Local Festivals and Arts Events Define Cool This Fall

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.

Photographer Robert Hoops

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.

ArtistAll 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.”

Kellie Houx

Kellie Houx is a writer and photographer. A graduate of Park University, she has 20 years of experience as a journalist. As a writer, wife and mom, she values education, arts, family and togetherness.

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