Public Forum with Art Practical


February 2nd, 2012, 7 PM, Epperson Auditorium at the Kansas City Art Institute.

Forget about the concept of a regional aesthetic, an all-encompassing description of what artists in a particular place and time produce. Imagine instead a continuously evolving constellation of dialogues, shared interests, and overlapping approaches that, like a city’s spider web of streets and freeways, suggest endless possibilities for navigating the local scene.

Loosed of Limits and Imaginary Lines, a forum whose title is taken from the seminal Walt Whitman poem, Song of the Open Road, is the starting point for Art Practical‘s exploration into the experimental, public-oriented art practices of the Kansas City region. Four contributors from the San Francisco-based online magazine will spend three days in Kansas City in preparation for a dedicated March issue of the magazine. They invite artists, arts professionals, and art students to join them in a lively public discussion about the unique ways our community invites artists and audiences to consider public spaces as sites for individual actions, as well as where we find points of commonality with issues and practices across the country and around the world.

Art Practical is an online journal for visuals arts criticism with an international audience; it is also distinctly a product of the collaborative energy that pervades the Bay Area culture. The region is ripe in history and opportunity for socially engaged art practices and for artistic interventions into the public sphere. But what do those terms mean and how do they get enacted elsewhere? Director Patricia Maloney, Senior Editor Victoria Gannon, and feature contributors Christian L. Frock and Elyse Mallouk will describe the attributes of the Bay Area visual arts culture that encourage collaborations and mediations, how Art Practical reflects this culture, and the ways that it negotiates and transcends its geographic identity.


They will then invite the audience to introduce them to Kansas City by taking the lead in a town hall–style conversation about how we as artists and arts professionals reflect the culture we’re immersed in. How do we intervene in public space, with or without permission? Are there focal points for collaborative activities and what do they look like? What is the impact of support structures such as the Rocket Grants program? Are there regional differences in ideas around public space and what defines art? Where is the friction between expectations of regional identities and the realities? How can those frictions be productive?

This conversation will be recorded both for podcast on Art Practical’s partner site, Bad at Sports, and transcribed for a feature article in the March 1 issue, whose content will focus exclusively on Kansas City and will be produced with contributions from local writers.


The audience will also be invited to contribute Shotgun Reviews to this issue. Shotgun Reviews are an open invitation to the broader community to contribute reviews and commentary. They are short format pieces (250-400 words) that, as the name implies, offer quick and timely responses to an exhibition or event.

This forum is a collaboration between the Rocket Grants program and the Current Perspectives series at the Kansas City Art Institute.

Art Practical is an online magazine that enriches critical dialogue for the Bay Area visual arts by providing comprehensive analysis of events and exhibitions. Since its launch in October 2009, the magazine has worked with a network of partners to promote the Bay Area’s role in the international art scene, to create a historical record of contemporary artistic practices, and to foster artistic production through critical writing and public programming.

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