“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” Winston Churchill

Monday, May 31, 2010

fiona gowin

FG25

Because the dolls were originally made by children, I thought it appropriate to ask a very young artist on this side of the world to participate in the collaborative project.

Fiona just finished second grade. She and her family have been friends of Change the Truth for a while now, and she was excited to have the chance to work on one of the dolls.

Fiona’s favorite subject in school is science. She loves to read books, especially ones about animals. Her pets are Luna (a cat) and Sparkley and Scaley (goldfish).


When I asked her to write about her doll, I received the following description:

“This is a Luna Moth Fairy Doll. The Luna Moth is one of the largest moths in North America. Luna Moths have eyespots on their wings that keep away predators. I think this doll will keep away bad luck, too.”

Sunday, May 30, 2010

tom corbin

TC24

Tom’s introduction and subsequent career in sculpture has been based more on serendipity than calculation. Born in Dayton, Ohio in 1954; Tom’s early fascination in art was inspired by his mother, an art teacher by trade. Despite studying painting and drawing at Miami University, Tom’s original career pursuit was business - as an advertising executive. Tom’s first brush with the third dimension came in a chance meeting with a bronze sculptor in 1982. Classes with this sculptor led to a deepened interest in bronze casting and thoughts of a career in art. In 1986, Tom left the secure confines of his advertising agency job for the unpredictability of life as a full time sculptor. His work now appears in over 20 museums, galleries and showrooms.


In his own words:

“I was initially attracted to the physicality and the dynamic nature of sculpture and was intrigued by the profound impact sculpture can have on an environment. As for bronze casting, the medium dictates a certain sense of tradition and order, which I continue to embrace. The challenge for me is to take the medium and create a tradition of something new.”

From an article written by Blair Schulman for KC Magazine:

"Tom Corbin spends his time channeling creativity through his hands. A low-key but highly respected figure in the KC arts scene, his sensitively crafted bronze statues and furnishings carry the texture and romance of a 21st-century Giacometti. Local installations include the Firefighters Memorial and a work at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, but Corbin's work is also permanently enshrined at the United Nations headquarters. Some of his pieces also have homes in private, A-list collections, including those of California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, actor Jack Nicholson and television personality Ellen DeGeneres. One of his statues had its own scene in an episode of HBO's Golden Globe-winning ‘In Treatment.’ Others have appeared in the films ‘Obsessed’ and ‘It’s Complicated.’”

You can check out Tom's amazing and accomplished work at his website.


The dolls have now been photographed by art object photographer extraordinaire, E.G. Schempf. E.G. is one heck of a photographer and nice guy. He's donating his time and energy to this project. If you are ever in search of a highly skilled object photographer, he is your man.


Everyone can now clearly see the difference between my shots of the dolls and his. E.G.'s will be the images that will be featured in the "Doll Project" book that will be for sale at the fundraiser. Please let me know if you'd like to reserve a copy. The book will sell for $50.00, will be hardbound with a cloth cover. It will feature 38 dolls, along with the artist's names. It will be handsome with good reproductions. Thank you E.G. for helping to make this happen!

Friday, May 28, 2010

julius


Another of my favorite young artists from the orphanage is Julius. He's a quiet, serious boy who is as sweet as they come. One of his drawings was featured on the 2009 Change the Truth t-shirt. When I first showed the shirt to Julius and then gave him one to keep for himself, he almost burst with pride. He hardly ever wears it because he doesn't want to get it dirty; he usually keeps it in the metal trunk that sits at the end of his bed.

These are some of the beautiful paintings he made this past December. Pretty wonderful, don't you think?





Wednesday, May 26, 2010

peregrine honig

PH23

Peregrine is one of Kansas City’s best-known artists. She will undoubtedly become even more well-known when the new Bravo Television series, “Work of Art: The Next Great Artist” premiers Wednesday, June 9th at 10 PM. Peregrine is one of 14 up-and-coming artists competing in NYC for a solo show at the Brooklyn Museum and $100,000. In each episode of the show, contestants will create unique pieces in a variety of mediums: painting, sculpture, photography, collage and industrial design. Guest judges will include photographer Andres Serrano and painter Richard Phillips. It's a very exciting opportunity for Peregrine.


Born in San Francisco, Peregrine attended the Kansas City Art Institute. Her prints were purchased by the Whitney Museum of American Art, establishing her as the youngest living artist to be included in the permanent collection. Her sculptures, imagery, and texts explore themes of sexual vulnerability, trends in disease, and social hierarchies. Peregrine currently curates projects and annual events through, "Fahrenheit," and owns the lingerie boutique "Birdies." Peregrine's work is part of the permanent collections of the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University, the National Museum of Women in the Arts, and The Chicago Art Institute. She has had solo and group exhibits in Santa Fe, Kansas City, and Chicago, New York and across the globe. Peregrine is a recipient of the Art Omi International Artists' Residency, the Charlotte Street Fund, and an Inspiration Grant. An extremely busy artist, she also recently produced the magazine Widow in collaboration with Landfall Press.

Perergine chose not to alter her doll at all, feeling more comfortable making a drawing of it instead. The framed drawing, entitled "Banana Boy" will accompany the doll that inspired it.

Monday, May 24, 2010

paula shteamer and caroline shteamer: mother and daughter

PS21

“A special banana fiber doll, created with love and affection by one of the caring children living at St. Mary Kevin Orphanage, inspired me in ways I never expected. When I volunteered to participate in the Change the Truth Doll Project, I could never have imagined how this creative experience would affect me.

Before I actually met her, I had many thoughts of how I might ‘decorate’ my doll. All of those thoughts, however, flew out of the window when I spotted her on Gloria’s dining room table, and ‘met’ her for the very first time. I took her home, held her, and simply stared, in awe of the long journey that she had made in order to arrive at my door. I felt a strong connection to her creator and to her home. I instantly knew that she was very special and I knew that anything that I might do to alter her appearance must indeed be worthy of her, worthy of the child who had created her from nature and from the heart… and lastly, worthy of me. I loved her instantly and I knew that we would be fast friends… she was indeed a ‘doll’ and I named her ‘Princess Eliza Mae’… honoring two special women who taught me, inspired me, and loved me for much of my life. I then I set out on my journey to add a dimension of myself to Eliza’s unique personality.

As an interior designer, I instinctively knew that I wanted to adorn my princess with color, texture, shape and sparkle … I wanted her to excite the senses. I wanted to emphasize her natural beauty. In order to link Princess Eliza Mae’s history with my own, I gathered and utilized materials that have special meaning to me… a connection from special design projects on which I have worked. I lovingly included unique yarns to adorn her dress... very special yarn fragments that remained from exquisite projects my darling, sweet mother had created years before. All of the materials I used were recycled and joined together in a whole new combination and arrangement. As I worked, memories flowed, and the creative process was exhilarating for me.

My hope is that the amazing child who actually created and crafted Princess Eliza Mae from natural banana fibers growing halfway around the world in Uganda, would be proud and happy to know how much his or her creation inspired me. One thing I know is true… ‘clothes do not make the man…or the doll.’ I know in my heart that Princess Eliza Mae was completely perfect before my creative process ever began. I simply added a bit of trimming to her already-perfect self. And, I might add, I was honored to do so." - Paula


CS22

“I knew I was out of my league as soon as I was asked to be a part of the action, but nevertheless, I was honored. I knew I could not pass up the opportunity to work with such a fantastic organization, among a group of such accomplished men and women. Unfortunately, it is not often enough that I have the chance to help someone else in a charitable way, and for the opportunity to do so, I am extremely thankful.

To be called an ‘artist’ seems a bit overstated. Although, I have never categorized myself as such, I have always enjoyed the creative process and I have, throughout the years, been extremely thankful for the invaluable artistic talents passed down to me from my mother. Beginning at a young age, I knew it was inevitable that art would become a constant part of my life.

Currently working as an Elementary Art Teacher for the Shawnee Mission School District, it is not every day (or even every month) that I come home and have the desire to create. However, as soon as I received my doll, the beautifully crafted banana leaf ‘canvas’ screamed at me, and the wheels began to turn (as they often do when I get excited about creating). Beginning with the stand, I worked my way up to her head, adding modest embellishments along the way. The doll itself, the natural coloring of the banana leaves, and my students with their constant energy, all served as my inspirations for this piece. Hopefully, after all of the paint, the beads, the sequins, and the painted cloth, my doll represents a harmonious little lady, with a whimsical and playful personality.” - Caroline

Sunday, May 23, 2010

patricia caviar

PC20

"While working with the doll I experienced an increasing awareness of the child, its creator and this ultimately dominated my creative, decision-making process. I felt the doll was perfect and complete as envisioned by the child. My efforts in adorning her became attempts to seamlessly integrate rather than infuse, so the original beauty of the doll would take center stage.


I have been the art instructor for the Heritage Center at the Jewish Community Center for the past ten years. My students are a very vital 65-95 years young. They do not let limitations stand in the way of creative growth and living. I have been humbled and inspired by these remarkable people. Most of my career has been spent in positions where I was able to use my love and experience of fine art, among them: art consultant for the city of Portland, Maine, art therapist for the Cumberland County Jail, art instructor for underprivileged children in an outward bound winter camping program and youth after school drop-in centers, free-lance commercial artist, high school art teacher."

Patricia painted tiny animals on the edge of each leaf. That and the use of false eyelashes (some she had saved for years and years just waiting for the right opportunity to re-use) are just some of the details I love about this doll. Patricia is another of the artists who will be featured in the film to be shown on the night of the fundraiser!

Friday, May 21, 2010

kim higgins

KH19

“Am I a painter? A muralist? As a teacher at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, I find my medium to be whatever demonstration I’m doing to introduce a lesson. Without a meaningful body of work, my artistic energy largely goes into the process of looking and connecting.

I can see some consistency along the way. I’ve always enjoyed creating with found objects, collecting pocketfuls of interesting sticks and stones. And trees have always fascinated me – dancing in the wind, beckoning me to climb, offering shelter and shade, and shaping my landscape.

So when I met this Ugandan doll made from banana tree fiber I decided to create an environment for her using local trees and the various colors, shapes, and textures of their bark, wood, twigs, buds, and fruit. This assemblage includes parts of a banana tree from Uganda, an acacia tree from Ghana, and cottonwood, maple, walnut, sweet gum, bur oak, curly willow, and pine trees from my neighborhood. The box itself is built of slats from a South American tree used to ship tree fruit. These trees reflect the biodiversity of our planet, like the mythical Tree of Life through which we are all connected.

Nature’s cycles of growth and new life hold great hope for the world. If we could see diversity – of trees and of people – as a wealth of potential in the web of life, what WOOD we do?”

Kim in Ghana

I am so grateful to each of these artists, not only for their creative energy, but also for the incredible amount of thought they have put into their dolls. Kim, like many of the others, has used found objects to embellish the organic nature of the original doll, and she obviously gave a lot of thought to the meaning behind each choice. These artists continue to amaze me; the connections they’re making between the doll and themselves, the doll and the child who made it and the doll and the world at large are truly inspiring.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

kelly buntin johnson

KBJ18

There are so many incredibly interesting things to say about Kelly. I wouldn't really know where to begin if I were to try to mention them all. Please read this article by Bill Hankins and you'll see what I mean.

I had never met Kelly and basically made a "cold call" to ask if she'd be be part of the doll project.

Am I ever glad she said yes. I am learning a lot from this woman, I continue to be blown away by her work and I am grateful to finally have made her acquaintance.

Kelly chose to transmute her banana fiber doll into an "Intercessor." The Intercessors make up a body of work that has become an outlet for her environmental concerns; Kelly honors endangered species and through her artwork brings their plight to the attention of all the rest of us. This Crowned Crane, the national bird of Uganda, is a fitting contribution to our doll project. See other Intercessors (and more of her work) at Kelly's website, Diddy-Wa-Diddy.

The case mask (in Hopi Kachina fashion) is made of leather, from a pattern Kelly drew. It is hand sewn and painted. The dress is the color of a crane's body with the words Uganda and Vulnerable (a reference to the birds AND to the children) painted on the front. To make the dress, Kelly sketched a pattern and sewed it by hand from salvaged vintage fabric. The dyed horsehair represents the tall, stiff feathers of the crane's head - that which gives the appearance of a crown.


About Kelly, in her own words:

“I am a native Missourian and self-taught mixed media artist. For twenty plus years, I have beaded and hand-sewn figures and jewelry. My "art supplies" include European glass seed beads, discarded ephemera and bits of bric-a-brac from past generations. I combine holy emblems and relics with assorted trifles from day-to-day living, often adding written narrative as the new creation comes to life. In this way, the mundane becomes sacred as disparate and unlikely remnants evolve into hand-made figures.

In the 1980s, I began creating pieces for private commission, followed by juried art shows and fairs across America. Since then, museums, galleries, and boutiques that have carried my work include the American Folk Art Museum (New York City), Doodlets (Santa Fe, New Mexico), and the John Michael Kohler Arts Center (Sheboygan, Wisconsin). From 1992 through 1995, my husband, sculptor Rhett Johnson, and I maintained our own art gallery, Diddy Wa Diddy, in the historic river town of Weston, Missouri. In 1998 Rhett and I were honored with our first retrospective show, Partners in Art, at the Toy and Miniature Museum in Kansas City, Missouri.

Since 2000, I have devoted my time and energy to creating a series of Muñecos Santos (Holy Dolls). A group of these Muñecos was on special exhibit at the Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art (St. Joseph, Missouri) and the International Marian Research Institute Library in Dayton, Ohio. Three of these figures appear in the book, 500 Beaded Objects (Lark Books).

I live and work in rural northwest Missouri, near the small town of Dearborn, where Rhett and I share our farm with Gus the Dog. I teach beading and narrative adventures workshops at my studio on the farm as well as for corporate clients, including Hallmark Cards. In addition to creating new pieces, I restore beadwork and stitching on antique clothing and artifacts. When working with these precious pieces I continue to be amazed and inspired by the exquisite skill and imagination of the craftswomen who came before me.”

Kelly's Crowned Crane is a special piece; it was made with a lot of care and fierce attention to detail. She is a mad researcher and even gave me a list of really interesting facts about the Crowned Crane, like... she is 3 feet tall, has a 7 foot wingspan when in flight, lives an average of 22 years and mates for life. How cool is that?

Oh, yes. Her husband, artist Rhett, made the stand for the doll. He's a whole other story!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

charmalee gunaratne

CG17

“Shine to souls and wings to dreams” the theme of Charmalee’s doll was inspired by Nicky’s story and his happy smile.

“I was reading Gloria’s blog and was realizing how different these children would be without the love of the St. Mary Kevin Orphanage and Change the Truth. Now they get strong support to smile and dream of their future. “

Charmalee received her Masters of Architecture in 2001 and is a licensed architect in Sri Lanka. Passion for affordable sustainable and socially responsible architecture has been the focus of her work. Living in Sri Lanka, her involvement with designing a “Children Resource Center” funded by UNICEF during the cease fire period in a war-battered zone, opened her journey to this path. Her notable achievement was developing “Reducing Rainwater Harvesting Systems cost for Poorest of the Poor Globally” with University of Warwick, Coventry, UK. The successful prototypes were later implemented in rural Sri Lanka, Uganda and Ethiopia. Funded by Standerford Scholarship, she expanded her knowledge to develop technologies for displaced people at “Environment Seminar & Pallet Workshop” at Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana.

Charmalee shares her thoughts and ideas on these issues at ECO ABET.

As Director of Outreach Design at Summit Architecture in Kansas City, she continues to pursue her passion for developing affordable sustainable architecture. She strongly believes that architects have the power to overcome homelessness globally.

Throughout last year, as the director of Women in Design Kansas City, she themed the year “Outreach” and did numerous outreach programs with the design community.

Charmalee is also an artist and a sculptor, and her work has been exhibited at A-E-C Community, Women in Art (Women in Design Kansas City) and Monsters of Design (Young Architects Forum).


She showed up at my house with two dolls; I couldn't convince her to leave the real one, little Hiru, with me. Darn.

Monday, May 17, 2010

susan white

SW16 12" x 20"

“I work in a variety of media. My primary forms are pyrographs or burn drawings, thornworks, and video/installation. 
Drawing has kind of wandered in through the back door and found a place in the middle of the room. I see the thornworks, constructions made from thorns of the honey locust tree, as three dimensional drawings, like crosshatch drawings in many ways, each mark responding to the one that came before.”

Susan currently is a participant in the City One Minutes Project in Amsterdam and is the recipient of a Lighton Grant in support of an artist residency in Japan in 2010. Among numerous other venues, her work has been exhibited at the Salina Art Center, the Bemis Center in Omaha and the Byron Cohen Gallery. In 2008 she collaborated with architectural historian, Cydney Millstein, on an exhibition at the Paragraph Gallery, as part of Kansas City’s Urban Culture Project. White is a graduate of the Kansas City Art Institute, has pursued graduate studies at Rhode Island School of Design, and is an adjunct professor at UMKC. Her work is held in numerous private and corporate collections, the latter of which include Sprint, Hallmark and H&R Block.


Look for Susan in the Lynne Melcher film about the doll project. Lynne’s beautiful and moving documentary will be shown on the evening of the Change the Truth fundraiser.

Also, take a look at Susan's website to get a fuller sense of the different media in which she is involved.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

amy meya

AM15 18" x 15"

Amy is a self-taught ceramic artist. Her education includes living and working in the Netherlands for five years, as well as extensive travel throughout Europe. She has studied at the Kansas City Art Institute, and she was a two- year exhibitor at the Buyer's Market of American Craft in Philadelphia.

A one-woman show at the Langman Gallery in Pennsylvania and numerous other solo exhibitions in the Kansas City area have put Amy, an artist who is definitely interested in folk-art, on the map.

Her work is simply lovely and joyous. (And, she is too.) Her current interest in bird imagery evolved through watching sparrows, cardinals, and goldfinches visit sunflowers outside her window with her young children, through regular walks in the woods and camping.


Here is an excerpt from Amy's blog. I think it sums up the excitement and positive response her work is getting.

“My dream gallery, The American Folk Art Museum in New York re-ordered work from me, that is a good sign that this could be a lasting relationship.

Haven Gallery in Austin, Tx is going to take a fair amount of work from me for the holidays, mostly larger work, and I am really excited about that. Although I haven't been there personally, I hear it is an amazing gallery.

And this month Phoenix Gallery in Lawrence asked me to be the featured artist! So, things are going ok."

I'll say.

Amy's piece is pretty unbelievable. I keep going over to the dining room table where it sits just so I can keep looking at it.

Friday, May 14, 2010

ivan

One of our doll artists, Lee, recently won the coveted Sloan Art Award at Pembroke Hill High School here in Kansas City. (His doll and bio will be posted soon.) When I heard this exciting news, I got the idea to bestow an honorary art award to one of the kids at St. Mary Kevin Orphanage.

(drumroll…)

My made-up art award goes to..... ta-da!... Leku Ivan!


Ivan can sit at a table drawing or painting ALL DAY LONG. He gets so excited when we first show up and start unpacking the art supplies. I can just see the gears turning inside his head as he eyes the new boxes of pastels, the fresh brushes and pencils, canvas, tablets of paper and jars of acrylic paint. In the “art room,” he positions himself by the window for good light, and it is not until it starts to get dark outside that he finally begins cleaning up for the day.

Not only is he totally committed to making art when given the opportunity, he is happiest when doing so.

Plus, he’s very talented.

Ivan’s work gets scooped up pretty quickly at our fundraisers. Here are a few of the pieces we’ll have on hand this year. I think you’ll see why his work is so popular.






Here is Ivan’s story, in his own words:

“My story is that before I came to St. Mary Kevin, I lived with my mother plus my father as a family. But one day my father went to his job, He was a farmer and he liked the animals. By the time he reached the garden, he saw a big snake and the big snake saw him too. The snake injected him and he did not tell anyone. So the following day he died. During 2005, my mother was knocked by a car when she was crossing the road. So even she died. After that I lived with my grandmother. In 2006 she brought me here to St. Mary Kevin. Mama Rosemary liked me because I was hard working. She loved me and fed me. She wanted me to become an important person.

Thank you to Change the Truth supporters for everything you have done for all of us. You love us as your own children.”

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

shane evans

SE14 20" x 8"

In the world of illustration, design and creative development, Shane is a multi-talented artist and visionary. This extremely busy young man graduated from Syracuse University School of Visual and Performing Arts in 1993 and then began traveling the world and working hard.

In addition to contract work in illustration, graphic design and web design for major companies, he has conceptualized and illustrated nearly 30 children’s books. His books have been featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Today Show, NBA Inside Stuff, Reading Rainbow and Late Night with David Letterman. Shane has received much acclaim in the children’s literary field for his work on children’s books such as "Osceola," "The Way The Door Closes," "Shaq and the Beanstalk" and "Take It To The Hoop Magic Johnson." He was honored by First Lady Laura Bush at the 2002 National Book Festival and has received the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award and The Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Non-Fiction for Children.


Shane also designs unique hand crafted furniture, clothing and CD cover art. His "Dream Studio" in Kansas City is a hot spot for musical performances and artist presentations/exhibitions.

He has been to Africa to share his passion for the arts; lots of lucky children have benefitted from his infectious enthusiasm and his cool energy. Shane truly understands what Change the Truth is all about and was really happy to be part of this project.

Words and drawings from his book "Olu's Dream" are what adorns his doll. A copy of the book is included and will go to the successful bidder.

To fully appreciate the dizzying array of projects in which Shane is involved, you should make some time to visit his website.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

michelle beasley

MB13 16" x 7"

“I loved doing my doll; it made me feel like a kid again! I was given the opportunity to meet Gloria through a fellow artist, and once I sat down and talked with her I realized what a wonderful experience this could be. The children that this project helps are impressive, and I am so excited about using my creative talents to support them.”

Michelle Beasley was born and raised in Kansas City and has studied here, as well. She is presently attending Webster University. Michelle is an accomplished, self-taught artist. She utilizes a variety of media, including charcoal, watercolor, acrylic, plaster and oil. She is partial to watercolor because of its ability to layer - which ultimately defines her emotional investment in a piece better than anything else. Michelle uses a canvas background to achieve a faux acrylic appearance. The work invokes a vibrant and highly personal tone. Her passion for quality and detail are obvious in every piece she creates.


Michelle gets her inspiration from people she knows and places she visits. Her strongest inspiration, however, comes from her loving and supportive husband and fellow artist, J. Leroy Beasley (read May 7th post). He provides her with a sense of strength, support and challenge. This gives her the freedom, confidence and joy she needs to reach further, wider and deeper as an artist.

I love that Michelle chose to put a jump rope in this girl-doll's hands. At every turn in Uganda, on the side streets in the cities, on the dusty roads of the villages and on the grounds of the orphanage itself, I always see groups of girls entertaining themselves by jumping rope together. Just like girls in other parts of the world, they call out rhyming songs, chants, games or stories, their feet hitting the ground and the rope swinging heavily above their heads with each up and downbeat. Of course, there is always a lot of laughing involved, and Michelle's doll looks like she's well on her way to doing just that.

Monday, May 10, 2010

robert quackenbush

RQ12 15" x 10"

Weighing in at just under six pounds, this doll by Robert Quackenbush is amazing. The base is steel, and the wings are sculpted copper. Robert made this doll in collaboration with Reilly Hoffman. They chose not to interfere with the integrity of the doll itself, leaving it intact and in full view; what they chose to add are these intricate, bold and gorgeous angel wings.

Robert's website is definitely worth checking out!

In his own words:

“When I was twenty-five, I knew that I was supposed to be a painter. Ultimately, it took me another twenty-five years to get to a point where I had the freedom to pursue this dream on a full-time basis. During the intervening years I spent my available free time in art school. Wherever I lived I found a place to go to school. It started in Philadelphia at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art and it continues to this day. Whenever I had a place to use as a studio, I painted. When I didn’t have space, I painted in my head. In 1996, I was able to free myself to paint on a full-time basis. I got into two group shows in 1997, and since then I have had many one-man shows and participated in numerous group exhibitions.

For almost four years ending in 2002, I participated in the Empire State College (SUNY) Studio Art Program. It was an opportunity to create work in New York City and have it critiqued by renowned artists, museum curators, art historians and art critics. For example, my work received favorable critiques on three occasions from Robert Storr (then curator of painting and sculpture at The Museum of Modern Art).

From 1996-2005, I had an opportunity to study with Alexander Shundi almost every Monday afternoon in his studio in Amenia, New York. Alex taught me how to see, how not to be afraid of my imagination, and, most of all, how to create work that made uncommon sense. I owe Alex a great debt of thanks.

I credit the time I spent at Empire State’s Studio Program, as well as the invaluable opportunity to work with Alex Shundi, as the two most important components to any success I have had as an artist.

In early 2005 I moved from my studio in the South Bronx to my new studio in Leawood, Kansas. Since moving to Kansas, I have had thirteen one-man shows. In 2006 I was invited to join the Hand Print Press, a group of printmakers working out of UMKC. In 2008 I opened a sculpture studio in Bucyrus, Kansas to develop work in stone, wood and metal.


Since moving to Kansas, my work has been added to many private collections, as well as to the corporate art collections of Sprint/Nextel, American Century Investments, Emprise Bank and West Plaza Properties.

For me, each day is full of new ideas and I am blessed with great facilities to explore these ideas.”

Sunday, May 09, 2010

want to bid?

I have heard from several readers who live outside the Kansas City area and who would like to bid on these wonderful dolls. If you cannot attend the Change the Truth fundraiser on June 25th at the Leedy-Voulkos Art Center and are interested in placing a bid, please email me. Just let me know which doll(s) you like along with the top price you're willing to pay. I'll make sure you become part of the bidding.

Remember, all proceeds go toward food, education and special projects for the children at St. Mary Kevin Orphange Motherhood in Uganda. As they say on public television: "bid now and bid high!"

Friday, May 07, 2010

j. leroy beasley

JLB11 20" x 7"

“My creative focus on the doll moved me to use both what I do as an artist and what I do in work. It made me feel good combining these talents and finding inspiration from all the children (including my own son) whom I’ve taught or given advice to over the years. So I share, thru this doll, my love for art and helping kids.”

J. Leroy Beasley was born in College Station, Arkansas in 1958. He is a strong-minded tradesman who, over the years, has discovered and nurtured a passion for the arts. He is a self-taught sculptor who has recently added photography and painting to his repertoire of naturally developed talents. Sculpting has always come naturally to him. He uses no molds or pre-fired castings; all of the work he creates is passionately formed by his own hands - freeform.


Leroy focuses on capturing strong, subtle & insightful details often overlooked in the confusion of daily life. Family members, as well as his own physical surroundings inspire his work. His approach is defined and strong - filled with raw emotion - but can also be very tender.

Leroy traveled to several countries in South Africa in December of 2008. He had his camera in hand and made over a thousand pictures of the children of Africa in just a month. He is honing his photography skills with every click of his camera and is excited about this newfound passion.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

philomene bennett

PB10 22" x 7"

Eddie and I have made a point over the years of collecting pieces by local artists. For a long time now, the centerpiece of our living room has been a gorgeous painting by Philomene Bennett. It’s a large canvas that we fell head over heels for in a show at the (now defunct) Jayne Gallery. The painting was made at Philomene’s studio in Cerillos, New Mexico. It’s a slightly skewed still life of flowers, fruits and vegetables on a crazy colored tablecloth with the serene blue sky and mountains of the southwest coming in through a window in the background. We love it.

I was thrilled when Philomene agreed to participate in the doll project. Not only is she a fabulous artist, she’s also kind of considered to be the grand dame of the Kansas City art scene. She and her husband (see May 3rd blog post) Lou Marak were co-founders of the (still thriving) Kansas City Artist Coalition in 1976.


Originally from Lincoln, Nebraska, Philomene received a BFA from the University of Nebraska. Her paintings, ceramics and prints have been included in over 100 solo and group exhibitions throughout the US since she graduated in 1956. She was invited to show her work in the inaugural exhibition at the National Museum of Women in Arts in Washington, DC.

Philomene has done countless commissions. She is a lecturer and keynote speaker. Her work is in many well-known collections throughout the country. She’s been nominated three times for the “National Artists Award.” And at age 75, she shows no signs of slowing down.

Her lovely work speaks for itself. Check it out on her website.

She calls this doll more a “fetish” than anything else. My photo doesn’t really do it justice… it is laced with all sorts of surprising and rich details. Just like her paintings.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

jane voorhees

JV09 16" x 7"

Jane Voorhees earned her BFA from the University of Kansas and her MA in printmaking from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. She teaches printmaking and painting at the Kansas City Art Institute, shows regularly around the country and has just finished her fourth solo show at SOHO20-Chelsea NY. Her work can be found in many important collections, including: The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Nerman Museum, Spencer Museum of Art, Hallmark and Sprint.


Jane was part of the Change the Truth volunteer team that accompanied me to Uganda in 2007. For ten days she gave art lessons to the children and coaxed some really wonderful work out of them. Jane’s experience with the kids was profound, and she has continued to be an active and loving supporter of them. Letters from many of those children arrive regularly at Change the Truth headquarters (my house!) addressed to “Mama Jane.”

I’m a big fan of Jane and her work and am so happy she agreed to take part in this project by making this pretty ballerina.

To see the full scope of Jane's work, please visit her beautiful website.

Monday, May 03, 2010

lou marak

LM08 22" x 7"

Painter, illustrator and cartoonist Lou Marak attended the University of Oklahoma. After a stint in the army, he studied at the Kansas City Art Institute, where he graduated in 1958. Lou went on to work at Hallmark and eventually as a free lance artist.


His work can be found in many collections, including the Mulvane Art Museum, Hallmark, Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art and the Mushnic Art Museum. One-man shows have included exhibitions at the Jayne Gallery, Hallar Gallary and Late Show Gallery in Kansas City.