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KC Art Pie
20 minutes | Oct 25, 2017
No. 10 FEMIN IS Philomene Bennett
In episode No. 10 of the Femin • Is series, I sat down with painter Philomene Bennett to hear about her fifty plus year career as an artist. Having read Bennett described as the "grand dame" of art in Kansas City, I was eager to learn more. Now in her eighties, Bennett's lasting influence on individual artists through her long-running studio ateliers and the very fabric of the Kansas City arts scene through the co-founding of The Kansas City Artists Coalition is simply undeniable. In our conversation, we touched on everything from how her identity as an artist started in childhood, her first big break in Kansas City, a fateful night that started an arts organization now 40 years strong, and, of course, her own work as a painter, including a few works close to her heart. Below are images of the work we discussed, as well as some extra treats. Enjoy! My Very Own Fishpond, oil on canvas, 8 x 5' Philomene Bennett working in her studio in the River Quay (River Market) in the 1970s Bennett (seen left) at an opening of her work featuring a monumental work on canvas on display. The Shadow Persists, oil on canvas
27 minutes | Sep 21, 2017
No. 9 FEMIN IS Women in Glasses
In episode No. 9 of the Femin • Is series, I sat down with Cyncha Jeansonne who created the controversial 1976 exhibition Women in Glasses at the Douglas Drake Gallery. We talked about the rebellion required to be an artist and how this two-day installation of 15 nude women came to be. Featured Image is a detail from photographer Donald White's series of photographs of the exhibition. **CAUTION** Images below include nudity. Discretion is advised. The debate on what qualifies as objectification of women's bodies versus body positivity and agency certainly isn't new even if some of the buzzwords are. While the conversation on the censure of women's bodies continue today, the 1970s era of radical feminism certainly sparked some debates. Louisiana native and artist Cyncha Jeansonne played a part here in Kansas City with her two-day environmental installation at the Douglas Drake Gallery in 1976. While she tamps down on the idea of a feminist influence at the time, she asserts that the work was an act of rebellion, so it's almost impossible to see the installation without the historical lens of feminism. For another view on this installation, read “Women in Glasses” – A Reminiscence by Doug Drake I could only get my hands on some lovely black and white prints of the exhibition, but you can see a color detail in the article above.
31 minutes | Aug 8, 2017
No. 8 FEMIN IS Arzie Umali
In episode No. 8 of the Femin • Is series, I sat down with painter and Assistant Director of UMKC's Womens Center, Arzie Umali. We talked about her research into representation of women artists in KC institutions, her work at The Women's Center, and her work as a painter. Featured image is of Arzie Umali's portrait for the Femin • Is project, consisting of text from Linda Nochlin's 1971 essay Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists? From her days as a graduate student to now, Arzie Umali has kept feminism and the art closely entwined. With a precedent set by the famed Guerrila Girls making tallies of the number of women artists who have received exhibitions in New York museums, Umali looked at institutions closer to home to look at representation of women artists. I wanted to look at this history and talk about how the research was done, as well as put out a call that this work needs to be done again. Additionally, we talked about Her Art Project, a program initiative Umali started at The Women's Center at the University of Missouri Kansas City. As talked about its past, present, and future, it's clear that Her Art Project is close to Umali's heart. Diving into her own work as a painter, we learn of a lasting influence on her choice of subject matter. You can view more of her work on her website at www.arzie.com. No More Evil, Please by Arzie Umali Madonna on the Rocks by Arzie Umali Lastly, we find that even her personal work has taken on a role of reaching out to others as evidenced by our conversation about a project that started out as a two-woman show but morphed into a community exhibition.
40 minutes | Jul 19, 2017
No. 7 FEMIN IS The Wild Women of Kansas City
In episode No. 7 of the Femin • Is series, I sat down with three powerhouse jazz vocalists and wild women to talk about jazz, feminism, race and history. This is a rich slice of pie. I couldn't put it any better, so I'll let the Wild Women speak for themselves. The Wild Women of Kansas City, organized in 1999, show the importance of respect for diversity and the need to embrace diversity. Four different women with four different gifts, different styles, one common heritage yet four different cultural experiences become one spirit, one voice, one heart. Together, the current roster of vocalists, Geneva Price, Millie Edwards Nottingham and Lori Tucker, use their many gifts to share their passion for jazz, but of course, no conversation of the Wild Women is complete without mentioning one of the founding members, Myra Taylor, who passed in 2011. To here more from Myra herself, and more music clips from the Wild Women, here's a great KCUR interview from 2007. In this episode, another of the original members, Geneva Price, shared some poetry that stems from the book Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estés, a key inspiration behind the name of the jazz group. Geneva also mentioned her work with interviewing local musicians for The American Jazz Museum for their archives. While not online, those stories can be accessed as part of their wide-ranging collection. Lastly, I would also like to thank KC music guru, Chuck Haddix, for introducing me to the Wild Women. It was a pleasure and honor.
29 minutes | May 26, 2017
No. 6 FEMIN IS Linda Lighton
In episode No. 6 of the Femin • Is series, I sat down with local ceramicist and bona fide flowerchild Linda Lighton. Sex, drugs, rock n' roll and ceramics, baby. This is how it's done. Featured photo by Tom Styrkowicz To be the renowned artist that Linda Lighton is today, she had to rebel, and then rebel some more. So for this interview, we took a deep dive into the early years and some early work. We also took a look back at the history of the art scene in Kansas City. Enjoy. The First Lady Daddy's Hungry Diva Laura clay, glaze, China paint, lustres 22" x 9" x 11" Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art Collection 2002 The Czarina Damnwell clay, glaze, China paint, lustre 14.5" x 8" x 4" Belger Arts Center Collection 2000 Love & War: The Ammunition clay, glaze, China paint, lustres 12" x 17" x 13" 2012 Still hungry? Then watch this gem of a process film of Linda Lighton by Don Maxwelland stay tuned for an upcoming bonus clip from my interview with Linda.
26 minutes | Apr 26, 2017
No. 5 FEMIN IS Jennifer Lapka Pfeifer
In episode No. 5 of the Femin • Is series, I sat down with founder and president of Rightfully Sewn, Jennifer Lapka Pfeifer, to talk about fashion, feminism, and creative entrepreneurship. Featured photo by Samantha Levi Photography We talked about the organization Lapka Pfeifer started that blends non profit social work, job-creating entrepreneurship, local history and fashion design. Yes, Rightfully Sewn really does all that. We talked through the puzzle pieces and with such an interesting and intersecting mix, I also wanted to dive into the inspiration and process behind starting such an endeavor. The two biggest parts of Rightfully Sewn is a seamtress training program for at-risk women and and supported residencies for local fashion designers. While the training program is being initiated this summer, the residency program is thoroughly underway and since this a project celebrating creative women, it seems fitting to share more about these designers here in the show notes: Ami Beck, Dolyn Bagswww.dolynbags.comFacebook: Dolyn Bags, LLC Twitter: @DOLYNBAGS Instagram: @dolynbags Several resident designers were at a recent event hosted by Ami Beck (center) in her new studio in The Livestock Exchange Building in the West Bottoms. The Kerri Bag from Dolyn Bags. Photo by Andrea Larson Heidi Herrmanwww.heidiherrman.com Facebook: Heidi Herrman Design Twitter: @heidiherrman Instagram: @hherrman Heidi Herrman's KC Icon Collection - Model: Hannah Hadnot / Photographer: Steve Gibson / Accessories: Amina Marie Millinery / Hair: Keishaun Redmond / Makeup: Ruth White Whitney Manneywww.whitneymanney.com Facebook: Whitney Manney WM Twitter: @heywhithey Instagram: @whitneymanney Whitney Manney Collection Whitney Manney at Drugstore Studios in Midtown Kansas City Kate Nickols, Katie Lee Bridalwww.katieleebridal.comFacebook: Katie Lee Bridal Twitter: @KatieLeeBridal Instagram: @katieleebridal Katie Lee Bridal offers complete customization for bridal wear. Photo by Bee Posh Portraits Sarah Nelsenwww.sarah-nelsen.com Facebook: WearSarahNelsen Twitter: @SarahNelsen Instagram: @sarahnelsen
23 minutes | Apr 17, 2017
No. 4 FEMIN IS Elisabeth Kirsch
In episode No. 4 of the Femin Is series, I sat down with writer and curator Elisabeth Kirsch to talk about feminism and the Kansas City art scene of the 1970s. We talked about the challenges and limitations placed on women artists and how her early encounters with the feminist art movement influenced her career. I also wanted to hear about the Women Artists ‘77 exhibit, one of, if not the first, all-women regional shows at a time when women artists struggled to be included in galleries and museums. Kirsch was the gallery assistant for the exhibition and had a behind-the-scenes perspective on the process with juror and feminist art movement icon Miriam Schapiro. We also talked about a few of the artists she’s reviewed over the years and she revealed what may be one of my favorite bucket list items: to be a Guerrilla Girl for a day. Kirsch's Review of Linda Lighton: Dangerous Beauty, Review magazine, August 2006 She also discussed an artist who showed at the Douglas Drake Gallery. You can see a wide range of collages by Vivian Torrence here. As solid evidence that Elisabeth Kirsch is still hard at work, here is the latest review by Kirsch, of artist Hyeyoung Shin and her recent exhibition, "Unapologetic," at Studios Inc. Finally, during our interview, I asked Kirsch about the impact of the Women Artists 77 Exhibition in the following years. Looking at the longer term, I think it is a safe bet to say that one of those lasting impacts was to influence a young student who would go on to contribute volumes of thought and energy to the Kansas City arts scene.
29 minutes | Mar 31, 2017
No. 3: FEMIN IS - Gloria Vando Hickok
Episode No. 3 of the KC Art Pie podcast features poet Gloria Vando Hickok, who founded Helicon Nine, co-founded The Writers Place, and generally, is a very busy woman. Photo by Anika Paris We spoke over the phone about Helicon Nine: The Journal of Women’s Arts & Letters which she founded in 1977 in Kansas City, Missouri, to provide a quality literary publication by and about women. The magazine provided a forum for women in the arts at a time when women were being excluded from major anthologies, history books, museums, and academic curricula. It published the work of well over 500 artist. In 1992 Helicon Nine, changed its name to Midwest Center for the Literary Arts, Inc., in order to expand its mission to include the publication of fine books of literature through Helicon Nine Editions and the founding of The Writers Place, a regional literary community center, library, and gallery offering public and educational programs for all ages. As a poet, Gloria has edited and published numerous anthologies of poetry and received awards for her own books, Promesas: Geography of the Impossible, a personal encounter with the history of colonialism and her family roots in Puerto Rico; Shadows and Supposes, named the Best Poetry Book of 2003 by the Latino Hall of Fame; and Woven Voices, a cross-generational work with her mother and daughter. Though she returns to Kansas City regularly, she now lives in California. Limited back issues of Helicon Nine are available on Amazon, including one of Gloria's favorites: The Marianne Moore issue The Helicon Nine Reader: A Celebration of Women in the Arts
23 minutes | Mar 17, 2017
No. 2: FEMIN IS - Janet Kuemmerlein
Episode No. 2 of the KC Art Pie podcast features visual artist Janet Kuemmerlein discussing her textile murals, the women of jazz, and how naiveté is not always a bad thing. For this episode, I sat down with Janet Kuemmerlein in her large home studio to talk about her work and career which has spanned over 50 years. We talked about the bravery or naivete it takes to be an artist and the early days of her career in the 60s. While her textile practice is often a solitary affair, she has also painted portraits of other artists, most significantly a number of Kansas City women jazz vocalists, and she shares her experience of working with and learning from women coming from a different artistic medium. Kuemmerlein is a pioneer in the contemporary fiber art movement. She was born in Detroit, Michigan. Janet studied painting at the College of Creative Studies in Detroit, and sculpture and metalsmithing at Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. Her work has been placed in institutions such the Smithsonian Museum of Fine Artm the Chicago Institute of Art, the Daum Museum of Contemporary Art, the Museum of Art and Design, among many others. Her work has been in exhibited around the word in England, France, Germany and Switzerland. http://www.janetkuemmerlein.com Janet Kuemmerlein in her studio Odyssey, textile installation, 5 x 30', manila rope, wool, nylon, silk, cotton, & dacron, 1976, Richmond, CA Arctic Echoes, textile installation, 50', Anchorage, AK The Wild Women of Kansas City by Janet Kuemmerlein, The American Jazz Museum Portrait of Deborah Brown by Janet Kuemmerlein, The American Jazz Museum Calla Lily by Janet Kuemmerlein Tempest by Janet Kuemmerlein, textile vessel
21 minutes | Mar 7, 2017
No 1: FEMIN IS - Paula Rose
Episode No. 1 of the KC Art Pie Podcast features art historian and educator Paula Rose, discussing representation and the upcoming Wikipedia Edit-a-thon. We're kicking off the KC Art Pie podcast and Women's History Month talking about how an annual upcoming event fuses small acts of activism, feminism and artist representation on Wikipedia, all as a social activity. We'll speak with Paula Rose, an art historian and educator, who is partnering for this year's Wikipedia Edit-a-thon with Her Art Project of the UMKC Womens Center. Begun by Art + Feminism, in previous years, the focus has been to increase the number of women editors on Wikipedia as well as increase the number of women artists represented on Wikipedia and quality of already available content. This year, the event has expanded to include not just the arts, but all STEAM subjects (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics. Is there an artist you feel does not have their due on Wikipedia? What about local artists? Here's your chance to learn how to change and add content on the world's largest online encyclopedia. Click below for the Facebook Event A view of the 2014 exhibition YWAs: :Young Women Artists featuring artists such as Rachel Doris Gregor, Shenequa A. Brooks and Mariah Gillespie. Squa-plaits by Shenequa A. Brooks using synthetic hair woven with cotton Artist talks and presentations accompanied the YWAs exhibition at Wonder Fair Gallery in Lawrence, KS The first local Wikipedia Edit-a-thon at Wonder Fair Gallery in 2015, with co-curator Meredith Moore pictured center.
2 minutes | Mar 2, 2017
KC Art Pie - Janet Kuemmerlein Preview Clip
To give you a taste of the pie, below is a clip from my conversation with textile artist and painter Janet Kuemmerlein. Her career in Kansas City spans decades with monumental fiber installations both in Kansas City and around the world. Her success is a testament to will, perseverance, and an unshakeable confidence that being an artist is serious business.
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