Monthly Archives: February 2016

Throwback Thursday – KCAC Forum Summer 1983

KCAC Forum Magazine Summer 1983

The Therapist as Artist
by Jim Roberts

Our society has tended to create a false barrier between those touched by artistic inspiration and the rest of us.  As a therapist I have rebelled against this barrier by insisting on thinking of my work as an art form.

I was reminded of the connection recently when I was in the home of a friend of mine who paints and sculpts.  In a rare moment of idle time, I picked up a pad and pencil and began to draw her picture.  She sat down a few feet away and did the same.

Without schooling or experience in the art of drawing, I proceeded slowly. My pencil moved cautiously and haltingly over the pad.  I figured, “as rare as it is that I do this, I better do it right.”  I was determined not to make any mistakes; to do it perfectly the first time.

Each time I looked up from the pad, I noticed my friend dashing off bold strikes with her pencil; making rapid, sweeping movements over the paper.  As she flipped one page over to move on to another, she giggled, “You’re going so slowly!”

Of course I was.  it’s the same thing I did as a beginning therapist.  And the same thing I do even now when I become too attached to the outcome and forget the significance of the process.

Not only do I sometimes go too slowly. Sometimes I get “stuck.”  Getting stuck in therapy is a common hazard.  It’s one that is shared by other artists in the form of writer’s block, stage fright, and so on.  Being stuck, for me, occurs most often when I am unfaithful to the primacy of process; when I become overly concerned about what others might think, preoccupied with “right” or “wrong” and when I become too focused on the end result.

Getting unstuck, I’ve decided, is simple.  It’s not easy.  But it is simple.  It involves the right balance between the eternal combination of reflection and action.  The first step, reflection, means taking fearless inventory of the all-important here-and-now.  “What am I feeling, thinking, wanting, in this very moment? What are my impulses, my urges, my hunches?”

The second step means acting on the new awareness.  Being “stuck” is much like a microcosm of depression.  Doing something is both an impetus for resolving a depression and an indication that the depression is resolved. While worrying about whether the new initiative is “right” or “wrong” is a good way of staying stuck, having made a truly honest assessment of the here-and-now is the best assurance that it won’t be “wrong.” Whether the stuckness is with a client who hasn’t changed, or with a canvas that isn’t going anywhere, the solution ultimately lies in doing something.

As therapists we press our clients in the directions that we press ourselves.  But in the same sense in which Michelangelo “released” his figures from stone, a good therapist gets out of his client’s way. We know that to be authentically creative in our art (to most effectively release our figures) we must expect ourselves to fully feel, fully think and fully do.  We must experiment, test, explore, push, attempt, imagine and we must take risks. We wonder if they shape our art.

And ultimately, we wonder when it is that the piece is done.  “Is it what I expected it to be? Does it need a little more here, a little less there? Should I come back to it later, or leave it alone?” It’s fitting, I think that artists and therapists would have trouble with endings.  But, fortunately for you and for me, if an artist is anybody, she is somebody for whom things made matter only a little; somebody for whom the obsession is making.

alison barnes martin

KC Artist Lifestyle is back in full swing this week with Kansas City photographer Alison Barnes Martin (@alibarmar). Alison received her BFA in photography from the Art Center College of Design in California, spent time freelancing, jumped into Hallmark Cards, Inc for several years and is back at it as owner of her own photography studio here in Kansas City!

Alison finds influence from the works of Diane Arbus, Herb Ritts, Sally Mann, Joyce Tenneyson and Irving Penn scattered through out her photography. Her career has straddled both the traditional film and the digital processes and thus has allowed her to take influences from both schools of photography and make work that beautifully combines the two forms. With the combination of these two schools of thought, Alison creates digital frescoes that have the spirit of traditional film development with a touch of the digital process peppered in.

“Both making a good image and using a process lets me be hands on. I’m using tools that enable me to make images that evoke feeling and give texture to photography. I’m successful when I make imagery deeply rooted in my psyche. My gut informs the process.”

We are looking forward to seeing what a week in the life of Alison (@alibarmar) is all about, but since we just can’t wait, here are a few images of Alison’s work and past Instagram images…

Barnes-Martin_Alison_Image-1_AL_2_16     Barnes-Martin_Alison_Image-2_AL_2_16     Barnes-Martin_Alison_Image-3_AL_2_16

Be sure to follow Alison on her KCAC Instagram journey Thursday, February 25th – Tuesday, March 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 Sept 1981

In light of the Auction coming up on Saturday (thank you to everyone that came to the Sweet Art Reception last night!), KCAC would like to Throwback Thursday to an interview in the KCAC Forum Magazine with our Honorary Chairperson, Silent Bid Donor, and Co-Founder, Lou Marak.

KCAC Forum Magazine September 1981

interview by Jan Phillips

Lou Marak arrived in Kansas City in 1953 to study at the Kansas City Art Institute and has remained in town ever since.  Along with Philomene Bennett and other artists primarily in the River Quay area, he founded the KCAC in 1975.  Appropriately, his cartoon of an angry artist appears on the back cover of every issue of FORUM.EarlyOfficers_KCAC40

During this past summer, his recent paintings were on exhibit at the Jan Weiner Gallery in Topeka, and Rockhurst College will show his work in November. 

Who are you and what are you all about?
That’s a tough question.  Everyone close to me would have a different answer.  My wife, my children, my friends – each one would have a different impression.  I guess I’m just Lou Marak, a farm boy from Meeker, Oklahoma, who always wanted to draw, who cares about people and thinks life is pretty funny.

What do you mean you don’t take life too seriously?
Well, life is pretty serious – serious things happen.  But I find the humor in it.  Being able to laugh at things, at others, at yourself muddling through it all, makes the difference.  I think everyone is given certain trials, crosses to bear.  It’s how you handle them.  Everyone will get there in his own way.  I’m getting there with a sense of humor.  There’s something spiritual about laughter. God can’t be serious.

Are you saying laughter is your religion?
Well, I think of myself as a lapsed Catholic.  Fallen away.  I’m insulted by the church’s imprint.  Laughter makes a better impression.

LM-4Let’s get back to Meeker.  How does a farm boy decide he wants to be an artist?
There wasn’t any deciding; I just began to draw as soon as I could hold a pencil.

What did you draw?
Whatever was around.  A pencil, a posthole, a rhubarb burning, a horse switching flies.  Anything.

How did you know you were any good?
I didn’t. In Meeker, nobody knows anything.  And what they do tell you is wrong.

Then how did you get encouragement?
My folks encouraged us to do what we wanted to do.  I wanted to draw; so they were happy to let me draw.  Then my English teacher in Junior High gave me a set of oils.  I painted a mountain by a stream.  I had never seen a mountain. it was my first painting.  She entered it in a contest at the Teacher’s College. I won an award.  The criticism was that the water was too blue.  I’d never seen water that wasn’t read.  I just made it blue because of the pictures I’d seen.  Winning that award caused quite a stir.  That’s the danger of a small town like Meeker.  You could be awful and do something like that and be hailed as a genius.  The first thing you do with Meeker is get out of there.  I didn’t belong. I was always different.

When you finally left Meeker, why didn’t you go to Paris to study?
I thought Kansas City was Paris.

Alright, lets get to the heart of is. What kind of an artist are you?
Mmm. Commercial? I can do that. Contemporary card cartoonist? I can do that better than anybody else, but I don’t write captions.  Teacher? One night a week.  Landscapes? Portraits? Still lifes? Drawings? I do them all.  Who cares if  you don’t have a category? Few people who say they are artists are actually creative.  I like what I do.  I get enjoyment out of a number of approaches.  You can’t limit art to do ing oil well, airbrush well.  It’s what works.  It’s a way of seeing things that most people don’t have.  You create in many ways.

Now, Lou, I hate to bring this up, but what about money?
Yes, money.  You are forced to do what makes money for you.  Right now for me, it’s the cards.  I enjoy them, even get at kick out of them.  They’re funny.  But they slow me up, keep me from doing other things.  I have to spend a lot of time on them, and I don’t improve as fast on other things.  It’ not a good balance.  but even if I were able to slow down the cards, I would still do funny things – more cowboys. I’d diversify more.  I could never be dead serious.  I’m odd when I’m serious.

Well, then, besides being able to diversify more – not spending so much time on one thing – what would you change about your life?
I used to think I wanted to live on a ranch.  But I’m doing what I want to do.  I wouldn’t change my life.  I would change the public.  Every artist would do that.  For miles around me, there are people who don’t own a painting.  I’d change that. Get paintings on their walls.  Or even better, get them to see when they look around them.  Then they would want paintings on their walls.LM-2

Louis, you have lived fifty-one years.  In those fifty-one years, what would you consider the apex of your art and your creativity?
The creativity will always be there.  It is a part of me.  It can’t be given up; it can’t fall away.  The apex happens in each painting – while I’m doing it. The excitement is there.  and when’m finished with that, it shifts to the next one.  The zenith is my next one, the one I’m going to do.

Ok, Lou. Don’t you think you’ve said enough?
Yeah, I’ve said enough.

KCAC Board and Staff

Auction time is upon us!

So to keep with all things KCAC, KC Artist Lifestyle is back to its roots this week with Executive Director Janet Simpson, Assistant Director Marissa Starke (@missmariss82), and Executive Assistant Erin Hall (@erusshall); along with Board Members Angie Jennings (@jinanqi), Kwanza Humphrey (@kwanza3) and President Jefferson Blair (@jblair007).

You may be familiar with our staff and seeing them around KCAC, but we want to give you every perspective of the Auction this week and invited our board to join in on the fun. Angie Jennings is a past Mallin Gallery exhibiting photographer with emphasis in Chinese culture; Kwanza Humphrey is a past Underground Gallery exhibiting painter/illustrator/designer; and Jefferson Blair’s colorful kiln formed glass pieces range from vases to wall hangings.

We are looking forward to seeing what the week of the KCAC Auction is all about! Here are a few photos from the participants personal instagrams…

Blair    humphrey    Jennings    starke    Hall

Photos L to R: Jefferson Blair, Kwanza Humphrey, Angie Jennings, Marissa Starke and Erin Hall.

Be sure to follow us on our KCAC Instagram journey Wednesday, February 17th – Tuesday, February 23rd!

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