Arts Council Funds Support Up-And-Comers

Angela Sandoval
Artist Angela Sandoval shows off her work, Celestial Bodies, at BNIM. Photo by Barbara Sullivan.

Nick Naughton and Angelica Sandoval are young up-and-coming artists in Kansas City. They have experienced their formal education and spent some time training through the Artist INC II, which helps by providing training in traditional business skills to artists. Plus they also experienced mentoring and peer networks. The two know of each other through the program. They also know each other’s drive through the acquisition of an Inspiration Grant from the Arts Council of Metropolitan Kansas City. Inspiration grants, a section of the ArtsKC Fund, are provided to artists living in the five-county area for specific projects or professional development.

Sandoval, who defines herself as a designer and sculptor, creates sculptural lighting. Her translucent spheres are individual with constant flow that often mirrors architectural elements. Her work, Celestial Bodies, placed in the BNIM windows, reminded Sandoval of little worlds, especially during the day. “The pieces really work individually or as a group. There were 150 in the BNIM windows and clearly have a feeling of movement,” she says. Along with the porcelain pieces, Sandoval welds with steel and electrical wiring. She also creates larger single pieces. “I also teach sculpture at Johnson County Community College.”

Nick Naughton
Nick Naughton gets messy at La Cucaracha Press. Photo by Jessica Selz.

The porcelain spheres are a process of painting and dripping after casting the forms so no two appear identical. Even some appear as jellyfish sunbathing on a beach ball. “I suppose there are anthropomorphic forms.” Celestial Bodies was made possible in part by an Inspiration Grant and proves the significant connection between art and business. “My art became accessible to a non-traditional audience, a benefit of having it in a non-traditional space.”

Ironically, Sandoval started with a Kickstarter fund drive and a video. She is working on self-marketing. “I have learned how to video edit and manage a website. It’s part of my responsibilities if I want to be an artist.” Receiving the Inspiration Grant added to Sandoval’s confidence. “I knew I could get funding. It gave me funding.” The funding helped purchase the LED lights for the installation. “Visual artists tend to be more introverted. When I looked at the grant, I knew I had to communicate what I needed and I knew I needed help with funding. It was the first try for such a grant. I knew being part of the BNIM offices, I would have the opportunity to get a diverse group of people to see my art as part of First Fridays.”

According to the Art Council, an Inspiration Grant is a way for an artist to also receive some training on budgeting, writing about their work, and the granting process. The Arts Council staff commits hours to each applicant to help them through the process, a wonderful take-away even for those who are not finally awarded grant funds. Inspiration Grants are an investment in a small business.  Each artist has their own small business and these grants are one way to support ART-repenuers in the community.

Artists are often able to leverage a small amount of money into more grants, more community support and more. An Arts Council Inspiration Grant can act as a stamp of approval for a project that brings in commitments from other parts of the arts community or philanthropic community.

Sandoval says she hopes guests to BNIM saw her work. “I hope to be part of a gallery and I would also enjoy seeing some of my sculptures in office buildings.” Her next big project will be one featuring smell as well to trigger memories. “In five years, I would like my own studio where I could teach small classes and focus on welding, clay and ceramics.”

Naughton has a fine arts background, but like Sandoval, he moved into a slightly different realm which he describes as eclectic. He also has two degrees in printmaking. “I may also be seen as a mixed media artist who happens to be one of three co-owners of a printing press company. Really, I like process-based media. It’s the meticulous troubleshooting; it’s thinking on my feet.”

Much of his personal art looks at social issues such as the immigrant work force that toils in the fields of the Southwest including New Mexico where he taught at Las Cruces. He spent time with the workers and created the worker series called Los Trabajadores. “Can you speak for another culture? That has been a battle in myself,” he says.

Naughton worked in the print shop at the Arts Incubator. “Then I realized I wanted to buy a press and the equipment. Applying for the Inspiration Grant encouraged me to seek this out.” Naughton and friends Eric Lindquist and Jordan Carr now own La Cucaracha Press in the City Ice Arts area of town, not far from Hospital Hill. The press projects are from many local clothiers, restaurants and individuals seeking that artistic flair. “We are building our business organically. We needed a studio and now with the equipment available we can design with a personal touch. We are building relationships.”

Naughton says he might try for another Inspiration Grant. “We are looking at what will change and grow the business. What programming do we need? Can we offer the community even more? Could we teach screen-printing? What other collaborations are possible? Grants such as the Inspiration Grant or the Rocket Grants linked to the Charlotte Street Foundation.”

He also teaches some classes such as screen-printing at the Kansas City Art Institute. He’s looking at teaching a pre-college course in the summer that gives high school students a taste of college life. “I am drawn to aesthetically beautiful and functional art. It is a craft as well. I like what I do. We just celebrated our first anniversary and that was a thrill to celebrate with friends, supporters and people have helped us move presses.”

In five years, Naughton wants to see the press shop grow and add more artists. “Not only are we a commercial business, we are also a place for fine artists. I want to diversify and meander.”

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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