KANSAS CITY ARTISTS COALITION
By Janet Simpson, Executive Director
The Kansas City Artists Coalition is a nonprofit organization that promotes visual arts awareness in Kansas City and the surrounding region, and supports the professional growth of artists. KCAC supports artists and arts understanding through the Exhibition Series, the International Artists Residency Program, and artists talks and publications.
- foster a climate encouraging innovation and creativity
- utilize the initiative and creativity of artists for the collective benefit
- provide a forum for contemporary art through our galleries and publications
- champion work of local artists increasing the viability of Kansas City as a place for artists to live and work
- spread the word about the vitality of the arts in Kansas City and the region
- encourage artists to go forward with their ambitious and innovative ideas
- support artists' work through exhibitions, publications, workshops and grants
- promote the exchange of ideas among peers and mentors in art communities across the US and the world.
(Left to Right) YU JI / Night Song, Oil on canvas // ACROSS THE DIVIDE 1998 / MALLIN GALLERY
TOMMY WHITE / The Texas Giant, Oil on canvas // 2010 / MALLIN GALLERY
HELEN ZUGHAIB / Map of Home, Gouache on paper // 2013 / MALLIN & CHARNO GALLERY
The Kansas City Artists Coalition was created to change the lives of artists
living in Kansas City and the region.
KCAC'S FIRST GALLERY 1983 / 616 Central, Kansas City, Missouri
Kansas City artists gathered in the studio of Philomene Bennett and Lou Marak, the meeting's agenda was "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 Kansas City Artist Coalition was formed.
The year 1975, was the official end of the United States involvement in Viet Nam, the year the Watergate "plumbers" were convicted and a year in which President Ford was the target of two assassination attempts. It also marked the beginning of the Kansas City Artists Coalition.
But KCAC is really part of the legacy of the sixties - the decade of the Civil Rights Movement, student activism, the anti-war movement, the women's movement, free love and the impulse for self-determination. Sadly, also the decade when John and Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Medger Evers and many others were assassinated and when many cities including Kansas City were scarred by the violence of riots. Everything was changing, driven by ideas that were quite radical, ideas that transformed American life.
Artists, of course, were part of these changing times. On the East and West coasts, artists formed The Artists Liberation Front, the Art Workers Coalition, and the Guerilla Art Action Group. Many more groups were started on campuses all over the country. Like most counter-culture organizations of the sixties, they were anti-establishment, anti-war and political, but their agendas also included the concept of support of artists by artists.
Artists wanted control of their artistic expression and their careers.
By the mid-seventies, the artist movement was sweeping across the United States, fueled by the energy of the sixties, built on with the sweat of artists and for many, funded by the new National Endowment for the Arts. Individuals joined together to challenge the status quo.
Artists' organizations were formed and spaces were opened. Artists Space opened in New York City, Name opened in Chicago, F-Space Gallery opened in Orange County, California, Self-Help Graphics opened in East Los Angeles, Kearny Street Workshop opened in San Francisco, Artpark opened in Lewistown, New York, And/Or opened in Seattle, and the Washington Project for the Arts opened in Washington, DC to name a few. KCAC was in good company.
The Artists Coaltion's goal was to create a strong voice for the concerns of artists. At the time, Kansas City offered few opportunities and local artists were not taken very seriously. The few local galleries mainly showed the art of artists living elsewhere. KCAC began by lobbying for professional venues for local artists and mounting exhibitions in empty commercial spaces.
THE EXHIBITIION SERIES
The Kansas City Artists Coalition's exhibitions explore the diversity of expression that shape contemporary culture, art, and ideas. KCAC is a space for innovative and experimental art, which does not readily lend itself to commercial venues. KCAC also aggressively supports and embraces local and regional artists'work.
KCAC'S SECOND GALLERY 1984-86 / 39th & Bell, Kansas City, Missouri
The Artists Coalition's galleries provide an exciting venue for artists' work, showing a wide range work including mid-career and emerging artists, as well as actively supporting young and previously not shown artists, often providing the first important exhibition for these artists. KCAC selects work of the highest quality and has exhibited artists from all over the United States and the foreign countries of Canada, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Korea, Latvia, Israel, Bangladesh, Spain, and Turkey.
In 1983, KCAC opened Kansas City's first alternative gallery at 616 Central with the goal to serve both artists and the community.
A year later the gallery moved to 39th & Bell and in 1986 KCAC moved to its current location in the River Market. KCAC's desire is to support all artists in their quest to realize their vision. KCAC is the voice of inclusion in our community and continues to be the primary support for local artists.
The Exhibition Series reflects our founding principle — to increase awareness of contemporary art and support artists' work. This principle provides a great deal of freedom in selecting the artists that are shown.
One exhibition could be described as "traditional" and another as "regional," "experimental," or "site specific"— the description is dependent on the artist exhibiting. Our intention is to support the experience of art in all its forms.
Contemporary visual artists are critical to our community's artistic heritage. This fundamental belief of the Kansas City Artists Coalition is why we support contemporary artists working in all mediums. A corollary of this belief is that aesthetic experiences are important in all of our lives. That is why there are so many different kinds of art and artists and why KCAC shows artists from across the United States and increasingly the world.
(Left) DANA SAULNIER / Talking and Painting, Oil on canvas // 2003 / MALLIN GALLERY
(Right/Top to Bottom) MICHAEL WILKERSON / Installation // 2008 / MALLIN GALLERY
ISLAMIC EXCHANGE / 2013 / MALLIN & CHARNO GALLERY
LEE MALERICH / Don't Quiet The Mind // 2001 / CHARNO GALLERY
KCAC has been in our present location since 1986. We have 3,000 sq. feet of exhibition space in our three galleries and have presented over 578 exhibitions presenting over 4000 artists with an estimated attendance of a quarter of a million.
The Artists Coalition is respected nationally as the most vital alternative exhibition space in the area. Although much has changed since the mid-seventies when we were founded, our mission is still needed.
The Mallin Gallery is named after our former landlord Mel Mallin who donated the space to Artists Coalition beginning in 1986. It was named in his honor in 1996.
The gift of space and support for KCAC continues with the current owner, Dana Gibson. This generous support has been a major part of our ability to serve the Kansas City community and our region.
The Jacqueline B. Charno Gallery was created in 1995 tohonor the support and encouragement Jackie Charno gave to local artists. The Underground (formerly New Works Gallery) became available in 1990. This gallery is dedicated to the work of Coalition members and special exhibitions. Underground exhibitions are often the springboard for artists beginning their careers, as well as, a wonderful place for mature artist to display their current works.
KCAC's commitment to exhibiting contemporary artists' work has built an awareness of contemporary art and has played a fundamental role in the growth of the vibrant Kansas City art community.
INTERNATIONAL ARTISTS RESIDENCY
The mission of the Kansas City International Residency at the Artists Coalition is to bring artists from around the world together in order to build friendships and improve intercultural understanding.
Visiting Artists: Fatima Abu Roomi (Palestinian/Israel) /Alicia Candiani & Adriana Moracci (Argentina), Adania Shibli (Palestinian/Israel) / Bai Ming (China) / Crossover: Cara Jaye (USA), Melanie Yazzie (USA), Miguel Rivera (USA), Michael Schonhoff (USA), Patricia Villalobos Echeverría (USA) / Mercé Tiana & Carmen Riu (Spain) / Nico Phooko (South Africa).
The International Artists Residency is a new initiative of the Kansas City Artists Coalition. The space was acquired in 2009.
Selected individuals enjoy a supportive environment in which to further their creative development. The residency provides a resource of time and space for artists to create their best work. Artists know the value of time and space apart from normal life to create substantive work.
For any artist in whatever media, protected time from the day to day allows time to reflect upon work and is essential to the creative process. The International Artists Residency supports artists who are hardworking and serious about their intent, who have proven themselves by solo exhibitions and who show the ability to articulate a personal vision. KCAC welcomes visual artists in all media.