Monday, January 23, 2012

The Golden and the Mean

So, I'm not planning on making a habit of commenting on other people's commentary. Once we members of the chattering class start chasing each other's tails, we tend to miss all the important stuff that's going on outside of the flying fur.

That said, and acknowledging that I'm a few days late to the snark party, I have to say that I'm on the "art makes this city better" side of the recent Hampton Stevens/Chris Packham divide.

First, in the Kansas City Star's op-ed, ESPN/The Atlantic scribe Stevens wrote an unabashed hymn to the city, proclaimed its resurgence as of 2011 and piled most of the laurels on the arts (saving a wreath or two dozen for Sporting Kansas City's spiffy new home, Livestrong Sporting Park, which is certainly understandable).

Was it gushy? Oh, yeah. But hey, it's hard to fault a guy for being a bit starry-eyed over the arts community here, right?

Packham not only faulted Stevens' enthusiasm in a rebuttal piece for the Pitch, but went on to question Stevens' masculinity and his concern for anyone but white folks who live west of Troost. With people getting shot and other Very Bad Things happening in the metro, he reasoned, it's just foofy and elitist to be happy about that rich-people folderol.

Look, there are valid reasons to hate Hampton Stevens. I barely know the man, and I loathe his entire digestive tract for looking better in a hat than I ever will. Also, the guy's a known raconteur, which makes him a suspect character right away.

(Note: I don't really hate him, nor do I think he hand-embroiders anything.)

Point is, effusive though he might have been, he's right about the arts elevating the city -- and the visual arts are a huge part of that. Also, anyone who thinks art is just for affluent, pigment-challenged folks needs to get out more.

There's no socioeconomic litmus test required make the gallery rounds on an art walk, take in an artist talk at one of the local museums or even see art being made at street level.And on the art-making side ... well, let's just say that the creative community is just as diverse as the metro area itself.

Yes, things need to get better in all sorts of areas here. But acknowledging that doesn't mean we can't enjoy the good stuff, too.

And in the Kansas City area, there's no denying that art is some of our best stuff.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

In other people's words (and pictures) ...

It's Sunday night, I'm working off two hours' sleep and a fitful nap, and so the coherence of any pontificating I might do is likely to be iffy, at best.

You know what that means. Wait, no you don't, because I haven't done this sort of thing before.

It's Links Night, wherein our groggy hero scours his inbox and his Facebook feed for interesting pass-alongs (and in the process, shamelessly name-drops so as to show up on all manner of Google searches).

For your listening pleasure, Kansas City's Cheryl Gail Toh and Lawrence's Molly Murphy are among those featured on this 30a Radio podcast.

Feeling more visual? Check out the Black Love series from jazz-inflected portraitist Harold Smith. Smith's work is always vibrant and colorful, and the emotion in these paintings fairly smolders ... even, as the above example shows, when filtered through the computer screen.

Bouncing back over to Lawrence, Jason Barr (aka BARRR) has relayed these guidelines for the Lawrence Cultural Arts Commision's 18th annual Community Arts Grant program. The deadline's March 26, so get cracking.

Go now. Listen, view, apply like the wind. Me? I'm going to play YouTube videos and read soccer copy until this caffeine wears off ...

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Energetic Meditation: Heather Gottfried at Apex Gallery

(2012, take two: Let's hope for no more computer glitches, shall we?)

Some dichotomies are annoying. Some are perplexing.

This one is, in a word, captivating.

Looking at Heather Gottfried's current show of paintings, at Apex Gallery in the Crossroads, it's easy to picture the works as taking shape over a span of years, developing a theme and patiently exploring variations on it.

Not so. The paintings were all created in 2011; as Gottfried put it at this month's First Friday opening, "I was a painting fool for a year."

That's where the dichotomy comes in -- because the works don't look rushed, or even mildly hurried. Pieces such as Fire Drops (above) are energetic, true enough, but each is also full of a deep, even meditative calm. That's reinforced by Gottfried's repeated use of the circle, a deeply centering symbol, as visual motif.

Gottfried's approach to creating her art also lends itself to meditation, calling to mind the work of monks in a vineyard or the creation of a Buddhist sand painting with no tools but the creators' fingers.

Everything in my life is heavily focused on texture, from my foods to my clothes to my choices of media, she writes. Just as there are certain foods that I will not eat due to texture, there are certain items I will not use in my art pieces because I don't like the way they feel under my fingertips. I sometimes do not use paint brushes, preferring the feel of the paint and other materials on my hands.

From her hands to the viewer's eye, that approach comes through with calming (and yet stimulating) clarity.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Nothing to see here today.


SOPA has its good points (nobody likes piracy, right?), but the bad ones outweigh them.

Call me a late addition to the "No, Thanks" club.

Back tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Manfred Mann alive, it's being a day.

The laptop is back, but misbehaving. It's decided its favorite color is blue, and keeps showing me -- on the screen, of course -- how much it loves a particularly deadly shade.

(It's a Toshiba thing, I hear, "Toshiba" being Japanese for "Gojira-sized pile o' poo.")

The review aspect will resume tomorrow, however. In the meantime, here's the overwhelming response to the question posed in yesterday's post:

So, either you (a) trust my finely honed instincts or ... yeah. Has to be (a), right?

Some things that will happen on a regular basis in the new format.

1. Artist profiles, either stand-alone or in conjunction with a current show

2. Venue profiles, especially "offbeat" locations;

3. Art at Home, a series on people who use their living spaces to put on rotating displays of other people's work.

Anything else?

I'm all (Dare I say it?) ears ...

Monday, January 16, 2012

Hiccups happen ...

The laptop is in the shop and my pad is cranky about letting me edit body copy. What are you gonna do, right? But I don't feel like an hour of index finger tapping, so it'd be great if you wanted to hit the e-mail link and let me know what regular features you'd like to see here (once I can type with the rest of my fingers again). Thanks in advance...

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Caffeine and Creativity

This will be brief, or should be. I am on a tenuous wireless connection, and more turned inward than outward.

As I write this, I am seated in one of the excellent independent coffeehouses which grace this area. There is photography on the walls, although I can't find a name to go with it. (Note to artists: Leave a name and an e-mail address, at least. People need to know how to contact you. End of small soapbox moment)

It's put me in mind of all the caffeinated chance encounters, all the moments that turned into reviews, all the contacts that turned into getting to know artists beyond their works.

I won't attempt a comprehensive list, or even a partial one, of either artists or venues. I would leave someone out, being of imperfect memory, and I would regret the omission.

So ... this one's a bit personal.

To all the coffeehouses that display local art, and to the artists who fill those spaces month after month, thank you for those moments.

Raising my cup, I offer a toast: To many more.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Mass Appeal: Matt Weaver at Plenum Space Gallery.

The word "mass" has all sorts of connotations, pretty much none of them playful and/or sensual.

Capitalized, it's celebrated with solemn liturgy. Reduced to its first letter, it's the stuff of dry physics. And if an X-ray reveals a mass anywhere one is not supposed to be ... well, that's about as far from good as one can get.

Funny thing about realities, though: They have ways of both conforming to and transcending connotations at the same time.

Crocheted Mass, Matt Weaver's current fibers show at Plenum Space Gallery in the East Crossroads, follows the (pardon the pun) thread of mass as solidity, substance and the occupation of physical space. Weaver's creations, many of them executed on a large scale, have a knotty heft that goes well beyond the common perception of the crocheted form.


This is also where the sensual aspect comes in. With the piece above, and several others, signs invite gallery-goers to "Fondle gently." (Try it. It's not just fun; it opens up new dimensions to the show.)

I often find myself wanting to literally crawl into bed with my creations, writes Weaver, whose work is viewable by appointment until Jan. 27. A perversion of the arts. Finding solace from the world of the living within the world of my inanimate crocheted lovers. My relationship to my work, and probably I imagine other artists to their works, it that of lovers in all senses, needs and wants. Initially I try to create more manageable portioned work but desiring a more tangible relationship guided by proximity I end up dealing out human size comparable pieces. I find completion in creating fewer but larger pieces.I am inspired through crochet to create masses, instead of inherent textiles that revolve around the act of covering.  

That act of creation hearkens back to that first-mentioned connotation of "mass" ... or, rather, "Mass." It's not hard to draw links between fingers working rosary beads, say, and the repetitive, near-ritual act of crocheting.  Both occupy the hands to free the mind and the spirit to make inward explorations. Given Weaver's invitation to handle his works, it's entirely possible for a viewer/toucher to enter the same sort of meditative space.

Weaver's work, one might say, ties all three of  the basic human aspects -- brain, body and heart -- together into a finished result which invites contemplation with more than the eyes.

Friday, January 13, 2012

A Picture Beyond Words

Yes, there are a lot of changes going on here. One thing is unalterable, though: The focus always will be on regional artists.

That said, there's nothing wrong with recognizing those artists' success outside this region, especially when it's against worldwide competition.

The Portraits group show opens today and runs through Feb. 25 (with an artist's reception set for Feb. 3) at the Center for Fine Art Photography in Fort Collins, Colo. One of the photographers in that show is Roeland Park's Sabrina Staires.

Divorce (the image above) is a portrait of Staires' daughter, Maddy, taken in the Crossroads. It's a complex piece -- beautiful and pensive, alive with youthful energy and yet subdued by emotional shadows -- and more than deserves its place in the exhibition.

It could be said that this is a bit of a two-fer (or is that a multi-fer?) for Kansas City artists: The backdrop, a mural by a collective of local graffiti artists, provides not only a colorful counterbalance against the dark pavement but also a sense of the tension -- even hostility -- implied in the photograph's title and subject matter. Throw in the line in the parking lot, speaking of balances to be struck and decisions to be made, and the old adage about a picture being worth a thousand words suddenly seems a bit stingy.

In this time when everyone with a cell phone lists "photography" as an interest on Facebook, it's always good to see the work of someone gifted in the field ... even though (or perhaps because) that appreciation comes with a bittersweet emotional twinge.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

An Interplay of Energies

Yet another departure from previous incarnations of ARTKC365: Where the former versions were all about art you could see on the day of the post, this time around there will be previews.

Tomorrow night, the new-look (make that new-looks) VALA Gallery in Mission puts on its first visual arts event since the main gallery moved to its new space in the former Mission Theatre Lounge at 5903 Johnson Drive. It's a good move: more space, better lighting and an easier flow for gallerygoers.

In the back room of the former space at 5815 Johnson Drive, now the home of The Hope Chest consignment shop, painters (and VALA interns) Corbie Leslie and Natosha Keefer will host open studios. When you go, you should expect an energy-filled evening.

I've seen both of them paint live, Leslie last fall at her first ElleSea Art event at the Brewtop in Lee's Summit and Keefer in December at one of VALA's monthly poetry nights. The experiences were anything but carbon copies, and the same holds true for their respective styles.

Keefer (above) works in bright, vibrant colors (and yes, that's glitter you will see adorning some of her finished pieces), taking in the energy she receives from and perceives in others and transferring it to the canvas. The results will vary, of course, but Keefer's own artistic aura shines through each of them.

Leslie (below) is a dynamo in her own right: Artist, promoter, networker and arts activist. Her own emotions and energy come across clearly in her work, which is by turns bright and shadowed, bold and subtle. In each of her pieces, there's a clear (almost physical) sense of persistent vision and unstoppable purpose.

Open studio events offer viewers the opportunity to be where the creative alchemy happens. It will be interesting -- in all of the good ways -- to see how these two artists' already strong energies work and (inter)play together in their shared space.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Points of Her Views: Chloe Mann at Spray Booth Gallery

Try something for me, if you would.

Look around the space where you're sitting -- office, living room, coffeehouse, wherever you happen to be right now. Take in the big picture.

How long before  you started focusing on details?

Something always lurks to catch one sense or another and draw attention to itself, no matter how much we try to focus on a cohesive whole. This song has a great bass line. That bowl of chili has whole cumin seeds, rather than the powdered stuff. The other person's outfit is marked by a perfectly-chosen scarf or belt.

And so it is that the sweeping panoramas that make up Chloe Mann's photography show Take to the Road, on display at the Spray Booth Gallery in the Crossroads through Jan. 25, are all full of smaller, striking elements to which the eye naturally gravitates.

Photography is hardly ever, one could even say never, the whole truth, because any way you slice it, a photograph is still the artist’s perspective, an opinion, and not entire fact, Mann writes. Each place I photographed I’ve became familiar with, by taking in nature fully, uncontrollably, and engulfed in appreciating the moment in time given.

Sometimes that slicing is overt, as with Split (one of several pieces that required Mann to get down prone in the road with her camera).

In other frames (e.g. Meadow, below), the effect is more subtle. Yes, it's tempting to go straight to the horses, but check out that pool of light at the lower left.

Either way, there's plenty here to keep a viewer occupied and impressed, both with Mann's eye for wide open spaces and her gift for presenting the small, lovely parts that make up her ... well, big pictures.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A Harry Proposition

Drove by Union Station today, saw the empty pedestal out front, and wondered when Harry was going to show up.

In September 2005, six-some years and a whole writing career ago, I went to a news conference in front of the station.

There was a printed handout. There was a maquette (mock-up, to you and me and pretty much everyone who didn't come out of the womb speaking Sculpturese). There was going to be a 26-foot statue of the 33rd president, right there in front of the station, and I walked back across the street and wrote a story to that effect. (One of my better leads, too, if I might say so.)

A few of those handouts might still be in existence. The maquette is ... well, more on that in a bit.

But coming up on six years after its projected dedication, the 26-foot-tall statue still looks like a 26-foot-tall pile of air.

In May 2006, the preservation committee at Union Station said, "Hey, nobody asked us if this was OK," and put the brakes on the project.

And so the whole effort remains parked, even though the maquette has been on display at the Jackson County Courthouse since early last year.

This much you already knew. The question now (I know, I'm full of 'em lately) is this:

What can be done to get the project moving forward?

Well, first, a place for the statue has to be secured. If the preservation committee remains recalcitrant (fine, short-sighted), then perhaps a spot can be found across the way on the Liberty Memorial grounds. (You'd think people could tell the difference between, say, painting the columns blaze orange and putting up a statue of a revered local figure, but let's move on.)

Next, someone's going to have to pay for it.

Money's tight (another recurring theme here), and it's debatable whether public funds should be spent on a big piece of monumental art right now. But here's the funny thing: People still have pennies, and we don't always know what to do with them.

Bit by bit, cent by cent, coffee-can donation holder by coffee-can donation holder, the necessary funds could be raised without tapping local, state or federal coffers. Maybe not this year, maybe not next, but even slow and steady progress is better than waiting on hold.

This next bit might not go over so well. If the project goes back into motion, Bruce Wolfe -- the California sculptor who first won the commission -- should get the job if he still wants it. Matter of principle, and all that, and Wolfe already has a local presence with bronzes of former KCMO mayor Ilus Davis and late Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt.

However, if Wolfe passes this time, let's keep the search for Harry 2.0 local, shall we?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Let's have words, shall we?

No, I don't want to start a fight ... well, not today.

And I promise to get back to the reviews, stat, but first I have one more question.

It's not problematic, like yesterday's series of queries. This one's a no-brainer, along the lines of Should any singer who uses Auto-Tune be barred from Grammy contention? or Should that Bobo guy on "Finding Bigfoot" get a Gibbs Head Slap every time he says "Squatch?"

(If  you answer "no" to either of those, get in line with Bobo. Gibbs will be along shortly.)

Today's query: Should Steve take a break from pontificating and, oh, I don't know ... post a call for artists every once in a while?

Which brings us to this opportunity, from Manifest Gallery in Cincinnati. They're looking for artists who incorporate text into their work; as a word guy of sorts, I thought it would be worthwhile to pass it along.

The rules are here: The deadline is Jan. 25, so don't delay.

Now, bonus question: Would I welcome yet more calls, enough that I could make a regular feature out of them?

What do you think? (Don't make me go and get Gibbs again ...)

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Food for discussion

One thing about a winter First Friday: Fewer openings make for a more relaxed pace (not that I'm complaining about busy nights, but sometimes it's nice just to stand/sit for a while and talk).

During one stop, near the end of the walk, the subject of art in restaurants came up.

A gallery-owner friend advanced the proposition that restaurants, rather than offering artists shows and taking commissions on sales, should purchase art outright from those artists -- whether from existing stock or by commissioning works -- just as they'd buy any other items of decor.

It's tempting to agree wholeheartedly ... but in this economy, and with profit margins in the restaurant industry already as thin as a truffle shaving, I can't say, "Yes. Absolutely," and mean it wholeheartedly. I know people in the business, and I know it can be a struggle just to keep the doors open.

You've already heard my contention that restaurants should showcase local art, and a program of rotating exhibits provides one way to do that. Such shows also allow a venue to change its "look" on a monthly, bimonthly or seasonal basis.

That said, there should be some intrinsic economic benefit to the artist, not merely the possibility of sales. Why? Because artists will send/invite their friends and family to the restaurant to see the works, and most people will get something to eat or drink while they're there. That's a tangible plus for the venue, while the artist can only hope to realize a real benefit.

One solution might be for the restaurant to pay for publicity materials, and commit to promoting the artist during the run of the show. It's not new cash for the artist, but it would save him or her an expenditure. Art rental is another option; so is a commitment to purchase one piece from each show, to build a permanent collection. (Yes, I know that would limit opportunities for new artists after the first year or so of operations; no plan is perfect.)

All of this is preface to asking, "What do you think?"

Should artists just be grateful for the exposure, especially in a brutally tight market, or do they have as much right to expect remuneration as the people who supply the table service, the furniture and the mood lighting?

No answers here ... just questions and what-ifs.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Dangerous Curves: Steve Gorman at Sherry Leedy Contemporary Art

Three things can happen when you break big as an artist (permit me to mix my metaphors for a bit here):

1. You can be the Starland Vocal Band, a one-hit wonder that drops off the charts and out of the collective consciousness for all but the occasional three-minute span on oldies radio;

2. You can be Sheryl Crow, who's having a nice but hardly groundbreaking career, or;

3. You can be the Beatles and blow the minds of generations to come.

All three of the aforementioned acts won the Grammy for Best New Artist (a designation which seems a bit odd, as musicians might have been paying dues for years before being honored). After that ... well, you know.

Returning to the visual arts, it wouldn't have been out of line for scene-watchers to wonder how Steve Gorman would follow up the huge success of his show last year at the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art.

Ten seconds through the door of Sherry Leedy Contemporary Art should send any thoughts of a sophomore slump screaming for the exits, beaten and bloodied. Gorman's Below the Surface, which opened last night and runs through Feb. 25 in the Crossroads space, is a fantastic show in both subject matter and execution.

Gorman mixes, juxtaposes, blends and stirs here-there-be-dragons monstrosity ...

Killer Octopus: The Bottom Dweller

with perilous whimsy (and vice versa) ...


with unabashed but dangerous sensuality ...

The Taken

and uses all of those curved ceramic surfaces as delivery platforms for his spot-on color selections. Given the biological themes of his work, it's fair to call this a perfect symbiotic relationship.

It is the intention to first allure the viewer’s attention through the aid of vivid graduated color, Gorman writes, yet simultaneously due to the ambiguity of the hybridized form, the desire exists to leave you pondering this question: “Just what exactly am I looking at?”

Some answers might seem readily apparent; don't be fooled. Go back, and back again. Gorman's work in this seductive, mystery-laden exhibition is worth the exploration ... and the more his creations reveal themselves, the more it becomes apparent that his career is still on the ascent.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Before the festivities, a memoriam

It's First Friday, which means your occasionally humble correspondent will be out pounding the pavement, looking for shows to write up.

This is my favorite night of the month, even if it is the busiest. It's always good to get out and catch up with artist friends, see what's new and generally soak up some creative energy.

But there's one regular stop I won't be making this month.

Gallery 325, on Southwest Boulevard, was a fixture on my stop-in list. It was as much hangout space as artspace for me; always something cool going on, and always good conversation and an interesting sip or two to be had with owner/photographer/raconteur TomTGradeczek. (Okay, so his space bar was broken ... we all have quirks.)

The space has closed, although Tom will still be showing his work around the area (he's a regular, for example, on the KCK public library system's circuit).

I'm going to miss those visits. Probably have to catch myself short at least once tonight, walking over to the space.

See you out there.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

First Impressions of 2012: R. Gregory Summers at Shawnee Mission West Patrons Gallery


I've always been a bit annoyed when pundits of any stripe proclaim "The Year of the (insert noun here)," especially when the year is just getting started. However, while I might be loath to declare 2012 "The Year of the Impressionist," it's safe to say that with the recent founding of the Missouri Valley Impressionist Society, it should be a big year around here for the style and those who work in it.

So, in keeping with that, let's make R. Gregory Summers our first featured artist of the new-look ARTKC365. Summers is showing through Jan. 25 at the Shawnee Mission West Patrons Gallery in Overland Park, and the space is a nice fit for Summers' oil paintings. There's plenty of good light in the gallery, which brings out the details in the plein air works.

(Parenthetical 1: I'm rather abashed to say that while the gallery has been open since 2008, tonight's opening was the first time I've been there. I'm banking on it being the first of many. You should check it out, too; it's on the lower level and open during school hours, meaning you'll need to check in at the office before checking out the art.)

(Parenthetical 2: The Weather Channel was talking tonight about the winners and losers in this warm winter. Given that Summers was out this afternoon painting the view east from Strawberry Hill, I'd say plein air painters are among the winners.)

Back to the show. Start to your right as you enter the space, work your way around counterclockwise, and you'll get to see the progression of Summers' work from early days to this current dry gray-and-tan season. 

Throughout the show, even in the single "staged" piece (unless there are cello ranchers out there that I've never heard about), Summers' work shows an easy intimacy with his subject matter and surroundings. Nothing looks contrived. Yes, that's something you'd expect from open-air painting, but the human tendency is to fudge sometimes and make things just a little more picturesque.

None of that here, to my eye. Yes, there's interpretation here. That goes along with the whole Impressionist thing. But Summers' is a faithful translation, true to his sources, and that shows in every canvas.

Yep ... first impressions are that it's going to be a very good year ...

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Speaking of all boats ...

Late start tonight. I'd apologize, but I was out watching an artist at work.

What? Last I checked, Bob Walkenhorst, in addition to being the best lyricist in rock 'n' roll, is also a painter.

So, anyway ... catch-up time.

Yesterday's post was intended to stir a pot. Once I put up a link on Facebook, it started stirring another one as well. The conversation took a turn -- whether left or right, I'm still not sure -- into who controls the Crossroads scene and whether or not abstract art has an undeserved stranglehold not only on the Kansas City scene but on the national culture as well.

That moved on into a back-and-forth -- sometimes heated, but that happens and no blood got drawn -- over whether representational or abstract work has greater value.

(Disclosure time: I'm an abstracter. Can't render to save my life. I'm okay with this, even though I have friends who insist I can learn to draw more than inferences, conclusions and a paycheck.)

Here's my take, in three parts.

1. Not all art is created equal. Within every style, every medium, there is work ranging from the exceptional the the instantly forgettable. That's a function of gift, skill, education (which can include self-teaching) and experience, and no one is saying those things don't matter.

2. There's no cabal keeping down representational artists in Kansas City. The Kemper and the Nerman both feature representational work, both in permanent collections and rotating exhibits, as do the major galleries across the area. "Contemporary" and "abstract" are not synonymous.

3. While not all art is created equal, there is no room for "us" and "them" in this or any arts community. There is too much at stake. Funding sources, both public and private, are dwindling. Established collectors can't always afford to buy on their previous scales, and potential new ones are skittish in this economy. That presents artists with two choices: to turn on each other as the water hole of available resources shrinks to a puddle, or to work together and support each other through the rough patch.

By and large, I believe people have chosen, are choosing and will continue to choose the latter path. That's something I've noticed pretty much across the board: There's a willingness to bring new artists along, even though that increases "competition," and to celebrate the successes of others.

I don't have a snappy closer to this one ... just a hope and a belief that things will continue to be that way -- that even if we can't agree on what style is best, we can appreciate the value of creativity and do our best to nurture it wherever it might be found.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Location, location, lo-- hey, what about timing?

Might as well see if I can stir the pot in these early days.

Had a discussion with a friend last night about the timing of gallery openings, one-night events, etc.

Consensus: If a venue is not in the Crossroads, or within a five-minute drive of the Crossroads, its openings should not be on First Fridays.

Nobody in the Crossroads is paying me to write this, by the way. The simple truth is this: that's where the action and traffic are on First Fridays.

Now, say you're not in that area, and you open on a First Friday. Yes, your artist will get his or her friends there. Your gallery will get its followers there, and some of each set of supporters will go on to the Crossroads.

Here's the thing, though: The artist and venue will get pretty much exactly squat in casual foot traffic, because the gallery-hoppers -- the people whom you and your artist most need to meet -- are all in the Crossroads.

The artist misses a chance to connect with new people (who just might be in the mood to buy art, even in this economy). Same goes for the venue.

So ... think second. Think third. Heck, start up a Saturday circuit. Give your openings a chance to stand and shine on their own, outside the shadow of the Crossroads.

Look at Lawrence. It has an impressive and growing art walk (Yes, you should go.), and people get a chance to drive over from the city and see it because it's always on the last Friday of the month. That's smart scheduling.

There's nothing wrong with trying to make your area, wherever it might be in the city, an arts destination. The rising tide, as the saying goes, lifts all boats.

Trying to compete with the biggest scene on its big night, though, isn't the way to go about growing your own circuit.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Resolved: That no matter the season, the walls should be bedecked.

Yes, the reviews are coming. But, as said, things are changing 'round these here parts, and today is a soapbox moment.

So, it's January 2, the day when we pause in memory of the New Year's resolutions which -- like as not -- died in under 24 hours.

So it goes.

That said, there's nothing wrong with planning to do things differently in 2012. And so, this one's for you, People Who Have Space to Show Art But Don't.

Look, you don't need a gigantic venue. The Bourgeois Pig in Lawrence is tiny, for example, and yet month after month you can find really good work on the walls there.

Nor do you need a conventional space (and in this, I'll count coffeehouses as "conventional," seeing that most of the ones I know already show local, original art). Got a medical/dental/optical/etc. office? A hair salon? A bank lobby? Free wall space in your church?

Instant gallery. Just add art. (And, for the record, I can cite examples, in any of the above categories, of places which already double as art venues.)

I've typed this before, and I'll type it again: Showing local art is a win-win-win -- for the artist (who receives exposure), the venue (which gains foot traffic, awareness and a chance to win new clients) and the public at large (who benefit from having something real to look at, rather than the same old furniture-store art and craft-store posters).

Whats that  you say? You don't know any artists? The easiest way to meet some is to put up a sign saying that you'd like to show original work. You'll meet artists. Trust me on this one.

Rather go another route? Check out the "Now Showing" program, offered by the Arts Council of Metropolitan Kansas City. Take an art walk (First Friday, for example) and offer a show to an artist whose work you like. Or just Google "Kansas City Artist" and spend some time browsing the huge variety of work available for display.

All else failing, email me. I know artists, and I'd be happy to make recommendations.

I'm not saying you have to do it all today. By Sunday will be fine.

Looking forward to all the February openings ...

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Format

After a needed hiatus, and some long thinking about how to move forward, ARTKC365 is back online.

If this is your first encounter with the project, here's a brief bit of history: 

ARTKC365 first launched in 2009 with the goal of featuring one artist per day, and not repeating any artist in a given calendar year. I hit the wall after two and a half (thoroughly enjoyable) years, but I've missed the daily fun. So, here goes ... with a new premise and the same old promises. I suppose you could call it ARTKC365 v.2.0, but that would be way too many letters and numbers.

(If you're interested in the archives, they're here.)

New things first: Yes, I'll still do reviews/essays/commentary/caffeine-hazed blathering on individual artists and shows. But that won't be all I do. Plans for daily content also include previews of upcoming events, occasional venue and artist profiles, or whatever else happens to suggest itself that day.

No matter what, though, art -- the works themselves, the people who make them and the places that show them -- will be at the forefront of the daily posts.

The first ongoing promise is this: The only artist I'll never promote on here is myself. I have another site for that (although it sorely needs to be updated). 

The second is that if I ever start writing in Artspeak (a language which uses English words and sentence structure but is decidedly not English) or making High Holy Pronouncements in first person plural, you all have my permission to hold me down and hamstring me with dull palette knives.

Anything else? Oh, yeah. You can email me here. If you're a spammer ... well, I have dull palette knives of my own. 

So ... Happy 2012, and here's to an art-filled year.