And there goes 2007

Ah, what a difference a year makes.The Lawrence visual art folks entered 2007 to the rhythmic beats on a dead horse: [The art world was dying][1]! Okay, so it was all about the closing of two galleries, but it packed such a whammy, many people questioned the very viability of our hobbling scene. Turns out, one could argue that 2007 was the strongest year we've had in recent memory. Below are my top five reasons to keep believing.5. [Aaron Douglas Conference and the 20/21 Gallery at the Spencer][2] ![][3][Director Saralyn Reece Hardy][4] and her staff continued dusting off ye olde [Spencer][5] to show us that you can have an academic institution that participates in the contemporary community around it. The Aaron Douglas exhibit and conference organizers commissioned local artist [Dave Loewenstein][6] to create a downtown mural as part of the festivities honoring the pivotal Harlem Renaissance artist, and this year's museum acquisitions included a drawing by local artist [Hong Zhang][7], which is featured in the newly revamped 20/21 Gallery.4. [Nerman Museum for Contemporary Art][8] ![][9] Over 1000 people entered the front doors within its first hour; to say the Nerman Museum in Overland Park will change the landscape of contemporary art in Kansas is the understatement of the day. With galleries dedicated to local and regional artists, rock-solid institutional support, and deep-pocket patrons who seem to thrill at taking risks, Bruce Hartman and the crew at the Nerman have already put eastern Kansas art on the international map. 3. [National Juried Ceramics Exhibition & Symposium at the Lawrence Arts Center][10] ![][11] To be so close to ceramics greats like [Jim Leedy][12] (KC), [Jun Kaneko][13] (Omaha), and the ghost of [Ken Ferguson][14] (KC), the dearth of ceramics in Lawrence could only be characterized as strange. [Ben Ahlvers][15] and his cohorts at the [Lawrence Arts Center][16] changed that in October with their hugely successful exhibit and symposium, which featured current trends and attracted heavyweights like John Balistreri and Dan Anderson. The symposium not only opened up the ceramics dialogue in Lawrence, but also introduced the Arts Center to a new national audience.2. Sally Piller and [6 Gallery][17]![][18] The call was clear: Lawrence needed more contemporary art space committed to local art, and no individual stepped to the plate more enthusiastically and with more personal risk than [Sally Piller][19]. An accomplished printmaker in her own right, Piller transformed the downtown alley space into a clean but warm gallery full of art that ranged from traditional to new media. She's now backing it up with programming, like her Second Sundays lectures and conversations with artists.1. Shot in the Arm, DIY-style There isn't a scene worth its salt that's solely driven by commercial and institutional art space: fertility is only as good as what's coming next, and in Lawrence it was the DIY happenings that most invigorated the community. The Lawrence Percolator events at [4-1-1 Art Space][20] ranged from [dramatic poetry by Chantel Guidry to the Farnsworth Bicycle Laboratory neighborhood ride and Karl Ramberg's "Dark Matter Music."][21] The artists' collective [Fresh Produce][22] broke from the [Red Ballooners][23] and hosted public salon-style events at [Teller's][24] and insider happenings like the Avant Garden. The [Solidarity Center][25] opened its walls to give visual voice to the people. [Kendra Herring][26] passed the [Bourgeois Pig][27] walls to [Molly Murphy][28], who has continued the strongest curatorial presence found in a local restaurant or bar (she's closely followed, however, by [Pachamama's][29]). And small one-off events, like the Greek shadow puppeteer at Bill & Cary Allen's house in July, amid the heat and bug spray, kept the edges buzzing. [1]: [2]: [3]: [4]: [5]: [6]: [7]: [8]: [9]: [10]: [11]: [12]: [13]: [14]: [15]: [16]: [17]: [18]: [19]: [20]: [21]: [22]: [23]: [24]: [25]: [26]: [27]: [28]: [29]:


Tim vonHolten 12 years, 6 months ago

Since you're far too modest, i'll remind everyone of the SEED lectures, organized by leslie vonholten, which started any revitalization that has occurred in the past year. sorry to sound so snotty, but leslie is the shit.

DOTDOT 12 years, 6 months ago

I was going to say something, but didn't want to sound biased.

But anyway, agreed. Though I don't seem to get to many events, it is nice to know things are happening. I cheer from the nose bleed section.

PatrickJoseph 12 years, 6 months ago

Thanks for continually mentioning the Nerman at JCCC. I've never visited but I'm totally interested in seeing their collections soon.

Thanks, also, for the SEED lectures throughout last year. I was able to hear (and view) quite a few artists that I didn't know. I know it's quite a bit of work to make all that come together.

leslie 12 years, 6 months ago

You boys are too kind. I'm humbled. Thank you.

Tom, I like to think of you in the peanut gallery, yelling out your opinions, just as it should be.

And Patrick, get to the Nerman. Do it! I already know of one Lawrence artist who will have some space there this spring.........

Molly Murphy 12 years, 6 months ago

Leslie, thank you for the acknowledgment, but it is truly easy to curate shows in Lawrence, where the pool of talent is fantastic. We are all fortunate to be in an area that supports the efforts of both fledgling and established artists. To another great year!

DOTDOT 12 years, 6 months ago


Think of my opinions as cries from the unwashed. I was going to say something like that, but I didn't want to hurt my feelings.

Carry on.

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