2016 Rocket Grants Award Winners Announced!

Winners rectangle

The Charlotte Street Foundation and Spencer Museum of Art at KU are delighted to announce the winners of 2016 Rocket Grants Awards: Eleven innovative and public-facing projects were chosen from among a competitive pool – all with a reach towards audiences outside of traditional arts venues and some with a specific focus on stimulating and sustaining the regional arts community.

The selection panel was composed of four jurors – two national and two from the region: Rosten Woo, Los Angeles; Cameron Shaw, New Orleans; Benjamin Rosenthal, Lawrence, KS; and Lisa Cordes, Kansas City.

A total of $60,000 was awarded to the selected artists and artist teams, bringing the program’s total awards to regional artists to date to $332,000. A public Awards Ceremony will be held on June 2, 2016, 5.30-8 PM at the new KCAI Gallery facility (formerly Grand Arts) – at which the new awardees will make 3-minute pecha kucha presentations about their projects.

Rocket Grants are in their seventh round of funding, having just received a recommitment of support from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts through the 2017-2018 cycle.

The eleven recipients funded this year bring the total number of cross-disciplinary projects supported to 71, which together have directly involved at least one hundred and ninety six artists. Hundreds of others have been integrally and peripherally included in the performances, publications, workshops, artist-run spaces, videos, public installations, events and websites that the awards have funded.

In the brief descriptions below the lead artist is identified in bold type. For more information click on the project name.

R& D Awards ($2,000 up front with an option for $4,000 implementation)

Donnelly4Paul Donnelly, Erica Iman, Meredith Host, Alex Watson, Rain Harris, Jana evans, Chandra DeBuse, KC Urban Potters Project Space: A cooperative exhibition space that provides an environment to create, educate, and engage with the local community through exhibition programming including regional and national artists. The artists aim to educate the public by providing the opportunity to discover the creative process – through artist talks, hands-on workshops, and communal food gatherings, and sparking dialogue between makers and non-makers about the importance of handmade pottery in our daily lives.

Emily Sloan, The ToTLuck: A series of 3 one-night only photographic installations,Sloan2 which will take place around the Kansas City metropolitan area in and on a 1960 Airstream trailer, the Trailer of Truth (ToT). Participants are encouraged to bring snacks to share, “potluck” style. Each gathering/installation will build on the previous one and experimentally push photographic interpretation into performance – including music, dance and spoken word. A cross-pollination of art disciplines and audience will create conversation, push the boundaries of “the photographic image” and present work in accessible public spaces.

Modified R&D Award ($4,000 up front with an option for $2,000 implementation)

Anthony Rea, Where We No Longer Gather: Liberty Memorial, Penn Valley Park and Public Queer Looks:  During the 80’s and mid-1990’s Liberty Memorial was a Queer space defined by the movements and looks only a body of Queer people can conjure. This photographic project is a site-specific, public engagement piece attempting to document an unrecorded history of a community who no longer gathers, and ask questions around the issues of community displacement, removal and the lack of a public Queer space


Modified Full Project Award ($2,000)

Mitchell3Melaney Mitchell, Blair Schulman & Patricia Bordallo Dibildox, Informality Radical Public Programming: A year-long series of public interventions designed to grow a more dynamic audience. By staging a series of public programs like Pop Up Guerrilla Docents, Digital/Critical Critique Nights, CRIT 2 CRIT, and Art Writing JAMZ the artists will expand their reach and network, and produce a new video criticism series.

Modified Full Project Award ($4,000)

PrintFather-Daughter Confessional (Don Wilkison & Sarah Wilkison), Cut Your Hair in the Socialist Style: A salon-within-a-salon that takes place in the culminating months of the 2016 US presidential election cycle. Barber shops and hair salons have long been safe zones for public debate; with this project the artists reaffirm that artist salons also act as cultural touchstones and provide venues where potentially contentious issues can be discussed in a sane, measured, and meaningful way – furthering dialogue toward resilient solutions.

Full Project Awards ($6,000)

Mahari1Cat MahariThe Floor: A multimedia, immersive art engagement exploring repetition as a catalyst for change in Black individual and community identities. The series is in conversation with difference and the U.S. Great Black Migration. It will be held at 31st & Brklyn: a new performance venue for emerging and adventurous contemporary artists of color, supporting avant-garde and under-heard voices in Kansas City, Missouri.


Shipley2Lara Shipley & Ann Friedman, The New Rural: A project investigating rural communities near Kansas City, conducting audio interviews and making photographs in places where young people congregate. The focus will be on the realities of rural experience today seen through individual stories. The project will result in a series of affordable books of photographs and interview segments, as well as a website that will serve as an ongoing national forum for rural youth to share their experiences.

Mellenbruch5Jarrett Mellenbruch, Haven Hive Monitor: A prototype solar powered hive monitor installed inside a living beehive sculpture (Haven) – that will continuously stream hive data to a website. Sensors within the hive will be connected to a small Rasberry Pi computer that will transmit readings such as temperature, humidity and audio frequencies across cellular networks and convert the data into accessible, visual graphics.

Jenson2Randall Jenson & Ash R Allee, Transforming Resiliency while Queering Violence: SocialScope Productions, a LGBTQ multimedia organization, will create an online video healing project that will directly put the voices of KC transgender and gender nonconforming (TGNC) youth and trans people of color at the forefront. Monthly meetings will create a sustainable pipeline of leadership and support surrounding the project.

Isaac1Laura Isaac, Arts Dojo: A venue dedicated to furthering the practice of the creative arts in Kansas City. Located inside an active Aikido dojo, Arts Dojo will present programming to push local artists further in their work – focusing on developing work-in-progress, honing skills, critiques and training. An incubator for visual, literary, musical, and performing arts, Arts Dojo is a place where artists can take it to the mat and throw down.

Macken1Jared Macken, Two Strangers Meet Alone In A Vacant Parking Lot: Two small-scale architectural structures that will both exemplify and orchestrate the face-to-face meeting of two complete strangers so that they leave as acquaintances. These structures will initially be located in a former Dillon’s parking lot in Topeka, KS, a site that carries with it the stigma of urban blight, a perfect context for strangers to meet. A subsequent publication will feature artist prints of the architectural drawings.


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