Mathew Kaney Conduit: This is the United States Calling

For Plug Project’s Conduit programming, we invited four local musicians to compose a piece that was inspired by Kaney’s video games.  This was a collaboration with Patrick Chan, Cody Kauhl, Scott Steele, and Russel Thorpe.

Audience member playing the game while the performance is going on

Examples of sounds played during the one hour event included drone strike noises, coin dropping sounds, and button noises.  The musicians employed both acoustic and electronic sounds as well as composed and improvised music.

Conduit programming manifests itself differently on a per-show basis, but the goal in each case is to bring community members with interests related to the exhibition in conversation with the artists exhibiting and/or expanding discussion of the exhibition themes beyond the work on display. Examples might include studio visits, alternative approaches to lectures, site-specific talks, and other casual gatherings of smaller, more intimate groups.

Photo Services day

Plug Projects is offering a fantastic service to area artists to help them with cheap, high quality documentation of their art while also helping our fundraising campaign for the upcoming exhibition year.

Example of our fabulous documentation

Help Plug and yourself!

The Photo Service Day will take place on November 10th from 10am-5pm. If you wish to reserve a 30 min. spot during the day to have your work photographed, please email: and you will be assigned a time.

How does it work?
Once you email PLUG you are assigned a 30 minute time slot (which will allow for roughly four works to be shot) that are professionally lit, shot and corrected high-resolution digital photographs. The number of works shot is based on 2-dimensional work. We are able to shoot 3-dimensional work and installation work but we can’t guarantee as many images in a 30 minute time frame.

What kind of work can you bring?
Plug’s white-cube gallery space can accommodate a variety of wall work sizes. However, please keep the size of flat work under 5 feet in the longest direction. 3-dimensional work can be documented on the gallery floor or a white pedestal. Please let us know in advance the size of your sculptural work, so that we can properly accommodate its specific needs.

Why should you do this?
The same people who professionally document all of Plug’s exhibitions will be documenting your work. You will receive high- quality documentation that will help you promote your work and prepare for upcoming opportunities in Kansas City and beyond. All proceeds go to support Plug’s 2013-2014 year of programming and you can say that you personally contributed to the vitality of your local art community.

How much does it cost?
For each fully editted photo it will cost $25. If you wish to not the have photo edited and just take the RAW file it is $10 per image.

February Conduit @ the Kansas City Museum

Howdy Plug enthusiasts,

Despite the snowy weather, our February Conduit Event held at the Kansas City Museum last Saturday was a fruitful experience. In case you haven’t heard of our Conduit program, the events are intended to extend the ideas proposed by the exhibitions at Plug by facilitating public activities in interesting and unusual community spaces. In this case, the venue pertaining to Jill Downen’s Three Dimensional Sketchbook was none other than the Kansas City Museum, located in northeast Kansas City.

Misha greeting partipants at the Visitor Center

On museum grounds, we toured the Corinthian Hall, the 100+ year old home of lumber baron Robert A. Long and his family. The Museum itself is in a state of ongoing renovation, revealing the hidden structure of the architecture as well as remainders of the original form. This juxtaposition created an experience of constant surprise as one would shift from century old furnishing to present renovations with missing gaps between.

Following the tour, we dispersed with materials in hand to make note of structural shifts and moments that commanded our attention. Here are some photographs taken by Leon Jones, one participant of the bunch.

As we walked throughout the halls, I couldn’t help but recall Jill Downen’s constructions in miniature as they appeared behind and between the aged facades. As you may have gathered, the Kansas City Museum is a rather mysterious place of which, I for one, hope to revisit soon.

Here’s an image of the group feats.


Today is the last day to experience Jill Downen’s Three Dimensional Sketchbook, but don’t get too hung up if you couldn’t make it out. Downen has been awarded a space at the Studios Inc Residency in Kansas City for 2013-1015, so be sure to keep an eye out for future opportunities to see her work.

conversations public and private

posted in: Blog, Collaboration, Writings | 0

here is how i gloss your response [see posts by sonya blesofsky and jack rees below] as a series of questions: 1) what gives our art-making logic? 2) what makes one’s own work consistently engaging? 3)what is it that makes jury-rigged forms so compelling? initially, number three engages my attention, maybe because the logic of a response in (and to) pictures is so undefined (read: open ended).

i agree: that which is cobbled together smartly, is often oddly compelling. My shorthand for this is kluge: the quick fix, the temporary solution constructed from material at hand that ends up “working.” what i find compelling about a good kluge is the way it marries things that in other, more considered, frames would not be part of the same solution—elegance and awkwardness, form and idea, necessity and impermanence.

one example might be drawn from the etymology of jury-rigged: a temporary mast erected on a ship when the permanent mast is no longer functional ( in this situation the revised object must function under great stress yet all involved understand it to be only as functional as needs be—life saving necessity meets just good enough.

form and idea are, of course, often married in art yet in a kluge, allow for what might be called category shifting which is a singular mark of distinction. the picture you selected of the water bottles hanging from the seat rack of a motor bike is a case in point. in that circumstance, hanging the bottles from their tops is a satisfying kluge, unexpected but just “right.” one admires the solution because the idea is good, novel, and ad hoc while the form is pleasing.

so as not to beat a dead horse, i would make an analogous argument argument for elegance and awkwardness yet; to my mind, these deserve special consideration. our visual world is so cluttered with crafted yet meaningless objects that one is tempted to depend on a lack of craft (or even the semblance of a lack of sophisticating in making) as a way to call attention to the handmade object. the implicit claim is: this work means something simply because it is not “polished.” sadly, the implication does not hold up to scrutiny. not polished is not polished and significance, though inexorably tied to form, is not automatically present by virtue of an object being hand-made.

in this context, i wonder at your seeming pride in removing alchemy from the mix. why is it that magic and transparency are contradictory? seems to me the trick is to present in the objects we make, a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts—just like a good kluge.

a private conversation in public (sort of)

posted in: Blog, Collaboration | 0

sometimes art is an image, sometimes it is a conversation, always it is an experience. in the case of the current show at plug i found my way to the experience through a conversation. It was with one of the exhibiting artists, sonya blesofsky, and it helped me both see and situate the work.

to anyone who has been around the art scene in kansas city for more than a couple of years, sonya’s piece, an installation in the window at plug, is going to look familiar—maybe even disconcertingly so. fact is there are both formal and procedural similarities to the work tammi kennedy was exhibiting ten years ago. (has it really been that long?)

this does not disqualify sonya’s work as worthy of consideration. to make the art in “artwork” about who got there first, is to confuse the world of making with the world of selling. We must guard against such conflations.

i also think we should guard against taking the word of artists on their work at face value. artists have a way of talking about whatever interests them at the moment which usually, in my experience, obfuscates rather than clarifys (of which i am also guilty). be that as it may, it was through an exchange with sonya that I began to really look at the work.

early in the conversation sonya remarked how her process involves a lot of research before she begins fabrication—at which point she produced a photograph on her phone of a jumble of furniture in a storefront window, the product of a catastrophic flood in the west bottoms. this was the first bit of information to encourage a reinspection of the furniture-like shapes that comprise her piece. in this circumstance, the visual context conveyed by a bit of information, proved decisive as the motivation for a careful inspection.

later in the conversation she remarked, insisted really, that in making the work, she endeavored to remain as ignorant of engineering as possible. ?warning bells? why this contradiction? why insist knowledge in one domain is advantageous while knowledge in another is undesirable? it smells to me of a peculiarly american strain of anti-intellectualism where intuition is posited as a kind of direct knowing, unsullied by the hard work required to actually arrive at knowledge through information. more to the point it ignores the ways that tutored intuitions are thicker than untutored intuitions.

sadly, our conversation was interrupted. happily, sonya has agreed to continue our exchange in public on the plug blog. so, whataboutit sonya, in what circumstance is ignorance a virtue?


Introducing Plug’s Second Guest Blog Curator: Erik Wenzel

Plug Projects is pleased to introduce our second Guest Blog Curator and Contributor, Erik Wenzel. He will be blogging from Berlin, in response to the Remasters exhibition on view at Plug Projects through January 6, 2012.

Erik Wenzel

Erik Wenzel is presently based in Berlin. He is an artist and writer. This past October Wenzel presented If travel is searching & home what’s been found at the WerkStadt Kulturverein in Berlin, DE. Other Recent solo exhibitions include Live A Little, Live Ennui at the Harold Washington College President’s Gallery, and New ‘N’ Lonelier Laze at DOVA temporary, Chicago, 2010. And Belief in Doubt in Painting at 65GRAND, Chicago, 2009. He is co-editor and contributor to “Internal Necessity: a reader tracing the inner logics of the contemporary art field” published by the Sommerakademie at the Zentrum Paul Klee and Sternberg Press. His recent writing on art can be found at ArtSlant Berlin. Ongoing online projects include Kunst oder Dumheit? Cats From Art History and Art or Idiocy?


Poetics of Collaboration: Part II

Much like the artists who channel and challenge art historical figures in the current Remasters exhibition at Plug Projects, poet Cedar Sigo, draws inspiration from and writes about poetry itself. I came across Sigo’s work at San Francisco’s famous City Lights Books in the form of an anthology of his work entitled, Stranger in Town (2010). Recently I have been craving poetry, took a gamble on Sigo and was pleasantly fulfilled.

Will Yackulic: Outpost Nocturne 2008 ink, spray paint and typewriter on paper 18" x 22.25"


for Oscar Tuazon
6     The Father of all perfection is in the whole world is here
7     Its force or power is entire if it be converted into earth
One of my primary concerns in poetry has become the courtship, recognition, and handling of physical tension. Does it die down along the furnished room or become changed by it? (I think of THE LORDLY AND ISOLATE SATYRS, the grip in Charles Olson’s line, “only the vault of their being taking rest.”) People know you do something, but poetry is often a last guess as to anyone’s chosen field. I’m still quite impressed by its plaintive skin and boiling insides, its suited discretion. It is much like whistling down around the catacombs, or worse, tapping one’s foot, waiting for remains to surface.
Captivity, Constancy, Bright Prospects, Defiance, Wisdom, Lightning Snake, Carefree, Lighthearted, Journey, Courtship, Infancy, Youth, Middle & Old Age, Alertness, Protection, Friendship, Thunderbird, Sacred Bearer of Happiness Unlimited, Human Life, Peace, Paths Crossing, Warding Off, Feathers, Enclosure, Guarding Good Luck, Watchful, Wise, Sky, Horse, Plentiful Crops, Constant Life, Happiness, Guidance, Morning Stars, Days & Nights, Swiftness, Time, Good Omen, Plenty Game
What I was seeing was half a hotel
so I wrote that down to see the picture better
After first thinking I would write on resistance, its opposite, compliance, kept pointing out at inopportune angles and moving instantly to work. It is just a hair that separates disfigured language (in which the words turn away, icing each other out) versus expansive (marrying the world in warm flowing tones of voice)? Each poem was once a separate jewel- they have been washed into very broad fabric. I have let it roll out and paid the highest price for what many assume to be found pieces. It doesn’t feel as if anyone is working over anything to get a desired effect. They were already always doing it. Distinction is the medium,  never something sought after.
Will Yackulic: Doppelganger Inversion Lozenge, 2009 spray paint, screenprint and palladium leaf on canvas over panel, 23.25 x 31.875
“Poetry can be a difficult field to enter into, as I find people sometimes think of it as old fashioned. It is this assumption that drives me to try & keep current. I do not want to interest academics. Skaters are more dear to my heart. Boredom is the cardinal sin. Collaboration can be a terrific introduction to poetry. Things tend to happen a lot faster than they might with a single author. Sometimes I will just be talking my head off while someone else has the typewriter & bits of our conversation will find their way in. It is one of the poet’s great fantasies come to life, having a secretary recording over your shoulder & making the words fit rhythmically too. Often it is the second draft of the poem I look forward to typing (in collaborations & just my own poems). The first draft is a catalogue of content, a list of everything available. The second is is more test of skill &the sounds you wish to make. You may have to sacrifice beautiful & resplendent lines in service of the skeleton.
A lot of my practice is listening. I try & respect that I am making demands on an outside force I do not entirely control.
I wouldn’t still be writing if it was not more fun than almost anything else & if I wasn’t still writing poems that I wished to enter over & over again.
I have tried above all to bring an allure to poetry. Where I would once read other poems to begin my own, not it’s more common that I write in response to hearing live music, attending an art exhibit, films, or just going out. When I to call to mind all the artists I have met & held dear over the years the lines that divide our fields begin to blur. This seems to me a result of both read dedication & capability. We feel like a band of mystics along the right tracks.”
WILL YACKULIC Foil / Plotting I 2009 india ink, spray paint, screenprint, archival inkjet print, palladium leaf and typewriter on paper 18.75" x 14.5"

San Francisco poet Cedar Sigo was born February 2, 1978. He was raised on The Suquamish reservation near Seattle Washington and home schooled from the eighth grade onward. In 1995 he was awarded a scholarship to study writing and poetics at The Naropa Institute in Boulder Colorado where he studied with Allen GinsbergAnne WaldmanLisa JarnotAlice Notley, and Joanne Kyger, among other poets.  He has lived in San Francisco since 1999.In 2003 Ugly Duckling Presse published the first edition of his Selected Writings. It was followed in 2005 by a second revised and expanded edition. Other books include Death Race vsop, and Expensive Magic. A second large collection Stranger In Town is due out from City Lights in the fall of 2010. Sigo has given poetry readings at The Poetry Project at St. Marks Church, P.S. One Museum of Contemporary Art, The San Francisco Poetry Center, San Francisco Art Institute, and Beyond Baroque. He has collaborated with visual artists including Colter Jacobsen, Frank Haines, Cecilia Dougherty, and Will Yackulic. Recently, Sigo has blogged for SFMOMA’s Open Space. Currently, he is guest editing the second issue of The Can, a journal devoted to writing on poetics.

Will Yackulic is represented by Jeff Bailey Gallery.