Address: 1613 Genessee St, Kansas City, MO 64102
Contact: Amy Kligman, Misha Kligman, Caleb Taylor or Cory Imig (co-directors)
Open Hours: Saturdays from 10-5 and by appointment
How is the project operated?
Plug is an artist-run collaborative operating under the fiscal agency of Fractured Atlas, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.
How long has it been in existence?
Since the fall of 2011.
What was your motivation?
PLUG PROJECTS is a curatorial collaboration by four Kansas City artists who share the mission of bringing fresh perspectives and conversation to the local art community. Our goal is to energize artists and the public at large by exhibiting challenging new work, initiating critical dialogue, and expanding connections of artists in Kansas City as part of a wider, national network of artists.
Number of organizers?
Plug was launched with five artist-founders, and is currently operated by four of them: Cory Imig, Amy Kligman, Misha Kligman, and Caleb Taylor.
How are programs funded?
We are supported by a mix of grants, money earned from speaking events and paid curatorial efforts, private donations, and a significant amount of personal monetary investment (rent/utilities and basic physical expenses are covered by Plug members, grant and private donations are put towards the programming budget.) Plug’s first year programming budget was initially primarily funded by a Rocket Grant, which is part of a regional regranting effort by the Andy Warhol Foundation and administered through The Charlotte Street Foundation and Spencer Museum of Art. We also accepted private donations through a Kickstarter campaign which fielded a lot of support from the community at large.
Who is responsible for the programming?
A key driver for the establishment of Plug was for it to be a sort of curatorial lab for the founder artists. Therefore we plan most of the programming ourselves. We have collaborated with partners that have ideas they want to bring to life in our space (for example, our Frames Per Second New Media and Film Series, is a collaboration with UMKC film professor Caitlin Horsman and the PLUG members).
What kinds of programming do you provide?
Plug hosts Exhibitions every other third Friday (6 exhibitions a year). We feature work that we feel is challenging, provokes conversation, and does not have a significant presence currently in Kansas City through other venues. We host local, regional, and nationally artists in a variety of mediums in exhibitions inside of our 350 sq. ft. exhibition space.
unPLUGGED is a series of exhibitions that occur outside of the Plug Projects gallery space in which Plug works with galleries and organizations outside of the Kansas City area to promote the work of Kansas City Artists in the national arena. The purpose of the unPLUGGED series is to diversify the exposure and networks of Kansas City artists by connecting them with other cities, gallerists, and resources.
Our Critique Night Series happens in-between exhibitions. Crit nights feature a small rotating panel of artists and art professionals in the community who participate in live dialogue (open to contribution from the public) with local artists about their work. Submissions for Critique Night are accepted on a rolling basis and three artists are chosen for discussion per event.
Conduit programming manifests itself differently on a per-show basis, but the goal in each case is to bring community members with interests related to the exhibition in conversation with the artists exhibiting and/or expanding discussion of the exhibition themes beyond the work on display. Examples might include studio visits, alternative approaches to lectures, site-specific talks, and other casual gatherings of smaller, more intimate groups.
The goal of our Frames Per Second Series is to extend and expand upon themes prevalent in the exhibitions through film and motion media. The film series will be curated by Caitlin Horsman in collaboration with Plug and will be hosted at the 1613 Genessee exhibition space in tandem with the exhibition closing.
Art Writing = Critical is an initiative within Plug Projects to provide venues and support for art writing in the Kansas City Area. This initiative includes projects such as 8 1/2 x 11 (a print publication), serving as Kansas City editors for Temporary Art Review, and providing workshops and resources for developing art writers in the community.
Number and average duration of exhibitions/events per year.
Most of our events and series are planned in tandem with our exhibition cycle, which is every other third friday (so 6 of each event per year). The exceptions there are our “Unplugged” Series, which happens twice a year, and the Art Writing = Critical Series, which is new this year but will hopefully yield four issues of a print quarterly, and a couple of art writing developmental workshops.
What is your curatorial approach?
Our decision making model is primarily through rich and thoughtful dialogue. We meet every week to discuss ongoing Plug business, and on top of that have special extra time devoted to just talking through our curatorial proposals and artists we’re considering for projects. We have very different aesthetics and preferences for media or modes of art making, so its never a cut and dry process. Ultimately we each bring our point of view to the table, and then see what names or themes or work we talk about most. Those are the shows/programs that we ultimately try to put out there.
Do you accept proposals/submissions?
Yes. There have been a few proposals from individual artists and/or collaborations that we’ve worked into our programming, and crit night is completely fueled by submissions. We don’t often use proposals of fully curated group exhibitions. Its a goal of ours to bring work to Kansas City that has not had a lot of exposure here already. So, that is another filter we use when sorting through submissions.
What’s working? What’s not working?
Our programming has become a strong and diverse component of our local arts community, and we have been able to collaborate and affect a growing number of artists in KC. Pushing for a strong external influence on our local scene has been successful in providing a growing network for our local artists, and has provided a lot of exposure to artists and collaborators we have been working with in a variety of capacities beyond exhibitions.
The part we have yet to prove out is sustainability long term. We want to grow as an organization and become a key part of our local art ecosystem. Its difficult to say with certainty that we will always have the funding to cover all of the things we want to do, but we will certainly be aggressive about trying to make that happen.
What are you most excited about for the future?
I love that conversations we’ve been having for a year now about publishing and art writing which are starting to manifest as actual venues and workshops with people putting words to paper (or computer screen). Its exciting to bring a Kansas City presence to Temporary Art Review, and also to launch our own small scale print quarterly. These will be big initiatives in our second year.
Images courtesy of Plug Projects.
James McAnally is the executive editor and co-founder of Temporary Art Review. A graduate of Washington University, James McAnally is a founder, Co-Director, and Curator of The Luminary Center for the Arts, a nonprofit artist resourcing organization based in St. Louis. In his personal practice, he works as part of the artistic collaborative US English.