Thursday, July 8, 2010

Gallery Personalities

We know individuals have personalities that are uniquely their own, and that artists develop a recognizable personal style.

But I never was so clearly aware of how much a gallery can have its own individual style or personality, until recently. My husband and I were rambling through the Kansas City Crossroads Arts District when we encountered two examples of how distinctive a gallery’s “personality” could be.

The first was the new 2010 Gallery at 2010 Main Street, Kansas City, MO. We walked in and immediately “recognized” the wall colorings and characteristic groupings of images on the walls. After a few moments we recognized some individual artists’ work, as well. “Wait!” We both thought, “This looks like the Park Place!”
At left is the homepage for their website.  It gives a good idea of 2010 Gallery's look.

We’d been to the Park Place Gallery in Leawood, KS seven months earlier, but we knew it had closed soon after we were there. The “look” of 2010 Gallery was unmistakably similar. We later discovered that we’d been correct: this was the new “incarnation” of the same gallery. 2010, like Park Place, is the work of Tim Morrison and Rachelle Craig. We’re glad to see them back! 2010 Gallery is a strong new addition to the Crossroads.
At right is a screen shot of the Park Place homepage.  See the similarities?

The second wasn’t as much of a surprise—we already knew that Red Star Studios had moved from their former 17th Street location to the Belger Arts Center at 2100 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO. Red Star not only has gone through a change of location, but it also is transitioning to new ownership. The manager, ceramic artist Tara Dawley, brings consistency to the transition, because she also was manager and deeply involved in the “old” Red Star, owned by fiber artist Susan Hill.

The wide-open space at Belger is much different from the rather tight quarters of the old gallery space on 17th Street, but the display strategies are consistent. They feature white, neutral, or rich, finished-wood surfaces and 3-dimensional groupings to show off the work of the gallery’s ceramic artists.
At left is an example of a display in Red Star's old 17th St. gallery.  It shows the work of Mike Jabbur and Michael Fujita.

Red Star’s current show is “The Fundamentals of Clay,” featuring the work of Ted Adler and five Wichita State University graduate students:
 Nathan Carris Carnes, Lauren Clay, Todd Hayes, David Hellman, and Joe Leonard.  Work by two artists from the current show (Ted Adler at right, and David Hellman below) give an idea of this show's range.
Red Star Studios is a distinctive asset for the Kansas City arts scene. It consistently brings in work by top ceramic artists from all over the US and Canada (my apologies if their offerings are even more international than that!).  
According gallery staff and a conversation I had with Susan Hill at the Prairie Village Art Fair in June, the Belger Arts Center is not Red Star’s final destination. Ultimately, they will once again occupy their own space, somewhere else in central Kansas City. But for now they are alive and well at Belger, and we are glad for the chance to see their artists’ work again.  Anyone who is interested in the ceramic arts should pay close attention to their shows.

Discovering respected “old friends” in new places is a pleasant experience. I am excited to see both of these “old friend” galleries settling gracefully into the Kansas City Crossroads Arts District. I hope you will soon go see them for yourself!

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