Open House is a multifaceted, artist-driven and artist-centered space that engages the public through exhibitions, public programs, educational resources, performances, and communal gatherings. The building itself has been maintained but remained vacant for several years. It exists in an in-between state – a skeletal structure awaiting remodeling. This platform presents a unique opportunity for artists, while providing an unexpected entry point for individuals to experience art. Open House already has many collaborators and a community that continues to grow organically.
Co-directors Olivia Clanton and Brandon Forrest Frederick have both worked as educators and public programming developers. They have also volunteered through various community and creativity-based platforms, and have experience curating and organizing numerous arts events and exhibitions.
They seek to engage with the broader arts community, but also more directly with the West Plaza neighborhood where the space is located. Their signage playfully presents a realtor’s ‘open house’. This kind of disruption in expectations is important to the impetus of this project – since the Co-Directors aim to engage with neighbors and those who walk or drive by, and provide a new entry point into art and creative practices.
Rocket Grants funding will help them to expand Open House programs and pay artists for their work, especially those who are traveling from out of state to put on exhibitions and programs. The space features mostly local artists but values the exchange that happens as a result of inviting perspectives from other parts of the country.
The house has a garage that Olivia and Brandon intend to turn into an educational resource space for art making. Artists will be provided with both materials and funds to teach classes to nearby residents, providing another access point into this project.
Minor improvements will be made to increase public access, including adding a wheelchair accessible door and bridge to the front porch. Additionally, this summer the Co-Directors are beginning to implement a series of ‘Porch Programs’ that will offer space to performers and poets while staging gatherings that include BBQs, collaborative projects and the screening of films.
The curatorial strategy for exhibitions and programs follows four priorities: work that directly or conceptually engages with the house; work that is experimental or new for individual artists; collaborative projects that engage the neighborhood; and promoting artists who have had limited recognition. All programs are crafted with the surrounding neighborhood in mind, as both collaborators and audience.
Brandon Forrest Frederick is an interdisciplinary artist, educator, and organizer based in Kansas City, Missouri. He received his BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute in 2011. His visual practice incorporates photography, video, zine-making, and sculpture, and explores contemporary society as well as the human-built structures that exist within it. Brandon uses reproduction, image making, community collaboration, and civic imagination as a means of coping with the inequities of a capitalistic society, while highlighting the peculiar humor of it all.
In addition to, and in collaboration with his studio practice, Brandon works as an arts organizer. This has resulted in projects such as: The Roost Gallery, Imagine That!, Archive Collective, Come Here, Build ____, and Open House. His work has been shown locally and nationally in solo and group exhibitions. In 2017 he was selected for a public billboard commission through Missouri Bank and the Charlotte Street Foundation.
Olivia Clanton is an artist and facilitator based in Kansas City. Olivia graduated from the Kansas City Art Institute and holds a BFA in Fiber with an emphasis on socially engaged art practices. Her practice centers on creating spaces of engagement that examine and address broader issues of disconnection between people, through the use of craft, learning, play, and humor. Olivia is currently the co-director of Open House and a senior Editor for Informality Blog.