Host/producer Maria Vasquez Boyd talks with artist Christopher Leitch, KCAI Crossroads Gallery Director Michael Schonhoff, Guildit Founder Susana Bruhn,, and artist Christel Highland.
Christopher Leitch is a multifaceted artist, a Buddhist adept at balancing the insistence of self with the workings of chance and the unexpected. Following early acclaim as a textile innovator, Leitch turned his focus to word works.
Featuring scrawled words and phrases in formats ranging from single drawings to multi-piece ensembles to room-scaled installations, the word pieces share a crudeness and immediacy arising from Leitch’s use of various self-distancing techniques, including writing upside-down and backwards or with closed eyes. Words are also a key element in Leitch’s long-running series of “dream drawings,” pairing intimate narratives with fanciful images of the bizarre encounters and occurrences that populate his nocturnal imaginings. “I’ve been making dream drawings and diaries since age 17,” Leitch said in a recent interview at his Merriam studio, where black boxes hold stacks of the drawings he has created since 2010. That’s when he devised the format he is using now, of typed descriptions around an area of white space. “I make notes when I wake up; then I type a detailed description,” Leitch said. Later he adds watercolor images in the allotted white space, using spinners and dice to determine which paragraph he will illustrate. Chance has always played an important role in Leitch’s work. So has discipline. He describes his routine of daily writing as “a regular part of Buddhist practice of developing qualities of mind and being observant.”
Leitch’s accounts of his dreams are vivid and detailed. Friends and family members, do certain settings. “Lots of things happen inside cars, restaurants and gardens,” Leitch said.
The images range from surreal, such as his portrayal of a dwarf in a shopping cart, to sweet. A charming vignette shows a hawk asleep in a shoe box; cats weave through many of these scenes.
Why the fascination with dreams? One obvious reason is their freedom from conscious control. They are also exceedingly private. “I had attended seven schools by 8th grade,” Leitch said. “Those rapid-fire life changes made me more of an introvert, which gave me a way of being in charge in a sea of change.”
The KCAI Crossroads Gallery: Center for Contemporary Practice is pleased to present chance diaries: dream things by Christopher Leitch. This exhibition and gallery residency includes new objects and drawings detailing the artist’s extensive dream journals. Leitch has had a wide-ranging artistic career as a costume designer, artist, illustrator, actor, graphic designer, and museum director. He earned his Master of Arts in Visual Arts from Goddard College in Vermont, and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Kansas City Art Institute (’84 Fiber). His works have been included in solo and group exhibitions across the United States, and have been published in Art in America, New Art Examiner, American Craft, and Surface. Leitch lives and works in Merriam, Kan.
“Chance operations are not necessary when the actions that are made are unknowing.” – John Cage
Opening Reception: Friday, February 2 from 6 – 8 p.m.
Public Program: Gallery talk with the Artist on Saturday, February 10 at noon
Michael Schonhoff Director of KCAI Crossroads Gallery: Center for Contemporary Practice- In 2015, a longtime supporter of KCAI generously gifted to KCAI 1819 Grand Boulevard, located in the Crossroads Arts District in Kansas City, Mo. This facility includes two galleries, a large studio space and an artist-in-residence apartment. Renamed KCAI Crossroads Gallery: Center for Contemporary Practice, the location provides an exciting opportunity for the college to extend its curricula to students and our connection with the community. This new facility serves as an experimental site for exhibitions, courses, creative residencies, performances, generative studio practice and special engagements.
KCAI Crossroads Gallery: Center for Contemporary Practice 1819 Grand Blvd.
Kansas City, MO 64108 www.kcai.edu
Christel Highland is a fine artist, clothing designer, curator, writer, entrepreneur, and mother. Her studio practice focuses on elevating natural material. Currently, in her new studio, she’s finished her largest permanent installation in the gorgeous Equitable Building in downtown Des Moines, IA.
Christel is the co-owner and co-curator of Veritable Art, LLC, along with her beautiful and absurdly talented partner Lori Raye Erickson. Veritable Art is a new gallery concept going on a year old now. Currently showing at Veritable Art is Emily Sall, who has produced a next-level body of work. Christel is here to talk about Sall’s show, the rest of their roster, their talented photographer/ collaborator Lauren Schrader, and what they have in store.
Susana Bruhn is GUILDit’s Founder and Executive Director, as well as a visual artist, poet and owner of FluidUI Web Design. She has worked for the Kansas City Art Institute, Hallmark, Sprint, and a number of other organizations as an employee and consultant. Susana has a Masters in Education and a B.F.A. in Art from Iowa State University. She has also founded a local design group, held board positions, and curated art shows.
The founding of GuildIt was a collaboration among its’ Executive Director Susana Bruhn, Ewing M. Kauffman Foundation, Interurban ArtHouse, and ArtsKC. The organizations provided Ms. Bruhn with resources to formally establish GuildIt in 2015. One of her first moves was to invite leaders from various art disciplines to a pre-launch brainstorming session. Some of these leaders become GuildIt’s first advisors, event facilitators, and presenters.
In the past two years, GUILDit has built an excellent reputation in the offerings of forums, panels, and lectures. In addition, we launched GUILDit Bit, an electronic newsletter that highlights art and business entrepreneur opportunities, classes, events, articles, and videos. GuildIt’s Board is completing its first year of governance. Our board and staff are diverse, highly educated, represent various industries, and bring to GuildIt their experience in establishing and succeeding in art, business, education, and nonprofit work.
4th Thursday Forums- Our artists present their business for 6 minutes, followed by 20 minutes of brainstorming on their challenges, goals, and needs. // Forums are 4th Thursdays, 12-1pm, at the beautiful Kemper Museum. On 4/12/18 from 6-8pm at the Johnson County Central Library