But before my husband and I got to New York, we spent an exhausting but revelatory week in the Midwest (my first time in the area, not counting Chicago!). While he had meetings with clients, I immersed myself with as much art as the heartland could offer. Our first stop was Minneapolis (well, our real first stop on our journey was Vancouver, but that was for a wedding). We stayed in the Mill District, where the city had repurposed the old mills (where Gold Medal, Pillsbury and other iconic brands were based) into condos, cultural centers and public parks. I was immediately enamored with the city. The riverfront area was beautiful and people were friendly. We unfortunately did not have much time but we managed to squeeze in a visit to the Walker Art Center and the Sculpture Garden. I've included some highlights in the slideshow above but the following works really stood out for me:
We arrived in Kansas City a day later to record temperatures (over 100 degrees F!) so our first day in KC was spent in our air conditioned hotel room. I needed to rest up for my big day of visiting artists' studios. My friend Christina had put me in touch with her friend Jill Downen, who had just started a residency in KC. Jill was kind enough to arrange and put me in touch with the director of Studios Inc., even though she herself wasn't available to meet me.
I thought I was going to visit just two or three artists but my day turned out to be more of an adventure that I had planned for. The director, Colby Smith, picked me up at my hotel in a big white van; he informed me that the truck was purchased from an old P.I. agency that went under in the nineties. Colby is a wild-eyed man who is never at a loss for words, making him the perfect guide for my whirlwind tour of the city's art scene. We sped through the Crossroads art district, which was vast, much bigger than anything we have in Shanghai or even in Beijing. Crossroads is an integrated part of the city, located downtown and not separated into an art ghetto like M50 or 798 is. There were hundreds of galleries (of which I visited none of) and lots of boutiques and cafes.
Studios Inc. is located just at the edge of Crossroads in what used to be a tannery. Christina had mentioned that Jill had it the jackpot with her studio and she was right. It's a pretty amazing space. Unfortunately for all you artists out there, the residency is open only to Kansas City residents.
It would take too long to describe all the artists that I visited so in the interest of time, I've given very brief descriptions of the work I saw with a link to their website wherever possible; there are also several images in the slideshow at the top of this page.
We had a quick lunch at an artist-run café (I think everything in the Crossroads area is "artist-run"), where we met Peregrine Honig. Colby described her as the most established artists in the KC area; I found out later that she was on the first season of that Bravo show Work of Art. I've only seen two episodes on a plane from season 2 but cannot find the DVD set in Shanghai. Amazing, since most DVD shops in China have EVERYTHING.