Amy Kligman is executive/artistic director of Charlotte Street Foundation, charlottestreet.org. In the 19 years since it was created, Charlotte Street has been a powerful force behind the rise of Kansas City’s nationally respected art scene.
The foundation offers artists no-strings cash awards, free studio and performance space, educational opportunities, and builds a market for their work.
The foundation currently has a show, “The One Thing That Can Save America,” through April 30 at Paragraph Gallery, 23 E. 12th St.
In addition, Charlotte Street will be host of Open Studios Weekend on April 29 and 30 at Town Pavilion, 6th Floor, 1111 Walnut St., to offer a chance to interact with more than two dozen artists and see performances. For a full schedule, go to https://issuu.com/charlottestreetfoundation.
The Star caught up with Kligman at La Esquina, a gallery at 1000 W. 25th St.
Q: You’re gearing up for your annual Open Studios weekend. What can visitors see and do there?
A: Open Studios is one of my favorite things Charlotte Street does all year.
It’s a great opportunity to meet artists that are often newer to the Kansas City community — either transitioning to the KC art community from another city or from school.
The range of artists in the residency is really wide. We have fiber artists Neil Goss and Lauren Sobchak working on giant looms — the looms themselves are interesting to see. The artists have really different approaches: Lauren sometimes makes functional things like scarves and also experiments with sculpture, and Neil creates tapestries but also stage backgrounds and sets.
We also have an animator, Molly Garrett; a group of photographers, Archive Collective; as well as writers, performers, painters and sculptors.
Q: You told me the studio residency promotes collaborations among artists. Can you give us some examples of that?
A: Max Adrian is a sculptor that came to the residency because he was excited about being around performers. His work is evolving to include elements of stage design, costume and puppetry.
And Paris of the Plains is a podcasting group that uses the residency for space, but also as a network for encountering artists and performers that they feature in the podcast.
Q: Saturday the activities switch to Paragraph Gallery and nearby Oppenstein Park. What can visitors see and do there?
A: In addition to the exhibition at the gallery, we are hosting a podcast listening party, artist/curator talk, and a live performance by Amado Espinoza and collaborators. Amado is interested in indigenous instrumentation, and he’s working on a large-scale performance for later in the year. He crafts a lot of his own instruments and draws inspiration by collaborating with other performers and dancers.
Q: Charlotte Street is best known for its Rocket Grants, $6,000 awards to artists of exceptional promise with no strings attached. How has that program evolved?
A: We launched the $10,000 no-strings Charlotte Street Awards in 1997, and we now give three a year plus two more for performance, which were added later. Those grants, together with the Rocket Grants, which are in partnership with the Andy Warhol Foundation and the Spencer Museum of Art (at the University of Kansas) are really critical because they push innovation and cultivate new and challenging ideas. We are in the throes of making selections for Rocket Grants right now.
Over the years we have expanded the other two pillars of the foundation as well: the studio residency and exhibitions, programs and performances at La Esquina. We have open call for those, so anyone at any time can apply to have a program or exhibition at Charlotte Street.