Blog

jefferson blair

KCAC Artist Lifestyle is back this week with long time KCAC friend and artist Jefferson Blair (@jblair007)! Please help us in welcoming him and his spectacular glass sculpture to the KCAC Instagram account this week!

Jefferson has been a long standing supporter of KCAC for several years now and many of you may have actually met him in person at a variety of events here at the Artists Coalition! His countless volunteer hours and general rallying for staff, member artists and the organization have sometimes overshadowed the simple fact that he too is a TERRIFIC artist! We thought, it was long over due that he take a minute to share with everyone his own artwork and amazing glasses creations on the KCAC Instagram. Over the next six days we are looking forward to seeing what Jefferson have in store for us, but in the mean time, here are a few words about Jefferson, his art and his current inspiration:

“My current work focuses on innovative, sculptural, kiln-formed glass, metal and lighting design. All facets of work pay homage to light and its interaction with our senses. Within the final piece, the beauty of the art continually evolves via light and seasonal shifts. As the light source varies, the work itself embodies a new radiance, meaning, and ever-changing expression.”

We are very excited to see what the world looks like through Jefferson’s eyes and to see what he will be sharing with us on his Instagram journey. Here are a few images of his artwork and past Instagram photos to get things kicked off…

Blair_Jefferson_Image-1_AL_4_17     Blair_Jefferson_Image-3_AL_4_17     Blair_Jefferson_Image-2_AL_4_17

Be sure to follow Jefferson on his KCAC Instagram story starting tomorrow Thursday, April 27th – Tuesday, May 2nd!

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 social media with the hashtags: #kcartistlifestyle #kcacartistlifestyle

Throwback Thursday – KCAC Forum May 1994

KCAC Forum Magazine May 1994

THE UPHILL BATTLES AND VICTORIES OF THE KANSAS CITY ART COMMISSION – OR BROTHER, CAN YOU SPARE (ALMOST) A DIME?
by Chris Coulson

Public art is good for the economy, bottom line, bottom line, bottom line.
– Heidi Iverson Bilardo, Kansas City Public Art Commissioner

Outside the City Hall office of Public Art Administrator Heidi Iverson Bilardo is a Kansas City Star cartoon pinned to a wall. It is a drawing of the four columns of the Bartle Hall project, each topped off with a different sculpture…one of them a sculpture of a Kansas City taxpayer drilled with a screw. Someone, you’d assume an ally, has written something across the bottom of the cartoon…”Welcome to Kansas City, Heidi!”

In spite of criticism from some of the local citizenry, from some of the editorial Staff of The Kansas City Star, Bilardo remains excited and optimistically determined about the future of public art in Kansas City.

Criticism of the administrator, and of the Municipal Art Commission, seems based mostly in the vague notion that they are part of an “elitist,” maybe even secret enterprise whose members choose art only they like or understand, with no community involvement or representation, and do all this in a couple of days, or overnight, somewhere else, and all at great taxpayer expense. According to Bilardo, nothing could be further from the truth.

“All members of the community are represented,” said Bilardo, “The process of selection involved a year-and-a-half discussion review for the Terry Allen project alone, which ‘lay-people’ are very much a part of. And we try to make all the review panels as culturally diverse as possible.”

The funding for the projects Bilardo and the Arts Commission develop comes from what is known as the one percent for art program, which began in 1970. The program in Kansas City was one of the first of its kind in the United States, and has since branched out and flourished in cities like Phoenix, Seattle, New York, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia. Those cities all have one percent for art programs, the one percent seeming to be the decided upon fair percentage (Bilardo said that in certain Japanese cities, it can be five percent).

The Kansas City program, however, lay mostly dormant after it was introduced by municipal ordinance in 1970… until 1990 when then-mayor Richard Berkley created the Public Art Task Force to enliven the program. It was even more enlivened some months later when the Kansas City Council provided the financial backing for the 20 year-old program whose goal is reserving one percent of the cost of the construction, reconstruction or remodeling of any municipal building for aesthetic ornamentation and adornment.

The Process
The process of selecting each public art project is, according to Bilardo, carefully and inclusively carried out. Here is the (official) step-by-step plan the Commission follows with each art project:
1) The Coordinator recommends to the Municipal Art Commission the establishment of a project.
2) The recommendation of names and the establishment of a Review Panel.
3) The Panel convenes, reviews the project, holds first review of artists.
4) The Panel finalizes short list of artists, and materials sent.
5) The Panel interviews short list of artists, and selects an artist.
6) The Artist studies the selected project (materials sent, Artist visits Kansas City); a “first phase” contract is drawn up.
7) The Artist develops and reviews project plans with project planners, revisions are made.
8) The Artist presents proposal to the Project Panel, more revisions.
9) The Artist and Panel present proposal to the Municipal Art Commission.
10) The Artist, Project Coordinator (whose role is to communicate, organize, implement all  aspects of the project) and City Official finalize fabrication, transportation, implementation and budgetary issues; a “second phase” contract is made.
11) Implementation of the project begins.
Terry Allen

“I look for artists reflecting the issues of our times. I am looking to push the edge a little bit.”
-Heidi Iverson Bilardo

Misplaced, Misbegotten Art”
-title from a Kansas City Star editorial

The most controversial project lately is the selection of artist Terry Allen’s sculpture for the new Fire and Police Communications Center. The sculpture will be of a man in suit and tie, his fingers in his ears, a shoe in his mouth, and his wind-blown tie lashed across his eyes.  And again, the criticism seems to run from the hysterical to the humorless to the altogether inaccurate. A Kansas City Star editorial writer started a recent lead editorial deciding of the Allen sculpture: “It not only sounds silly, it looks silly.” A few lines later, in a piece that mentions THE TAX-PAYER thttp://static.panoramio.com/photos/large/5721610.jpghree times in six paragraphs, the writer goes as far as to say: “This is not great art in the traditional sense. To some, it is even offensive (our italics) art. The Board of Police Commissioners in particular is upset by the piece; it likely will be placed only a few dozen feet from Police Headquarters.”

That last bit of information is the altogether inaccurate, mentioned above.

According to Bilardo, the Communications Center will be built between the police station and the Municipal Court building to the north. The sculpture, placed in front of the center, will not be a few dozen feet from Police Headquarters, but, as Bilardo said, “50 or more yards away.”

A few lines later, the editorial makes this accusation of Bilardo and the Art Commission: “Taxpayers are being forced (our italics) to finance ‘art’ that ridicules the institutions that confiscate (our italics) their wealth to pay for the public art.”

And this is the hysterical, mentioned above, Public Art Administrator Bilardo has described the selection process as well represented. Here is the list of members of the artist selection panel for the Terry Allen project:

  • Deborah Leveton, 20th Century Curator, Des Moines Art Center
  • Bruce Hartman, Director, Johnson County Community College Art Gallery
  • Lester Goldman, Artist, Kansas City Art Institute Faculty Member
  • Corky Pfeiffer, Community Representative
  • Captain Vince McInerney, Commander of Media Relations, Kansas City, Missouri
  • Police Department Representative
  • Vic Miles, Superintendent of Communications Kansas City, Missouri Fire
  • Department Representative
  • Bruce Palmer, Interim City Architect
  • John A. Bell, Bell/Knott Associates, Project Architect

Advisory Group:

  • Robert Holzwarth, City Architect’s Office
  • Stephanie Jacobson, Chair, Municipal Art Commission
  • Leonard Pryor, Municipal Art Commission

How Much?
So, we’ve covered the official selection process step by step, and we know who’s on the  election panel for the Terry Allen project. There is one other question, and it’s a fair one.  What about the cost of this project, which is operating on a $78,000 budget, to each Kansas City taxpayer?

“The economic impact,” according to Bilardo, “shared by taxpayers of the greater Kansas City area, is about 9 cents per person. That’s the reality of this project. And if anyone in Kansas City wants their money back, we’ll be more than happy to refund it.”

beacon and bird

We are doing a little switch up this week on the KCAC Artist Lifestyle, and have a two person take over in store for you all! Please help us in welcoming local artists Bryan Werling (@BRD_Designs) and Jen Brown (@Artistchickster), collectively known as Beacon & Bird, to the KCAC Instagram account this week!

Over the next six days we are looking forward to seeing what Bryan and Jen have in store for us. Together they create handcrafted furniture, accent walls, and wall art all from reclaimed wood. These two artists are going to give us a look into how and why they make the artworks they do and give us a little peek into their day to day lives along the way!

We are very excited to see what the world looks like through Bryan & Jen’s eyes and to see what they will be sharing with us on their Instagram journey. Here are a few images of their collaborative artwork and past Instagram photos to get things kicked off…

Werling_Bryan_Image-1_AL_4_17      Werling_Bryan_Image-3_AL_4_17     Werling_Bryan_Image-2_AL_4_17

Be sure to follow Bryan and Jen on their KCAC Instagram story starting tomorrow Thursday, April 20th – Tuesday, April 25th!

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 social media with the hashtags: #kcartistlifestyle #kcacartistlifestyle

Throwback Thursday – KCAC Forum Magazine Nov 1993

KCAC Forum Magazine Nov 1993

EMBRACING THE UNFAMILIAR
by Deanne Pearson

Exhibitions of art from distinctly different cultures, such as “Gods Guardians and Lovers” currently on display at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art bring up an interesting question. How do you approach art that is so unfamiliar?

Looking at art with a European history, we know what to expect. We recognize the stories, understand the symbols, and can grasp, at least at some primary level, the nuances in the works.

Think about it. As Americans, most of us share a certain level of cultural literacy. We all have had an elementary exposure to the culture and history of ancient Egypt Greece, and Rome. We all know the basic timeline of European history and should be aware of America evolution as a nation. And we all are part of the modern era of music videos, Rodney King, and car phones.

Einstein once said, “It is not possible to make an observation unless the observer has a theory to bring to bear on what he is looking at.” In other words, we tend to see things in terms of what we know.

Doesn’t it follow then that the primary key to understanding the unfamiliar is education. In order to understand art produced by unfamiliar cultures such as that of India, Australia, even Central America, we must learn something about the cultures themselves. We must educate ourselves through reading, exploring, asking questions. We must begin to understand the purposes and meanings behind the work.

Regarding “Gods, Guardians and Lovers,” the Nelson-Atkins has presumed our lack of cultural familiarity and has built into the show several experiences with Indian culture. The show includes a short video tape focusing on Indian temples, their purpose, and their history. The exhibition’s chat labels and wall plaques are brimming with information about the Indian religion, culture and symbolism. If you’re a patient and persistent reader, you can broaden your understanding of the works immensely. Additionally, the museum has arranged for several live performances of Indian music and dancing to further educate and enlighten viewers.

Beyond all that, we must rely on our own understanding of humanity to provide us an “in” to unfamiliar art. Generally speaking, art is a direct manifestation of man’s (and I use that term to encompass men and women) desire to create and communicate his or her existence. It is born out of the need to say “I was here. I did this. I mattered.” Whether the resulting creation is a bull on the wall of a cave in Lascaux or a portrait of God on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, art can be enjoyed and understood at the most fundamental level purely as creation. We may not agree with the presented interpretation of beauty, or
understand its intended message. But we can appreciate the fact that some one created it, regardless of the reason.

Nathan Knobler sums it up well in his book The Visual Dialogue: An Introduction to the Appreciation of Art. He writes, “The meaning of art does not lie exclusively in its function as a mirror of life; for some it serves primarily as a source of sensuous and intellectual satisfaction that needs no external referent.”

So when faced with art that is unfamiliar, relax. Revel in its simple existence. Appreciate what aesthetic qualities you can. Simply enjoy it because it is art. Then, if you want to understand it, educate yourself. Ask questions. Read. Broaden your horizons, so next time that which is unfamiliar, won’t be.