The 50/50 project, headed up by director/curator Cambria Potter, has been greeted with much anticipation throughout the Kansas City community. This revolutionary project was started with funding from a Rocket Grant, and then extended by a successful kickstarter campaign.
Potter says that the 50/50 team is eager to reveal what they have been laboring over since last summer. The official opening of the converted shipping containers (exhibition space/gallery) will be this spring with the show Cohost, but the thoughtful programming is already underway.
50/50 is far more than an unexpected gallery space. It also relies on the symbiosis of each aspect of its diverse programs. While each facet contributes to the whole, the brilliance emerges from the dialog between them. The programming is broken down into four basic sections; physical Exhibitions, a Lecture Series, a Billboard Series, and a Digital Archive The model of the program is to connect these pieces in a way that redefines what an art space contributes to a larger community.
This past month 50/50 revealed the first in a series of Billboards: OPEN by artist Ari Fish. Fish responded to a call to artists that prompted them to think about how time and technology agitate art. How can an artwork elicit a sense of the immediate when – “The minute you print material, it becomes out of date”? The billboard will feature both local and national artists, and each prompt will relate to the current exhibition.
For example, the OPEN billboard accompanies the opening of the 50/50’s first Exhibition Cohost. Cohost features artists Kristin Walsh and Robert Howsare and highlights the harmony between the way both artists navigate digital and physical space.
Each exhibition is also linked with a lecture. The Lecture Series speakers will include both local and national artists, curators, and others depending on the scope of each exhibition. The exhibitions, and the accompanying programs, are designed to serve not only the artists themselves but the Kansas City regional community as a whole.
Potter’s aspiration is to provide professional outlets for artists as well as solo shows for under-represented emerging artists. 50/50 is interested in redefining what an ’emerging artist’ is: not just young but perhaps embarking on a new style of practice or working outside the traditional canon of fine art.
50/50 intends to foster ways for all participating artists, both local and national, to benefit and connect to a national/international community. Exhibitions have been planned out for the next two years already, each of which is formed around new ideas and potential interactions between artists and audience members.
Both the artist’s work and audience responses will be documented through 50/50’s Digital Archive. This will be an accessible way for people to connect and to put into action the ideas the artists propose, since the archive reaches beyond the gallery walls and into the digital realm. Community members, artists, students, and curators will be able to research and contribute to the archive through an interactive interface. At the year’s end the Digital Archive will be compiled into a physical book to be sold – another example of the physical/digital fusion this project envisions.
Potter stresses how 50/50 has evolved into a very close team of contributors. Seemingly an energetic volunteer vortex, it just keeps growing! She also notes that 50/50 is a template. It can certainly be replicated elsewhere: the gallery itself is completely portable, and the Digital Archive will ultimately house all of the exhibition materials and contributed information, so that all of this data will carry forward.
The cleverness of 50/50 is that it is using current technologies to create a platform with the potential to continue on in many different incarnations. The 50/50 team is consciously creating an adaptable model for artistic discourse that envisions a future in which the digital and analog coexist and creatively extend each other.
More on 50/50
This is the third in a series of posts by RocketBlog feature writer Meredith Derks