ARTNotes: Special gala edition

April 4, 2012

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Two weeks and counting to April 14 gala

Excitement is building toward the long-awaited Kansas City Art Institute gala, which will get under way at 6:30 p.m. April 14 in the Grand Ballroom of the Kansas City Convention Center.  Tickets are $175 per person and may be purchased online at kcai.edu/gala. Proceeds from the event will benefit the student scholarship fund at KCAI, a four-year college of art and design.The theme of the Gala is "Art as Magic: Be Transformed." Organizers promise that guests will have many opportunities during the event to experience the transformational power of art, beginning with the cocktail reception and continuing through dinner, a 45-minute student performance and dancing.

“The power of art is in its ability to transform your thinking –– to turn an idea upside down or literally stop you in your tracks with its beauty,” said Georgianna Londré Buchanan, performance director for the gala. Earlier this year she worked with KCAI students to create costumes that carry out the theme in spectacular and unexpected ways. Other students worked in the college’s animation department, under the direction of KCAI faculty member John Baker, to harness he wizardry of digital media, which also will be part of the student performance.

Guests are encouraged to wear white or include it in their black-tie-optional attire to facilitate full immersion in the magic of the evening, said Steve Metzler and Brian Williams, co-chairs of the gala.

“It’s always amazing to see what the students and faculty come up with for the featured performance at the KCAI gala,” Metzler said. “In my wildest dreams I could not imagine the kind of unforgettable artwork and overall performance experiences they are capable of creating, using a variety of materials and then enhancing these with sound, lighting, animation and digital effects.”

He noted that KCAI graduates over the years have gone on to careers in set design, costume design, lighting, animation and many other fields, using skills they developed while completing Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees at KCAI. Dreamworks, Disney, Pixar and Nickelodeon are just a few of the companies that have hired KCAI alumni, he said.

Metzler and Williams emphasized how important the gala is to the life of the college. “More than 95 percent of KCAI students receive some form of scholarship support,” Williams said. “Scholarships help make it possible for KCAI to attract and recruit the most talented young artists and designers from all over the United States. Anyone who supports KCAI is really making an investment in the future of art.” In alternate years, the college hosts an art and design auction, also a fundraiser for student scholarships.

Pictured: (at top) Photo montage by Tom Styrkowicz shows performance director Georgianna Londré Buchanan (left) and John Baker of the KCAI faculty; (below) KCAI student Christina Lenert Reavis in the fiber studio, working on costumes for the upcoming performance. Photo by Anne Canfield.

Support from sponsors is invaluable

Jacqueline Chanda, Ph.D., president of KCAI, extends thanks to gala sponsors, whose support makes the evening possible.

"Our heartfelt thanks go to all the individuals and organizations who have helped to underwrite the gala eveing that is in store for us," Chanda said. "Without them, something of this scope would simply not be possible, nor would it have the impact so important to all of us: significant support for student scholarships at KCAI."

The Muriel McBrien Kauffman Foundation is the ultimate underwriter of the gala, and DST Systems, Inc., is the gourmet dinner sponsor. Special sponsors are Belger Cartage Service, Inc. (printed program sponsor) and Bryan Cave LLP/Nancy and Herb Kohn (cocktail hour sponsor). Major underwriters are Mrs. Robert A. Marshall and the Sosland Foundation. Underwriters include Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Kansas City; Commerce Bank; Halls Kansas City; Metzler Bros. Insurance; Missouri Bank; Stinson Morrison Hecker; Mrs. Jeannette Nichols; Meg and Bill Zahner; and Annie and Rick Zander. The complete list of sponsors and benefactors is posted on the gala website.

Patron party delights guests at Belger Crane Yard Studios

Evelyn Craft and Dick Belger opened their beautiful loft on March 27 and previewed their Belger Crane Yard Studios, 2011 Tracy Ave., for a magical evening honoring patrons of the Kansas City Art Institute’s April 14 “Art as Magic” gala. Joining the couple in welcoming guests were gala co-chairs Steve Metzler and Brian Williams.

More than 185 guests explored artists’ studios on the lower level and first floor of the building where ceramic artists showed their work and demonstrated “throwing.” Guests also could try their hand at the wheel. Lon Lane (Inspired Occasions) outdid himself with food stations offering virtually every form of comfort food: meatloaf sliders, mini-Reuben sandwiches, gourmet mac-and-cheese, a gorgeous roasted vegetables carving station –– a “first” for Kansas City, said Lane –– and a to-die-for dessert concocted of warm donut holes topped with buttery sauces made with each guest’s choice of rum, brandy or vanilla vodka.

Upstairs, guests mingled at the Lawrence Lithography Workshop and exclaimed over the fascinating décor of the adjoining loft residence, which is filled with furnishings representing the decorative arts of the 20th and 21st centuries: a Wendell Castle chair, a chaise longue by LeCorbusier, lamps by Louis Comfort Tiffany and works by a wide variety of artists, including several by the legendary Ken Ferguson, longtime chair of the KCAI ceramics department.

“What we hoped to emphasize with the patron party is the economic impact that KCAI has on the community,” said Craft, who serves on the KCAI board of trustees. “We hoped people would come away with a recognition that artists are real people who are creating real business. The economic impact is truly significant.”

"We are deeply grateful to Evelyn and Dick for hosting this unforgettable evening," said Jacqueline Chanda, Ph.D., president of KCAI.

Pictured: (at top) As seen in Evelyn Craft and Dick Belger's loft: "Bull" (left) by Ken Ferguson (date unknown) and "Communications" by Duncan McClellan (2001); (below) Evelyn Craft. On coffee table: ceramic work by Rain Harris, who has a studio at Belger Crane Yard Studios and who has taught at KCAI. Photos by Cat Szalkowski ('04 photography).