The Kansas City Society for Contemporary Photography, still in the process of attaining not-for-profit status, is currently one of the most promising new art organizations in the city. Only two years old, KCSCP has already organized seven exhibitions for its artist members in such well-established venues as the Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art, the Leedy-Voulkos Art Center, Haw Contemporary Gallery, Kiosk Gallery, and the Kansas City Artists Coalition.
Hopes are high for KCSCP, which is actually a reincarnation of an earlier Society for Contemporary Photography that closed its doors almost a decade ago. The earlier SCP had its own gallery space in the Crossroads, and sponsored regular exhibits of both its members and nationally known photographers (disclosure: this writer curated two shows for SCP in the 1990s).
The loss of SCP was lamented, but was somewhat mitigated by Hallmark’s donation of its internationally known photography collection to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, which promptly initiated major and ongoing photo exhibitions in the museum’s new Bloch Building.
Even so, local galleries represented only a handful of regional photographers, and the majority of photographers based in KC lacked a visual presence here.
Two years ago, Angie Jennings, a photographer and longtime employee of the Crick Camera Shop, a mainstay of the city’s photography world, joined with Luke LeTourneau, David Morris, Ernie Block and John Hans to found KCSCP. Jennings was chosen president because, as a board member of the Kansas City Artists Coalition, she had the most administrative experience.
From the start, Jennings says, KCSCP had two main goals: “to concentrate on exhibitions for our local and regional members, and to function as an organization where members can feed off of each other’s work and collaborate.”
The group’s inaugural exhibition was at Kiosk Gallery in 2015, and they had two juried “Current Works” shows at Haw Contemporary in 2015 and 2016. Their 2017 “Current Works” exhibit just closed at the Kansas City Artists Coalition, where they previously had the exhibition “4Square,” in which members exhibited their photos on pieces of 4-inch-square papers.
“It seemed the perfect timing to have “4Square” at the Artists Coalition because it was their 40th anniversary, and each work was available for $40,” Jennings notes. KCSCP’s most recent “4Square” show was at the 2016 Main Gallery.
Members have also had exposure in the themed exhibitions “Finding Peace, Finding Center” at the Leedy-Voulkos Art Center, and “Sense of Place” at the Albrecht Kemper Museum in St. Joseph.
KCSCP is an all-volunteer organization; not even Jennings gets paid. Since Crick’s closed last January, Jennings has worked full-time for the group. The loss of Crick’s is another reason photographers continue to join KCSCP.
“Crick’s had been around for 80 years,” Jennings says. “It served as an informal meeting place for photographers, where they could bring in their portfolios and we could all have discussions about their art.”
Rebecca Ofiesh was a member of the first SCP organization, and is now an enthusiastic participant of the current KCSCP. “It’s really important for artists to have the opportunity to exhibit their work,” Ofiesh says, “and the fact that there is a roster of exhibitions motivates you to consider what you’re showing and to complete a body of art. It’s also vital to feel that you are part of a supportive community.”
“At least 40 to 50 artists have participated in every exhibit,” Jennings says. Our hope,” she adds, “is that we can eventually become the Midwest photography hub.”
Visit http://kcscp.org for a list of KCSCP members, with links to their individual websites and announcements of upcoming shows.