Access Alumni Events West Bottoms Tour

The first Access Alumni Events West Bottoms Tour took place this weekend. Calder Kamin, Academic and Career Advisor, and Madeline Gallucci, campus activities coordinator, took twenty-seven students from all grade levels and majors participated in the opportunity to network with Kansas City Art Institute alumni gallery directors, studio and exhibiting artists in the West Bottoms. The West Bottoms is one of the oldest in the city, and its industrial buildings and wide open spaces attract many artists to establish studios and galleries.

The first stop was 1522 St Louis gallery and studios. 1522 is the live and work space belonging to Mike Erickson (’99 printmaking). He shares the space with Archie Scott Gobber (’88 painting), Elliott Oliver (’99 painting) and Liz Smith (’99 painting). 1522 recently added a gallery that run by Erika Hanson (’06 fiber) and Justin Gainan (’04 fiber). Erika met students to talk about their latest exhibition Recent Contracts, featuring Lacey Wozny (’05 illustration)
Elliott Oliver and Liz Smith met while attending KCAI. They recently returned from Los Angeles were Liz was completing her masters. They both keep a studio at 1522 St Louis. Elliot was recently featured in the SprayBooth Gallery exhibit Neutral Space.

A majority of the conversations with alumni led to the importance of networking. An artists time is not only spent in the studio making work, but also going out to see the work of others and meeting new audiences.  Elliot talked about finding a studio space in the West Bottoms and how meeting people made that possible.

The next stop was the Hobbs Building, just a few yards away from 1522 St Louis.

In the basement of the Hobbs is the Kansas City Center for Ink and Paper Arts, where Teal Wilson (’12 printmaking) interns.

Teal is given a studio space in the Hobbs building for one year in exchange for her assistance. She is also able to take classes there for free. Teal is learning new processes she hopes to teach soon at the Center. Teal was asked to share how she obtained a solo show for her senior thesis at the Wonder Fair in Lawrence, KS through networking. Teal does keep another job in the service industry , but is happy that her days can be devoted to an active studio practice. She hopes to make new work for a show in the near future. Teal told students she is pleased with what she has accomplished in the few months since graduating from KCAI.

The following stop was The Dolphin Gallery where Mike Erickson, Archie Scott Gobber, and Emily Eddins (’80’s KCAI) work. The Dolphin exhibits locals and national artists, many of whom are KCAI alumni and faculty.

Students heard from Scottie Gobber about the history of the Dolphin Gallery and the reason behind their move to the West Bottoms from the crossroads, four years ago. Mike and Scottie mentioned that the community the Dolphin has in the West Bottoms is really important.  The print studios on the second floor offer discounts and competitive pricing for KCAI students.

Our final stop was at Bill Brady KC. Bill Brady spent a summer at the Skowhegan residency before graduating from KCAI in 1993. It was there he networked with young artists from the east coast. He received his masters from the School of Visual Arts, and through his Skowhegan connections, he began working at the Guggenheim and the Chase Collection. Bill changed his motivation from painter to gallery director in 2001 when he opened the ATM Gallery. The ATM Gallery had an interesting business model with both an ATM and art inside to draw visitors. After operating the ATM gallery for 10 years, Bill felt it was time to move on. He was concerned that opportunities to show younger artists were shrinking because of the larger galleries. He decided that he wouldn’t join the other small Chelsea galleries in their move to the Lower East Side and instead considered the option to return to Kansas City. He afford a space larger than anything he could have had in New York City, and promote to his east coast connections, thanks to the Internet.

Bill also encouraged networking as an important part of an artist’s life. He encouraged everyone to return for the gallery’s opening on November 9th. Both exhibiting artists will attend,  including the artists’ most important collectors. Bill said he often discovers that famous artists become his biggest patrons. When Bill arrived in Kansas City to open Bill Brady KC in February 2012, he felt like there were plenty of places for local artists to exhibit. His focus is to bring outside artists to Kansas City. At Bill Brady KC, young artists and collectors will now be exposed to artists Bill made connections to in LA and New York; potentially elevating the awareness of our art scene on the coasts. His words left a very positive. Bill said many of his classmates are either artists or working for themselves. He believes “artists are the entrepreneurs of tomorrow.” We couldn’t agree more!

Thanks to our alumni, students and Madeline Gallucci, campus activities coordinator, for making our first Access Alumni Events Tour a success!

Additional images from the tour:

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