NO. 6 FEMIN • IS – LINDA LIGHTON

In episode No. 6 of the Femin • Is series, I sat down with local ceramicist and bona fide flowerchild Linda Lighton. Sex, drugs, rock n’ roll and ceramics, baby. This is how it’s done.

Featured photo by Tom Styrkowicz

To be the renowned artist that Linda Lighton is today, she had to rebel, and then rebel some more. So for this interview, we took a deep dive into the early years and some early work. We also took a look back at the history of the art scene in Kansas City. Below are a few pieces that we discussed in the interview. Enjoy.

The First Lady

 

Daddy’s Hungry

 

Diva Laura
clay, glaze, China paint, lustres
22″ x 9″ x 11″
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art Collection
2002

 

The Czarina Damnwell clay, glaze, China paint, lustre 14.5″ x 8″ x 4″ Belger Arts Center Collection 2000

 

Love & War: The Ammunition clay, glaze, China paint, lustre 12″ x 17″ x 13″ 2012

Still hungry? Then watch this gem of a process film of Linda Lighton by Don Maxwell
and stay tuned for an upcoming bonus clip from my interview with Linda.

Lastly, here is Linda’s portrait, admittedly the metallic gold was difficult to photograph!

This episode of KC Art Pie is made possible through an Inspiration Grant from

N0. 4 FEMIN • IS – ELISABETH KIRSCH

In episode No. 4 of the Femin • Is series, I sat down with writer and curator Elisabeth Kirsch to talk about feminism and the Kansas City art scene of the 1970s.

We talked about the challenges and limitations placed on women artists and how her early encounters with the feminist art movement influenced her career. I also wanted to hear about the Women Artists ‘77 exhibit, one of, if not the first, all-women regional shows at a time when women artists struggled to be included in galleries and museums. Kirsch was the gallery assistant for the exhibition and had a behind-the-scenes perspective on the process with juror and feminist art movement icon Miriam Schapiro.

We also talked about a few of the artists she’s reviewed over the years and she revealed what may be one of my favorite bucket list items: to be a Guerrilla Girl for a day.

Kirsch’s Review of Linda Lighton:
Dangerous Beauty, Review magazine, August 2006 

Spiked Eggplant, 2005, by Linda Lighton

 

She also discussed an artist who showed at the Douglas Drake Gallery.
You can see a wide range of collages by Vivian Torrence here.

As solid evidence that Elisabeth Kirsch is still hard at work, here is the latest review by Kirsch, of artist Hyeyoung Shin and her recent exhibition, “Unapologetic,” at Studios Inc.

Finally, during our interview, I asked Kirsch about the impact of the Women Artists 77 Exhibition in the following years. Looking at the longer term, I think it is a safe bet to say that one of those lasting impacts was to influence a young student who would go on to contribute volumes of thought and energy to the Kansas City arts scene.

Lastly, here is Elisabeth’s portrait!

Femin Is_Elisabeth Kirsch / Ink on panel / 24 x 18″ / Text: Awakening Loving-Kindness by Pema Chödrön

This episode of KC Art Pie is made possible through an Inspiration Grant from

N0. 3: FEMIN • IS – GLORIA VANDO HICKOK

Episode No. 3 of the KC Art Pie podcast features poet Gloria Vando Hickok, who founded Helicon Nine, co-founded The Writers Place, and generally, is a very busy woman.

For the third episode for FEMIN IS, we take a historical look at feminism in the arts with Gloria. We spoke over the phone about Helicon Nine: The Journal of Women’s Arts & Letters which she founded in 1977 in Kansas City, Missouri, to provide a quality literary publication by and about women. The magazine provided a forum for women in the arts at a time when women were being excluded from major anthologies, history books, museums, and academic curricula. It published the work of well over 500 artist. In 1992 Helicon Nine, changed its name to Midwest Center for the Literary Arts, Inc., in order to expand its mission to include the publication of fine books of literature through Helicon Nine Editions and the founding of The Writers Place, a regional literary community center, library, and gallery offering public and educational programs for all ages.

Photo by Anika Paris

As a poet, Gloria has edited and published numerous anthologies of poetry and received awards for her own books, Promesas: Geography of the Impossible, a personal encounter with the history of colonialism and her family roots in Puerto Rico; Shadows and Supposes, named the Best Poetry Book of 2003 by the Latino Hall of Fame; and Woven Voices, a cross-generational work with her mother and daughter. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Though she returns to Kansas City regularly, she now lives in California.

Limited back issues of Helicon Nine are available on Amazon, including a few of Gloria’s favorites: The Marianne Moore issue and The Helicon Nine Reader: A Celebration of Women in the Arts

What’s coming up next for Gloria? She is working on a new book of poetry and a memoir, so there is plenty more to come from this passionate and energetic artist!

Lastly, here is Gloria’s portrait, inspired by the Helicon Nine Publishing logo.

India ink on paper │Text: The Collected Poems of Muriel Rukeyser │ 22.75 x 34.75” │ 2017

This episode of KC Art Pie is made possible through an Inspiration Grant from

N0. 2: FEMIN • IS – JANET KUEMMERLEIN

Episode No. 2 of the KC Art Pie podcast features visual artist Janet Kuemmerlein discussing her textile murals, the women of jazz, and how naiveté is not always a bad thing.

For this episode, I sat down with Janet Kuemmerlein in her large home studio to talk about her work and career which has spanned over 50 years. We talked about the bravery or naivete it takes to be an artist and the early days of her career in the 60s. While her textile practice is often a solitary affair, she has also painted portraits of other artists, most significantly a number of Kansas City women jazz vocalists, and she shares her experience of working with and learning from women coming from a different artistic medium.

Kuemmerlein is a pioneer in the contemporary fiber art movement. She was born in Detroit, Michigan. Janet studied painting at the College of Creative Studies in Detroit, and sculpture and metalsmithing at Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. Her work has been placed in institutions such the Smithsonian Museum of Fine Artm  the Chicago Institute of Art, the Daum Museum of Contemporary Art, the Museum of Art and Design,  among many others. Her work has been in exhibited around the word in England, France, Germany and Switzerland.

http://www.janetkuemmerlein.com

Janet Kuemmerlein in her art-filled home and studio
Odyssey, textile installation, 5 x 30′, manila rope, wool, nylon,
silk, cotton, & dacron, 1976, Richmond, CA
Arctic Echoes, textile installation, 50′, Anchorage, AK
The Wild Women of Kansas City, The American Jazz Museum

Portrait of Deborah Brown by Janet Kuemmerlein,
The American Jazz Museum
Calla Lily, 10 x 10″, acrylic on canvas
Tempest by Janet Kuemmerlein, textile vessel
Portrait of a Garden
Janet Kuemmerlein in the yarn room of her home studio

 

Lastly, here is Janet’s portrait!

creative abstract portrait of the artist
Ink on canvas │Text: Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
│ 36 x 36″” │ 2017

 

This episode of KC Art Pie is made possible through an Inspiration Grant from

Musings on KC Streetcar Mural

From the artist: In late spring, the Art in the Loop Foundation commissioned me, among many other artists, to create temporary work for the series of summer programming in downtown Kansas City titled Connect. With the opportunity to partner with the KC Streetcar Authority during the streetcar’s inaugural year, a mural on one of the station stops seemed a clear choice. I See Yowas installed mid-July at the northbound Power & Light stop near 14th & Main.

Art in the Loop: Connect │ Power & Light KC Streetcar Stop │ 70sf │ 2016
Art in the Loop: Connect │ Power & Light KC Streetcar Stop │ 70sf │ 2016

Since I have been itching to do more of what I call “lace portraiture,” another clear choice was before me. This piece graphically fused the nature of lace – domestic, intimate, soft – with the metaphor I see in the material of many individuals strands creating an interconnected network. In I See You, the overlapping strands of cursive text radiate out to create the profile of a figure, a self-portrait, in truth. Yet, this is portraiture not beholden to capturing the physical likeness. Rather, it captures thought, consciousness, a meditation, or at the very least, that is my intent.

Art in the Loop: Connect │ Power & Light KC Streetcar Stop │ 70sf │ 2016
Art in the Loop: Connect │ Power & Light KC Streetcar Stop │ 70sf │ 2016

I invite you to visit the Art in the Loop’s website to listen to a short clip where I spoke about the meaning of this piece during the opening reception. The description I gave there is a bit different than what I have shared anywhere else and something I felt best shared through voice.

This work references a series of drawings created from the desire to transcribe consciousness into visual form.
This work references a series of drawings created from the desire to transcribe consciousness into visual form.

One never knows how a work will be received and I am grateful that this piece seems to be appreciated. Along with Don Wilkison‘s project, aka m.o.i., (Minister of Information), I See You was featured on KCUR’s website. The Shawnee Mission Post also featured the work.

i-see-you_streetcar-detail-1s-_gardnerroe
The transparency of the mural overlays a lacy filter onto the downtown surroundings at the northbound Power & Light Streetcar stop near 14th & Main St.
i-see-you_detail-6s_gardnerroe
The layers of handwritten text were printed onto a clear adhesive vinyl. While individual words can be picked out here and there, overall, the layers render the sentences illegible. A graphic mass of thought is the result.

While this work is temporary, up through September, I will have the opportunity to share more lace portraiture through an upcoming project called Femin Is.  This launched softly on KC Art Pie, with a hard launch including a Kickstarter campaign coming in October (sign up for updates here).

So, more lace, or at least my interpretation of it, is on the way. Until then, you can join me on the 17th for an Art on the Route tour hosted by ArtsKC and the Kansas City Artists Coalition. Otherwise, you have until the end of September to view I See You as well as all the other works on the line. Then it will be like what remains of our summer: going, going, gone.

With gratitude,
Rachelle Gardner-Roe

Introducing KC Art Pie

kc-art-pie-card-m

The breadth of the Kansas City art scene is practically culinary. It is a rich stew, with both satisfyingly palatable and surprising bursts of contrasting flavor. For the art aficionado, it is delicious. Whatever flavor you prefer, Kansas City has a rich arts scene, and like a great meal, it deserves to be shared.

With this in mind, KC Art Pie will launch in March of 2017 as an artist-run podcast featuring the artist of our local creative culture. Season one of the podcast will focus on a specific multimedia project, Femin  Is,  allowing KC Art Pie to develop with a clear focus and then branch out to other projects and topics in the future. So, we will start with a recipe, but eventually, we will be mixing up all sorts of creations with the ingredients on hand (which, incidentally, is how I cook most of the time).

There are many great resources for arts-related content in Kansas City. The KC Art Pie podcast is simply an addition to the menu. Kansas City has a growing reputation, both nationally and, dare I say, internationally, as a developing hub for the arts. As an artist living here for over a decade, the growth has been clear, but the only way to continue to build our reputation is to keep the conversation growing and introduce more people to this Midwestern art smorgasbord. If all I can offer are a few whispers and appetizers, so be it.

Bon Appétit,
Rachelle Gardner-Roe

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FeminIs  and KC Art Pie is made possible through the ArtsKC Regional Arts Council.

artskc-logo-1000x450 (2)

 

 

ArtsKC Fund Awards Inspiration Grant for New Project

ArtsKC Regional Arts Council has announced the latest round of Inspiration Grant recipients and I am honored to say that I am one of the artists selected. This grant will be for a specific project titled,

 Femin  Is: Portrait of Kansas City Feminism Then and Now

 

Ink on paper │ 12 x 9" │ 2014

Femin • Is will be an equal part local history project, part contemporary examination, and part visual exhibition. The Inspiration Grant Funding will enable Rachelle Gardner-Roe to interview artists active during the Women’s Liberation movement of the 1970’s in the Kansas City area as well as contemporary artists working with an evolving definition of feminism. This process will culminate in an exhibition of collaborative portraits, envisioned for Women’s History Month in March of 2017. Fusing emotional, political, and theoretical concerns with the the artist’s creative process, this project endeavors to capture personal histories and share contemporary perspectives while engaging an often charged aspect of our culture. 

I am excited to move forward with this project. The opportunity to learn and share these stories is inspiring. I also look forward to developing more text-based portraiture, in a similar vein as the upcoming KC Streetcar installation, I See You.
I See You-crop

Additional fundraising will be necessary for this project, so stay tuned for more on that in the coming months. But for now…

Thank you to the

artskc-logo-1000x450 (2)for their continued support of my work and career!

Visit here to see the other Inspiration Grant recipients and their exciting projects!

Article in Prairie Village Post

The Chamber of Commerce in my area did a piece on my work in the local Prairie Village Post.
Simply scroll down to read the article, or you can view it on the publication’s website.

Local Artist Rachelle Gardner-Roe on the fine art of balance

The recent exhibition of Gardner-Roe's work at the ArtsKC Regional Council emphasized the textile connections that can be found throughout the artist's mixed media work.

The recent exhibition of Gardner-Roe’s work at the ArtsKC Regional Council emphasized the textile connections that can be found throughout the artist’s mixed media work.

At the age of 5, if you had asked Rachelle Gardner-Roe what she wanted to be when she grew up, the answer would have been a no-brainer: an artist. We all wanted to be lots of things at the age of 5, but despite the twists and turns of life, Gardner-Roe managed to hold onto her dream.

“I ended up with a degree in interior architecture, rather than going to art school though,” she said. “The interiors portion gave me access to a full woodshop where I could build furniture. Creativity and experimentation basically made that place a sculpture studio.”

That design-build experience also helped her land her first job out of college, designing and building custom furniture at a woodshop. Still, the 5 year old inside wouldn’t stay quiet for long.

“A design education was really grounding,” she said. “It trained me to think in term of function, but I still had all these other ideas and images in my head. I had to come back to the fine arts.”

The artist has spent the last ten years fusing that foundation in design with a unique vision to cross boundaries in media. Whether it’s a 12 foot drawing of Alice in Wonderland-like vegetation, a ceramic vessel fired in a dug-out pit at the family farm, or her most recent blending of fabric and resin to create lace sculpture, Gardner-Roe puts her training and her imagination to the test. While she works in media including resin, ceramics, drawing, and painting, a textile element can almost always be found. Influenced by the passing down of handcraft through the generations, she strives to re-contextualize traditional craft.

Her efforts have not gone unnoticed. During her career in Kansas City, she has been awarded a studio residency from the Charlotte Street Foundation as well as multiple grants from the ArtsKC Regional Arts Council. In the last few years, she received a scholarship to study experimental sculpture near Aspen, Colorado as well as a research and development residency in the panhandle of Florida. Her work has been in exhibitions across the country from San Jose, California to Lowell, Massachusetts.

While you might expect a burgeoning artist to seek out hotspots like New York City and Los Angeles, Gardner-Roe is dedicated to the arts scene in Kansas City.

“The arts organizations here are amazing and research has shown that citizens in this region engage with the arts at a higher rate than bigger cities like New York,” she said. ”

Just this fall, the artist exhibited a solo exhibition at one of those organizations, the ArtsKC Regional Council in the heart of the Crossroads Arts District and has just released an online exhibition catalogue.

The artist currently splits her time between her home in Mission and the family farm where she works on her fabric sculpture, which lace can appear frozen in undulating curves or precise origami-like folds. Gardner-Roe occasionally pauses to focus on other bodies of work, but she has been building on this unique style of sculpture for several years.

“To be honest, I’m doing things with materials that you’re not supposed to do. I mean, lace isn’t supposed to be hard sculpture and look like metal, but hey, we all like to break a few rules, don’t we?” she said. “Luckily, as an artist, I feel it’s in my job description.”

After ten years of working as an artist, what has changed? “A few years ago, I got certified to teach yoga, which has had a lasting effect on how I work,” she said. “The work is more focused on achieving balance. When I break rules, it’s to balance very different materials to find a sort of conceptual center of gravity. Balance in life is hard to find and I have struggled just as much as anyone else. So, my work has become a metaphor for that struggle and in our busy culture, it doesn’t seem a bad to idea to encourage others to seek balance as well. I suppose that’s not in the job description for an artist, but it just might be for me.”

The artist's experimental approach to materials results in unique lace sculpture such as Rhythm No. 2A, which combines ideas regarding memory with research in the design principles behind the art of paper folding.

The artist’s experimental approach to materials results in unique lace sculpture such as Rhythm No. 2A, which combines ideas regarding memory with research in the design principles behind the art of paper folding.

No stranger to alternative methods, this detail of a nine foot lace work shows the intricate detail the artist can achieve when she uses a sewing machine to literally draw lace.

No stranger to alternative methods, this detail of a nine foot lace work shows the intricate detail the artist can achieve when she uses a sewing machine to literally draw lace.

The Grand Opening of the New Studio!!

Local Artist, Rachelle Gardner-Roe, Opens Studio & Gallery

Grand opening of gallery space and open studio weekend features inaugural exhibition, Making of Self

StudioRMG03aS80-1/2 x 66 x 5", ink on crochet lace bedspread, 2014

Following a fire in the building of her former studio, local artist, Rachelle Gardner-Roe, relocated near UMKC and Rockhurst University to rebuild. Almost a year later, she is pleased to announce the opening of her new gallery and studio space to the public for a grand opening and open studio weekend on the second Friday of November. The inaugural exhibition, Making of Self, features textile and drawn works that explores consciousness, as well as our connection between the everyday and the sublime. Through the use of writing and lacework, the artist’s newest work utilizes traditional meditation techniques in the creation of contemplative self-portraiture, textile sculpture, and hinted landscapes.

“Having a space like this creates new possibilities in creating work, but also in engaging the public with an artistic process. Whether through exhibitions, studio visits, or educational programming that I hope to offer in the future, I feel that I can contribute in a meaningful way to the local community,” says Gardner-Roe. “In any case, this place is a small, but hard-fought dream of mine.”

The Opening Reception will be on Friday, November 14, 6-9pm, with
Open Studio hours running: Saturday, November 15, 12-5pm and on
Sunday, November 16, 1-4pm.

Studio RM Gardner
1017 E. 55th St.
Kansas City, MO 64110

About the Work:

Process is integral in the creation and understanding Gardner’s work. She works in various media – textiles, resin, ceramics, drawing, and painting; sometimes combining media, sometime not. Attentive to the passing down of knowledge and handcraft from one generation to another, she is especially interested in working with concepts of awareness and consciousness. Physical processes and materials become vital parts of this story. Material becomes metaphor. Process becomes transformation. Dissolving, revealing, and encapsulating become reflections of the human state in subtle form – the relationship with one’s self, others, our environment and existence. Gardner-Roe’s goal is to create work that sparks reflection and self-awareness, in the hope of advocating for compassion and a better quality of life experience for all.

About Rachelle Gardner-Roe:

Rachelle Gardner-Roe grew up outside a small town south of Kansas City, Missouri. While hearing the artist’s call at an early age, she developed a knack for drafting and received her undergraduate degree in Interior Architecture from Kansas State University. She worked as a woodworking and design apprentice before inevitably being drawn back to the fine arts. As a mixed media artist, her practice includes ceramics, painting, woodworking, resin, and an emphasis on textiles. Her work has been included in international exhibitions and she continues to exhibit nationally. Among other honors, Gardner-Roe has received multiple Inspiration Grants from the ArtsKC Regional Council, Kansas City, MO; The Presidential Scholarship from The Anderson Ranch Arts Center, Snowmass Village, CO; The Urban Culture Project Residency, Kansas City, MO, and an Escape to Create Residency of Seaside, FL. Gardner-Roe resides in Mission, KS. For more information on the artist’s work, visit www.rmgardner.com.

Pause After Pause – finished drawing

image of Pause After Pause
Pause After Pause - colored pencil on paper - 2010

This piece is made of two seperate drawings (scroll down to an earlier progress post and you will see). 

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And here is a detail shot …

image of Pause After Pause detail
Pause After Pause detail

Not a wordsmith today. Here’s a little free association about what I’m thinking about here:  staccato motion, constant interuption, inability to move forward or move smoothly forward, one thing leads to another.

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