Objective: To encourage feeling of unity among Kansas City visual artists.
Topic: “How the Artist Can Benefit from Centralization”
Panelists: Doug Drake, Doug Drake Gallery
John Lottes, Kansas City Art Institute, President
Thorpe Menn, Kansas City STAR, Arts and Entertainment
Tracy Thomas, Mayor’s Council on the Arts
Sponsor: River Quay Art Association
KANSAS CITY VISUAL ARTISTS
Approximately one-half of those attending the first meeting completed and turned in the questionnaires. Most other requested their names be put on the Newsletter mailing list.
CHARACTERISTICS OF THE GROUP
1. The groups is almost exactly balanced, male and female.
2.55% are from Missouri, the majority of Kansas City.
3. 85% list their occupation as Artists, including 27% who are also art educators.
15% are made up of students, housewives, writers, and architects.
4. 83% are actively seeking professional and public recognition for their work through shows, and exhibits, competitions, sales, and trying to increase newspaper coverage.
5. 63% fell Kansas City is not responding to their needs as artists, or responding very little. 18% feel it is responding, (perhaps they could tell the others in what way and how). 18% were unsure.
6. 67% do not desire studio space with other artists. 17% do and 16% might.
7. 70% are not interested in renting studio space in River Quay, 15% are and a 15% might.
8. Everyone but 2 are interested or could be interested in a Coop Gallery.
WHAT ARE YOUR NEEDS AS AN ARTISTS THAT, AS A GROUP, WE MIGHT BE ABLE TO HELP WITH?
1.Communication with other artists. Sense of community.
2. More exposure, exhibit space, galleries.
3.Stronger voice in larger numbers.
4. Better publicity, media coverage, public relations.
5. Personal/Professional development.
6.An active newsletter for communication.
8. Finding reputable agents.
9. Having an armory show.
10. A coop gallery.
WHY DID YOU COME TO THIS MEETING?
1. For communication with other artists. What’s going on in K.C.
2. To support the local artist community. To help local visibility.
3. Professional development through communication.
4. To discover the potential for cooperative action.
5. To hear the panel.
6. Dumb question.
SOME CONCLUSIONS CAN BE DRAWN:
This group is professional in their aspirations for exhibitions, sales, and the desire for public recognition. As a group of self-motivated, self-determining professional artists, the body has potential to advance those aspirations.
The survey, together with comments at the first meeting, would indicate that a large number of the group felt that some such self-initiated movement or organization is the only alternative to an existing non-situation in Kansas City, characterized by isolation, elitism, apathy, and ignorance.
Supporting that inference is the 55% of respondents who specified the peer-group association, commonly stated as a “community of artists,” as a major potential value of such an organization.
A positive commitment to the tangible symbol of professional status, a gallery, was indicated by 72% of the group, with another 22% possibly interest. 33% of the group indicated possible interest in shared studio space.
An important indication, in addition to public recognition and sales, is the desire for a sense of place, identified socially with the group — again to foster free, informal communication.
The recurrence of terms such as “growth as an artist,” and “professional development,” as desirable benefits of participation might suggest the expectation that such a group has educational potential, both formal and informal, which might range from questions of aesthetic value to very technical problems to be shared and solved among the group.
Inherent in some responses and comments is a sense of identity with “real” or “serious” or “professional” artists, indicating that there is much to learn in this form of “real-life” association that is superior to past educational opportunities, either formal or informal.
There is also some indication, form comments and subsequent discussion to the first meeting, that the group wants leadership and a framework for productive activity, but, that it might suffer from over-organization at least at first — and might favor a very flexible non-objective framework in which simply to talk Art. As one participant put it, in the midst of discussing issues, formats, leadership and agendas — “What happened to the Art?”
It would seem therefore, that some middle ground between tight organization and total chaos might best serve this group for large portions of the time together. Note that, while the fist meeting was “led” informal and had a “program,” it drew its greatest energy and excitement form the “town meeting” atmosphere in which anyone at all might be heard and debated.
OTHER TOPICS TO DISCUSS
1.Tax relief for artists
2.The Nelson Gallery
3. Arts vs. crafts
4. K C Star coverage
5. River Quay Art Fair
6. K C Art Institute’s relationship to professional, the community