The Charlotte Street Foundation and Spencer Museum of Art at KU are delighted to announce the winners of 2018 Rocket Grants Awards: Eleven innovative and public-facing projects were chosen from among an extremely 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. Rocket Grants continue to engage the region with experimental forms and ideas, support exciting new directions for artists, and amplify marginal voices
The selection panel was composed of four jurors – two national and two from the region: De Nichols, St Louis; Elizabeth Spavento, Portland, ME; Shannon Criss, Lawrence, KS; and Don Wilkison, 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 $452,000. A public Awards Ceremony will be held on June 7, 2018, 5.30-87.30 PM at Travois in Kansas City’s Crossroads – at which the new awardees will make 3-minute pecha kucha presentations about their projects.
Rocket Grants are in their ninth round of funding, regranting generous support from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.
The eleven recipients funded this year bring the total number of cross-disciplinary projects supported to 92, which together have directly involved at least two hundred and thirty five 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 descriptions below the lead artist is identified in bold type. For more information, please click on the project name. For briefer descriptions of each project see the 2018 Project page.
R& D Awards ($2,000 up front with an option for $4,000 implementation)
Taylor Fourt, Jacob Canyon, JC Franco, Megan Ammari; Kansas City, MO: The Potluck Cart is public space, on wheels. Integral in its design is a mobile surface for creative and open engagement – visual, literary, or culinary. The idea is to provide unique ‘pop-up’ style opportunities for communities to collaborate, coexist, and, most importantly, meet one another. It will be driven into specific locations during it’s ‘tour’ to enable three events: The Art Potluck, The Library Potluck, and the Potluck Potluck. The Potluck Cart will be a human-propelled project that can turn parking space into public space.
Israel Alejandro Garcia Garcia; Kansas City, MO: Bordes Carnosos / Border Carnage ‘MoLCA’ As an Artivist/Gallerist embracing his new ‘politically influenced’ US Citizen status, Israel is discovering new views of self, studio/curatorial practice and artistic freedom. His proposal involves an evolving, traveling exhibit documenting the immigrant experience, including archival histories from three KC Latinx neighborhoods and their ties to the borderlands of today. It will investigate how the communities secure and maintain their cultural identity and explore the fight against gentrification, ‘border walls’ and the parallel issues that bind them. Israel’s goal is to educate his community, giving some viewers a glimpse into the ‘other’ and exposing diverse populations in ‘Art Deserts’ to these narratives.
Project Awards ($6,000)
Grace Suh; Mission, KS: Supreme / Being : The Musical When the surprise finalist of ‘The Voice Supreme’, the talent search TV show, turns out to be not only a refugee from North Korea but also a star of that country’s state-sponsored entertainment cadre, things escalate fast – from news media hysteria to social media memes, world-ending nuclear threats to show-stopping power ballades. At this chaotic, multivalent intersection of reality TV and propaganda pageantry, Supreme/Being is provocative and all-too-relevant musical theatre. Foregrounding stories of demonized others, and performed by a diverse cast to a nontraditional theatre-going audience whose responses steer the course of the narrative, it is also an experiment in radical inclusion and engagement.
Randall Jenson, David Seymour, Jacory Dean, Dr. Alberto Villamandos, Ryan Webster; Kansas City, MO: #GetWoke: Queer and Trans People of Color formed in March 2017 and has become a quarterly artistic event series for Kansas City queer and trans people of color. #GetWoke focuses on queer & trans people of color by discussing current issues affecting these communities through video storytelling, artistic showcases and hosting uplifting community events that celebrate all shades of brown and black folks. They proudly work with and promote queer and trans artists of color, empower marginalized voices and host events that are unapologetically sex positive. #GetWoke formed as a response to generate resiliency after the wake of 5 homicides of queer and trans people of color in Kansas City, as well as the infamous 2016 Pulse Massacre in Orlando, FL. It is building on the success of resiliency-based programming and events that are so critical, yet still lacking, for LGBTQ people of color in Kansas City. It also has a deep commitment to uplifting LGBTQ artists and performers of color.
Cecilia Ananya Belser-Patton + Paris Patton; Kansas City, MO: SOUPer KC develops intentional community by hosting dinners celebrating and supporting creatives & their projects in urban core Kansas City. For a donation of $5, attendees receive soup, salad, bread and a vote; at the dinner, SOUPer KC community hears pitches from four C2 (Community Creatives) presentations ranging from art, urban agriculture, social justice, social entrepreneursism, education, technology and more. Each C2 has four minutes to pitch their ideas & answer four questions from the audience. At the community dinner, attendees eat, talk, share resources, enjoy art and vote on the project they think benefits Kansas City’s Urban Core the most. At the end of the night, SOUPer KC counts the ballots and the winner goes home with all of the resources raised to carry out their creative community project. C2’s will return to future SOUPer KC dinners to share their community commitments and intentions for impact for KC’s urban core.
John Sebelius; Lawrence, KS: MIXED MEdia: A Healing Arts Journey for Veterans As a volunteer artist/teacher, John Sebelius provides mental and physical space for veterans to explore their emotions, histories, and stories through a creative healing process. Rocket Grants funding will enable his program to include tactile 3-D projects to connect body and mind to healing, and to host an unconventional art show at the historic Harley-Davidson facility in Topeka entitled MIXED MEdia: A Healing Arts Journey for Veterans. The community-based nature of this show will help shed light on the need for alternative healing therapies. It will also celebrate individual healing journeys, facilitate the connection of mental health to creative processes, and initiate public discourse.
Ruby Rhodd + Deborah Bryan, Sydney Pursel; White Cloud, KS; Mahaska-White Cloud Community Mural Three members of the Ioway Tribe will lead a community mural project in White Cloud, Kansas, a town adjacent to their reservation named after the historical Chief Mahaska. A once bustling port town, the population has diminished to less than 200. As part of the effort to revitalize it, the project will bring members of the local and tribal communities together to memorialize the rich history of the area in a mural. One team member is leading the town’s revitalization efforts by renovating multiple buildings downtown and the others are practicing artists who recently graduated from KU’s visual art program.
AY Young; Kansas City, MO; Battery Tour is a social music movement that integrates the audience in performances and empowers creative talent for artistic display outside the constraints of ‘typical’ music-industry performances. The energy conservation component of this project is an important one, and will be the pinnacle of this project’s success. The tour uses solar & battery-power energy to power all the equipment required for each performance. B.T. will successfully plan and orchestrate a series of live, public performances – each uniquely designed to target disenfranchised communities or marginalized populations with an uplifting message of positivity and self-worth. This grant will help the Battery Tour grow its unique user base, link it with potential sponsors, provide cash flow for equipment/performance expenses, and expand its reach to other communities across the region.
Project Awards ($4,500)
Mazzy Mann + Lorelei Kretsinger, Zoey Shopmaker; Kansas City MO: Transfiguration is a one-time, multi-day event honoring trans and queer influences in fashion, music, and media in the modern era. The event includes a drag and fashion show with visual installation celebrating technological forms of queer and trans representation in media, a dance party in collaboration with Cleveland-based Queer DJ collective In Training, skill-share workshops and pop-up shop featuring a line of artist-collaborated summer wear. The fashion show will include a variety of styles designed for and by queer and trans people. They will draw from aesthetic traditions of Weimar Culture, Harlem Ballroom, 80s Club Kid, the Drag Culture of the 90s, as well as modern androgynous fashions. Thus far, UN/TUCK has operated solely as a music collective in Kansas City. With this project, however, they plan to collaborate with makers from a variety of geographical locations, artistic backgrounds and mediums, including high fashion, and technological and visual installations. Transfiguration will be the first of many UN/TUCK-run events that offer the public an expansive look into the deeply colorful and dynamic roots of queer and trans history in America, and the ways in which these roots have directly informed major trends in music, fashion, and visual aesthetics.
Brandon Frederick, Olivia Clanton; Kansas City, MO: Open House is an experimental, collaborative, neighborhood-based, artist-driven and artist-centered space. With the owner’s permission, a vacant house in KCMO provides a temporary site for artists to explore their practice, offer a platform for immersive experiences, encourage collaboration, and stage communal gatherings. The space has 7 months of well-attended operations to guide its vision, and has increasingly gathered enthusiastic neighborhood support. The grant will enable the team to expand the programmatic elements of Open House in several new directions: artist-led workshops and classes; a platform to archive the oral history of the West Plaza neighborhood; and a series of ‘Porch Programs’ that would feature live performances, poetry readings, etc. Funds from the Rocket Grant would provide materials, pay artists for their time and work, ship materials for exhibitions, and expand communications within and outside of the neighborhood.
Project Award ($3,000)
James aka SugEasy Singleton; Shawnee, KS: Breaking Art will be a classic Hip Hop Jam…a community picnic at Ermine Case Junior Park in downtown KC. DeeJays will spin beats and Emcee the action. Graffiti Writers will show their skills–and help others create on paper their own tags and pieces. Then, the event will culminate in a visual spectacle…the live creation of art on big square canvases using only the Breakdance moves of authentic BBoys and BGirls. SugEasy and his crew will get down in the middle of the crowd, with paint on their hands and feet, turning out art pieces with their movement and flow.