Arts News: Hartman Presents His Last ‘Beyond Bounds’

Beyond Bounds postponed and re-envisioned

The Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art’s “Beyond Bounds: Envision” event will not take place on April 25 due to the COVID-19 threat.

The event has been “re-envisioned,” according to the museum’s executive director, Bruce Hartman, and the auction, to be conducted by GiveSmart, will take place online at a date to be announced in mid-September, with a reduced price for tickets. Bid tickets, which allow people to register on GiveSmart and bid on all works, cost $20 for museum members, $25 for non-members and are free to participating artists.

Once the museum and college reopen, currently planned for June, the museum will install the 180 “pearlescent” works to be featured in the auction as a temporary, multi-month exhibition through mid-September.

Bruce Hartman speaks to bidders gathered for the live auction at Beyond Bounds 2017 – DAZZLING. (photo by Susan McSpadden)

Walk into any Kansas City area art collection, modest or major, and chances are you’ll find an artwork created from a vinyl LP, a silk scarf, a wood box or specific mediums in colors including ruby red, electric blue and brilliant yellow. Gold leaf and sterling silver also figure in the mix.

All of these specially themed objects have a single source: Beyond Bounds, the biennial art auction to support the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art (and, previously, its predecessor, the Gallery of Art).

Since 1992, the museum’s executive director, Bruce Hartman, has organized a dozen Beyond Bounds auctions, with themes ranging from “Off the Record,” “Gold Rush” and “Dazzling,” to this year’s event, “Envision,” featuring artworks created with pearlescent mediums. Per tradition, the participants number roughly 200 artists, many from Kansas City and others from around the country and the world, including those featured in the museum’s collection and changing exhibitions.

The evening event on April 25 will include a lavish buffet, beer and wine, live music and both a live and a silent auction. Emerging collectors are drawn to the latter, where it is possible to land a piece by a name artist without breaking the budget. The live auction, presided over by a high-profile auctioneer from Sotheby’s or Christie’s, draws the bigger spenders, who see it as an opportunity to generate revenue for the programming that has made the college a major cultural player, as well as a chance to bid on works by big names and established KC talents.

With food, drink and lots of art, Beyond Bounds always draws a crowd, as seen in this shot of Beyond Bounds 2011 – BRILLIANT.

Art collector Larry Meeker has been a Beyond Bounds regular over the years. “They’ve all exceeded expectations with each new one even better than the last,” he said. “I expect it to be even better this year!”

Meeker’s collection includes multiple works he has acquired from Beyond Bounds. “One of the highlights of our acquisitions was Tony Cragg’s “Hammerhead,” he said, “but it is only one of many pieces we now prize, including Mary Heilmann’s “Off the Record,” two untitled pieces by Tomory Dodge, Rashawn Griffin’s “Untitled (still life),” Art Miller’s “Faith Deliverance Family Worship Center,” Clinton Work’s “Thunderbird,” Eva Lundsager’s “Once More 3” and Richard Hull’s “Mirror.”

For KC artists, who have been central to Hartman’s exhibiting and collecting from the start (and receive complimentary admission to the event for donating a work), the auction can provide a big boost in exposure.

Says Harold Smith, whose piece drew multiple bids at the 2017 Beyond Bounds, “Exhibiting in the same space with other artists of such local and national renown introduced my work to a wider audience of serious collectors and exhibitors. I experienced an immediate increase in website visits, purchase inquiries and exhibition opportunities.”

Much of the fun of the silent auction is watching bidders scramble around trying to keep on top of the pieces they’ve decided they can’t live without.

Hartman says “Envision” will be his last “Beyond Bounds” and that after 30 years in charge, he is making plans for future pursuits, following his retirement from the Nerman and the college.

So as it turns out, this 12th Beyond Bounds will be a momentous event — and perhaps even more fun than usual!

Tickets for Beyond Bounds: Envision on April 25 cost $75 for the general public and $50 for museum members. They are on sale now at jccc.edu/beyondbounds.

Alice Thorson

Alice Thorson is the editor of KC Studio. She has written about the visual arts for numerous publications locally and nationally.

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