Dan Cameron, curator and artistic director of Open Spaces, will select approximately 25 visual artists — regional, national and international — to develop projects for the ambitious arts showcase. Selection of performing artists is also under way.

In a November interview, Cameron said he began reaching out to visual artists last summer and that he has received commitments from such internationally prominent figures as Ebony G. Patterson, Jennifer Steinkamp, Kim Soo-ja and Nari Ward.

What’s he looking for? “I’m approaching artists that interact outdoors in a very direct way with the community,” Cameron said. “I’m drawn to artists that find Kansas City compelling, or if they have not been here yet, that have a great deal of curiosity and interest in the city.

“I’m contacting artists that I have worked with before who I know have the capacity to respond within the short time allotted,” he added, “and who have the ability to make city-specific work that will be captivating.”

When it comes to selecting artists with KC ties, Cameron’s research is ongoing. He is currently conducting studio visits, including a stop at the Charlotte Street Foundation’s Studio Residency Program in Town Pavilion, and networking with individuals and organizations involved in KC’s art ecosystem.

Artists coming to Kansas City from far afield are starting their creative process by scouting spaces within Swope Park. Projects are in their infancy and subject to change, but Patterson has expressed great interest in working inside Swope Park itself, Ward is looking at the Mutual Musicians Foundation, and New Orleans-based artist Dawn DeDeaux is gravitating toward the Kansas City Zoo, according to Cameron.

Selection of performing artists began Nov. 27 and will continue through January 2018, according to Cheryl Kimmi, executive director of KC Creates, a non-profit that produces Fringe Festival KC, Inspire KC-Corporate Arts Challenge and Waterfire KC. KC Creates is acting as fiscal agent for Open Spaces.

The performing art aspects of Open Spaces will focus on a three-day celebration that has not been named yet, and will highlight nationally prominent acts. Weekends throughout the two-month duration of Open Spaces will feature locally based performers. Performing artists will be selected by the Open Spaces executive team, led by Cameron.

Although considerable funds still need to be raised for the project to move forward, Kimmi states that fundraising is on track and emphasizes, “No contracts to artists will be issued until adequate funds are in the bank or have been pledged.”

Artists interested in participating can apply at www.openspaceskc.com.

Above: Jennifer Steinkamp, known for her eye-dazzling video projects (above is a shot of “Glimpse” from her 2003 exhibit at the Nerman Museum), is one of the nationally-known artists Cameron has tapped for Open Spaces. (photo by Bret Gustafson)

James Martin

James Martin is Public Art Administrator for the City of Kansas City, Missouri. Prior to working for KCMO, he wrote freelance for “KC Studio” and served as public art consultant for the cities of Gladstone, Missouri; Leawood, Merriam, and Olathe, Kansas, and for Overland Park Regional Medical Center. He has held curatorial positions with Truman Medical Centers, Sprint and The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, and taught art history at UMKC, JCCC, Park University and Baldwin-Wallace College in Ohio. He holds a B.A. in art history from the University of Kansas and an M.A in art history from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.

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