Reflections and Chemistry

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WOW! What an amazing weekend!  The untiring curiosity, gravitas, humor, intelligence and kindness of the visiting Art Practical team were simply inspiring. Patricia Maloney, Victoria Gannon, Christian L. Frock and Elyse Mallouk kept up an intense schedule to meet with as many institutions and artists as possible in their brief 3-day stay in Kansas City, and throughout it all they somehow maintained their determination to be just as fresh and present for the last encounter as the first.

The public program at KCAI and the Rocket Grants brunch at PLUG Projects (see the slide show) were a provocative opportunity for us all to examine our own arts community in both an objective and introspective way. The metaphors that immediately came to mind to describe the roles that AP performed here were those of a mirror and a catalyst. But this is not really accurate because those two agents, by their nature, cause transformation without being changed in themselves. The powerful model that Art Practical demonstrated was rather an acknowledgement of the mutual growth in understanding and practice that happens when people commit to kind, creative and critical conversation, and we could feel the shifts in perception, experience and practice that will mark their own way forward.

Importantly, we have extended our own community to a new place in the world, with an open communication channel between us. The challenge that this opportunity throws down before us is to define what is special about the history and character of the Kansas City region, so that we are able to manifest the unique and fitting possibilities it affords us. Many of us have private, idiosyncratic opinions and interpretations about what art could and should be in this time and place. The benefits to be gained by sharing these, risking disagreement, and even having to reevaluate what comfort means, clearly fall to both individuals and the greater community we establish. Let’s keep talking, writing and exploring together!

What are the ways in which we celebrate and yield, gracefully or unconsciously, to the environment we inherit? Where do we tear down and begin again?  And off which features might we bounce like daring trampolinists?

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