Monday, August 29, 2011

Twist and Shout: The Joplin Crew

Several of us from Joplin arrived early to Twist and Shout to view the show privately, touch base with one another, and get trained on how to collect the cash from the auction sales of over 100 pieces of art work. Pictured left to right, front to back:
Cleo Copeland, Josie Mai, Meg Skaggs, Linda Kyger, Kerstin Landwer, Monica O'Flaherty and family,
Tom Brown, Karl Lipscomb, Ann Leach, Jeremy Mitchell, Nellie Mitchell, Sam Skaggs, Lauren Stauffer, Roger Buchanan, Gary Kyger, Jo Mueller, Don Ayers, David Martin. Several other Joplin residents attended the event and bid on the art. It was a truly transcendent night for all of us.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Twist and Shout!

Words can't express the love in the room last night at Leedy-Voulkos in KC. Art can express it, though. Over 100 brilliant pieces of original art, created from the tornado debris of five Joplin families, expressed the transformation of treasure to trash and back to treasure again. In celebration on a hot August night, 100 artists, 50 Joplin residents, and countless Kansas Citians came together to raise $23,000 for Joplin artists to rebuild their creative lives. These people are my literal family, my figurative family, my tribe, my colleagues, my mentors, my mentees, my crushes, my past present and future. My whole life and heart and energy in one room. It was explosive...the repercussions will be felt for years to come. You can continue to donate for one more month. Please do.

Project Reclamation: Phil Hughlett

How did you come upon the Project Reclamation installation?
Holly told me about it. I was eager to help my home town.

What were your reactions/feelings as you viewed it? Any other stories from that event?
Honestly, after spending a few days in Joplin, cleaning up my parents house and helping the neighbors, the stuff in the gallery looked very clean and safe. One thing you notice in the disaster zone and surrounding areas is the random danger lurking everywhere. Broken glass, nails, sheet metal, etc. Once it is put in the gallery is appears more organized and calm.

Describe why you chose the debris you chose, and what you are doing/will do with it.
Lastly, could you finish this sentence: "I am for an art....."
I chose a few pieces of wood that I could paint on. One particular piece was wavy and it reminded me of wind and water, so I painted a seaside sunrise on it. The rising sun always makes me appreciate a new beginning, and the sea is very calming. I thought it would be a good transformation.
On another, I painted a cubist inspired cello playing over a broken piano keyboard. One of the images my cousins shared with me was of my Aunt & Uncle's home, just shredded to pieces. But right in the middle was their poor piano, hardly moved, but completely ruined. I call it "Requiem For a Piano".
And on the smallest, square piece I painted the Hindu God, Shiva the Destroyer. They believe that Shiva holds the powers of the universe in his destructive dance and when he is done, the universe will be replaced by a new one. The path of the tornado made the landscape I had known for decades look like another planet. I think that Joplin is going to look like a new city when the rebuilding is complete.

I am for an art that transcends time and place. I like to think the act of creation is more important than the final product. I hope that Spiva can help many people take the time to just create something new and forget about the stress of the past.

Project Reclamation: Maria Vasquez Boyd

The Leedy Voulkos Gallery in Kansas City emailed me information about Project Reclamation, an art auction/exhibition to benefit the art community in Joplin. I read through the details and quickly made a decision to participate. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by a need to do something, you know make a difference. It’s better to be part of the solution, right? I couldn’t just stand around saying, “Wow, that’s tough.”

Alone in the gallery I heard the quiet whispers of salvaged items now estranged from their owners. I gazed at the collection of twisted metal mailboxes, fan blades, pipes, gears, paper, gloves, even a torso of a plastic Jesus with outstretched hands, and many other things. They delivered a powerful history of their former lives. But I can only offer transformation out of the chaos to these things. I carefully sorted through items that define who you are in life and collected picture frames, dolls, hummingbird feeder, a shoe, stuffed monkey, and other things unrecognizable to me. My plan is to create a frame with salvaged items completely covered in white paint with text that declares, “I AM HERE.” I decided it would be more provocative in Spanish, so it became “ ESTOY AQUI” adding “SIEMPRE” translated as “always.” With the addition of that last word painted with glow in the dark paint, it shimmers in the dark like a ghost, SIEMPRE.

Project Reclamation: Mark Cowardin

1. how i got involved in project reclamation: matt dehaemers is the reason i'm involved. matt contacted me early on because he knew that i grew up around and in joplin. i went to school through high school in carl junction, and spent a few years at missouri southern before transferring to the university of kansas in 1995. i'm a big fan of matt, the artist and the person, and i would probably have a hard time ever saying no to him.

2. the most striking and unexpected thing i noticed about viewing the installation was my tendency to look for and find objects that i could see in my own home. creating a personal connection with an object makes it easier to grasp the gravity of the event. being from the joplin area, i know several people directly effected by the storm.

3. the debris that i chose, i picked because it was material that might show up in my work anyway. chunks of 2x4s, a furniture leg, and tree limbs. i also took a yellow ball that hangs in your garage to let you know when to stop your car ( i wouldn't have chosen this piece, but my 3 year-old was with me and he insisted). much of my work deals critically with issues of humans interaction with the natural world, and i often use found objects ( i honestly struggled a little with this sculpture because i didn't want to make a piece about humans destroying/damaging nature. this is an event about nature overpowering humans. to me, the resulting wall mounted assemblage, is about remembering the impact of this event on real peoples lives. i live less than three hours from joplin, and my parents live less than 10 minutes from the epicenter of the tornado. my day to day life hasn't changed a bit, but i'm acutely aware that thousands of peoples lives in joplin won't return to normal for a long time. the wall mounted sculpture i completed for project reclamation is entitled "right here". i don't think describing the work would do it justice.

4. i am for an art that makes the viewer stick with an idea long after being entertained by the initial viewing.

Project Reclamation: Larry Thomas

How did you come upon the Project Reclamation installation?

Matt contacted me and asked if I would be interested in participating. I went and saw the installation the first night it was on view.

What were your reactions/feelings as you viewed it? Any other stories from that event?

Its a sobering sight to see so many other people’s possessions piled up, knowing they were once the personal effects used in their day life, and that this was just a small sampling of the massive amount of debris cause by the tornado. The people who suffered such loss probably took their lives and possessions for granted, just as we all do. Then all of a sudden in a matter of minutes, devastation that will change many peoples lives forever. Its hard to imagine the anguish of so many people who lost loved ones, and then on top of that, the loss of one’s house and all the personal objects that make a home.

It was very sad, yet the prospect of making a work of art to help someone else, was very rewarding. I was thankful that Matt asked me to participate. I had made some small contributions to Joplin relief funds before this event, but being able to do something related to my field has been very gratifying.

Describe why you chose the debris you chose, and what you are doing/will do with it.

I chose a garden hose, a twisted piece of wire, a small branch, and a poster (which I didn’t incorporate into the piece.) I photographed the hose, wire, and branch and then used them in my piece. The work is a hand-colored Ultra Chrome print.

Lastly, could you finish this sentence:

"I am for an art that makes people see and think about things they haven’t seen or thought about before.”

All my best,

Project Reclamation: Ada Koch

Dear Josie Mai,
Thrilled I can help in some small way.

Ada Koch-Bio
Raised near Wilmington, DE, Koch won early scholarships to the Delaware Art Museum before studying in Washington, DC and Chicago, IL. Later studies with David De Rousseau of the KCAI and personal studies in the museums of Paris, France preceded Koch's exhibitions in various galleries and museums of Kansas, Missouri, Iowa and Florence, Italy. She currently teaches art at the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art and Artichokes in Leawood, KS. She is on the board of directors at the Kansas City Artists Coalition and was the founder of Open Studios in KC. Her art is in collections both corporate and private throughout the United States and as far away as Germany and Switzerland.

I heard about the Project Reclamation from my friend Matt who I met years ago at the Arts Incubator. I am thrilled to be a part of something to help the Spiva Arts Center as they strive to help their community. Choosing pieces of debris from the pile at the Leedy-Voulkos was not easy. The mangled pieces of metal spoke of the physical violence that people had to face and the assortment of destroyed books, furniture, and personal items sent chills down my back - especially the children's toys. I finally chose two books, one a large art history book, and a small toy clown. Originally, I had planned to make some sort of circus out of the book, but it wasn't coming together. The next week, I took a short vacation with my husband and daughter where they had a live butterfly room, filled with the beautiful fragile creatures. On the way home, I was inspired to create a piece with butterflies cut from the book and swarming out of the book in a tornado-like swirl around the clown who has been transformed into an angel with butterfly wings. Eerily, one day after working on the sculpture, I had a drink with my neighbor, Jonya Redwine, whose son lives just north of Joplin. Jonya loved the butterfly theme because of the "butterfly stories" which have come after the tornado. I had NEVER heard of them before and was even more convinced this is the right project. I came home and got onto the computer right away and found the most touching stories. You can read some on 6-The butterfly people.

My piece is called "Rebirth" and is filled with symbolism, but is meant to be positive and inspiring, as I'm sure all the art built out of debris will be. I will try and send you some photos of what I originally chose and the art piece now. I just finished it yesterday, so it will be at the LV on the first friday of August. Looking forward to seeing you there.
Best regards,
Ada Koch

Project Reclamation: David Bandy

I came familiar with project reclamation, the installation, and twist and shout through word of mouth from fellow artist Jenny McCall...and my relationship with Holly Swangstu at the LV. My feelings toward the installation and Joplin in general are pretty personal. All the family on my father's side either lived or currently resides in Joplin still. I spent a lot of times growing up going on visits to my grandparents on the outskirts of Joplin. I have a lot of memories from childhood such as playing with my cousins, fishing, exploring, and even learning to drive. Much like my family, I find the people of Joplin to be a kind and simple one. Honest and hardworking for the most part. Many live their whole lives in Joplin without a desire for the complications and abundance of larger cities. I find this contentment to be honest and charming.

I grabbed a handful of debris, including vinyl and broken plastic to adhere to my canvas to make a simple tribute to a state, city, and love I have for Joplin and this project/event.

I am for an art allows self-exploration. Always. The journey into the self-conscious for myself or artist is not always an easy or self-willing one. However, the curiosity and necessity for me to explore my mental landscapes and well-being allow me a therapy and excavation of emotion not found elsewhere in life.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Project Reclamation: Chris Frye

Walking up to the installation of debris in the middle of the gallery at the Leedy-Voulkos Art Center, I was struck with emotion when I realized that it was made up of people's belongings that had been blown around in the tornado. Reading the pieces and looking at the photos of those affected with their whole world in shambles around them saddened me, yet there was a sense of hope and relief expressed in them. When I went to pick pieces to use in an artwork, the pile had been spread out around the gallery and it was easier to identify individual objects. I chose a birdhouse, a drawer, an electronic circuit board and a burner from a stove. My idea for the piece is to paint sparrows with banners on the outside of the drawer and to suspend the birdhouse above the circuits with the spiral of the burner crashing into the house.

I am for an art that surpasses the mundane yet accumulates dust just the same as any object in a collection of prized possessions. I am for an art that is created in the moment but evokes a lifetime of intrigue.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Children's Mural Workshop Drawings

I can't believe the mural team has been here for a month now. We're getting closer to the halfway point. Be sure to follow artist-in-residence, Dave Loewenstein, on his blog at Dave, Kyle, Nick, Amber and I spent a couple weeks with about 200 children from Boys and Girls Club, the Joplin YMCA, and Spiva Center for the Arts. After team and kid introductions, Dave would share about the idea of a mural, that one would happen here in Joplin, and that several have happened in other towns. He had postcards of past murals, and would show the kids up close what those looked like instead of a cold, large projection on a screen. Then we would would prompt the kids to draw collaboratively, 2-4 kids per one large sheet of white paper. What is your idea of home? What do you dream about? Flying? Do animals dream? Do plants dream? Do machines dream? Draw a machine that is part machine and part plant that would help rebuild Joplin. Design and draw a website or video game that shows a new Joplin. The kids jumped in wholeheartedly, no hesitation, clearly needing and wanting to work some things out, not editing themselves. Then we had them share their drawings and ideas with the group. I truly believe this combination of SHOWing their art and TELLing their story was a healing, beautiful encounter for all in the room.

During the Third Thursday Artwalk on August 18th, many of these drawings will be on display on the ground floor of the Gryphon Building at 10th and Main from 5:30-8:30. Families of these 200 kids will be invited to come to the show. Encore!