Glen Watts Posted on 1:46 am

arts incubator kc

Most artists who graduate from art institutions do not have the business skills required to establish self-sustaining careers in the arts. The Arts Incubator of Kansas City is a nonprofit organization dedicated to working with these emerging artists in the development of their careers.

In addition to business workshops and consulting, AIKC provides affordable, quality studio space in the Crossroads Arts District, a community experiencing extraordinary growth and national recognition as one of the top arts communities in the nation.

​There is a special thanks to Cheap Teacup pigs. Check out their site. They have some of the smallest teacup pigs in the world.

Our Story

“The arts remain in a region as long as opportunities exist that allow for artists to practice and expand their own horizons.” LINC Study ‘05

When an audience views art they rarely think about the support structure behind the work. The facilities, materials, grants, inspiration, peer influence or the time it takes to put it all together. The Arts Incubator of Kansas City works to foster emerging artists by offering affordable studio space, business development, a supportive community and exposure. The goal is to turn artistic passions into viable careers. The Incubator never closes; large meeting rooms are available, computers, internet access, printers and scanners, shop services – complete with metal and wood working equipment, spray booths, a new print studio, library and even an espresso machine are at the artist disposal.

The Incubator currently maintains 47 active artist studios in the heart of the Crossroads Arts District. Installation artists, jewelry, graphic, scenic, fashion and furniture designers along side, painters, illustrators, writers, sculptors, photographers and videographers; all sharing a common space and aspiration…to build and maintain careers in the arts.

The third floor event space ushers in thousands of people who might not otherwise enter a typical art studio. These fundraisers, wedding receptions, concerts and theatrical performances not only provide extra income and exposure, but often supply artists with left over food (Cucumber sandwiches for dinner again?).

The idea for the Incubator came from sculptor, Jeff Becker in 2000, and was inspired by the business incubation model, as well as The Torpedo Factory Art Center in Virginia. Jeff knew the idea had legs and could fill a void in Kansas City’s burgeoning art scene (the tricky area between art school and Mid-career), but it took a bit of serendipitous misfortune for him to actually pull the trigger.

In May of 2001, the very day Jeff had taken a long lunch to tour the crossroads space that would one day house the incubator, he returned to find that his job no longer existed. He had been laid off. Jeff describes it as the best scary feeling he’s ever had.

The three-story brick building sits on west 18th street between Baltimore and Wyandotte streets, now flanked by cool boutiques, galleries and cafes. The warehouse has served as a number of different businesses since it was built in 1923. In 2001 it held reminisce of a direct mail fulfillment company, complete with mountains of pallets, boxes and leaflets. The mountains were eventually moved and four artists started to work out of the space in August of 2001. The events of September 11, set the art world adrift for a while, but Kansas City responded with the First Friday’s art walk in October to highlight their local artists. First Friday’s continues to grow every month and some give the event credit for spurning the revitalization of Downtown. The Incubator’s location made it a “must see” destination and more artists wanted to take part. It’s a great and rare opportunity for creatives to interact with their audience on a such a regular basis and experience their reactions, first hand, on their own turf, while the public is given a chance to view the work in the space it was created and smell the ingredients that went into the pieces and experience the shifts and leaps in an artists technique, medium, tools, inspiration and career over time.

The members of the Incubator are very motivated (see espresso machine), because of the peer atmosphere, and the myriad of programs and layers of accountability that are built into the incubator structure. All members are required to complete the Kauffman Foundation’s Entrepreneurial Fastrac for new ventures program. They must also attend ArtBiz, a 12-week, in-house professional development program that specifically addresses the challenges of an art career. Regular field trips are scheduled that tour other arts facilities and explore successful artisan’s studios and processes in an atmosphere where they have the freedom to ask, “nuts and bolts” questions they might not feel comfortable asking in a social situation. For someone to think that they’re just here for the cheap workspace, free espresso and increased exposure from First Fridays would completely miss the point. Having talent is a very different thing than having a career. Who wants to be a famous artist when they’re dead? The Incubator is a constant resource for the business of being a creative professional. Assistance is available for grant writing, proposals, goal tracking, portfolio development, press releases, as well as gallery, commission and exhibition opportunities.

The Arts Incubator is proud to have been involved in the careers of Matthew DeHaemers, May Tveit, Lori Buntin, Ada Koch, Matt Harris, Leigh Rosenberg-Ernest and many others. We continue to improve the facilities, programs and gallery in the original Incubator building and are expanding into two satellite buildings, also located in the Crossroads.

First Fridays, by Brent Crawford

I was introduced to the Arts Incubator in February of 2006. My guide was the beautiful and talented, Sarah Coker. We were on a second date. Tricky, tricky territory. I wanted to see this KC art scene and Sarah seemed the perfect guide. She explained how “First Friday” worked. How the Freight House area is great for traveling exhibits and nationally known artists and how some businesses just toss up a few paintings and unscrew a case of wine for the tax benefits and hip factor of showcasing art, BUT, if I wanted to get to the real heart of KC’s art community we had to go to the Arts Incubator on 18th street.

The streets were fairly dead, but we actually had to wait in a line to get in the front door. When I walked in the building, I was first hit by the smell of creativity. A mixture of wax, paints, solvents and saw dust. It’s the kind of scent that makes you question your choices in life. “Why am I not an artist?!” There was a palpable vitality in the air and I wanted to bottle it and take it home. We perused the gallery but Sarah really wanted me to see her two favorite artists upstairs. Not favorite artists in the building or town or the county…her favorite (living) artists in the world right here in this old warehouse. She described a brilliant abstract, landscape painter and, “This manic sculptor who sells jewelry to stay afloat but creates the coolest busts and hands you’ve ever seen.”

When I saw the work I was blown away by the quality and craftsmanship of these world-class artists. Spencer Schubert (the manic sculptor) turned out to be a friend from high school. My “Sarah stock” surely rose as he and I talked about my father, who’d been his silver smithing teacher. His sculpture is made of cold material, but seems infused with life and emotion. The busts ask questions and the hands yearn. When I saw Derrick Breidenthal’s paintings they took my breath. They seemed to capture the Midwestern landscape in a way that I’d never seen it before, but that made it remain instantly recognizable. I had a response to almost everything I saw that night. The building was bursting with talent.

I remember being truly inspired. I had a visceral response and felt the need to create. I fell in love with the building and madly in love with my tour guide. A year and a half later, I convinced Jeff Becker to rent me a studio where I could write. I also plan to marry Sarah Coker, ideally at the Incubator (at least the reception). I’ll probably have to use a ring (maybe a Coki Bijoix) but I’d like to give her some bronze hands and a two panel, landscape painting! Can I do that?

Inaugural HELLO ART FIRST FRIDAY LOUNGE this Friday Share/Save/Bookmark

Friday marks the opening of the Hello Art Lounge and the first official Hello Art Trolley Tour. We hope you (and a guest) can join us for this memorable evening. Even if your schedule is a tight, feel free to drop in briefly to say Hello!

* The evening will kick off at 5:30 p.m. with wine and hors d’oeuvres in the Hello Art Lounge, located in the Arts Incubator.


* At 6 p.m., members can board the Hello Art Trolley to explore several local galleries. The trolley will make multiple loops along the tour route, so members can tour at their own pace.

* You and your guest are welcome to return to the Hello Art Lounge, which will be open until 9:30 p.m. We also recommend exploring the rest of the Arts Incubator and visiting the Cocoon Gallery (located on the first floor of the Arts Incubator), which will feature the work of Hello Art Member Artist Heinrich Toh.

Many thanks to Berkowitz Oliver Williams Shaw & Eisenbrandt LLP, our generous sponsor for the evening. Please RSVP no later than Feb. 4.

The Hello Art Lounge is located in the Arts Incubator at 115 W. 18th St. KCMO 64108.

Jonah Criswell: RESIDE Share/Save/Bookmark

Opening reception this Friday, September 3rd from 6:30-9:30pm at the Arts Incubator’s Cocoon Gallery.

Read on for an interview of Jonah Criswell done by Erica Mahinay. 

Reside functions as a two-part exhibition of paintings and drawings by Jonah Criswell, in which Criswell continues an ongoing tradition of documenting the everyday through a reexamination of the domestic setting. Avoiding common associations with comfort and stability, Criswell navigates between unexpected compositions, murky and brooding pallets, and an ever-present sense that these familiar spaces contain more unfamiliar truths about human experience. Paintings of rooms strewn with evidence of inhabitation suggest states of tension, and anxiety through off-kilter compositions and a fractured sense of time. Graphite descriptions of the most banal home listings flicker between coming and going, revealing potential intimacies, and simultaneous states of “hello” and “goodbye”. In The Poetics of Space, Gaston Bachelard writes, “A house that has been experienced is not an inert box. Inhabited space transcends geometrical space”. Criswell explores the home as both inhabited and vacated, and depicts the home as a richly layered site in which all aspects of human experience can be traversed. 

Erica Mahinay: 

I think I would like to begin by asking a little about your thoughts on the relationship between your medium and your subject. What do you think happens to a space when you use paint vs. drawing? 

Jonah Criswell: 

Painting feels more concrete, based on how I draw, which involves layers and layers of marks. Painting seems to be more assertive but drawing holds, for me, a lot more mood. The larger paintings have a lot of force and really feel like joined shapes of spaces where the drawings have a strong sense of grid that underlies everything. Drawing for me is so much about showing the difficulty in finding, something like mystery. 


Through a process of mark making you mean? 


I think the process of mark making is a by-product of trying to understand your subject. Some people make the process the subject, which is fine, but I am mostly responding to something I found compelling. The subject, its representation is a general destination, the mark making is mostly the vehicle to that destination but those layers are about the difficulty or ease of that transition from an image in the world, in my mind and then on paper. 


Can you elaborate a little about the decision making process? What happens when you translate a source photograph into paint or graphite? What associations become activated in this translation? 


I think it mostly reflects something like nostalgia or memory. I usually choose an image that feels beautiful or haunting or lovely– something unnamable to it. When I translate it into paint I usually focus on how the source material seemed more dramatic. Drama being the rhythmus of a kind of emotional experience. Usually the things that I emphasize are born out of the relationship I develop with the image, or the changes the image undertakes just by being around. Printouts have a tendency to change subtly over time. Mostly though, the emphasis or de-emphasis of certain passages comes from trying to find a way to give the viewer that same electric feeling — without trying to just lay it on thick, sometimes you need to slow someone down so that when the work reveals its agenda to the viewer, there is no going back. This is highly dependent on the viewer. 


Do you think the content of the familiar tends to disarm your viewer then? 


Oh hopefully! I think that there is an expectation of what exists in a gallery setting… Representational paintings do this/ abstract paintings do that/ Performative pieces do these things… What would happen if you walked into a gallery filled with photographs and drawings that felt like they were from your life? Would you then see life as ceremonial, or worthy of something more than just memory? Life feels ceremonial and the world feels regal but there is a danger, like the angry mob at the gates of what you think of as precious. I want that danger in there, because I want the viewers to defend the work. 


I think that some of your works, particularly the ones using Craig’s-listed and advertised source image ‘homes for rent’ flirt with the notion of the voyeur, but in a way that springs from socially acceptable means of peeking, and with all the potential of having this place, which is not your home… become your home… 


Oh certainly! Also the opposite is that they talk about the exhibitionistic character of our lives now. 


So do you think that by making a decision to use the ‘banal’ or the familiar as a subject, you in effect poke fun at the more outrageous things that are available for our internet viewing? Or is that beside the point? 


I think that the more outrageous things we can see on the internet become sadly common. I was more interested in finding a depiction of places non-artist type people would consider moving to. In the paintings, one of the valid things I was told was that a lot of the austerity feels like an artist or designer’s home. (Albeit a poor one, but an artist type person.) This, I think, shuts some people out because they would just compare their life to that of the author (me). By choosing already empty homes, I took me more out of the equation! 


In these paintings, there is a very different sense of composition than in the drawings, which build a kind of anxiety, whereas the drawings seem to tend towards a bleak calm… neither are very comforting, but are on opposite ends of discomfort. Can you talk about some of the intentions behind your notions of discomfort in the home? 


You are absolutely right about the compositional differences. The paintings were supposed to be almost doorways into rooms. Given that they are 6ft and larger, I wanted the viewer to have to experience the painting almost as they would experience a room they walked into. The drawings have such a delicacy and nuance when you get close to them. I want to create a kind of intimacy with the viewer that ultimately reveals a sadder truth. 


Each of these works seem to be about moments that could simultaneously be coming or going… but at different speeds and for different durations. Do you think about pace during the making process? 


Mostly as a compositional features. Also, I think about pacing during the installation of the work. I am so scattered personally that it naturally happens when I make a work that is very energetic, I naturally make something quieter after that. 


The empty house drawings seem to take on an element of permanence despite it being a transitional moment (moving in/moving out)… through the mark making there is evidence of a though- out decision making process that implies this longer duration of time… while the paintings seem like a more immediate moment- like entering a room- which makes me think some of this has to do with medium as well as composition? 


Certainly, my paintings usually work to place color as a surrogate for emotion and emotional states whereas my drawings push mark making and mood to the foreground. You are also right in how the paintings seem more about living whereas the drawings focus on that permanence and transitional character of being. For me, I thought a lot about how, and this is sappy, the way we arrange our homes and lives is like an exhibition but there is that quiet pause between them, the death and birth of a space is subject to the same existential conflicts as a person’s life. 


In your editing process while setting up this exhibition, what did you think about in terms of pace? What do you consider when deciding how much to give the viewer and how much to leave out? 


Well, I wanted to present my best work naturally, but I felt that the paintings and drawings counterpoint themselves well. The drawings become places for viewers to “rest” with all of the rambunctious color and compositional things going on whereas the gloomy character of those drawings pushes people out to the more aggressive but lively paintings. I didn’t want anything too small though. This forces people to orient themselves to the smaller works, which are still large, 36 x 51, as a standard of a kind of intimacy. 

The works featured in Reside explore the complexity of the home, and challenges the notion of the domestic setting as common or banal by directly addressing nuances in seemingly ordinary spaces. Common associations with comfort and familiarity are inverted as spaces become charged with apparitions and traces of history and memory, while evidence of anxiety and discomfort reflect a contemporary shift in American cultural psychology. Each of these works highlights moments of transition, simultaneous states of coming and going, lending the viewer an opportunity to pause, and experience parallel conditions of duration through line, color, and composition. Despite the permanent nature of the exhibition’s title, Reside, a temporary nature of daily experience is evident, suggesting the impossibility of the comfort and stability that comes with a state of permanence, perhaps revealing a very current fear in Americans across a broad scope of cultural and economic lines. 

Jonah’s work will be on display from September 3rd through September 24th. The Cocoon Gallery is open Monday 11-2, Thursday 4:30-7 and Friday 11-5.

​Cocoon Gallery Share/Save/Bookmark

Voted KC Mag’s “Best Independent Art Gallery of 2010″!

Gallery Hours:

Mon 11-2, Thurs 4:30-7, Fri 11am-5pm, + Sat 12-4

First Fridays, open until 9pm

Or by appointment

To schedule a gallery appointment, contact Kristin Grossman at 816-421-2292 or

Call for Entries

Arts Incubator salutes the achievements of both local and national artists by sponsoring art competitions, juried art shows and exhibition galleries.

If you are interested in exhibiting your artwork please send the required information (below) to OR Cocoon Gallery/ 115 West 18th Street/ KC, MO/ 64108.

*Current Resume or CV

*Exhibition Proposal

*4 (or more) images that support your exhibition proposal

Upcoming Exhibition

Perceptions of Time: Examining the Past, Present, Future

Opening Reception Friday, Dec 3 from 6-9p

On View: Dec 3 – 24, 2010

Cocoon Gallery is pleased to offer a group showing for the month of December centered on the concept of time. Perceptions of Time: Examining the Past, Present, Future brings together Yoonmi Nam, Sarabeth Duntin, Diane Henk, and Elaina Wendt Michalski. Each of these Kansas City artists has a unique and thoughtful approach to the notion of time as depicted in their work. We hope you’ll join us this Friday night from 6 to 9pm for an opening reception.

The linear, straightforward conceptualization of time is rigorously debated by Yoonmi Nam and Diane Henk. Yoonmi Nam will have on view several of her drawings, which demonstrate a site of deconstruction. Nam acknowledges through these works that time, as socially constructed a concept as culture, is open and forever fluid, constantly hybridizing, rather than succinct. Diane Henk’s presence in the gallery takes on several forms, including a large-scale installation of over a hundred individual square packets mounted on the gallery wall. Within each semi-opaque square is shredded unsolicited mail she received within a two year span.

Sarabeth Duntin’s series of brightly-hued drawings investigate notions of time, change, and progress. She specifically is interested in the evolution of shelter and tools as a representative of change over time in history. The work forms an aesthetic examination of time as process as well as a meditation on structure.

Also included are photographs by Elaina Wendt Michalski, which document and describe the physical nature of her work. Time becomes the index for physical and emotional breakdown in her pieces, which reference homelessness and human neglect. Michalski forms life-size human figures out of a biodegradable clay and places them outside, allowing them to eventually decompose and wash away. She chooses clay as the material for the figure because of the qualities it embodies in wet, dry, and fired states, which can represent the vulnerable and malleable stages in human life.


Elaina Wendt Michalski, a Kansas City native, received her M.F.A. degree from the University of Florida in 2004 and her B.F.A. degree from the Kansas City Art Institute in 2000. Her recent work includes life-size fired and unfired clay figures, found objects and video projections. She has taught art at Rockhurst University, Longview Community College, Kansas City Art Institute, and Paseo Academy of Fine and Performing Arts high school. She is currently an artist mentor for the MyARTS program for city teens and continues to exhibit her artwork nationally.

Diane Henk earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Painting from the Kansas City Art Institute. She has held numerous solo and group showings nationally and regionally, including a strong presence in the Kansas City area. Henk has been nominated and won several national art grant opportunities. Most recently, she was selected for inclusion in The Kansas City Collection, which seeks to showcase exceptional Kansas City Artists.

Yoonmi Nam was born and raised in Seoul, South Korea. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Printmaking from Hongik University in Seoul, Korea. She moved to America to study at the Rhode Island School of Design, where she received a Master of Fine Arts degree in Painting and Printmaking in 2000. Her work has shown nationally and internationally, in countries including Japan, New Zealand, Scotland, Korea, Bulgaria and Paraguay. Currently, she teaches drawing and printmaking at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas, where she has been a faculty member since 2001.

Sarabeth Dunton-Diamond received her B.F.A. in painting at the University of Michigan in 2006. A recent transplant to Kansas City, Sarabeth and her husband moved from New Orleans in search of a more diverse and vibrant art scene. Once here they decided to implant themselves into the community and bought a house with the hope of transforming it into a niche gallery and project space. She has lived in Michigan, Louisiana, Vermont, Greece, and India. Sarabeth has had work shown in Ann Arbor, Michigan; New Orleans, Louisiana; and Paros, Greece.

Past Exhibitions

Selections from the Kansas City Collection

October 1 – 29, 2010

The Kansas City Collection, the newest program of The Collectors Fund, was unveiled earlier this summer. Cocoon Gallery is excited to present a selection of works featured in The Kansas City Collection, for the first time in a gallery setting. Artists include: Diane Henk, Michael Krueger, Tanya Hartman, Don Kottman, Mike Lyon, Judith Burns McCrea, Yoonmi Nam, John Ochs, Aaron Storck, Hong Chun Zhang, Carol Ann Carter, Leopoldo Esquivel, Debra Smith, and Brian Zimmerman.


The Kansas City Collection creates an opportunity for local corporations to connect with exceptional Kansas City area artists. The community of businesses enjoys the benefits of a rotating art program, professionally curated and assembled for them. The program is managed and coordinated by The Collectors Fund. Artists selected for the program are guaranteed sales of their work. They also gain exposure through a museum-quality collection catalogue, dynamic website, and PR events, all while building relationships with area companies and associates. For more information about The Kansas City Collection, visit

Jonah Criswell: Reside

September 3 – 24, 2010

Reside functions as a two-part exhibition of paintings and drawings by Jonah Criswell, in which Criswell continues an ongoing tradition of documenting the everyday through a reexamination of the domestic setting. Avoiding common associations with comfort and stability, Criswell navigates between unexpected compositions, murky and brooding pallets, and an ever-present sense that these familiar spaces contain more unfamiliar truths about human experience. Paintings of rooms strewn with evidence of inhabitation suggest states of tension, and anxiety through off-kilter compositions and a fractured sense of time. Graphite descriptions of the most banal home listings flicker between coming and going, revealing potential intimacies, and simultaneous states of “hello” and “goodbye”. In The Poetics of Space, Gaston Bachelard writes, “A house that has been experienced is not an inert box. Inhabited space transcends geometrical space”. Criswell explores the home as both inhabited and vacated, and depicts the home as a richly layered site in which all aspects of human experience can be traversed.

The works featured in Reside explore the complexity of the home, and challenges the notion of the domestic setting as common or banal by directly addressing nuances in seemingly ordinary spaces. Common associations with comfort and familiarity are inverted as spaces become charged with apparitions and traces of history and memory, while evidence of anxiety and discomfort reflect a contemporary shift in American cultural psychology. Each of these works highlights moments of transition, simultaneous states of coming and going, lending the viewer an opportunity to pause, and experience parallel conditions of duration through line, color, and composition. Despite the permanent nature of the exhibition’s title, Reside, a temporary nature of daily experience is evident, suggesting the impossibility of the comfort and stability that comes with a state of permanence, perhaps revealing a very current fear in Americans across a broad scope of cultural and economic lines.


Jonah Criswell earned his MFA from the Pennsylvania State University School of Visual Arts. He also holds a BFA from the Kansas City Arts Institute. Criswell has shown frequently in the Kansas City metro area, as well as nationally and internationally, in NYC and Berlin, Germany.

Contain/Retain: New Works by Monika Meler

August 6 – 27, 2010

Contain/Retain: New Works by Monika Melerexplores memory, notions of containing nostalgia, and the frequently impossible distinctions between reality and invented memory. Meler creates hybrid prints and sculptural works on paper that break away from traditional printmaking methods. Her large-scale works are constructed in many layers, utilizing both sides of the paper. The upcoming show at Cocoon Gallery will suspend several prints from the ceiling, allowing them to be viewed from multiple directions.

Monika Meler grew up in Brodnica, Poland, and immigrated to the United States at the age of ten. This move resulted in a sense of separation; the artist describes feeling as though one part of herself was living in America, and the other part was in a constant state of nostalgia for her home country. Her work explores this tension of living between two cultures. Contain/Retain comments specifically on nostalgic memories and their inherent fallibility. Meler returned to Poland after a fourteen-year absence and realized the remembered landscape was significantly different. She recalls her experience as such:

‘These changes made me realize that the existence of some places and events were purely fictional and invented. Yet this did not matter because no matter how much I looked at these actual places, I could only remember them the way that they had existed in my mind. The image of Brodnica that exists in my memory is so strongly engraved, it can never be replaced by actuality; my memory is my reality. The house in which I grew up was recently painted pink by the new owners, yet it will always be the yellow that I remember from my childhood. The road that led to my home had been paved in my absence, yet every time I think of it my mind remembers the unpaved road. My work explores the invented landscapes and events that are components of these cherished memories of my childhood.’


Monika Meler earned an M.F.A. in Printmaking from Temple University in Rome, Italy. She also holds an M.A. in Studio Art from Purdue University and a B.F.A. in Printmaking with a Minor in Art History from the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design. Meler has shown nationally and internationally, most recently in Limerick, Ireland. Her work is held in world-wide collections, including the Academy of Fine Arts in Poznan, Poland, University of Fine Arts, Berlin, Germany, Amity Collection, Rutgers University, and Purdue University Permanent Collection. She is currently Assistant Professor of Art in Printmaking at Wichita State University.


Featured Work by Incubator Artists

June 4 – 25 2010

Cocoon Gallery is excited to offer VALENCE: Featured Work by Incubator Artists for the month of June. The exhibition brings together a diverse selection of artists who currently have studios in the Arts Incubator. This will also be the first time several of our newest artists– members of the freshly-minted 12×24 studio residents program– exhibit in Cocoon Gallery.

Valence is a term used to describe the capacity of one person or thing to react with or affect another in some special way, as by attraction or the facilitation of a function or activity. Painting, illustrating, photographing, printmaking, sculpting, welding and even studying ‘business of art’ coursework side-by-side has given these artists an opportunity to impact one another. Valence will include members that have worked under the same roof for years, and those who recently joined us with the launch of our intensive 12×24 program in January 2010.

Featured artists include John Sutton, Estrella, Erica Johnson, Owen Bissex, Cheryl Eve, Josh Best, Gillian Tobin, Beth Nybeck, Robert Hatem, Denise Dipiazzo, Mindy Sosland, Teresa Magel, Sasha, Jeff Crowe, Craig Mussman, Eric Persson, Ashton Ludden, Nick Naughton and Michael Molick.


A Collaborative Installation by Christina Dostaler and Matt Jacobs

May 7 – 28, 2010


Cocoon Gallery presents TETHER, a collaborative installation by Christina Dostaler and Matt Jacobs. This will be the first time the artists have worked together to form a site-specific installation. TETHER focuses on play, visual disruption, and the unexpected situation. Using found objects, both artists will explore and invent together, all the while challenging each others working habits. A driving force behind this exhibition is the hope of pushing past individually developed visual languages and ultimately discovering a way to synthesize artistic sensibilities.

For the past four years, Christina Dostaler has been utilizing and amalgamating fiber, painting, and sculpting techniques. Though initially a painter, working with fibers interested her for the way in which the material can be broken down structurally into the linear element. By taking painting not only outside the boundaries of the canvas, but into the intimate realm of weaving, knitting, knotting, and basket weaving, she is able to create a body of work which is simultaneously objects and drawings.

Dostaler delights in the challenge of building a form out of practically nothing. To produce her construction material, she strings monofilament across a wall using several pins and coats it repeatedly with a mixture of acrylic and gel medium. Through this time-consuming process Dostaler is able to imbue her woven works with smooth brilliance. The resulting forms are both surprising and vivacious, pure light and tangible objects.

Matt Jacobs is a found-object sculptor who employs techniques of banding, clamping, and painting to convert everyday items into something new. Often large scale, his works seemingly take on a life of their own, climbing up walls, expanding and squeezing, or spiraling up towards the ceiling. In what seems to be an infiltrative and spontaneous gesture, he sometimes spills high-pigment paint across the completed piece.

Jacobs’ work deals with the aesthetics of overuse and excess. As an artist and inventor, he seeks to disrupt the formalities of “artwork” through the integration of humor. He selects commonplace objects for their familiar and benign nature, though once they are strung-up, bound, stuffed, and candy-coated, it is their very materiality that strikes a mocking tone. The work he presents is familiar and strange, whimsical and reflective, awkward and adroit.


Mike Acker, Derrick Breidenthal, Lori Buntin, Cory Imig, Alex Robinson,

Spencer Schubert, and May Tveit

April 2 – April 30, 2010


The Arts Incubator is proud to welcome back alumni artists Mike Acker, Derrick Breidenthal, Lori Buntin, Cory Imig, Alex Robinson, Spencer Schubert, and May Tveit. The exhibit Re-collections brings together a vibrant selection of recent 2D and 3D works by these Kansas City artists. Fostering emerging artists by offering affordable studio space, business development, a supportive community and exposure is the mission of the Arts Incubator of Kansas City. These artists exemplified the core values of our mission by creating sustainable careers as professionals.


Mike Acker, known in the Midwest for his vibrant pastels and paintings, continues his explorations in acrylic and gold leaf. He combines abstraction with Asian themes to suggest peace and serenity. Acker was an enthusiastic member of the Arts Incubator for five years and now has a studio in the West Bottoms.

Derrick Breidenthal is a Missouri native. His work is heavily influenced by rural America. Derrick’s work has been showcased throughout the US. His studio is based in the West Bottoms in Kansas City, Missouri. Current studies focus on aspects of the rural landscape and culture.

Lori Buntin has been painting for more than 20 years beginning with her undergraduate studies at Missouri Western State College followed by graduate work at Wichita State University. After receiving her MFA in painting, Buntin taught as adjunct faculty at WSU and worked in custom picture framing. Her work is in many private collections throughout the country as well as the corporate collections of Stowers Institute of Medical Research and Sprint Nextel Corporation. Buntin works full-time and is half owner in Hoop Dog Studio located in Kansas City producing functional art, commission work, and custom framing services.

Cory Imig graduated from Savannah College of Art and Design in May of 2008 with a bachelor’s degree in Fibers. After graduation she attended residencies in Richmond, Virginia at Virginia Commonwealth University and in Johnson, Vermont at The Vermont Studio Center. Cory currently lives in Kansas City, Missouri and has a studio at The Hobbs Building.

Alexandra Robinson is a painter who lives and works in Kansas City and is an Associate Professor of Art at the University of Saint Mary, Leavenworth, KS. Following an undergraduate degree in studio art from University of Kansas, Robinson received her MFA from University of Cincinnati in 2002. Robinson shares a studio with fellow Art Incubator graduates in the West Bottoms.

E. Spencer Schubert is a sculptor who lives in Kansas City. His studio is located in the historic West Bottoms Industrial District. His work is concerned with empathy and the human condition, both from the perspective of the individual and the collective. Schubert received his BFA from the University of Kansas in 2000.

May Tveit is an east coast transplant and has happily lived and worked in Kansas City for the past 13 years. Her work has received national critical reviews in Art in America, Art Papers, National Public Radio, The Kansas City Star, and she has received such honors and awards as: a 2002 Charlotte Street Foundation Fellowship Award, AIA Allied Arts & Craftsmanship Award for her site-specific installation at the National Center for Drug Free Sport, ArtsKC Inspiration Grant, three KU Research Fund Awards, and was most recently selected to participate in the 2010 Art OMI International Artist Residency. Her work is represented in numerous corporate & private collections. She holds a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design, studied in Rome with the RISD European Honors Program, and received her Masters Degree from the Domus Academy in Milan, Italy.



February 5 – 27, 2010



Inspired by heritage, tradition and fading customs, the exhibit Morning Spring by Heinrich Toh, examines cultural displacement resulting from relocation and travel. As memories seem to shift and change with the assimilation to his current environment, Toh’s work provides a glimpse into what was once seemingly familiar. By revisiting memories of past while surveying the present, his recent works on paper embrace the complexity of culture and identity.

Commonly found Asian objects, architecture and iconography form connections to a lifetime of memories. The use of personal photographs along side imagery of Asian artifacts, symbols and Chinese brocade patterns, provides a striking contrast between the modern and historical elements in Toh’s work – imparting a fresh perspective on traditional and contemporary culture.


Heinrich Toh was born in Singapore and attended the Cleveland Institute of Art. He has exhibited at galleries around the United States and at the Wing Luke Asian Museum in Seattle. His work is in private and public collections, which include the University Hospital of Cleveland, Ohio and the Dell Children’s Hospital in Texas. He is a studio artist and instructor at the INKubator Press printmaking studio in the Crossroads Arts District.


January 8 – 29, 2010

NTER CHNG (text speak for interchange) is an interactive text messaging experience by Kansas City based artists Drew Bolton, Jamie Burkart and Garrett Fuselier opening Second Friday, January 8 from 6 – 9 at the Arts Incubator’s Cocoon Gallery.

Equal parts software application and architectural installation, NTER CHNG encourages visitors to turn on their cell phones and communicate in real-time through both faces of a digital wall constructed in the gallery. Over the course of the exhibition, messages from participants combine to form a virtual dialog that demonstrates the character of the TXT phenomenon.

NTER CHNG inverts the social practice short messaging. The privacy of a silent exchange is made public. The one-to-one becomes many-to-many. The pragmatic, ephemeral and every-day nature of text messaging is suddenly transformed into a physically immersive aesthetic experience in which visitors can speak and misspeak together as a group.

Bulton, Burkart and Fuselier combine their backgrounds in scenic design, computer programming, motion graphics, and experiential production to craft a social information space that explores the pervasiveness of TXT culture and challenges its insularity. “We hope to make new connections for the gallery visitor. Texting can be a very interior experience. We are asking them to reach outside their address books and step beyond the buddy list,” says Burkart.

“[Opening night] will be our biggest night with the widest range of communication. We feel that because the gallery is conducive to the open exchange of ideas we are allowing people to write anything and communicate in the most comfortable way possible,” says Fuselier.

NTER CHNG is the collective product of a Bolton, Burkart and Fuselier collaboration produced exclusively for the 2010 Cocoon Gallery exhibition.


Drew Bolton was chief editor of the 2009 Grand Arts Film, SSION’s BOY. A 2006 graduate of the Kansas City Art Institute, he lives and works in Kansas City.

Jamie Burkart has exhibited interactive video works with the Bushwick Art Project in New York and the Film Arts Foundation in San Francisco. His recent installation with the Charlotte Street Foundation’s Urban Culture Project addressed the Missouri River in Kansas City as a Social Network. Burkart studied Film and Digital Media at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Garrett Fuselier is a 2008 graduate of Kansas City Art Institute. He designs interactive projection based experiences with TakeTwo, a cross-media design firm of Kansas City.


December 4, 2009 – January 4, 2010


Large-scale, abstract painter Konefal engages in what he calls “structured spontaneity” in a new series of works on view at Cocoon Gallery beginning December 4th. Questions such as “Is it about symbols or surface?” are explored, which in turn “opens boundaries for play.”


November 6 – 27, 2009

Cocoon Gallery at the Arts Incubator is pleased to have presented Thermals: Hot new works by Incubator Artists. This multi-media, collaborative, and heat-themed exhibition brought together all artists working within the Incubator walls– including INKubator Press Artists and Studio Artists. Participants were asked to respond to the theme of HEAT. The artworks featured in Thermals were raffled off during this year’s Turn on the Heat event, which took place on November 14, 2009. All proceeds benefited the Arts Incubator.


October 2nd-30th


How have your physical surroundings impacted who you are today? Where are you now and how did you get there? Cardinal Directions engages these questions, discovering that our sense of self is often inextricably bound to the spaces we inhabit over the course of our lives. This exhibition brings together artists teaching at universities to the North, South, East, and West of Kansas City, each of whom is drawn towards the examination of personal identity, geography, and the idea of interfacing with real or imagined boundaries.

Featured artists include John Hendrix from University of Washington in St. Louis, Shawn Bitters from University of Kansas, Santiago Cal from University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and Duat Vu from Missouri State University.

Read review here.



September 4- 26, 2009


Cocoon Gallery is pleased to present Dressed–an installation of recent works by Betsy

Timmer. Functioning as both uncomfortable parodies and reminders of our inevitable

imperfections, Timmer’s anthropomorphic works share a space between tragedy and levity.

Steel armatures, fabric, felt, and found objects are employed in the construction of these

uncanny figures. Beginning September 4th, they will inhabit our exhibition space– hanging

from the ceiling, sitting, standing, kneeling, sprawling and crawling across the gallery floor.

This multi-media, interactive installation will close September 26th.

Though it seems, at first glance, that Timmer’s work is inspired by the ever-increasing

demands placed specifically on her own gender, this sense of discord can easily be translated

into the lived experiences of our society as a whole. Dressed is more about a person’s struggle

to fill many roles simultaneously– spouse, parent, advocate, artist, lover, provider, friend,

homemaker or home-fixer. Timmer succinctly describes this daily tug-of-war as “text

messaging while driving 85 miles per hour.” Our attempts to ‘do it all’ often backfire–

resulting in stress, breakdowns, and what she calls “the looming feeling that there is not

enough time.” Her multi-media and potentially multi-functioning creations imagine a world

in which hybrid objects have become so necessary that they end up defining material culture.

Timmer delves into some sinister subject matter– the physical and mental toll of trudging

through a seventy-hour workweek, living with poor self-image, or a crumbling relationship–

yet she approaches these issues with a wink rather than a heavy hand. She chooses to work

with materials that have an interesting lineage, visibly used objects found at garage sales or

thrift stores. The pre-existing stains, rips and tears, and other imperfections featured in these

repurposed goods imbue her characters with personality and quirk. It is a testament to

Timmer’s apt use of sly humor and metaphor that these vulnerable, torn, exposed, and

abused forms are ultimately still able to tease out a chortle, even if it is a slightly

uncomfortable one.


Betsy Timmer is a 2008 MFA graduate of the University of Kansas and a 2003 BFA graduate

of Western Michigan University. She has shown extensively throughout the region, including

the Olive Gallery, 6 Gallery, Apex Gallery, and Lawrence Art Center. A solo exhibition of

Timmer’s work was featured at ARC Gallery in Chicago, IL. She has attended both Felt

School and the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts. Timmer currently resides in Lawrence,

KS and teaches on the visual arts faculty at the University of Kansas.

View photos of the exhibition here

Read review of Dressed here


A new series of works by LORI BUNTIN

August 7- 31, 2009


In Closed Mondays, painter Lori Buntin explores the geometric forms inherent in an unoccupied public swimming pool. Adhering to a single subject matter, Buntin carefully examines and portrays the visual anatomy of this particular physical space from varying viewpoints. In emphasizing the strong linear language of ladders, pool chairs, signage and tiling, Buntin creates an aesthetic that recurrently challenges fixed boundaries between the figurative and abstract. Geometry of form is not only represented, but also repeated, through its reflection in the pool’s still, undisturbed water.

Documentation of the artist’s process will be exhibited as well, in the form of photographs and gouache sketches.


Lori Buntin earned her MFA in painting from Wichita State University in 1995. In 2001 she moved to Kansas City, became a member of the Arts Incubator and continued working professionally as a custom picture framer. In 2003 Buntin moved into her own building on Troost Avenue where she continues to paint, frame pictures and produce work as a partner in Hoop Dog Studio.

Buntin is represented by Stuff in Kansas City.

  Turn on the Heat