Across the Pond(s)

To say that Kansas is the center of everything is indeed a stretch, especially in terms of happenin' art centers, but two notable local artists are making it look easy. With Kansas as a launching site, Adam Tompkins and Hong Zhang are working the international scene with two respective exhibitions opening in September. [![][1]][2]Jumping WestLawrence painter Adam Tompkins is a member of Konglomerat, a network of 30 artists from Germany, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, the USA, and Australia. An exhibition featuring 12 of these artists will open in Kiel, Germany, Sept. 15. Konglomerat was "built on the wreckage of the former German Stuckist group," according to [their MySpace page][3]. "We basically wish to support each other as artists by organizing international exhibitions and not relying on the current systems of control," Tompkins says, "such as the framing function of the art institution and the inevitable dependence upon such institutions to create meaning for art objects." Konglomerat painters seem to focus on figurative forms and use deep color palettes. The images are emotional, soulful re-examinations of forms translated into a new visual landscape. This theme in the work could change, however. Tompkins stresses that this is not an art movement (like the Stuckists of the '90s). "Basically there are no tenets that Konglomerat follow as a group. In truth, it boils down to participation and reciprocity-meaning, if someone is organizing a show in their home country then perhaps it would benefit others within the collective to organize a show in your country and so on," he explains. "The group is really about empowering artists to get involved globally and not to wait for a gallery or patron to knock on your door. There are no boundaries, borders, or barriers that should stop an artist from trying to exhibit their work. Get involved and get things done-take back the system and put it in the hands of the people who create." The DIY ethos strengthened by the Konglomerat support structure gives Tompkins the open field to do what artists should: explore and create. "I do allow myself the freedom to produce work in many different styles," Tompkins says. "From surreal symbolism to direct portraiture, all of which I employ simultaneously." [![][4]][5]Jumping EastLawrence artist Hong Zhang will be featured in the Third Annual Chengdu Biennial in Chengdu, China, next month. Titled "Reboot," the focus of this year's exhibition is innovative approaches to Chinese ink painting. "Hair Gods," an ink painting on rice paper by Zhang, will hang in a gallery focused on emerging artists on the international scene. Britta Erickson, a Chinese art curator and critic from Stanford University, invited Zhang to participate. Zhang's work will hang alongside work by art world heavyweights Wen Da Gu, Cai Guo Qiang, and Xu Bing. As if that weren't honor enough, she will be getting the full star treatment: the Chengdu Museum of Contemporary Art is paying her airfare and hotel expenses so she may attend the opening. Local residents can see Zhang's work at her opening "Thresholds" on Sept. 7 at 6 Gallery, and also next March at the Byron C. Cohen Gallery in Kansas City. On the Home FrontEach year, the Lawrence Arts Commission-an advisory branch of the city government, of which I am a member-recognizes outstanding achievements in the arts with the annual Phoenix Awards. There are 10 categories in which one can be nominated: Arts Administrator; Arts Advocate; Educator in the Arts; Design Arts; Literary Arts; Musical Arts; Performing Arts; Visual Arts; Volunteer in the Arts; and Exceptional Arts Achievement. You can submit multiple votes in different categories (not multiples for the same person in the same category). The Arts Commission will then vote for the winners. Those of us in love with the visual arts know it's been a roller coaster year. Be sure and give them these folks their props. You can [download a nomination form here][6] or at [][7] (click on Phoenix Awards). Deadline for nominations is Wednesday, Sept. 26. [The Phoenix Awards ceremony will be Sunday, Nov. 4][8]. This year's awards are designed by sculptor Cathy Hale Robins. [1]: [2]: [3]: [4]: [5]: [6]: [7]: [8]:


Dominic_Sova 14 years, 10 months ago

Adam Tompkins is one of dozens of artists showing this Saturday, September 8th, at the Red Balloon to do in downtown Lawrence! Between 5-10 p.m., at six different venues, see new art from all sorts of locals.

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