Charlotte Street’s Studio Residency Program was the 3rd out of 4 artsy stops on the National Main Street Kansas City Downtown Walk of Art. The artist residencies were located on the 6th floor of the Town Pavilion Building. Once we all got out of the elevator we were given brochures and I quickly snapped a photo of the donor plaques and motto: …WE CULTIVATE THE CONTEMPORARY, THE EXCEPTIONAL, AND THE UNEXPECTED IN THE PRACTICE OF ARTISTS WORKING IN AND ENGAGING WITH THE KANSAS CITY ART COMMUNITY.
Charlotte Street Foundation offers free rent for one year term to artists who are accepted. Pat Alexander led our group through a labyrinth of rooms housed by visual artists, writers and performing artists. The artists don’t sleep here only check in to do their thing during the day. The artist residency is a great use of space even though many professionals working on the floor above and below have never even heard of the artists who are there. It is tricky to try to get to this place since 6th floor access is denied at the stair tower entry and elevator door. So much for surprise visits to this place. I got off track, here we go on the tour… Further down the corridor there were rooms shut and locked with creative photos and stickers which gave the place a dorm room feel.
The writer was seated cross legged in front of the only piece of furniture which was a tiny table that came up to his chest. It was like he was channeling some spirits or something. He was very happy to have visitors and tried to do a selfie with all of us shoved in his room but we didn’t fit in there.
The writer’s neighbor was a musician with a fairly small room with a desk and synthesizer. The paint barely has time to dry before this artist will move on to further his career after making connections with other artists. This guy could very well make friends with the graphic artist down the hall and collaborate on a music label for his release.
We went through this place so fast I didn’t get this guy’s name but he was creating a sound track of cassette tapes turning on and off. Cool huh?
When I asked Pat Alexander, director of the Chartlotte Street Program, who pays for the lights to stay on he said, “Copaken-Brooks, that manages Town Pavilion, covers all the utilities with our below market rent. Which is huge for this program!”
Artists can easily interact with each other here especially during Open Studio public gatherings. Someone in our group asked if anybody big has come out of this program and Pat said one artist was able to expand on his art with a earthy studio in New Mexico which is hugely successful. I could see how this high rise idea could easily inspire an artist to seek a space with access to the outdoors. Pat proudly mentioned other start ups like a micro cinema called Stray Cat in the works in downtown Kansas City. It is so underground and cool that I cannot find a link, maybe wait a bit on that one. In the end, artists need to bump off each other, listen to music together and most importantly steal each others ideas. Kansas City definitely has it going on in the arts.