious and acclaimed in the community.
Because Kansas City is so globally accomplished in the commercial arts of advertising, design and illustration, it’s no wonder that companies like Hint, (formerly known as T2) have taken off as lead innovators in this field. Without a huge separation in the art and design fields, our town breeds collaboration and experimentation even from the largest brands.
Through the work of Interactive Design Director Garrett Fuselier who graduated from Kansas City Art Institute in 2008, Hint has pioneered a department which does not effectively exist otherwise regionally. Think back to Fashion for a Cause 2008. Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts visitors had a prescribed idea of how a fashion show in the Midwest would exist. This idea was shattered as a giant spandex screen which covered the stage bore life to large aesthetic-driven graphic projections and then was sucked into a conical shape, from the center of which walked the first model. The model’s footsteps were recorded by, shockingly, microphones from Hallmark greeting cards. The small chips which are used to play music or a recording when the card is opened were reprogrammed to sense the proximity of the model on the catwalk above. The projection on the Spandex tube grew and breathed to the pulse of the model’s pace. Simple and inexpensive, yet so seamlessly integrated into the heartbeat of the event that the fashion show goers invariably felt more tuned into the mechanics of the work. They have also worked with immersive video experiences for the Kauffman Center and The Nelson-Atkin Museum of Arts’ patron dinners.
Video has a high propensity for viewer engagement because it engages our senses through visual and auditory components. Directly relative to exhibition design, both encourage the viewer to interact spatially with the art piece through a prescribed pathway. Experience design considers the ephemeral nature of time and happening. They present those elements to the viewer and allow them to easily design their own memory. Famously Whoop Dee Doo, headed by Jaimie Warren, would kick off their art happening television shows with a dance party, and then introduce local drill teams and performers in front of a live audience. At their venue’s closing party the entry corridor was lined with white trash bags, pulsating from the jet streams of many hidden fans. Emptying into a tiny room filled with eccentrically dressed spectators, a couple of punk kids ran onto a small platform and rolled around the ground playing guitar before destroying their instruments on stage. Drinks were thrown, fur coats were ruined and everyone left with a vivid memory of the night’s crazed happenings.
Rises Zora, the immersive series of events by last year’s Charlotte Street curator-in-residence Jamilee Polson Lacy was perhaps so successful because of its attention to experience manufacturing. Gorgeously designed handouts were distributed at each event, creating a degree of recognition which readers were able to later identify as a physical memory. Parking lot film screenings, gallery openings and garden parties were constructed to engage art goers with sensual social experiences. The happenings employed blindfolds, mazes and treasure hunts to engage the attendee both aesthetically and almost “selfishly,” and the consequences were stupendous. Social media bore the excitement of these art goers for months following the events. Garrett Fuselier coins this bond to an experience as the “sponge state.” In this mental capacity the spectator moves into an interactive role in which they begin to transfer their past knowledge of the present elements and become completely enraptured and curious. What is required to trigger this state is dependent on the audience. Older viewers are more fearful of technology, Fuselier states, and you have to hide the receivers and wires because they worry they might break them. Younger audiences actually enjoy having the interaction of texting or holding a device.
Maria Montessori, pioneer of the early education philosophy of hands-on experiential learning philosophizes the stage from birth to age three as the age of “unconscious creation.” During those early developmental years children use senses to engage and evaluate their surroundings instinctually. Based on this postulation, one could host an exhibition made purely from color projection and create something very representational, although it is devoid of any deportable object. Electronic music and dubstup employ primal urges: fades and beats set at the beginning of a song meant to draw an audience to the dance floor references the muffled beating of a mother’s heart from within the womb. “You can go intimate, you don’t have to make something big,” Fuselier said.
Interactive design is historically involved with web and interface technologies, on your laptop or touch-screen device. Trade shows are a huge venue for the concept as well, encouraging visitors to a booth to immerse themselves in order to leave a lasting impression of a company’s brand. Where these “next-level” technologies cross with our public events and gallery practice, a path is illuminated towards some of the most popular and successful artists in the Kansas City scene. Consider some of the most popular art instillations in the last five years and what have made them so successful. The Rain Room by Random International at the MOMA often attracts lines up to six hours to walk through an interior space which rains yet never gets the visitor wet. James Turrell’s Skyspace in the Guggenheim soaks the viewer into its magnificent palette of projected color.
As the year unfolds and warmer weather allows for more outdoor and mobile activity, stay on the lookout for the art movement towards experiential rather than statically interactive work. Exhibitions which allow the viewer to emotionally reciprocate and co-create a space not only engages for a longer duration, but may actually create a memory stronger than any costly print or branding campaign. Upcoming events utilizing this philosophy include Hello Art’s annual fundraiser on February First Friday, based at Hotel Phillips downtown. For more information regarding experiential artwork and who is riding at the top of this trend, pick up a January copy of The Bohemian and check out our featured article on experiential design.
To read more and subscribe to The Bohemian Zine, visit thebohemianzine.com.
Sometimes enthusiasm isn’t just a noun that defines zeal or fervor, it can become a heartfelt drive issued from two people that a couple of dozen buy into … and that is what happened with Red Dirt’s co-founders Christina Eldridge and Dawn Taylor and the two-dozen and increasing number of artists producing cool art that has been added to phone cases.
Without any further description, it sounds like any start-up entrepreneurial story, but Eldridge and Taylor are more than business owners, they are women with great hearts. Those hearts have been affected by trips to Africa. Eldridge has served with Medical Missions while Taylor traveled with the Change the Truth organization, founded by local photographer Gloria Baker Feinstein.
“Water.org keeps its headquarters here and they are a nonprofit aimed to provide access to safe water and sanitation in Africa, South Asia and Central America. We are focused on emphasizing the needs in West Africa. We want to give them opportunities and the ability to solve problems,” Eldridge says.
Taylor says social impact comes not just at the end of the year because of the time of the year, but for Red Dirt, it’s with every transaction. For every purchase of a $37 case, Red Dirt gives $5 to Water.org. According to Taylor, the ability to give someone clean water for life is simply selling 5 cases for a donation of $25. “We believe businesses can make a measurable difference in the world and help solve problems within our lifetime—not as a year-end decision, but with each and every transaction. With the company, we know that the art is tangible and vibrant. We purchase the art and feed the artist ecosystem here.”
Red Dirt launched with 18 designs and every Monday, a new design is rolled out, Eldridge says. “The core artists are from Kansas City. They are creatively helping the world.” The two prove to be driven team where the phone cases are just the first product line. “The next product line will include T-shirts and that should be launched by late fall,” she says. “The phone cases are simply a first. We are growing the conscious capitalism. Is there a story behind what you buy?” Taylor says.
Here are the stories of four artists from the Kansas City metropolitan area who jumped into the first cadre of artists. More than two dozen local artists have shared their work with Red Dirt. The four artists are also able to enjoy the philanthropy and what the future may hold for Red Dirt.
Ada Koch is a painter who prefers oils and acrylics also shares her skills with others at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Holy Name School in Kansas City, in locations around the Crossroads and out of her own studio. “I moved here 23 years ago and took up painting. I ended up studying at the Kansas City Art Institute. It was about 21 years ago that people started buying my art,” she says. Some of her art is mixed media with oils and acrylic paints, sometimes collaged with papers and oil pastels.
Koch’s work has appeared in book illustrations and designs. “I know Dawn and she knows my work; she has been to my studio during First Fridays. Being commissioned to provide a piece of art, I was frankly thrilled. Christina and Dawn recognize that art is valuable and that we artists are valuable. I feel like the art makes the product a little more valuable. There are many places where people can get phone covers, these are unique.”
Along with sharing her art, Koch says the chance to help provide clean water for those in desperate need in Africa is altruistic. “What could be a better cause than helping provide clean water so that folks can help themselves,” Koch says. “Knowing the two women as I do, I was more than happy to participate. It is all for a greater good. Every step of the way, they are helping artists and helping villages get water. I think about how and when we spend our money, there is an appeal with this buy local concept, plus it is making our purchasing dollars have more impact.” Along with teaching, Koch is finishing up two paintings for a show in Florence, Italy that starts in early December.
Bren Talavera graduated from art school in 1986. She worked as an art director for Hallmark while continuing her own studio work. After a time, she left Hallmark and pursued her own art full time. Fellow artist Tammy Smith worked with Talavera at Hallmark and she had already done a phone case design for Red Dirt. “Tammy gave them my name because she told me that Dawn and Christine were actively searching for artists. I was contacted by e-mail; I did a little investigating and Tammy told me about the charity work. It was a way to contribute in a bigger way to come up with a phone case. A surface design on a product can have a short life, but I really liked that my art would be a vehicle to give back over and
Talavera is an artist who taught herself computers during her first job working for Boeing Airplane. She designed airplanes for government proposals. “I always looked at computers early on as not an end-all, but essentially another pencil or technical pen. I don’t go strictly digital. My customers and consumers want to see that I did the artwork. The work is not perfect and to me, that adds to the charm.”
Charm and benefit combined when Eldridge and Taylor asked her for a piece of art. “I was just thrilled to have them appreciate the art. We don’t think about fresh water, but I want my kids to see the things we take for granted. If my artwork can reach further, that is wonderful. I could see the relationship continuing and I feel indebted to them.”
Talavera’s artwork depicts her love of the sea. “I like to use a mix of both conventional and digital methods to create my work. I love watercolor, ink, graphite, and cut paper. I usually scan my art, and then play with color and composition on the computer combining digital imagery and textures.”
Mike Savage grew up in Kansas City, Kansas and has been a local artist since his time studying at the University of Kansas. “I went to work as an art director. I even bought into a design firm. No matter what, I set up my easel and kept painting. In 1999, I sold my part of my business and turned from working all week and painting on the weekend for myself to painting all week long.” Dozens of his works were in JJs on the Plaza. “If you have a passion, it is about playing it a day at a time. I learned the fundamentals as a junior at KU. I keep those fundamentals viable. I learn from everything I do and make those corrections.” Savage’s work is colorful and whimsical, but the image is realistic in its depiction of whatever still life he is painting. “He works mostly in acrylics and oils. Savage is observant and enjoys capturing many Kansas City landmarks in his art.
As for joining the Red Dirt organization, Savage initially says it’s because he believes. “When Christine and Dawn told me what they were striving for, water to live for families all over the world, it seems like a no-brainer. Even in this country, there are needs. I knew I needed to do something for Red Dirt. I know you can’t do everything, but we are a generous community and we do our best.”
Savage harkens back to what archeologists find. “Think about when they dig up ancient civilizations, there are recipes to make beer, artifacts and art. There’s often beauty and a chance to learn. It comes down to education. The more you learn about people, you gain respect. Something like this comes along, you see the good work and the excitement.”
Melissa Dehner is another artist tapped to create the art for a phone case. She received an e-mail from a friend who told her about Red Dirt. “I went to school to be an illustrator. I want my work to be thoughtful in a positive way. I draw from life and keep my work light-hearted and full of humor.”
Dehner has offered work for Art Unleashed through the Humane Society and Wayside Waif’s Strut With Your Mutt. “I like animal and children’s charities. I am not a doctor or nurse. What I do best is art. I know art is a luxury item, but with the phone cases and other accessories and clothing, art can be affordable. I support what Red Dirt does. I would rather have my art out there and making people happy. Red Dirt has a good heart and good intentions.”
She appreciates that the artists receive a stipend for their artwork. “The Red Dirt women are aware that we are business people. The other joy is that there are about two dozen of us who are local for the most part and it’s like shopping local.” As for her future work, Dehner plans on more prints, a new series, an alphabet to illustrate and a children’s book. “My goal from college was to send my parents to the store, and let them see a product packaging I designed.”
Dehner’s designs are often a combination of acrylic paint, graphic pencil, Illustrator and Photoshop. “It’s a nice mix of hand-created art with some digital enhancements. This particular design, with the black dog, is a little tribute to all the wonderful black dogs (and cats too) that have such a hard time getting adopted from the shelters. I’ve been ‘lucky’ enough to have owned a wonderful black cat as well as a black lab mix for years!”
Author and illustrator Shane Evans, who provided art for Red Dirt, also spent time with the children of St. Mary Kevin Orphanage of dialoging through sketches. When Taylor went to Uganda as part of the Change the Truth organization, she found a couple of artists that needed to be part of the artist cadre. Brian Okecha and Opio Nicky are two in the inaugural collection. Taylor found the two when she volunteered in December 2011 at the orphanage. Okecha helped pay for his educational fees when he received his stipend and Nicky used his to take his National Examination.
Other local artists include Morgan Georgie and Carrie Kiefer of Ampersand Design Studio, Brady Vest and Hammerpress, graffiti artist D. Ross “Scribe,” illustrator Laura Huliska-Beith, glass and light painter Lisa Lala, urban designer and illustrator Phil Shafer/Sike, copper letterpress plate and lead type artist Eric Lindquist, artist Garnet Griebel, pen and ink artist Janelle Dimmett, toy designer and illustrator Jeremy “MAD” Madl, Angie Dreher-Bayman and Michelle Dreher of Two Tone Press, painter and sculptor Tom Corbin, acrylic texture artist Tina Blanck, artist and surface designer Tammy Smith, oil canvas artist Suze Ford, painter Steven Haskamp, and naturalist Jeremy Collins.•
Director Colby Smith is a sort of chameleon. He’s as comfortable wearing grubby work clothes and a beat-up cowboy hat as he is wearing a suit and tie. The space he helps direct is also a sort of chameleon that has been camouflaged near downtown, but like a chameleon, red lettering spelling out STUDIOS INC may be the start of stepping into the light.
Studios Inc started in 2004 with the hope to offer mid-career artists residencies of two to five years. After some evaluation, the decision from the board was to offer three-year residencies with current artists able to apply for an additional three-year stay. “We don’t want any artist to move out of here when he or she is on the cusp of major projects, installations or significant exhibitions,” Smith says.
The 51,000-square-foot building at 17th and Campbell has space for 13 artists and gallery space. Smith says at least two artists are rotated out during the annual process. “It’s a joy to see artists who are at the point they can move forward with all this knowledge they gained here. The progress is always so substantial.”
Substantial also describes the process for the artists and the selection committee. “It’s a tough task. We have a couple of our board members, four arts professionals and one artist who is exiting to help with the process.” The process can stretch from August to December. “Once the artists are vetted, they have to create a plan,” Smith says. “We usually have between 40 and 50 applicants which are narrowed down to 20 to 25 and the panel then looks at 6 to 9 finalists. They visit current studios. For me, it’s a great part of the job to invite the selected artists to join us.”
Before the story moves any further, let’s define mid-career. Smith says an artist must be seven years past being in the educational system, actively showing work and seeking out more opportunities. “Our goal is to find the best and brightest who can articulate what they are doing and their needs. There is a great deal of support for emerging artists, but those working artists with a modest career and often families to support are fighting the good fight but need more support. We at Studios Inc try to lift the burdens that are hindering them. We alleviate some of the stresses.”
And here’s one more piece of background information from Smith. “When I was in sixth grade in Emporia, Kansas, I would pass by this hotel and former art professor Rex Hall took me in and showed me the art he did and the grand hall. In my young mind, I thought about how artists could use this space. They could have rooms and then a great area to show their art. It really all started there.”
In 2003, he opened Gallery HQ, an alternative contemporary art space that occupied locations in the West Bottoms and in the Crossroads Gallery District. A year later he teamed with Brad Nicholson to found the Studios Program. “There really was no existing model for us so we developed in an organic way. There is a somewhat clear pathway for an artist. You get degrees and then start looking at ways to build your career. The trajectory can be upward, but then often a plateau. It’s not a sprint, but a long distance race and often not a lot of people will lift you up when you stumble. We realized we could fill that void.”
Recent visitors to Studios Inc have come from China. Smith says a contemporary art specialist was thrilled with the facility as well as with the contemporary artist movement she saw in Kansas City. “We are looking at ways to let people know about the artists working in their own backyards. They are folks who are helping make Kansas City a great place.” The facility has played host to the Alliance of Artists Communities where 60 directors from programs around the United States marveled at Studios Inc. “We have had people tell us ‘you can’t do this’ and we just smile and say we can.”
As an example, working artists are rotated in the gallery space and the community is invited in. On Sept. 13, the second Friday, Diana Heise’s works will be on display. She is a contemporary artist whose works include photography, video, sound and installation. Smith says she runs the artistic gamut. The exhibition is up through most of October. Studios Inc’s gallery is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and noon to 4 p.m. Saturdays when exhibitions are up.
Smith says the success of the artists pleases him. In the future, expect steps toward even more sustainability through local foundation support and creating an endowment to be used for the long-term care of the building. He also expects the Corporate Collector’s Program to expand and the Studios Patron Program to continue to provide the opportunity for a heightened level of dialogue between resident artist and patron through studio visits and exhibitions. As with the patronage concept during the Renaissance, the patron funds an artist’s studio, learns about the creative process and tries to provide additional career advancement assistance.
Along with supporting mid-career artists, Studios Inc also supports art interns who get a robust education in the way the “art machine functions,” Smith says. “The interns can’t believe how it all works and connects. The trick is to be approachable. We are always encouraging the artists to see that every endeavor is linked.”
Artists work according to their schedules and not one forced on them, Smith says. So it can be a bit of a surprise as to which artists are in and working. One day, only a couple of artists were in. First, Robert Bingaham was in his studio. He paints large American landscapes, but the residency is allowing him to explore some new concepts. He’s working on 16 palm tree paintings with colors inspired by fashion magazines. “Palms symbolize luxury and paradise,” he says.
Bingaman has been producing and exhibiting his work professionally since 2007. He earned a BFA from the University of Kansas in 2005, and an MFA from the Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis in 2007. He is currently a lecturer in Painting and Foundations at the University of Kansas, where he also serves as the Union Galleries Curator and Fine Arts Advisor. “It’s a huge honor to be part of Studios Inc. I knew about the place for years and I wanted to get in,” he says. “I respect the process and the other artists. It is a chance to have an art space, freedom, respect, shows and exposure. It’s a reward and an award to get what you need and want as an artist. This can be a game changer.”
Matthew Dehaemers graduated in 2002 with a master of fine arts from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Dehaemers was one of 10 graduating master’s students in the country to receive the Joan Mitchell Art Fellowship. Five of Dehaemers’ projects have received national recognition by Public Art Network’s Year in Review as outstanding and innovative public art projects. Recently, he completed a public art project for the L.A. County Public Art Commission.
Right now, he is working on a piece for Arrowhead Stadium. He is using Osage orange wood, a common tree on the Great Plains, which was used for bow making by many native tribes. Dehaemers takes branches that attach to these finely-hewn pieces of Osage orange to depict how a team is shaped. “There is the rough, raw material and in the center is a football or seed that is nurtured. Lamar Hunt had a playful side and the folks at the stadium are keeping that,” he says.
In March 2014, Dehaemers will have his solo show at Studios Inc. He has created some large structures such as a monster truck that people will interact with, thanks to the toys of his children. “Being a dad is inspiring,” he says. “Being here affords me the ability to create large projects and make connections. I have a great work space and I’m in proximity with other artists. We are forming relationships with each other and the patrons.” Smith agrees. The goal is to be welcoming to everyone.
“We can use the art as an educational opportunity. We can have more engagement. We can help represent the Crossroads and the art scene in this cool metropolitan area.”
Toy and Miniature Museum Staff Prepare for Work to Become the National Museum of Toys and Miniatures
By Kellie Houx
In about three months, the Toy and Miniature Museum, nestled on the UMKC campus, will close and in about a year, sometime in early 2015, will reopen officially under the name of the National Museum of Toys and Miniatures.
The official announcement about the name change came in late October 2012 during the start of the museum’s 30th anniversary celebration. Within the turn of the calendar, more than $8.5 million has been raised of the needed $9.2 million for renovations and the timeline has been set.
The museum’s last official day will be Jan. 5, 2014. On Jan. 6, the museum closes for about a year as major renovations begin to the facility including the replacement of the HVAC system. Along with the improvements to an aging structure, the museum staff will also gain new exhibition spaces and more interactive displays.
Board Chairman Vincent Gauthier says the national search, the museum staff and board selected Oakland, California-based West Office Exhibition Design to create a master plan and craft new exhibitions for the museum. Steve Wiersema, principal, was in town for the announcement. “We are going to focus on visitor experiences and making them better. There will be engagement and new information. We are going to help move the museum from a collections museum to that national museum where people know the untold stories.”
The museum board has also hired the firm of Helix Architecture + Design to work with West Office Exhibition Design and McCown Gordon will manage the construction project. Gauthier says the University of Missouri-Kansas City has also been helpful in planning. The museum opened on October 20, 1982.
Museum Director Jamie Berry says the combined efforts of the board and staff with the help of benefactors and community philanthropists should make up the needed $700,000 before the end of the year. After the museum closes, the community can follow the renovation on the museum’s Facebook page or the new blog. Donations can be made right now, she says. “We want to keep the community engaged,” she says. “The steps we are taking put us on the pathway to becoming nationally accredited.” After the museum has closed, the community can follow the renovation on the museum’s Facebook page, facebook.com/toyandminiaturemuseum, and new blog, toyandminiaturemuseum.org/blog.
Gauthier hopes that when people are heading to the Plaza, they think of three museums to visit – The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art and The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures. “There is going to be real opportunity to see lots of improvements to this world-class museum. Personally, over the next decade, I also want to make the grounds more appealing.”
Before the doors close for about a year, there will be several opportunities to take a stroll through the museum.
Into the Night Sea
Saturday, November 16
6-9 p.m. | Free
Between waking and dreaming there lies a magical, haunting world. Into the Night Sea navigates the unsettling world of childhood nightmares through a series of short films combining visual art, photography, and dance with an accompanying soundtrack of re-imagined traditional lullabies. Don’t miss the family-friendly project’s free public screening and live performance at the museum. For more information about the project visit intothenightsea.wordpress.com.
Family Day: Optical Illusions
Friday, November 29
10 a.m.-4 p.m.
You won’t believe your eyes! Skip the long lines of Black Friday and bring the family to the museum to explore the magical world of Victorian optical illusion toys. Search for these toys throughout the museum to experience the fun and simple technologies that led to modern-day animation and film. Then, create your own spinning optical illusion toy and participate in the earliest form of cinema: a grand magic lantern show. Have fun and be mesmerized during this special family day! Included with the cost of admission.
Coleman Open House
Saturday, December 7
10 a.m.-4 p.m. | Talks at 11 a.m., 1:30 p.m., and 3 p.m.
Explore the museum’s largest dollhouse from the inside out at this special event! Once a year, museum educators open the doors to the nine-foot tall and seven-foot wide Coleman House for visitors to discover the treasures hidden inside. Find evidence of gas lighting and much more during three special talks. Included with the cost of admission.
Sunday, December 22
Hear stories of Christmases past from Father Christmas himself! Before passing along your wish list, assist professional storyteller Jim “Two Crows” Wallen as he tells interactive tales of the role of Santa Claus throughout American history. Included with the cost of admission.
Saturday, January 4
1-2 p.m. and 2:30-3 p.m.
Relax after the holiday hustle and bustle with a free concert at the museum. Simply Strings will fill the museum galleries with merry 19th century tunes played on a variety of stringed instruments. Included with the cost of admission.
The Kansas City metropolitan area is full of art. That’s a pretty cut-and-dry statement, but what about the where and when? Sure, the Plaza Art Fair runs Sept. 20-22 and the Unplaza Art Fair is Sept. 21-22. The Westport Art Fair, designed exclusively for Kansas City artists, is Sept. 6-8. Here are a few dates and events that might be worth checking out.
Brush Creek Art Walk
The Brush Creek Art Walk’s goal is simple, “to help unify the artists and the people.” Unlike the Plaza Art Fair and Westport, this is a chance to see the artists, whether performing or visual artists, creating their art from start to finish,” says painter and co-program chair Greg Summers. “The city wanted a way to get people to find out more about the new Brush Creek Streamway that they had been working on since the flood during the early 1990s. Splitting the four miles into four different zones that the artists painted in helps in our own little way to get people east beyond the Country Club Plaza. And for those who can’t get there along the streams to see the artists paint, you can always learn about the area through the eyes of those artists when the work goes to the Bruce R Watkins Cultural Center for exhibition and sale.” The other co-chair is Anne Garney.
The art walk is Sept. 13-15. Plein-Air painters will have three days to complete paintings on-site along the creek. Music is planned for Sept. 15 at Theis Park amphitheater. Some of the line-up includes Barclay Martin & Rick Willoughby, Marking Music, Az One, She’s a Keeper and Expassionates.
Artists will enter their finished paintings for a chance to show in the gallery at Bruce R. Watkins on Oct. 3. The art opening is from 5-8 p.m. The exhibition is juried and the art will be for sale. The paintings will remain on display for three weeks until Oct. 24. The gallery, located at 3700 Blue Parkway, is open to the public: Tuesday – Saturday 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
RAW: Kansas City presents TRANSLATIONS
On Sept. 26 at the VooDoo Lounge at Harrah’s Casino, artists who work in fashion, music, film, performance, photography and hair & makeup gather together for a RAW event. RAW: natural born artists is an independent arts organization, for artists, by artists. The mission is to provide independent artists within the first 10 years of their career with tools, resources and exposure needed to inspire and cultivate creativity. As of the end of July, artists committed to the event include fashion designers, hairstylists and visual artists.
RAW currently operates in nearly 60 cities across the United States, Australia, Canada and London, England. Brie Henderson, a local actress and model, is currently serving as emcee for the year’s productions. “It’s important to support RAW as a community because it is a unique opportunity for a select few artists to showcase and sell their work to a wide variety of people who may not have seen it otherwise. The shows themselves are hybrids, part art show, part concert, and part party, to be honest. The public gets a chance to experience local art and talk with the people who created it, which I also think is a very special thing. I hope that Kansas City’s RAW community continues to expand and reach as many artists and art lovers as possible,” Henderson says.
Photographer Robert Hoops, who has participated in past RAW events, explains the benefits. “I’ve met models, designers, other visual artists and more and we stay connected to help each other out with our own various projects.
Bringing in other creative friends and giving them a chance to network and show off their work to the public has been great too. At the last event, four of the other featured artists were some of my best friends. And thirdly, it makes you create work. You go in to a show a few weeks out thinking ‘All my stuff is old, it’s been seen already!’ so it makes you create new work. I think I value that the most.”
Jewish Arts Festival & Events
Jill Maidhof, the director of Jewish Life & Learning, calls the Jewish Community Center a cultural powerhouse, offering some of the most vibrant and varied arts experiences in the metropolitan area. Here’s a small sampling of fall events. Victoria Tzykun, a well-known set designer for opera companies all over the world and art direction for Lady Gaga’s ABC Thanksgiving Special, is coming to town to be the scenic and costume designer for The Kansas City Lyric Opera’s presentation of The Capulets and the Montagues, based on a Renaissance legend (rather than Shakespeare’s play) about the tragic consequences of a bitter and longstanding political feud. The opera strikes a personal chord with this highly accomplished artist, who gained a powerful understanding of conflict and the human condition during her youth in the unstable and often violent Middle East. At 7 p.m., Sept. 11, she will share a stage at the Jewish Community Center with Deborah Sandler, CEO and General Director of the Lyric Opera.
There’s the Community Arts Fellows Program, where in early 2013, eight prominent artists gathered at the JCC to explore Jewish sources on the subject of rebellion. The group, recruited in partnership with the InterUrban Art House, included a poet/muralist, painters, choreographers/ dancers and installation artists from widely diverse backgrounds. For months, they learned from visiting scholars and artists about art as a form of defiance during the Holocaust, the current feminist movement among observant Jews, spiritual revolt, and Jewish values related to armed conflict. The community is invited to engage with their stunning and often disturbing works from 3-5 p.m., Sept. 29 at the Jewish Community Center.
All these events lead up to the Jewish Arts Festival. The one-day festival, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Oct. 6, comes around every three years and usually brings in 5,000 to 7,000 in attendance, Maidhof says. ARTicipation, a program of the Epsten Gallery is hosting a sukkah or booth created by three canvas walls waiting to be painted by anyone who’s at least 8 years old.
For seasoned patrons, the festival will, in a separate pavilion, offer the general and Judaic works of a small number of nationally and internationally acclaimed artists including Israeli David Sharir, silver master Robyn Nichols, Mordechai Rosenstein, Yoshinori Hagiwara and, for auction, a piece by potter Ken Ferguson.
“We also will offer some food demonstrations similar to an Iron Chef competition,” she says. “It’s going to be a great way to start folks thinking about the 2014 anniversary of the center. The Jewish Community Center opened in 1914 in midtown Kansas City. Look at how we have grown! What we recognize at the Jewish Community Center is that the cultural arts can provide powerful tethers to our traditions while allowing us to share that vitality.”
The Crossroads Community Association is reaching out to Kansas City’s creative community for its first everT-shirt design contest.
“Your challenge is to design an eye-catching and creative T -shirt that promotes the Crossroads Art District as the center of Kansas City’s thriving arts community,” said Teri Rogers, member of the CCA Board of Directors and the CEO of T2 Studios.
Designs are due by Aug. 31, and yo.u can submit as many designs as you’d like. The winning entry will nab you a $250 cash prize,~ a free T-shirt and mention on the kccrossroads.org website. The winner’s signature and year will be printed on the interior neck of the T -shirt.
“Your design should capture the essence of a vibrant and diverse community that includes galleries, restaurants, retail, professional design studios, architectural firms, advertising agencies and other creative businesses,” said Eric Gilmore, Art Director of PlusVisuals and CCA Member.
To help you get started, the Crossroads marketing team has provided these insights:
• Designs should be fabulously eye-catching and creative, but also wearable and practical.
Design something you would be proud to wear yourself.
• The design must include the words Crossroads Art District and First Fridays. Mentioning Kansas City (or KC) would be cool, too.
• Designs can fit ANYWHERE on the T-shirt body, except seams. Creative use of the T-shirt space is encouraged. The T-shirt will be white.
• Up to four colors are allowed, but sometimes less equals more. If you can do a fabulous design in one color, this may give you a leg up in the competition. Maximum image area is 15″ x 20″ and submissions formatted as a jpg or tif at output size. Local printing will be done by Bandwagon Merchandise.
• Jurying will be done anonymously by style leaders in the Kansas City Design Community including Matt Baldwin of Baldwin Jeans and Jed Carter of MK12.
• All submissions must be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org by August 31.
• By entering the competition, you agree to give CROSSROADS COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION nonexclusive rights to publish your work on its website, social media and/or use the design on the T-shirt and other promotional materials.
The Crossroads T -shirts featuring the winning design will be available for purchase from the Crossroads Truck every First Friday, beginning on Oct. 4. The Crossroads Truck is a vintage postal vehicle restored and operated by CCA neighborhood volunteers and businesses. Highly visible at First Fridays and community events around the KC area, the truck is a welcome wagon offering maps & information to visitors.
Enter early and often. Deadline is August 31, 2013!
Janet Katherine (Meyer) Miller died May 9 after a courageous battle with cancer. Janet was a lifelong Kansas City, Missouri resident and member of Visitation Catholic Church. She graduated from St. Teresa’s Academy and received a BA in Journalism from the University of Missouri- Columbia. She joined the Kansas City Star Company in 1969 as a business reporter and copy editor, where her first beat assignment as a young woman was the rough environs of the Kansas City stockyards.
In 1973 she was appointed Assistant Financial Editor where she was integral to the Star’s coverage of the rapidly changing Kansas City business environment of the 1970s — ultimately rising in 1978 to become the Business and Financial Editor of both the Kansas City Times and the Kansas City Star. She was one of the first female Financial Editors of a major U.S. newspaper, and was part of the Star team awarded the 1982 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Hyatt Regency skywalk disaster.
In the 1970s and 1980s, Janet played a central role as a stalwart supporter of the efforts for passage of the Equal Rights Amendment in Missouri and the women’s movement in Kansas City. She was a Founding Funder of the Women’s Foundation and served on the Board of the Women’s Council and on the founding Board of the UMKC Women’s Center. As a great advocate for the arts gifted with a unique mix of financial acumen and managerial talent, Janet’s skills were in high demand among Kansas City area not-for- profits. Janet enjoyed a 22-year association with the Kansas City Art Institute where she served on the Board of Directors, including a term as Chairman. She also joined her husband in creating the annual ‘Art of the Car Concours’ benefiting the KCAI Scholarship Fund. For many years she was a dedicated member, officer and Board member of the Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey.
As part of a lifelong love of dolls and miniatures, she was asked to join the Board and subsequently became Chairman of the Toy and Miniature Museum where she set the standards for it to become a national museum. Among her many other not-for-profit and charitable affiliations, she served on the Board of the Kansas City Friends of Chamber Music, as Treasurer of the Westport Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and a member of the Council of the Society of Fellows of the Nelson-Atkins Museum.
She is survived by her husband Marshall and two sons, Jonathan Lee of Pasadena, Calif., and Daniel Edward of Atlanta, Ga. Besides her husband and sons, Janet is also survived by her seven siblings: Lawrence Meyer, Mary Suzanne Meyer, Joseph (Diane) Meyer, Mark (Dianna) Meyer, Deborah (James) Bird, Laurie (David) Hathman, and Brigid (Stephen) Oberkrom and by her many loving nieces and nephews to whom she will always be ‘Janie- Mom,’ and her beloved dog Betsy.
Family Measures Generosity in Creativity
One million … What does one million mean? It seems like a large number, perhaps associated with burgeoning wealth. However, it is wealth of a different kind that inspires artist Jeff Hanson.
In mid-May, the Make-A-Wish North Texas Gala proved to be a very positive tipping point. The goal of $1 million was reached at the event. Since the age of 12, Jeff has been donating his paintings to charitable live auctions. At the age of 19, he and his mother talked in the family kitchen about raising $1 million for charity before his 20th birthday. Four months before that birthday, Jeff and his parents Julie and Dr. Hal Hanson were able to witness the threshold reached and surpassed.
To reach his milestone, Jeff donated an original painting titled Siena Breeze, a second painting that was a commission of choice and a hand-painted custom-made evening gown. The three items were auctioned for $46,000, which was $2,000 more than Jeff needed to reach his $1 million goal. Proceeds went to Make-A-Wish North Texas. Since 2007, Jeff has donated a total of 125 works to charities nationwide. The thrill came
that goal was exceeded at a Make-A-Wish event and it meant a little more because at 12, he was a Make-A-Wish recipient. His wish was to meet singer Sir Elton John.
“We ended up turning the tables on Elton John and giving him $1,000 for his children’s AIDS foundation. It was the grand opening of the Sprint Center,” says Julie. “He couldn’t understand how generous Jeff was when it was his Make-A-Wish event. We ended up in Dubai as his guests.” On top of the trip, Jeff presented John with a painting he titled View from the 22nd Row. John also asked Jeff to paint 12 works for an Elton John AIDS Foundation sponsored Baphumelele Children’s Orphanage in South Africa. “They arrived on Christmas Day and that is the gift that has meant the most,” he says. Julie says that became the family gift that year as it was costly to send the paintings to Africa. “But what a life-changing moment for me too,” she says. Hal says the orphanage workers and children loved the paintings. “We were told we helped give them back a little of their childhood.”
While Jeff has caring parents, he attributes his lessons and attitude of giving to John. “He told me that if you give to the world, the world will give back,” he says. “It seemed like good wisdom.” Today, business magnate and philanthropist
Warren Buffett has a Jeffrey Owen Hanson painting hanging in his home.
Initially, the artwork was something to do as Jeff dealt with an almost non-existent immune system due to treatments for his optic tumor. Jeff lives with a genetic disorder called Neurofibromatosis, a genetic disorder where nerve tissue grows tumors that may be benign, but may also cause serious damage by compressing nerves and other tissues as is Jeff’s case. As a pastime during chemotherapy, young Jeff painted watercolor note cards and sold them at his driveway bake sale, “Jeff’s Bistro,” to raise money for the Children’s Tumor Foundation and for his own needs, when he was healthy enough. “People started telling me how much they liked my art and said I should put it on canvas,” Jeff says. The watercolors were tucked away and bright acrylics replaced the washed out colors.
Jeff has no professional training. “I honestly didn’t know I had the talent.” Hal says no one in the family thought about a family artist business, but their model has worked in that sort of backward and accidental way. “Well, think about it this way. Most people would start a business where the art would be sold for a profit. It wouldn’t be the reverse where a bulk of the art was heading out of the door for charities,” Julie says. Most corporate giving comes after profit, Hal says. “The three of us could never have conceived that philanthropy came first.”
In the beginning, Julie purchased the less expensive acrylics for Jeff. Now he uses high-end art supplies. “We have had to walk this journey as a family,” she says. “I learned what he needed as far as supplies. I watched how he shaped his passion for color. I wanted to carry the burden for him, like any mother, but I watched this artist blossom.”
Hal, who is an emergency room physician, wrote a book titled Lessons from CLOD to help define Jeff’s medical condition and the turbulent emotions he and Julie felt as their son stared down his health problems. “We all have our CLODS in life. Jeff proved how he would make his choices and decided not to let the optic tumor define him. I struggled as I watched my dreams for my son drift away. I wanted him to be the CEO
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of Apple, but the dreams have changed and the deposits are bulging. Who would have thought that within seven years of diagnosis and treatment, that art would lead us to this point?”
Now, the family has Jeff’s art business in hand. His art is made of layers of paint, impressionistic and stylistic of Jeff’s memories of places in Europe or from a cruise through the Caribbean, as examples. He often spends only a couple of hours a day, adding layers and colors of paint. “He may work on 20 paintings at one time. The paintings progress to meet the demand,” Julie says, “and the demand for his work is high.” Originally Julie and Hal thought the attraction to Jeff’s work was more about their son’s story. “People like his art and many have never heard his story,” Hal says. The stack of commissions is substantial, Julie says. And every year, they plan to give one organization “one big gift.” Jeff painted 30 paintings for Children’s Mercy Hospital’s pediatric oncology and three paintings for the board room. Sometimes the paintings include woven canvas on top of the canvas.
“Jeff is still one person who is exploring what the future might hold for him,” Julie says. “There’s always exploring that needs to be done.” Now, the family is not looking at numbers anymore, Hal says. “It was a fun goal to dream big and see that goal reached. We have learned our lessons, especially from CLOD. This is the story of one kid who still had dreams despite challenging medical issues.”
Philanthropy will always be a part of the Hanson household, even as the accolades settle. He has been recognized as a “Hero Among Us” by People Magazine. The Huffington Post readers voted Jeff the “Top Kid Making a Difference in 2011.” He’s also received the National Prudential Spirit of Community Award. “Sure things will quiet down. However, I rather like the idea that art transforms faces and my works will continue that. I want to be defined by the smiles on the faces that see my art,” Jeff says.•
The setting sun burned a dull orange as Kimberly Masteller stepped out of a contemporary art gallery in the city of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates. As her eyes became used to the dusty twilight, the evening call to prayer came from neighborhood mosques in all directions. The dissonant voices sang at different pitches and speeds, yet cycled in and out of union with each other.
“I was struck by the juxtaposition of stumbling from a white cube gallery into a place so steeped in tradition,” says Masteller, Jeanne McCray Beals Curator of South and Southeast Asian Art at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. “As I listened, I realized that it was only a surprise to me because I was bringing my perceptions and assumptions to this moment, assumptions that separate culture into impenetrable zones like past and present, tradition and modern. Of course, we all live within and beyond the boundaries of these categories. We are contemporary, but are also informed and influenced by our histories, our traditions, our cultures–artists certainly are.”
This layering of tradition and modern would become the framework for Masteller’s exhibition, Echoes: Islamic Art and Contemporary Artists, which opens at the Nelson-Atkins on Aug. 31. The works in the exhibition date from the 9th century to the 21st century, and come from Islamic cultures across the globe, including contemporary art from U.S. artists. A Pakistani cargo truck made in Kansas City by artist Asheer Akram will be installed outside near the entrance to the Bloch Building.
Akram, a Pakistani-American educated at the Kansas City Art Institute, is a metal artist known for sculptures that incorporate bold patterns and designs. He was inspired to create the truck after traveling to Pakistan and encountering boldly painted trucks throughout the country. Akram purchased a 1950s Chevy farm truck, and with the help of mechanics and a team of artists from Kansas City and Pakistan, he has transformed the vehicle into a Pakistani-American painted truck, filled with hybrid imagery and decoration.
The collections of the Nelson-Atkins provide the historical foundation of the exhibition. Visitors approaching the gallery will be greeted by a monumental mosaic arch that will serve as the entrance to the exhibition. Acquired by the museum in 1932, this early 17th-century Persian arch has not been on view for more than three decades, and Nelson-Atkins conservators have been restoring the arch over the past year in preparation for this exhibition.
“We are so excited to show the Mosaic arch again after all these years,” Masteller says. “It is a truly spectacular piece, and gives you a glimpse of the grandeur of Persian architecture. Imagine being a traveler to Isfahan in the 1600s and what it must have felt like when you approached the city, seeing grand gateways covered in mosaics and glistening in the sunlight.”
What makes Islamic art Islamic? Art historians use the term “Islamic Art” when discussing the wide range of art forms created in the historically Islamic lands (West Asia, North Africa, parts of southern Europe, and Islamic South
and Southeast Asia). The term is cultural rather than religious and refers to
the cultural context in which the art
There are some fundamental characteristics shared in many artworks from the Islamic world. They include the use of elegant calligraphy based upon the Arabic script, an exploration of geometric or vegetative design, an interest in intricate detail and patterning, and paintings rendered with calligraphic outlines, rich colors, and containing forms or figures suspended in flat or unnatural settings.
“We realized there was a real opportunity here to showcase some of the outstanding works in our collection,” Masteller says. “But we are also able to introduce Kansas City audiences to contemporary art from or inspired by the Islamic lands.”
Masteller interviewed several of the contemporary artists who have objects in the exhibition. Those interviews will be shown on iPads in the gallery so visitors can hear the artist talking about his or her work.
“The overarching theme here is dialogue,” Masteller says. “We use the installation and the artists’ interviews to invoke conversations between the works and their cultures, and also between past and present.”
When Masteller came to the Nelson-Atkins four years ago, she immediately surveyed the condition of the museum’s Islamic collection and developed a plan for treating and restoring key works of art. With this exhibition, she is seizing the opportunity to showcase some of the outstanding works in the collection in dialogue with the contemporary works.
“We are thrilled to have some of the top artists from across the Middle East and South Asia participating in this exhibition,” she says. “Their names are a veritable who’s who of key figures in the global art scene.”
This exhibition is part of a larger collaboration between arts organizations in Kansas City, including a joint summer exhibition at the Kansas City Artists Coalition and related programming with the Kansas City Public Library and the Friends of Chamber Music of Kansas City. Echoes: Islamic Art and Contemporary Artists runs through March 30, 2014 at the Nelson-Atkins.•
An exhibit of paintings and drawings of Kansas City buildings by Glen Hansen. The Guldner Gallery in the Kansas City Public Library’s Central Library June 27 – September 13, 2013
Some artists are known for their figure studies. Or landscapes. Or portraits. Glen Hansen creates paintings and drawings of buildings. And not even entire buildings. Just pieces of buildings.
“My thing is isolating the details of architecture,” he explains. “I don’t want to do entire street scenes. There are no human beings in my paintings. No cats on the window sills. No birds.
“It’s about a building and its relationship with the sky. The human element is found in the architects who designed the buildings and the craftsmen who sweated to make them a reality.”
Hansen has created one-man shows exploring the architecture of Paris, Prague, Venice, and New York City, where he lives. Now he does the same for Kansas City.
The Kansas City Project, on display through September 13, 2013 in the Guldner Gallery at the Kansas City Public Library’s Central Library, 14 W. 10th St., features more than 30 drawings and a half-dozen paintings of local buildings and their architectural and decorative details.
Admission is free.
Some of Hansen’s images will be immediately recognizable to local residents, like the rocket ship sitting atop the old TWA Building at 18th and Main. Or the façade of Town Topic Hamburgers.
Others, like the Strahm sign (on the Strahm Mailing Services building at 17th and Broadway) have been hiding in plain sight.
According to Hansen, his attraction to architecture as subject matter is practically genetic.
“Going back to my great grandparents, my family were all builders: carpenters, bricklayers, contractors. I worked on construction sites in the summer. And after I graduated from the School of Visual Arts in New York City, I began making art based on my love of the Victorian homes found in my old neighborhood on Long Island.
“You do what you know, and I know buildings. I discovered that was what I was really good at.”
His transition from working class kid to fine artist was a gradual one, Hansen said. “I was always doing drawings for my grandmother and mom. In high school I had a couple of great art teachers who encouraged me. So I put a portfolio together, and the next thing you know you’re in art school.”
Over the years several of Hansen’s pieces have been purchased for the collection of Commerce Bankshares. Three years ago the bank’s chairman, Jonathan Kemper, commissioned Hansen to design a poster for the opening of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.
“It was the first time I’d really attempted something based on modern architecture. But I really immersed myself into the work of architect Moshe Safdie, and I was blown away.”
Hansen’s painting of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts was purchased by the William T. Kemper Foundation, Commerce Bank, Trustee, and given to the Library. It plays a prominent role in the exhibit.
While doing studies of the still-under-construction Kauffman Center, Hansen began looking around Kansas City – and fell in love. He proposed to Kemper a show examining the architectural richness of the city and received an eager response. He produced 30 finished drawings in three months.
Hansen works both from photos and from sketches drawn on site. “I try to visit at different times of day and in different weather. I’m really interested in light and shadow.”
Though his work has been featured in shows of photorealist art, Hansen doesn’t think of himself as a practitioner of that style. He may work from photos, but doesn’t try to copy them.
“A transformation takes place between the photo and the drawing. There’s something going on, something interesting, something soulful. I’ll eliminate things from the photo that detract from the focus or the balance of the painting. There’s a lot of editing.
“And all my canvases and drawings are square. I think that goes back to my love of Victorian houses, which are basically boxes. I have to compose within a box, which creates a tension. Plus, I don’t want my canvas to be rectangular because it will remind you of looking through a camera’s viewfinder. That’s another choice that separates my art from photography.”
Hansen lives in an apartment with a view of the iconic Flatiron Building. But while most of New York’s great architecture has been repeatedly drawn, painted and photographed, he views Kansas City as virgin territory.
“I think it’s a great town. In fact, Kansas City is my second favorite city in the U.S. after New York. It’s just filled with hidden jewels.”
Kansas City’s One Percent for Art collection boasts the work of many local artists and designers including Warren Rosser, Allan Winkler, Michael Toombs, Jim Woodfill, el dorado architects, Leigh Rosser and Julia Cole, Stretch, Christian Mann, and Egawa + Zbryk. Through their work, the city’s public art collection is highlighted with the originality and authenticity of our unique creative character.
Another local artist represented in the city’s collection is Ken Ferguson, long-time chair of the Kansas City Art Institute’s ceramics department and well-known American artist.
Sadly, Ken passed away in 2004 but his legacy lives on through his ceramic works in collections around the country and happily, through three delightful sculptures at the award-winning Lakeside Nature Center in Swope Park designed by the local architectural firm, International Architects Atelier.
As visitors approach the entry, they first encounter The Race is Not Always to the Swift atop a pedestal in the plaza garden. This artwork — based on the famed Aesop fable about an overzealous rabbit and a wisely methodical turtle — is fitting because for much of his career, Ferguson’s work was dominated by images of a hare derived masterfully from a variety of real and mythical sources. In The Race is Not Always to the Swift, Ferguson combines his iconic hare with the nature center’s icon, the tortoise, in a race to an unexpected finish.
The next artwork visitors see is Rabbit Hiding from Fox, located in the main lobby area of the nature center. The inspiration for this artwork comes from southern folklore revolving around a witty trickster rabbit bamboozling a hungry fox by continually moving to
the side of a hollow log opposite the fox’s teeth.
And, overlooking the nature center from a delicate perch mounted high on one of the Center’s massive hewn wooden columns, Two Doves Sitting On a Branch Up High symbolize love and peace. This is how, the artist says, “We should see the world and all of