Some views from “America: Now and Here”

I want to recap a show that opened last month here in Kansas City.  Well, more event than show, at least for my involvement and observation.  “America: Now and Here” ran at the Leedy-Voulkos Art Center in the Crossroads over the course of May.  The project was conceived and spearheaded by artist Eric Fischl.  The prescribed purpose was to create a dialogue of what is happening in America now, locally and nationally.

Kansas City, smack in the center of the country, was the first stop of the tour.  The national portion will travel to Chicago and Detroit, with the intent of becoming a mobile gallery that will reach into rural areas across the US, though whether that works out financially and logistically is still up in the air.   Each of the stops will include work selected by local curators.  One of the music curators for the Kansas City was Mark Southerland, saxophonist, sculptor, and weird music instigator.  One of the visual curators was artist David Ford.

The visual aspect of the show – which was wall art heavy – consisted of a collection of national and local artists, and also included music performances and recording sessions, family events, storytelling, dance, discussions, and craft making – all centered on the theme of what is making America in this place and at this time.  These activities, events, and performances were intended to extend and personalize the experience of the show.  Participants were also given the opportunity to record their impressions and experiences on iPad docking stations located in the gallery.

I attended four events: a Story Slam, hosted by Gina Kaufmann; a preview of “visible,” a new dance piece produced by Urban Bush Women, with co-choreographers Jawole Zollar and Nina Chipaumire; a Wee Banquet with Wee Snuff; and the recording session of the People’s Liberation Big Band, which kicked off the wrap party.

Here are some scenes from the events I attended:

Jawole Zollar, after preview of "visible," dances with audience members.
Jeff Harschbarger and Mark Southerland, in all their wee-ness, perform.
The wee salad, featuring a deviled quail egg, on my pregnant belly/table.
Witnesses/Participants to the Wee Banquet.
The ever-frightening mic at People's Liberation Big Band recording session/performance.

(All photos by Libby Hanssen.)

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