Celebrating 20 years of artistic advocacy, advising and achievement in Kansas City.
Art consultant Paul Dorrell is brought into a blank space, a blank canvas if one likes, and asked about his vision and concepts. Sometimes, the client already has a conceptual design or perhaps even an artist in mind and Dorrell treasures those clients that are involved. “It is a demanding task to make it all happen, but it always does,” he says.
For 20 years, Dorrell has been guiding art installations into places as varied as the Sprint Center to St. Luke’s Hospital. Plus there are countless private collectors. “I see us as a multi-faceted business. We have the gallery and we have commissions. I get to facilitate the operations. It’s equal time gallery owner and art consultant.”
Established in 1991, the Leopold Gallery is a nationally ranked gallery whose staff also works as art advisors. The art at H&R Block, University of Kansas Hospital, and BKD LLP reflect the unique ways in which art is viewed in places of business and health care. Dorrell is pleased to see his art business a success as he grew up here, attended Shawnee Mission South and the University of Kansas.
Dorrell says Kansas City is in the midst of a renaissance. Kansas City may seem like a provincial city, but the arts have thrived. “I want to be part of that … inspiring pride in the city and not just supporting the regional artists, but helping them stay here. In the last 10 years, look at the strengths in town … growth in the Crossroads, the Nerman Museum, the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art. We have artists whose art is being purchased and publicly displayed on a wide scale. They are making a living and thriving here. KC no longer has to feel culturally inferior to cities like New York.”
Dorrell also offers mentoring for students from Paseo Academy, Lincoln Prep Academy, and Sumner Academy. The students spend time with sculptors or glass artists. Painting is not a usual medium. “I was hot-headed as a young man but had people who were gentle and helpful. I also wasn’t as well educated as I thought but had teachers who helped. In return, I just want to do the same for these young people,” he says. “I try very diligently to make sure the young artists are teamed with professionals who enjoy teaching.”
KCPT has been filming Dorrell and some of his students for a future story on The Local Show. Some collaborative work can be found at Saint Luke’s Hospital, BKD and the H&R Block corporate headquarters As for the future, Dorrell hopes to the see the renaissance continue to expand. He is also glad to see the rise in blown glass . “I also want to raise half a million, at least, to send more young people to college. I suppose it is a sort of three-pronged approach. There is the need for the field trips, the art supplies for the schools, and then the scholarships.”
Dorrell will also see another printing of the latest revision of the 2005 Living the Artist’s Life in February. The book has been considerably updated and expanded in all respects.
Dorrell supports some leading artists. Their works hang in the gallery and in many venues around the community. He has photographer Gloria Baker Feinstein’s work. Her playful and soulful images, especially of children in Uganda, are poignant images. Derrick Breidenthal, who works primarily with oil on panels, has works at places such as H&R Block, Kansas State University and Viceroy Snowmass. Current studies focus on Midwestern surroundings. His low horizons and controlling skies evoke a variety of emotions.
Allan Chow is one of the artists whose works can’t only be found in the gallery on 63rd Street, but hanging in prestigious locales such as H&R Block, the Kansas City Royals, the Overland Park Convention Center, the University of Kansas Medical Center, University of Missouri-Kansas City, and Russell Stover Candies. His work hangs in private collections in Kansas City, Seattle, California, Hong Kong and Malaysia.
Chow was born and raised in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He received his bachelor’s in fine arts in illustration from the Kansas City Art Institute. While apprenticed to an illustrator/painter, Chow began painting with a palette knife, using controlled brushstrokes, creating a three-dimensional experience for his audiences. During his exhibitions, viewers find it difficult to resist the temptation to touch his paintings.
Represented by the Leopold Gallery and Strecker Nelson Gallery in Manhattan, Kan., Chow paints abstracted landscapes of the Kansas City skyline, the Flint Hills and San Francisco. Chow says Dorrell and he have worked together for eight years.
“We certainly understand each other very well. Paul spends time with his artists, sometimes during a project and sometimes during his personal time. As an artist, it is important for me to know that a gallery is making the effort to understand how we can continue to work better together,” Chow says. “He understands that my most inspired work regardless of the subject matter comes from within and when I am given the creative freedom. I believe his clients are well informed. After a basic briefing about what the client’s expectations are, he tells me to have fun with it. The next time I see him is when it is framed and delivered to the client. It is that simple. I think we both appreciate the simplicity. At the end of the day, I know that he trust that I am a disciplined artist and in return, I never take that for granted.”
Chow says he continues to be encouraged by Dorrell to expand his representation outside of Kansas City. However, he treasures his ties with Leopold Gallery. “Leopold Gallery is the reason why my artwork is in these prestigious businesses. In the past, someone told me that talent isn’t enough to make it as an artist. He was basically telling me not to leave my career up to luck. I would have to make my own luck if I were to succeed. He was right. Besides talent, you need to be able to sell your art. In addition you have to make your art accessible to those who might be interested. You’ll be amazed how many will and are already interested. Having representation is a must if you are an emerging artist.”
Chow is finishing a commission for the InterContinental Hotel in Kansas City and numerous commissions for private collectors through the gallery. “When I am done with those commissions, I resume my preparation for my new exhibit at the Leopold Gallery in November this year. It has been a great year this year and I hope the exhibit this fall will help maintain the momentum for 2012,” Chow says.
Dorrell says some of his best work in art consulting can be seen at H&R Block, the University of Kansas Hospital, and Kauffman Stadium. “By getting the works of regional artists into these locations, we’ve helped create a more inspiring work place, have helped grow regional culture, and have done our best to help scores of regional artists.”
Photos by Brad Austin