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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 May/June 1988

KCAC Forum Magazine May/June 1988

Coalition Continues Its Commitment
by Marius Lane Starkey

Artists with extraordinary sensibilities feel the significance of art so acutely they know how things look. They see because they see emotionally.  No one forgets the things that move inside them deeply.  Others, who have never felt the emotional significance of pure art, use their eyes only to collect information, not to capture the emotions.  There is a power in art to transport people to great emotional ecstasies.  This human experience in which artists try to capture and keep emotions alive ranges from the modest to highly ethical conceptions.

Art is one of the most direct and potent states of mind we possess.  it’s more direct because nothing affects the mind quicker than a visual statement.  it’s more potent because there is no state of mind more excellent or more intense than the state of aesthetic contemplation.

As artists, we see the world around us with different eyes.  in that moment of emotional vision, the artist has to have the ability or force to hold it, the skill and knowledge to translate it to visual terms.  This is not easy.  one has to practice and understand the “workings of the mind.”  Artists, most important, capture the nature of that extra element, above and beyond the skill of practice, which separates “Art” from other human activities.

Art work also offers us comments on what artists think, how they feel in the their terms by the use of physical visual statements.  These visual statements are made up of the language of “images,” not of words, and deliver infinite messages.  The role of art goes beyond that of just stimulus; and it extends to the human experience, keeping in mind that the art work also has a measure of independence. Art is the outlet for so man y kinds of emotions, individualistic or social.  It can then provide or bring about a total completion, or fullness, of emotional experiences and expressions.  This is the function that makes art so indispensable.

Today, there exists some confusion about art.  people’s view of art and artists is likely to be made up of myths and distorted notions of artistic exclusivity, which many artists have of themselves.  To erase these misconceptions would make art more approachable and more meaningful for everyone.

For artists to continue to produce and show their work, they muse have a place to express themselves freely.  The Kansas City Artists Coalition provides that place.  The KCAC is an avenue of free expression in more than just our exhibitions. Our busy schedule continues with lectures, performance art and the continuing series of River Front readings.

The KCAC commitment to excellence and new avenues of expression continues with the winners of the KCAC writers competition in this issue of FORUM. Also, the panel discussion titled “Critical Response,” art and art criticism, which will include the winner of this competition along with area artists and art critics, is part of the KCAC commitment to excellence.

My personal thanks to those board members finishing their two-year commitment.  it has been a busy year and Kansas City truly benefited from all their hard work. Thank you!

It has been an exciting year for the coalition, and the future looks even more excellent, with new programs and more growth on the horizon.  I welcome the new board members and know that we all will work to bring the best shows, programs of performance art, lectures and writings to KCAC.

Throwback Thursday – KCAC Forum Apr 1984

As recently as 2014, Tim Forcade exhibited  at KCAC’s Mallin Gallery and donated work at in the 2016 Annual Art Auction. Still today, the presence of light and technology are consistent themes in his photography.

KCAC Forum Magazine April 1984

Objects and Entities: Sonic Realizations
By Gary Noland

“Someday artists will work with capacitors, resistors, and semi-conductors as they work today with brushes, violins, and junk.”
John Cage 1965

When Cage described Name June Paik’s work in 1965, Kansan Tim Forcade was indeed working with the brush.  True to Cage’s prediction, the artists show at the Art Research Center indicates that he is working with electronic materials.  it is important to point out however that the exhibition’s two light/sound machines and 32 photographs is not an hysterical jump onto the high technology bandwagon.

From the 1960’s, Forcade’s work has developed rationally and consistently to this point in his career.  The artist’s early paintings were systematically produced and based on the grid.  His tendencies to allow subtle variations within a focused system foreshadows the interrelated programs in today’s electronic performances.

In 1968-69, Forcade employed live models, voice commands, strobe lights and cameras in a series of figure studies.  The models, responding to his verbal commands, would move about the studio.  Their movements were recorded on film in cyclic intervals by timed strobe light flashes.  the resulting images recall the photographs of Muybridge and Easkins in the 1880’s, the paintings of the Italian Futurists and Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase.  The multiply exposed images of models following verbalized instructions again relates to the artist’s current study of sound generated images.

In the early 1970’s, Forcade experimented with light-producing objects in an effort to work with light itself.  The light boxes and panels, controlled by knobs, dials, and meters, created a moody environment by alerting the surrounding space.  The limiting confines of manual controls initiated the artist’s research for more advanced techniques and a more suitable modulator of light.  The best, most compatible element was sound.

Simply put, the artistic process begins when Forcade composes his own synthesized music and constructs the electronic circuitry in his Lawrence studio.  The sound impulses, translated into visual images by the electronic devices, are displayed on an oscilloscope screen.  With time lapse photography the artist records the sound-generated image.  Colorized images are created with the aid of a spinning, transparent color wheel placed in front of the screen.

The sound/light processors in the exhibit are tall, black boxes with the oscilloscope screen at eye level.  Both screens played Delayed Pulses, a 12-minute tape composed in 1983.  One screen included the spinning color wheel to romanticize the otherwise whitish glow of the phosphor beam.

When energized, Delayed Pulses is a program of minute comma-like shapes, swirling points of light that describe circuitous patterns and looped contours.  The combined effect of the melodic, melancholic sound and the cyclonic dots of light is meditative.  The sound/light processors refer o the artist’s earlier work in at least two ways.  Primarily both types of work attempt to create a mood via environmental alteration.  Secondly the x and y (vertical and horizontal) axes of the oscilloscope screen indicates he continued influence of the grid.

Without music and movement the photographic prints seem shallow – like a mobile without wind.  When viewed simply as ends in themselves however some of the prints are quite interesting.  The Shep series is the most engaging group of prints.  Translucent tubes of color fall from the left edge toward the bottom edge.  Smokey fields of colored planes and twisted light warp in sp0ace defining volume while shooting diagonal lines glow with a neon like brilliance.

Ironically the photographs are neither abstract or non-objective.  Because modern science enables us to witness sub-atomic events and investigate objects in deep space, Forcade’s images seem familiar.  Perhaps that is because he reveals truths about sound and light, their relationships and their individual roles as types of energy.

As a whole, the show presents a dilemma to the viewer.  The electronic boxes allows the viewer the luxury (or discomfort) of permitting immediate feedback to the work of art.  The viewer is prohibited from retreating to the sidewalk (as is the case with photographs) and awaiting the reviews to safely make up his mind.  Forcade’s electronic works cut out the middleman (art critics) securing a more economical and powerful exchange with the viewer.

Throwback Thursday – International Artists in Residence


One year ago, October 2014, Argentinian printmaker Alejandro Thornton and sculptor/videographer/photographer Nina Staehli came to the International Artists Residency at the Artists Coalition for separate projects. From different backgrounds and cultures, the artists both tackled everything Kansas City had to offer during their short stay.

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Alejandro Thornton graduated from the National School of Fine Arts Prilidiano Pueyrredón, he is one of the emerging artists of the 2000 generation of Buenos Aires and has received awards and been included in biennials in Argentina and many other countries around the world. He came to Kansas City in collaboration with “Crossover KC-BsAs,” an international printmaking project organized by local artist Miguel Rivera and past KCAC artist-in-residence Alicia Candiani at Proyecto’ace. The Crossover KC-BsAs show included a piece from Alejandro but he also created a solo exhibition in the KCAC Charno Gallery. During his stay at KCAC, Alejandro was able to collaborate with the Kansas City Art Institute, lecturing about his work and career at the university and joining in on classroom experiences and critiques in the printmaking department.

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Nina Staehli went to theater and acting school in Rome (1983-85), attended the University of the Arts in Zurich (1988-92), and the “Instiuto d. Arte G. Ballardini” institute of art in Faenza (1997-98). She has received studio bursaries for Berlin and Casa Zia Lina on Elba Island and has been publicized in a number of books and catalogues. Staehli’s performances extend from public works and interventions, to video and film. She was awarded the FLEX bursary of the State of Zug in Switzerland, of which she used for her art research project in the United States along the Trail of Tears. Once in Kansas City, she processed the results of her research to create her film “Glory Land – Trail of Tears, ” and presented her work in an artist talk/performance.

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Staehli and Thornton hit it off during their stay at the KCAC International Residency and hosted a very well attended Open Studio in October 2014. Despite the distance, Nina and Alejandro continued their conversation and artistic partnership over seas; at long last the two artists have reunited in person!


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Staehli and Thornton are collaborating together again in their joint project International Monkey Business, an exhibition taking place in Schauraum, Switzerland. You can follow International Monkey Business from anywhere in the world at their Facebook event! We are so excited that the International Residency has fostered a lasting collaborative relationship between two artists across the world and that Kansas City was able to participate in that joint effort! So don’t miss it: International Monkey Business is opening tonight, one year after Staehli and Thornton’s meeting in Kansas City!

For more information and photos of Nina, Alejandro and their exhibition, here is a wonderful article published in the Swiss news! Also, be sure to let us know what it says…it is all in GERMAN! 😉