Open Spaces spotlights Kansas City’s creativity

More than 200 artists in diverse forms of media are participating in Kansas City’s latest two-month artistic venture: Open Spaces.

Open Spaces is as a collaboration between Kansas City’s Office of Culture and Creative Services and philanthropist Scott Francis to spotlight the city’s creativity.

“For 9-weeks, in spaces both familiar and new, in parks and urban spaces, in galleries, performance halls and outdoor stages,” the event’s website describes. “Open Spaces will transform Kansas City into a living cultural tapestry into which the best of the world’s collective imagination can be woven.”

From Aug, 15 to Oct. 28, more than 40-visual artists are featured in the part of the experience called “The Exhibition”. Swope Park serves as the hub for the exhibitions, but more venues can be found throughout the city.

Other venues include spots on UMKC’s campus. Brazilian sculptor Flávio Cerqueira made his debut exhibit in the U.S. with “Any Word Except Wait” that can be found on the University Walkway. The UMKC Gallery of Art is home to a video installation from New York-based Italian artist Federico Solmi.

The National Toy and Miniature Museum reveals one part of Kansas City-based artist Randy Reiger’s project that explores childhood memories and adulthood anxieties through collections of toys. The project “Dreams of Flight” is separated into three components, “complementary yet independent,” according to Reiger.

The other components can be found at KCAI Crossroads Gallery and River Market Antiques. On choosing the location, Reiger already had the museum as one of his first choices and described the creative liberty he gave them in the execution of his first piece.

I gave them no instructions as for how to approach my works, or what to say or not say,” Reiger said. “What they did is fantastic, so happy with their work.”

“The Village” comes to life at Swope Park for the event’s weekends, serving as a home for a variety of art recreations. The website states that activities include music, dance, spoken word and theatre, a Makers Pavilion, and plenty of food and beverage options. Among these performances is Kansas City Composed, a program of four concerts presented by UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance DMA student Daniel Morel.

The Roots and Janelle Monáe performed with an impressive line-up of musicians and performers Oct. 12-14 at the Starlight Theatre for “The Weekend”. Joining the line-up is UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance alumnus Hermon Mehari, who performed with his jazz quartet on the last day of the 4-day event.

Those unable to make The Weekend can still attend one of the series of evening performances in venues throughout the city. These performances range from nationally recognized performers to more local acts.

Lucite Plains is a multimedia collaboration of UMKC’s own Ricky Allman, Barry Anderson and Davin Watne. After forming a year ago, Open Spaces Curator Dan Cameron contacted the group to join the experience.

The Oct. 19-21 performance blends the members’ talents with both sonic and visual explorations and expands to newer technology with virtual reality headsets for the audience to wear at the Subtropolis venue.

While the concept for Open Spaces is ambitious, there might be trouble with the execution. Some attendees have reported attendance to be lacking at events.

Artist Davin Watne believes this may be because Open Spaces struggles to “ignite a greater audience than just the local art and music scene.”

Randy Reiger also mentioned challenges audiences may have trying to see a show in the spread out landscape over the city.

“The ‘experience’ of the Open Spaces thing itself, that continues to be part mystery, part scavenger hunt and part art show,” Reiger said. “Still, it’s not something you can pin down or describe as one type of thing, not an “art show” in the way people might tend think of it.”

On the idea of Kansas City growing as an area for art and culture, Reiger seemed cautiously optimistic.

“The Open Spaces show sure seems to be a good way to test what people are willing to engage and how they’ll feel when it’s over, will it be missed? I hope so,” Reiger said.

Those interested in catching Open Spaces before it ends can begin by visiting the hub at Swope Park, or for a complete list of artists and events, visit openspaceskc.com

jlfr58@mail.umkc.edu

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