Monthly Archives: November 2015

derya geylani

The KCAC Artist Lifestyle project on Instagram is celebrating this Thanksgiving in TURKEY! All jokes aside, we are very excited to have a chance this week to spend time with past KCAC Artist-in-Residence, Derya Geylani (@deryageylani).

In October 2013, Derya and ceramic artist Zehra Cobanli worked together in the KCAC residence for a little over a month. While in residence, the two artists spent their time creating and collaborating with various artists in the Kansas City community. Over the past two years, Derya has proven to be very busy, as she has finished her Masters in Ceramic and Glass at the Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University in Istanbul and has begun to pursue her Doctorates in the same field.

We thought after two years and tons of hard work, it was high time for all of us to catch up and share with you what Derya has been up to!

Over the next 6 days we will get a chance to look at Derya’s (@deryageylani) creative process and inspirations. We are very excited to see what she has in store for us, so here are a few images of Derya’s work and past Instagram images…

Geylani_Derya_Image-1_AL_11_15   Geylani_Derya_Image-2_AL_11_15   Geylani_Derya_Image-3_AL_11_15

Be sure to follow Derya on her KCAC Instagram journey Thursday, November 26th – Tuesday, December 1st!

If you missed any of our previous Artist Lifestyle Artists you can always catch up on the KCAC Instagram (@kcartistscoalition) to see what has been happening or search all social media with the hashtags: #kcartistlifestyle #kcacartistlifestyle

Throwback Thursday – KCAC Forum Feb 1981

KCAC Forum Magazine February 1981

After the Art Institute: the students that stay in town
by Walter Brayman

Young art students arriving at the Kansas City Art Institute face, on one side of Oak Street, the Nelson Gallery – a magnificent but orthodox institution conveying a high standard of achievement in art.  On the other side of the street, KCAI reveals the unorthodox, surprising, and impermanent results of the process of creativity.  The students will be challenged both by the Nelson and by a college that, according to Wilbur Niewald (head of the painting department), offers “the best [undergraduate] art education” in the nation. It promises to be a heady four years.  When it’s over, what happens to the students?

According to Nola herman (director of the alumni/career planning office), about one-half of the students move on to graduate schools, and many others disperse to jobs and other cities.  However, 520 alumni, 23% of all the college’s graduates over the years, are still in the Kansas City area.  Another 446 people here have attended the college as full-time students.

Some of those who have stayed in Kansas City teach in schools or work in galleries and other art organizations; other hold design positions in business.  Many exhibit their art. Of the six Presidents of the Coalition, two were former KCAI students (Michael Bailey and Suzanne Richards), and a third is a faculty member (Michael Walling). Another graduate (Lou Marak) was a main founder of the KCAC. About one-quarter of the Coalition members are KCAI alumni, students, or faculty.

Many persons in the arts believe that Kansas City during the 1970’s was a place increasingly hospitable to artists. This belief has been a refrain in FORUM and seems to be reinforced by a look at the KCAI alumni mailing list, showing that 45 of the 97 members of the class of 1980 live in the KC area. Doesn’t this increase confirm the portrayal of KC as a good place for artists? Unfortunately, no.

First of all, the number 45 is out of date; at least eight – and perhaps more – have already left the area.  More significantly, the 1980 graduates in town did not stay because the city has a “more vital” art community, but because it is expedient for them.  Money seems to be the main reason: it is too expensive to move to another city.  As Craig Cook said, “In New York I’d have to pay three times more for one-half the space.” Others stay here a few years to earn money for graduate school.  Some see their stay as a chance to sort out their lives before moving on – a  “decompression” time, as one said.  Others may stay because of friends or the easy pace (“not overrun like the East”), but not because the city is a good place for art.  For others family obligations keep them here. Very few of last year’s graduates have found a job that would hold them here.

Most of the graduates from 1980 or earlier that I spoke with did not feel prepared for the job hunt.  For recent alumni, the situation is no better now than it was for Ann Bagby in 1966.  Her job odyssey is representative.  With no money to leave town, she did display work at a store, then worked at an art supply shop, a library, Hallmark (a 4-year stint), and a “Mobile Art” store before becoming a “girl Friday” for Mayor Wheeler.  Now she does layout work for an ad agency.  Through the years she studied ballet and art education and painted – outside her job.

Earning a MFA doesn’t necessarily lead to an easier job search.  Susan Bercu (KCAI 1975, University of Kansas MFA 1978) stayed in town because of family and the lack of permanent college jobs.  She has kept working, mainly as a teacher, but in short term positions.  Last year she held eight jobs.  To her, the city is “a dead-end.”

Both Bagby and Bercu have become recognized artists here. But their constant battle for both time for art and a living wage tells much about the future of KCAI graduates.

Last year’s graduates tell pessimistic stories of frequent job changes and their work in stores, art supply shops, short-term teaching programs, libraries, factories, docks and restaurants.  Cook, who sought graphic design work, pays the bills through display jobs (“manual labor”) and free-lances as a fabric designer.  Discouraged, he sees a conservative city where “people don’t understand the importance of design.”

Sometimes students find work they want.  Sue Schneider, after four jobs in a year, is now doing ad layout at the Star.  Another graduate worked at Young Audiences and and in restaurants, and taught at the jail before landing a commission which will allow her to paint for a year.  Very few leave KCAI to go directly to local jobs for which they are trained.  Emily Muane is one, a printmaker for the Donna Aldrich Studio, as is another graduate.  A design student found good work at an ad agency; another, Susan Lawlor, found work she wanted at Hallmark.  But, the stay here is difficult for most.

How do the students look back at KCAI from the work world?  “You don’t realize you need preparation [-for jobs] until you’re out,” says Schneider.  She doesn’t blame the school but sees the students’ later disorientation as “self-inflicted;” when they are at KCAI, student choose to ignore life after graduation.  Bercu recalls that at KCAI people made you “ashamed to feel you should prepare for anything but being an artist.”  Nane Nore and Suzanne Richards agree.  Nore (now head of the art department at Park College) felt alone at KCAI preparing for “practical” work in public schools.  Richards recalls that, along with the artistic excitement, “a little idealistic cloud” hovered over KCAI when she left in 1963.  Still, Cook sees the “romanticized liberal arts education” as appropriate: “You’re not going to a trade school; it’s a chance to challenge yourself, to think.”

How does Niewald see KCAI relative to life after graduation?  A graduate in 1949, he has tought there for 0 years and understands that graduates may feel disoriented “When students are involved [in art], they don’t know  the realities outside.” However, if some alumni complain about “lack of preparation,” they had missed the point of his classes, which are “not practical.”  He teaches “not what the world’s about, but what painting’s about.”  he holds up an ideal, “art at its purest; it’s for the student to make it work.”  There are so many applications; “I would never tell a student [which way to go].”

One person at KCAI who tries very hard to alert students to “practical” post-graduate live is Nola Herman.  Funneling job listings and opportunities to students and alumni, she also organizes career workshops and a free lance art registry, and counsels individuals.  Given the conditions many graduates face, hers is a difficult job.

Some graduates will sell their art and exhibit and teach, but for many the post-graduate pressures will make survival as artists difficult.  Some, like Bagby, will make art no matter what their job.  Others may abandon art, as has a young realtor in the city, or as did a missionary friend of Nore’s who mailed Nore all her at supplies.

The struggles of young artists from an excellent school are a painful reminder of challenges facing our entire art community.

We can see here that some post-graduate struggles are still the same, no matter what the year or the major, though in some ways it is now more difficult with the addition of student loans and job markets.  However, over the years, Kansas City has come to embrace the arts more fully and, luckily for KCAI grads, more opportunities for recent graduates are available.

Throwback Thursday – KCAC Forum Nov 1980

KCAC Forum Magazine November 1980

Elizabeth Layton
by Don Lambert

It was three years ago this fall that Elizabeth Layton took her first art class.  Little did she know that learning to draw would change her life.  But changer her life it did. The 71 year-old from Wellsville, Kansas not only learned to draw, but she discovered a style uniquely her own.  By using the little known technique of blind or contour drawing, she learned to express herself in ways she never thought possible.  This new freedom of expression has allowed her to unlock the cuffs of depression she had worn more than half her life.

Elizabeth Layton was born in Wellsville, a town of about 1,000 people interested mostly in football.  The daughter of the newspaper owners there, she graduated from high school, got married, and had children.  That marriage ended in divorce, and she took over the operation of the newspaper.  In the fall of 1977, Elizabeth Layton traveled the 12 miles to Ottawa University to take her first art class.  The technique being taught happened to be contour drawing whereby the artist looks at the subject being drawn rather than at the paper.  Thus, a direct line of communication is established from object to artist’s mind to artist’s hand to paper.

It was not long until she established her own style.  Drawing herself with one green eye larger than the other and a small red spot in the center of her upper forehead.  Yards of sagging flesh.  Colors which are always appropriate for the mood of the drawing.  A distorted perspective which somehow always works and even enhances the message of the drawing.  And an ability to show both tragedy and comedy – often in the same work.

Her first drawing done September 12, 1977 features herself standing in front of a women’s suffrage sign.  In front of her are a doll-sized cooking stove and frying pan. In this line drawing, it appears she is only playing at her routine chores.  Her second drawing is included in the traveling show at the UMKC gallery during November.  She is attempting to water a plant but appears to be watering everything but the plant.

After this class, her works along with those of the other students were displayed in the student union at Ottawa University.  It was there that I, a reporter for the daily newspaper in Ottawa at the time, noticed her drawings among the muddy, barely adequate drawings of the other students.  Knowing nothing about her drawings except that they are wonderful, I met with her and have been promoting her drawings since.

It takes her nearly a wLayton_Elizabeth_Thanksgivingeek to complete a drawing. Using her bedroom as her studio, she beings with an idea.  It could be dieting. Or a hospital intensive care room, or pollution, or cloning. She places a large sheet of paper on a board.  She sits in front of her large bedroom mirror or looks into a round-hand mirror.  She is ready to draw.

Why does she draw herself? She explains simply, “Because I am always available.”

Setting beside her box of colored pencils and crayons are props she uses often such as a butterfly, a leaf, and other small items.  Many of these items find their way into the “business” around her central character.

She explained that each composition is like a puzzle.  In each space, only one particular item will fit.  Many of her drawings have dozens of small figures and symbols in the background which help the picture tell its story.  When the basic outline is completed, she uses crayons and colored pencils to fill in the drawing.

Each of the drawings does tell a story.  In Thanksgiving, featured on the outside of this issue, she is creating her fantasy Thanksgiving. She does not like to cook. And children don’t usually like the traditional holiday foods.  So in her fantasy, everyone is eating Kentucky Fried Chicken, olives and Oreos. One tradition, a sprig of parsley, has been added to each chicken box as well as in her hair and in the bird cage.  Outside, a thankful turkey rejoices for having been spared his traditional fate.

In the other cover work, Garden of Eden, she has drawn herself as a terrified Eve who is running away from the snake, Adam, and his harsh phallic side of the garden.  She explains, “I don’t think it is fair for women to get blamed for the first sin.  It was probably Adam who made her eat that apple.”

One of her works not in the traveling show but pictured in this issue deals with capital punishment.  To draw it, she placed a noose over a mirror which she set on the floor.  Squatting on her knees, she looked up through the noose to achieve the eerie perspective.  Her swollen face and bulging, hopeless eyes show her strong opposition to capital punishment. Layton_Elizabeth_All Dressed Up

For another drawing pictured here which is included in the show, All Dressed Up and Going Out, she put on her fanciest dress and her daughter’s high heeled shoes.  The drawing shows accurately that the dress is too tight and the shoes high enough to make her dizzy.

In another drawing, she has donned a  black lace negligee, revealing breasts sagging to the waist though she is making a suggestive wink.  Her husband Glenn poses for some drawings, sometimes wearing things like a stool lid cover on his head to like like a hat worn by Christopher Columbus or a towel to look like Aladdin’s turban.

In the last three years, Elizabeth Layton has attracted a fair amount of recognition.  One of her drawings was chosen from among 600 entries to win first prize in this spring’s Mid-Four Juried Show at the Nelson. Although she never saw Christo’s wrapped sidewalk in Loose park, she depicted it brilliantly.  In the drawing, she is skipping down the walkway.  She, too, is wrapped in the bright yellow-orange cloth.  The cloth is her cocoon, and it appears she will soon emerge from it and join the butterflies swarming about her head.

Douglas Drake included two of her works in The Pioneer Exhibition which was shown at Crown Center and in his gallery in October of 1978.

She is one of three Kansas artists designated by the Kansas Arts Commission as “Kansas Governor’s Artist for 1980.” For this honor, she exhibited four works in the office of Governor John Carlin.  However, three of the works, including one showing all the ways women have been mistreated by men, were promptly removed to a minor office.

Layton_Elizabeth_Capitol PunishmentThirty-one of her works have been mounted for touring by the Wichita Art Museum and are traveling with the assistance of the Kansas Arts Commission.  The show, now at UMKC, goes to Ottawa in December, the Mulvane Art Center in Topeka in January, the Wichita Art Museum in the spring, and the Sheldon Gallery in Lincoln in November of 1981.

But the most important aspect of Mrs. Layton’s art is that it has made her feel good.  Nearly 70 years of happiness and sadness was bottled up inside her. It is all coming out in her drawings.

She discounts, however, the talent which her drawings reveal.  She explains to the dozens of friends and admirers she has met in the last three years, “Drawing can do for anyone what it has done for me.  All you have to do is want to do it.  Then try it. You’ll be amazed.”


Art comes in all ages and sizes! Never let doubts hold you back from trying something new, be it a style or medium. You never know what amazing new thing you will discover!


paige beltowski

The KCAC Artist Lifestyle project on Instagram returns this week with local fiber artist Paige Beltowski (@pigpattypaige)

Paige received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fiber, with an emphasis in fashion at the Kansas City Art Institute in 2015. This fall she jumped right in and began her Masters in Costume Design at the University of Missouri – Kansas City and is generally killing it!

You might recognize Paige from KCAC back in 2014 when she had a beautifully beaded necklace/collar in the Undergraduate College Student Exhibition. She has also participated in several fashion shows in the Kansas City area, such as Urban Gold and the West 18th Fashion Show. Having extensively studied both fine arts and fashion, her work often reaches a balance between the two. Much of the influences in her work stem from the environment surrounding her. Paige often reacts to the landscapes and people near to her and slowly weaves those narratives into her garment collections, installations, and drawings.

Over the next 6 days we will get a chance to look at Paige’s (@pigpattypaige) creative process and inspirations. We are very excited to see what she has in store for us. Here are a few images of Paige’s work and past Instagram images…

Beltowski_Paige_Image-2_AL_11_15     Beltowski_Paige_Image-1_AL_11_15     Beltowski_Paige_Image-3_AL_11_15

Be sure to follow Paige on her KCAC Instagram journey Thursday, November 12th – Tuesday, November 17th!

If you missed any of our previous Artist Lifestyle Artists you can always catch up on the KCAC Instagram (@kcartistscoalition) to see what has been happening or search all social media with the hashtags: #kcartistlifestyle #kcacartistlifestyle