Saturday, October 13, 2007

Art Road Trip!

I am back from an overnight visit to Kansas City and I am filled to the brim with great art, music, architecture, and a kind of lust that comes from visiting somewhere new and then returning home. Kansas City is only 3.5 hours away from Fayetteville, and I plan to visit much more often now that I have become acquainted.

This summer I have been to Dallas twice, St. Louis and now Kansas City. My inspiration for these travels was simply to see my favorite band, Interpol, as much as I could. I was richly rewarded each time, not only by Interpol but by making sure to check out the galleries, and museums in these areas as well.

When I first arrived in Kansas City, I went to the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art. The museum has free admission(donations are appreciated) and parking is only $5.00. I knew that I wouldn't be able to absorb the whole museum, so I hit the modern painters wing, and again I saw the usual suspects- funny how the summer of Interpol also turned into the summer of Rothko, Kline, Motherwell, and Diebenkorn. I am not complaining! I enjoyed some Warhol as well as other important painters. I then saw a Kiki Smith installation that was pretty dreamy entitled Constellation, and was made of cast glass animals and stars on the floor atop vibrant blue paper.

I stumbled into an amazing Photography exhibit, the museum's collection is spectacular. They have many of the heavy hitters of early 20th century American photography. Weston, Adams, Cunningham, Stieglitz, Steichen, Evans, Avedon, Lange, and more. They also have the more modern work of Arbus, Woodman, Probst, as well as others and currently a feature exhibit of Harry Callahan. It was stunning to see such a selection.

I thoroughly enjoyed the indoor Noguchi sculpture garden. I then ran back into the older part of the Museum with its impressive columns and marble to make sure to see the Caravaggio. Oh, that was amazing! I was walking to find it and then caught it out of the corner of my eye and was drawn to it like a magnet. Just magnificent. I will be back soon to take a more in depth tour of the museum, but for the amount of time I had, I saw a lot of jewels of the art world.

Interpol played at a wonderful old restored theatre called The Uptown. If you ever have a chance to see some music at this venue, I highly recommend it. It is an intimate venue of about 3,500 with theatre seating in the back and balcony, and then an open floor for the fans (like me that have to be near the stage). Needless to say the concert was great, I was in the second row and I am now ready to translate all the energy, poetry, and beauty that I find in Interpol's music into my next body of paintings. The Uptown is a beautiful theatre palace, restored with vivid colors, and to quote the Uptown's website it "resembles a venetian courtyard," there are sculptures up high along the balcony. It really has a unique and majestic feeling and is a work of art in itself.

The next day, I went to check out the Crossroads Arts district. I enjoyed walking along the streets and alley's of this vibrant and hopeful area. Tall old warehouses, and brick industrial buildings are being reclaimed as galleries, studios, cafes, and live/work spaces. Very inspiring, and the old brick architecture is lovely. Had a great decaf soy latte (yeah I am one of those people) at Coffee Girls, a charming place with art on the walls that played good music and had a nice laid back atmosphere. Then I wandered around, taking pictures of these colorful buildings, some forgotten and some being reborn. Walked over to HammerPress, and completely fell in love. The space was glorious, and the amazing designs were like a beacon. I dropped some cash in this design and letterpress studio, and it was money well spent. This is a destination spot, so don't miss it if you go to Kansas City. HammerPress has an easy friendly vibe and they let me take pictures of the place, I am telling you it is a slice of heaven. I then went to check out Blue Gallery, another lovely space, featuring some great art. Then I was off to some other galleries in the area. I went to the Leedy-Voulkos Art Center, and entered another great large light filled space, with great art of all styles and mediums. There were artists present having a business meeting and sharing tips with each other about taking care of the business side of the art world. I was especially impressed by the photogravure work of Deborah Riley. The art center also rents live/work studio spaces. Seemed like an energetic place. Last but not least, I headed to an impressive and expansive gallery, the Sherry Leedy Contemporary, they were exhibiting the impressive ceramic works of Jun Kaneko and I enjoyed the photography of Misha Gordin and saw several pieces of Michael Eastman's work through the modern glass doors of the gallery storage section that was off limits to the public.

I really enjoyed walking around the Crossroad's Art district, I would love to live in an area like that, modern and electric yet still charming and friendly all the while celebrating the past through rehabilitating the old structures and providing support and affordable options for the emerging artists in their city.

I returned to my car and headed to Kemper Contemporary Museum, again free admission(donations appreciated). I really enjoyed their collection. I was thrilled to be able to get up close and personal with Michael Eastman's work in the museum's collection since I had been tempted by it in the last gallery. I saw the Michael Vasquez: Authority Figures exhibit, and an exhibit entitled Backstage pass: Collecting art in Kansas City. These were important pieces of art that were borrowed from corporate and private collections in Kansas City. I really got the feeling that this city takes its art pretty seriously. This museum had an impressive collection of modern paintings, mixed media, and photography as well as what looked like a lovely restaurant to dine in.

The Kansas City Art Institute is right by the Kemper Contemporary (it is actually sandwhiched between the two museums) so I walked through the campus, talked to an art student, and looked in the painting building and studios just to get a quick feeling for the place.

That was it, my trip to Kansas City. I got there around 1:30 on Wednesday and left at 1:00 on Thursday and was back home in time to support my local art scene by attending the opening for Photographic at the DDP gallery. Photographic is a stellar show. Gallerist Dede Peters created an elegant exhibit that really celebrates the medium of photography and the impressive local talent we have right here. Don't miss this show, it will up until November 24.

Art is everywhere, in old buildings, fields of down-turned sunflowers along the highway, museums, galleries, chain link fences, falling down shacks, and of course in the music that loudly enters my soul. I can tell this is going to be a great fall.

Pictured above, Henry Turner's "Patiently She Waits"
The DDP gallery
7 East Mountain St. Fayetteville.
Open: W-F 12-7 and Sat. 10-5
and by appointment.

October 10- November 24, 2007


  1. I can't wait to return to the Nelson -Adkins, WITHOUT a herd of 7th graders to chaperon! I was there on Thursday also - in the afternoon. All I can say, is: I have to go back. Sans kiddos.

  2. Stephanie - do we need to talk? I think you chaperoned my daughter's trip to kansas city!

    Sounds like a wonderful time. I've been saying for years the the Nelson Atkins is the most underrated museum around. It's beautifully curated.

    I think I've been to the Uptown before...five or six years ago to see Cake and Beulah? Would that be right? I don't know. I remember it being a gorgeous old venue. There's so much soul and history in those old theaters. I was thinking after Lucinda Williams last show how I wished I could see her in the Auditorium in Eureka instead. The Walton Arts Center just isn't the same - while it might have nice acoustics and all's just got no soul.