Category Archives: Throw Back Thursday

Throwback Thursday – KCAC Forum Mar 1995

KCAC Forum Magazine March-April 1995


The Kansas City Artists Coalition announces the successful completion of the 12th Annual Benefit Art Auction. Collectors, Patrons, and Artists came together to raise over 33,500 to support the Kansas City Artists Coalition, and our auction guests the Kansas City Clay Guild and the Society for Contemporary Photography.

BIG 20!
This year’s auction was the kick-off celebration for the Artists Coalition’s 20th anniversary. It was on March 5, 1975 that a large group of artists gathered in the studios of Philomene Bennett and Lou Marak to address How the Artist Can Benefit From Centralization.

Overwhelmingly the group felt a self-initiated organization was the only alternative to isolation, elitism, apathy and ignorance. The ultimate result of that meeting was the formation of the Kansas City Artist Coalition. Today, nearly twenty years later, the Kansas City Artists Coalition presents an outstanding and varied program of visual arts events, including exhibitions, panel discussions, lectures, gallery talks, Forum Magazine, KCAC NEWS, and Resource Center. KCAC has gained the recognition of the Kansas City community and is respected nationally for our high level of programming. KCAC has been the voice for local artists and through our programs have provided a sense of place and community for artists and art lovers.

New Gallery Anmounced!
The Jacqueline B. Chamo Gallery and Resource Center was also announced at the auction. This exciting new space the generous gift of our departed friend Jacqueline B. Chamo and her family. Although much has changed in the last twenty years ago there still remains the need for a venue for art which does not lend itself to commercial ventures a space for innovative and experimental work, a space for local and member artists. KCAC provides that venue, and our new gallery our third-expands our exhibition space to almost 5,000 square feet!

Big Thank You
One and All!
Jackie believed in the mission of the KCAC, her support helped KCAC open our first gallery and keep it open. Over the years, the Artists Coalition has had many, many supporters all of whom are tremendously important to the success of the organization. The foundation of the KCAC are the artists who choose to support it. Artists serve on committees, the Board of Directors, as officers, and work on projects which range from the mundane to the sublime. KCAC is nothing without artists.

But of course, artists are not alone in their love the arts, many of our volunteers and supporters come from other fields and contribute many hours and much funding to help KCAC achieve its mission. Without these generous patrons the Artists Coalition would not be experiencing a period of growth at this time when arts funding is in such jeopardy. KCAC’s other major Benefactors are the Francis Families Foundation and Lore and Mel Mallin. The Francis Families Foundation has been very generous in underwriting FORUM and the Exhibition Series. And by contributing to KCAC’s General Fund for many years now, the Francis Families Foundation has helped KCAC achieve both stability and growth over the past several years. The Kansas City Artists Coalition and the arts community can never thank Lore and Mel Mallin enough for their wonderful support. KCAC will have our 2oth anniversary in our main gallery this October. The Mallin’s provide this space rent-free and Mel has promised KCAC the gallery through this century!!

Throwback Thursday – KCAC Forum Dec 1994

KCAC Forum Magazine December 1994

by Bill Wells

Joe Bussell is a painter/sculptor who lived and worked in Kansas City, Missouri in the early 1980’s. He has exhibited widely at such galleries as the TAI Gallery in New York, the Actors Institute Gallery in Boston, the MoMing Art Center in Chicago and Rutgers University in Camden, New Jersey. His work has been reviewed in the New Art Examiner, The Village Voice, US News and World Report, Art in America and The Kansas City Star. He is also represented in the collection of EuroDisney, Paris France. Bussell has a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in painting from the University of Kansas, Lawrence and a Master’s of Fine Arts in painting from Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri. He is currently living in St. Louis and working on his MFA in ceramics at Washington University, where he also teaches.

Bill Wells The years you spent in Kansas City were very productive, in that you always seemed to be making art and exhibiting. Would you consider those years formative in your approach to being an artist?
3Joe Bussell Those were really great years for me and played a big part in my works development. The AIDS crisis was just beginning to get main stream attention and my post-modernist philosophy was starting to hang onto something tangible. My art grew, I grew and Kansas City, at least the Kansas City I knew, i.e. the gay community, the artist, etc., were coming of age. I’d have to say the formative impact happened outside of Kansas City, but it was this ‘New’ Kansas City that gave me the chance to respond.

BW At that time, how did you feel about the city as a place to work and the art community in Kansas City in general?
JB Kansas City was a great place to work. I was able to share studio space with a number of other young artists with similar goals and philosophical concerns. And let’s face it, you can’t beat Kansas City when it comes to inexpensive rent. Kansas City was also a great place to show work, and having a sympathetic reviewer like Donald Hoffmann didn’t hurt. You may not have always agreed with him, but damn it, he was there promoting homegrown talent.

BW In comparison with St. Louis, how does the art community in Kansas City differ? Do you see any similarities?
JB I think the comparisons I can draw now living in St. Louis may not be terribly accurate, since that was then and this is now. But I can feel basic differences. St. Louis seems to be a much more individual-based city, and Kansas City has a strong community feel. I think partly that has to do with Kansas City’s broader cultural base and “Team Art Spirit.”
Whether you like the Shuttlecocks or the Bartle Hall sculptures, or not, they exist and there is a forum for discussion in Kansas City. In St. Louis, I don’t think these kinds of public projects would take place simply because certain individuals would make sure they didn’t. St. Louis seems to be very self-conscious in that way.

BW I know you worked in what was the first AIDS hospice in Kansas City and that the experience was pivotal in generating an entire body of work. Has this continued to be a factor in your art?
JB I could go on about this forever, but I won’t. Working in the hospice changed not only my way of making art, but how I saw life. I became truly politicized and humanized. It’s really no wonder after my years of work in the hospice and coming home to my apartment/studio to make art, I lost all fear of making creative leaps. I doubt the experience will ever leave me.

BW A big part of your life recently has been centered around Washington University and your Masters degree in painting. Has this return to college had a significant effect on your work and the methods you use?
JB Going back to school to get a master’s degree in your late 30s like I did is not for the faint of heart. Like all returning students, you have to be ready. By ready I mean open, confident and willing to risk. Being the ‘old man,’ I found instructors both challenging and exacting due to  my past experience. Some students saw me as a threat, while others a mentor. All in all, I have to say this experiences was a very good one.  I’ve become much more aware as a person and I look at art with a much more critical eye; and I can sniff out an ‘art poser’ with amazing ease. The most significant changes in my art making are conceptual concerns. I’m much more thoughtful.  If ind the installation format a satisfying area, but I don’t like the label ‘installation artist’ … I prefer to consider myself a painter who makes sculpture.

BW Currently, you’re teaching an elective class in ceramics at Washington U. What are some of the difficulties you’ve encountered in moving to the ‘other side’ of the academic world?
JB I wouldn’t call the experiences ‘difficulties’; challenges, yes. I’m in a really good place at
Wash U. This is my first official teaching job, so I get this experience at top notch school, plus I’m still a student – I’m getting a second master’s in ceramics and the student status gives me shelter from the university politics.

BW What would you consider the rewards of interacting with students from different disciplines in an art setting?
JB I wish there was more of this. Washington U, like a lot of schools, is going toward more interdisciplinary programs. I’m a good example of what can happen. I got reunited with ceramics while working on my M.F.A. in painting, so the school allowed me to come back for a third year to complete a second M.F.A. in ceramics.

BW  Kansas City is experiencing a period of new growth in the local art scene, with new museums and galleries opening, and numerous public art commissions. To me, this seems very similar to the art boom of the early ’80s. What do you feel would be necessary to sustain this interest that wasn’t in place when you were active here?
JB I agree. I was just in Kansas City recently and the energy there is tremendous, much like it was when I lived and worked there. Back to your St Louis comparison: that energy just hasn’t happened here yet. To be honest, I’ve never felt the art enthusiasm in St. Louis that I feel in Kansas City.

BW In a speculative way, what do you see happening in the future for the art community in St Louis? And for yourself?
JB For St. Louis there will always be galleries but for some reason I just haven’t had the experience of finding a gallery where my work fit. I feel much more comfortable researching galleries in Chicago and New York. I hope this doesn’t sound pretentious or
exclusive, but gallery dealers in those cities are much more open to the kind of work I make. I think to get back specifically to your question, I see the problem in St. Louis that doesn’t exist in Kansas City to be the fact that St. Louis just doesn’t have a cohesive art community. It seems extremely fractured. Kansas City on the other hand, seems to have a strong, healthy art community, which, in my opinion, makes a healthy community in general.

Throwback Thursday – KCAC Forum Sept 1994

KCAC Forum Magazine September 1994

The Writers Place, July 8-August 31, 1994by Jeff Stevens

Artists attempt to capture many feelings and emotions in their work. Their pieces range from the beautiful to the horrific, from the silly to the sublime. Yet one of the most important aspects, in my opinion, is authenticity. It is also one of the hardest to describe. Authenticity comes from an artist trying to make a real and honest statement in their work. It doesn’t matter if it is a still life painting or an abstract sculpture, an authentic piece of art seems to embody the integrity and aesthetic character of its creator. Authenticity has nothing to do with the actual aesthetics or appearance of a piece. It has to do with the integration of an artist’s intent and spirit. It is a hard quality to capture,

To her credit, Marcie Miller Gross’ recent work is authentic. This is a great compliment. No matter how successful or unsuccessful any one piece is, its authenticity speaks of an artist with a strong sense of vision, Gross has created two dimensional and three dimensional objects that have a timeless quality while speaking to our modern times. She took newspaper want ads and paper grocery sacks and drew broad, sweeping arcs across them with charcoal and graphite. Then she treated the surfaces with beeswax. This gave the news papers and sacks the translucent, yellowed feel of parchment. The pieces, especially the newspaper pieces, feel more like ancient scrolls than like modern newspapers. They have a solid, rigid appearance, yet they drift at the slightest breeze. These objects seem discovered rather than constructed. The drawn marks interact with the typed newsprint when carefully observed. Silvery graphite lines incise onto the waxy surface while type and charcoal remain trapped underneath.

The abstract marks drawn atop these objects are less interesting. Large arcs fill the surfaces, like the patterns made by a dancer or a gymnast. These marks fall and spin down the pages like birds or autumn leaves.Still, they look incomplete. Because of marks’ scales, these pieces seem to be tiny snapshots of a larger world. When looking into a microscope, a viewer constantly feels trapped into too small of a picture as microbes swim out of sight. This claustrophobic sense pervades Gross’ work. In her two largest hangings (large fields quilted out of paper bag ends) the viewer finally feels that the scale begins to fit the marks. All the pieces seem like small windows into a larger, energetic world.

Gross also constructed two interesting three dimensional sculptures. While made from the same processed materials, these sculptures have a natural, organic quality to them. The first piece, Urban Strata, resembles stacked shale. Gross balanced ragged tablet shapes, cut from Sunday newspapers and waxed into slabs, into a semi-circle. Standing carefully on end, this piece feels like the construction of nature-artist Andy Goldsworthy. Still, the tablets remain recognizable enough to make out individual headlines. Urban Strata is both a library and a testament of society and its publicized ills. The other piece, Bale, speaks more to the rural Midwest than the urban jungle. Gross rolled waxed paper sacks into a miniature hay bale. I have always fantasized about putting large hay bales into galleries; obviously, so has Marcie Miller Gross. Because of its reduced size, the bag-bale resembles other objects. Could this be a red carpet of hay? Or is this the fabled Yellow Brick Road, removed and ready for transport? Because if its materials, Bale, straddles the line between a mechanical construction and a natural creation.

In her artist’s statement, Gross writes “…I attempt to touch the fragility of human existence and natural phenomena in search of balance between encroaching contemporary life and the natural world.” She speaks of her work as describing the flux between nature and modern culture, between order and chaos. Her work does capture a sense of energy. It does speak of organic forms and of modern experience. It does not, however, speak of the flux between these dichotomies; instead it seems to meld and combine these divergent sensibilities into harmonious objects. These pieces infuse modern materials with the organic energy so diligently processed out of them. These pieces are authentic because they embody a timeless natural quality that transcends today’s modern familiarity.

Throwback Thursday – KCAC Forum Mar 1994

KCAC Forum Magazine March 1994

by Chris Coulson

IMGI think I can do what Eric Lindveit was doing in his show Dreamboats at the Dolphin. Most certainly, Mr. Lindveit has had more training, most definitely, he has more vision. Still, I think I can do it. And standing in the midst of his stained sheets I could even see through the Dolphin Gallery window to the source of my materials: The Midwest Hotel on Main Street around the corner from the gallery.

A decade or so ago, in a less dignified state than I find myself in today (newly elected editor-in-chief of the Forum Magazine), I was staying at the hotel, and these Lindveit works look like what I was lying in at that time. The difference between these dreamboats and those nightmares is not only the difference between a few thousand dollars a piece to the $25 a night I paid to sleep on one, but, and more importantly, the difference between a bed…and Art.

But I can do that. I asked the manager of the Midwest Hotel if he had any beds he was throwing out, and sure enough, he showed me a hill of them behind the hotel in the cold alley. I had to wake up the guys that were napping on them, get them to move, but when I said it was for Art, they helped me carry them to the car. The guys even came home with me, to help me stretch the mattresses, stain them, fit them to frame. It felt like a latter-day WPA enterprise. We felt like a team. We wore berets and smoked clove cigarettes, but in the end, only fell asleep again on what we were trying to create.

Which, I suppose, is the difference between someone like Eric Lindveit and me. I can do what he is doing. I just can’t see it through. But I can do it.