Address: 217 W. 18th St., Kansas City, MO 64108
Phone: (816) 200-0472
Open Hours: Open 6-9 every First Friday and by appointment. Additional hours vary per exhibition.
How is the project operated?
Some have called our type of organization a non-non-profit. Our space is live/work, which means we can fund a gallery with our rent, spare money and enthusiasm. You could call it artist-run, but we all have day jobs and live in very close quarters and 90% of the time we’re not taking the position of artists or curators here so much as that of informed caretakers, charged with the sharing of this physical space.
How long has it been in existence?
Our first show was in September 2010. Almost two years!
What was your motivation?
At the time, we were graduate students and post-grad Kansas Citians returning home to a place that had undergone what seemed to be some pretty rapid change. When we found the space and saw that it was live/work, it seemed like a perfect way to get involved with what was happening downtown, with the arts community, and to continue to challenge ourselves creatively and create our own opportunities in an atmosphere of what seemed to be certain doom, professionally. From there we’ve been developing our own sense of identity within the community of small art spaces in Kansas City.
Number of organizers/responsible persons of the project.
This fluctuates between two and five depending on who is available and what we’re doing at the time.
How are programs funded?
The residents pay rent and we usually work with the artist to split the expenses of the show. We take donations at events and Bread!KC included us in a small fundraiser this last Spring, but that is it.
Who is responsible for the programming?
I (Leandra) have been the longest-lasting resident, and as such I guide a collective decision-making process.
What is the number and average duration of exhibitions/events per year.
8-10 exhibitions running a month long each, with a couple exceptions per year.
What kind of events are usually organized?
Month-long exhibitions with an opening on First Friday are our regular fare. This September, we’re changing it up with a zine reading room and workshop that will run through September and October, launching with a zine exchange. We also have performances, which many have noted are particularly successful due to the natural sorting of an intimately-connected audience inside the space and more casual onlookers through the storefront window.
How is your programming determined?
We have a call for submissions annually. After the holidays we come together with a sort of retreat where we go through the selection process and finalize our long-term plans. All of the more immediate matters of organization occur at weekly meetings.
Do you accept proposals/submissions?
Absolutely. We have our annual call for submissions, but we receive emails all year long.
What is your artistic/curatorial approach?
We look for artists who are interested in challenging themselves in the installation of their work, both through approaching the peculiarity of the space (curved walls, glass blocks, and the big picture windows) and in the context of their personal experience. If we can help someone gain experience and take risks they would not have taken as readily otherwise, we’ve done our job.
What’s working? What’s not working?
Since we were founded in a transition period, we’ve always been modest about our expectations and long-term goals. This could make for some very stunted growth for an organization, but we embrace it because it allows us to take a position as more of an open, accessible space for other artists as we pursue our own individual interests elsewhere. It’s a strange balance.
What kind of role do you hope to play in your local art scene or community?
We hope the space is seen as a resource and challenge for artists as much as it is for ourselves. We see an ongoing conversation form at different levels throughout the months, the most immediate being between the artist and the space itself. We give space over in its entirety, and as a result, each exhibition is evidence of the unique relationship that is formed between the two. Then, the exhibition goes on to engage our First Fridays audiences with each opening, to whom we try our best to be a regular, welcoming fixture.
Then there is the rest of the month, where we get to be a part of 18th Street and the normal activity of living and working in the area. We get to talk to dog walkers and yoga-goers, and there are some people who slam on their brakes when they pass just to see what in the world is going on. You can’t hide when your front wall is 80% window, and we’re happy to keep bringing in new things for people to see.
What idea are you most excited about for the future?
The zine exchange and reading room that we’re working on now have been our most intensive projects, and we’re very excited to see a much broader level of involvement occur within the space itself.
Images courtesy of Front/Space.