This public program will take place tomorrow: 

Wednesday, May 2, from 6.30 – 8.30 PM, at Paragraph & Project Space / 21-23 East 12th St., KCMO.

This will be a draw-listen-speak event.

Our invited speakers will address a topical situation in which Kansas City is negotiating the use of public space by citizens.

Doug Bonney, chief counsel and legal director at the ACLU of Kansas and Western Missouri, will address the rights all people have as they move through city streets, touching on issues such as the right to gather peaceably,  loitering, and curfews in the Plaza.

Councilman John A. Sharp will address questions and ideas about how to simultaneously ensure public safety and protect private property.

Individuals connected with artist Jamie Burkart’s table-top reenactments of the April 2010 flash mob in the Plaza have also been invited to share their perspectives. Time will be provided for asking questions and for discussion. The format will be informal, respectful and directed at increasing awareness.

During the conversation, the audience will be provided with materials to doodle, collage, and draw personal maps of Kansas City related to experience, memory, observation, or hope. If they wish, they can add their map to the display in the gallery at the end of the evening.

Beating the Bounds is a curatorial focus of the Frontier show, examining the boundaries between public and private space in our city, and asking questions about those spaces that we call ”the commons”.


Tehching Hsieh, Timeclock

Saturday April 7, 2 PM, La Esquina (temporary home of the Speakeasy Cultural Center!)

Speakeasy Exchanges are conversational platforms designed to draw on the collective knowledge and experience of all participants. Rather than reinforcing the roles of expert panel and attentive audience, invited guests in this series will come prepared with questions to stimulate and guide public discourse.

David Hammons, Bliz-aard Ball Sale

The first conversation will be concerned with the complex ways in which artists work – both for themselves and for others. How do artists maintain an active and creative personal practice while earning a living or supporting a family? How does earning money interface with the gift economy at the core of many art practices? What makes the difference between alignment, synergy and compromise?  How do the burgeoning “creative industries” impact other kinds of creative labor that are experimental, immaterial or provocative? Should artists be paid more for the work they do, or is there more creative freedom to be gained in inventing different kinds of value? Come down to the Speakeasy for a drink, and bring your ideas and experiences to the conversation.

Questioners include:

Julia Cole is an artist, community strategist and educator, who affirms that social practice as an art form does not earn a living. She makes a modest income working part-time in a non-profit arts organization and by making public art. She enjoys the freedom, but wishes full-time creative engagement came with social benefits like health insurance and a retirement plan.

David Dowell is a principal at El Dorado architects. Eldo is a progressive company that supports and works with artists, and is creatively exploring a practice of radical pragmatism. The result is a quasi-commercial enterprise that offers both personal challenges and satisfactions.

Eric May is self-employed. He is the owner of a Chicago gallery called Roots & Culture that exhibits innovative and progressive work by emerging artists. He has also developed a business from his own creative, relational practice, known as E-Dogz Mobile Culinary Community Center (featured at the Speakeasy on Friday April 6th).

Jordan Stempleman is a poet, and also works as an adjunct professor at a local art school. He believes that both of these “jobs” are viewed with a kind of superfluous necessity that leads to a severe undervaluation (spiritually and economically). But he also feels there is a certain vantage point and perspective that is gained (gifted?) from the near anonymity and movement within a class system.

More information:

Dimitri Lecossis, Ne Travaillez Jamais

Maurizio Cattelan, A Perfect Day, 1999

Here are some links and readings that you might find useful in thinking about this conversation, but there is no expectation that you will read any or all of them. Looking forward to seeing you on March 3, 11 AM at La Esquina! There will be coffee and cake! (See the post below this one for a full description of the topic).

Please let me know at julia (at) colosser (dot) com if you will be coming so we can prepare the space! (email address altered to deter spambots – normal conventions apply!)

This short text is from the preface to the show What Is And What Should Never Be? Art After the End of the World, 

a discussion platform for the 1st Kyiv Biennial of Contemporary Art ARSENALE,

 March – April 2012

, curated by Ekaterina Degot

Art is quite comfortable with the idea of the end of art. But how can art deal with the end of the world? 

The popular fantasy of the end of the universe coming in 2012 has recently acquired an unexpected political meaning: it indicates the growing conviction that the world as we know it should end. In fact, the resounding crash of global financial capitalism and spectacular manifestations of discontent all over the world are telling us that the world of unrestrained consumption is already on its deathbed. There is an urgency not to wait passively until the system decomposes itself – until ‘the world ends’ – but to start inventing a new world, the one that will come after the current apocalypse.

An utopist tradition of artistic reinvention of society becomes a political necessity nowadays. The titular question of the platform and the upcoming publication – ‘what is and what should never be?’ – is addressed not to professional politicians and economists, but rather to artists, philosophers, activists and theoreticians. We expect that the answers to this question will contribute to a process of inventing our post-apocalyptic world anew, with a particular focus to the situation of ‘art after the end of the world’. We are aware of the pivotal role of the very institution of contemporary art inside neocapitalist order – contemporary art with its logic of innovation and post-industrial immaterial practice, with its spirit of resistance (profoundly defeatist) and its critical attitude (so easily domesticable). In any case we believe that artistic ability to see horizons of an uncertain future, to create the vector of the possible is priceless.  GROUPTHINK: The brainstorming myth by Jonah Lehrer  “I am searching for field character” by Joseph Beuys, 1973 Adrian Piper: Notes on Funk I-II 1985/83 The Possibility and Moral Relevance of Absolute Certainty in Science by Alonzo Fyfe—The-Winners-Edge&id=2605608 The Power of Certainty – The Winner’s Edge by Dr. Raymond Comeau Anger, Politics and the Wisdom of Uncertainty by Lee Drutman

The proposed topic for this discussion is “agency or being?”.

Elene Rakviashvili Where You Belong 2010


This gathering will take advantage of the welcoming space created in Ari Fish‘s upcoming High Seas Low Planes installation at La Esquina to think about ways of responding to and initiating change. If you have suggestions for short readings on either of these “positions” please submit them here. The final reading choices, if any, will be sent out to all participants in mid February, to leave time for completing the reading before the gathering on Saturday March 3. The group will meet from 11 AM to 12.30 PM. If you are not already on the SWALK email list, please leave a message here to receive updates about this conversation.

There are strong arguments to be made for actively engaging in creative change, for imagining new futures and then leading or participating in large-scale actions to make these ideas take form as quickly and gracefully as possible. Does this commitment include resisting change as well, if this runs counter to one’s vision? How do we derive the moral certainty required to persist in the face of resistance? Is the passion of an “opponent” in a struggle for change of any value? Does the struggle itself engender more resistance and slow the process of change?

In contrast, might there be persuasive value in a more responsive, local pattern of life, that relies on setting an example, modeling magnetic alternatives, practicing a peaceful attention to changing conditions and adopting adaptive personal strategies? Is resisting change futile? Is it better to deflect force or resistance by yielding to it and transforming the energy into something new? Is this a practical strategy for a contemporary world deep in many troubles? Is there time for depth any more?

Might these ways of being interact, and provide a vital alternative to apathy or obedience? If so, what might such a hybrid look like in a model of personal and collective decision-making or governance?
Please bring your thoughts and experiences, and let’s talk together!

Our smart colleagues at the H&R Block Artspace are hosting a book reading and conversation associated with their new exhibit “On-Screen: Global Intimacy”.

To Participate

Read Edwidge Danticat’s book, Create Dangerously. There are limited copies of the book available at the Artspace. It is also available at the Kansas City Public Library, KCAI Jannes Library, Barnes & Noble, and on Then join one or both of the following events at the Artspace:


Wednesday, February 23, Noon – 1:00 pm

A conversation about the book

Saturday, March 5, Noon – 2:00 pm

A tour of the exhibition and a conversation about both the book and the exhibition

More information: Reading Room – Create Dangerously

There is also an open call for videos associated with the exhibition.  In what ways does globalization reach Kansas City? You can share your experience of globalism by creating a one-minute video for the project, 60-Second Take: The Local Face of Globalism.

More information: Open Call for Videos – 60 Second Take

Here are a couple of .pdf documents of articles that relate to the Jerry Salz “democratization of art criticism through online chat” phenomenon.

The Many Friends of Jerry Saltz


There is also this brief video connected to the Bravo TV show “Work of Art”, ( and I am sure many of you may have visited his writing on the New York magazine’s Vulture blog (for example: then or at other times.  I think these are interesting because they not only raise questions about what contemporary critique is, in both a specialized and general sense, but also about the nature of virtual communication.

If you would prefer this topic and will be attending on January 22nd, please click on the title of this post and reply here with an X

This is a great video of a presentation at the Walker Art Center this last summer by Stephen Duncombe. The title of the talk is “Utopia Is No Place: The Art and Politics of Impossible Futures”. The suggestion came from Sean Starowitz after the recent presentation at Grand Arts by Rob Walker, and it stirs up a lot of interesting questions about how change might happen via magnetism towards something rather than an impulse away from something else. It is 65 minutes long including audience questions. Here is the link:

If you would prefer this topic and will be attending on january 22nd, please click on the title of this post and reply below with an X

We held our first meeting at Grand Arts in Kansas City, on Saturday December 4th, 2010. This is the list of conversation topics that were suggested by everyone in the gathering. I have grouped some different participants’ suggestions together where there was congruency.

+ several people spoke about their interest in focused conversations in response to a shared stimulus such as an article or a topic that could be researched beforehand

+ several people spoke about a desire to connect with others about sustainable lives. self-sustenance, beekeeping, food, community gardening etc.

+ alternative community spaces

+ the role that Kansas City plays in the larger nation, a sense of place

+ conversation itself, how to create conversation groups that are less homogenous, conversations across boundaries. multigenerational

+ the feminine aspects of community structures and connection

+ globalisation, transnationalism, translation

+ environment, ecosystems, land use, water use

+ how we have become what we are, evolution of the cultural/social fabric

+ gender identity

+ walking

+ contemporary art topics, art ecosystems

+ comuunication beyond words, aspects of visual communication that transcend polarization

+ technology in our lives

+ smallness and the ordinary

+ immediacy and its relationship to sustainability

+ local current events

+ dreams

+ dance, culture, leisure, work

+ compassion, sharing, oneness with spirit, wholeness, completeness

+ magic

+ emotional frontiers, emotional maturity. emotional self-awareness

+ alternative economies

+ listening, observing what we choose to remember. take into ourselves, listening for what has been lost in daily life

If you were not able to be part of this initial gathering, but would like to refine or add to this list. please post here… xo

Most people at our first gathering felt that a regular, consistent structure for conversation would work best for them, and the suggested frequency was once a month. This structure will be flexible enough that people could come in and out of participation depending on the fullness of their lives. The idea is that this group will not have a single leader, but be driven by the energy and ideas of any participant who would like to convene a conversation. I am happy to maintain the blog and facilitate the birth of SWALK, but it is my hope that it will be a child of our community as a whole.

So, it’s time to choose a specific topic/reading and date for January. How about Saturday January 22nd, 10 AM to 11.30 AM? Would a different time work better, like a weekday evening? Since this it not firmed up yet, please send any thoughts about the proposed day/time.

I would be willing to secure a venue for this next meeting – unless someone in the group would like to host. In looking over the list of topics so far (in the Conversation Topics category on this blog), does anyone have an article or a link that would provide material for a first  discussion? Post here and we can see how much interest it generates!

You are welcome to send the blog information to anyone you think would enjoy sharing thoughtful conversation, and they can join the list by subscribing.

The Discussion category is here for anyone who would like to share resources that connect with previous conversations.