vagueperimeters: Annie Woodfill

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Join us for the opening of vagueperimeters, a solo exhibition featuring the Kansas City-based artist Annie Woodfill. Woodfill’s site-specific installation intuitively responds to and references the gallery’s existing architecture to create a sprawling system. By using consumer debris, printed screenshots, as well as industrial and found materials, the artist calls attention to the viewer’s physical interaction with the space, and the materials’ capacity to elicit a variety of layered readings. The constructed environment questions the hierarchy of material and formal choices to uncover how cultural structures of power petition for prominence in spaces of maximal information.

Annie Woodfill is a current Charlotte Street/Urban Culture Project Studio Resident and a graduate of the Kansas City Art Institute. Influenced by the transparency or camouflage of everyday surroundings, she works with composing found materials and ephemera, painting, photography, sound and video. She has shown work at City Ice Arts, Longview College, Main Street Gallery and Paragraph Gallery. In her latest work, fluid organization of storage and “background static” are framed as meta-performance of formal cycles, appropriation, and rehabilitation in culture and landscape. For more about Annie, go to:

Reify/Deify: Davin Watne

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Reify/Deify is a new exhibition by Davin Watne at Plug Projects consisting of an amalgamation of sculpture, installation, drawing and collage that seeks to maintain a relationship to veneration and ritual. Watne’s interests lie in the relations between various mythologies, the unhinging of cultural programming and the process of essentializing heterogeneity.

Reify/Deify moves between neo-capitalist consumer advertising aesthetics, Northwest Coast Native American visual forms and stream of consciousness drawing to generate a ritual-like space. These works are open-ended and avoid advocating a specific ideology; instead they seek to encourage a level of sensitivity to experiences beyond our understanding and into the realm of the extraordinary.

Watne says about his work, “I am interested in the aesthetics of power, authority and desire as constructed by governing systems. This awareness pushes me to develop visual means of resistance. In my practice I communicate images and experiences that are visceral and symbolic in nature, ultimately creating new visual lexicons that combat the prevailing modes of signification.”

About the Artist
Davin Watne is an artist based in Kansas City with an established record of professional achievement. He received his BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute in 1994 and his MFA at Maryland Institute College of Art in 2013. He has been awarded the Charlotte Street Foundation Award, ArtsKC Inspiration Grant, Avenue of Arts Municipal Arts Grant, Art in the Loop Public Arts Grant and a former resident of the Studios Inc. Residency Program. Davin holds a full time lecturer position at University of Missouri Kansas City, where he teaches Painting and Drawing. Davin is also the head curator and director of the UMKC Gallery of Art.

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.

Synthesis Structures

posted in: Blog, Superstruct, Uncategorized | 0
Michelle Dean’s wooden form demonstrates her investigation of planar shifts to contrast the smooth surfaces of Alexis Taylor-Butler’s organic clay base. 


The spring semester has ended in the Kansas City Art Institute Foundations program, so I wanted to use this blog post to present images and ideas from my previous workshop titled Collaborative Ceramics.  This workshop focused on architecture and used clay and wood as its primary media because these materials are often used to construct buildings.  Students learned to observe and  understand the parallels between their subject and materials while discovering new approaches for abstract thinking.


An installation view of the final exhibition. The systematic structures by Austen Ortiz and Brandon Kintzer are in the foreground.


We began the workshop by spending two days making drawings of the architecture in surrounding neighborhoods including the Country Club Plaza and Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.  This provided the students with observed accounts of specific architectural features that influenced their subsequent works.  For the final exhibition, students fabricated foam-core shelves that presented their sketchbooks of architectural drawings and thumbnails for each project.  A nice touch to show the workshop’s process and progress.

As it is mentioned in the workshop title, collaboration played a significant role in the curriculum structure, and in this project, two students worked together on each piece.  This project happened in two stages (clay and wood), so each student began by creating a ceramic form (minimum 2′ tall) that had to incorporate an interlocking wooden element made by their partner.  This addition extended the height and responded to the initial features of the base.  Formal movement, repetitive shapes, and spatial interactions were evaluated when determining how to unify the two collaborative parts.  When discussing architectural characteristics, students were asked to consider the roles of building facades and visual transitions in their work.  The history of ceramics influenced discussions about the relationships between the foot and lip, surface, tiles, and craftsmanship.


Foreground works made by Hayley Books and Juanita Martinez. With each collaborative work, students experimented with hanging, tension fit, and woven forms.


Students worked together on all stages of fabrication including the the woodshop (ripping wood) and documentation.  Many students in the class were completely inexperienced with clay building, so my demonstrations focused on basic hand-building methods (coil and slab building).  Each solution had to be adapted to figure out how leather-hard forms would be structural and strong enough to support the wooden elements.  The incorporation of these two materials required that they consider new building methods for wood, so students incorporated woven, zip-tied, bundled, and tension-fit wooden connections.


Kat Krug and Annabell Lee used segmented parts to create a flowing field of wood that physically cut into their clay forms and created a strong contrast between the organic and geometric structures.

Knowing that clay and wood have a drastic learning curve, the outcomes for this project were successful.  Students learned to work within specific parameters, experiment and adapt with new materials quickly, and create works that challenged their notions of scale.  The final works were diverse and each student brought their own interpretations of their surroundings.

Aly King created sprawling “ladders” that were influenced by similar forms in Mariah Randell’s clay base. This piece has a strong interaction with space and also employs a tiled facade.


posted in: Architecture, Blog, Site Visit, Superstruct | 1

This past April (while on a road trip from NJ to KC), I had the opportunity to visit Frank Lloyd Wright’s domestic commission, Fallingwater, nestled in the woods of Pennsylvania just outside Pittsburg.

Fallingwater: Initial Approach

What is immediately clear upon approach is that Lloyd knows his architectural history. It would appear that Wright synthesized certain principles of design from across a spectrum of cultures and histories. These principles of balance and grace were clarified, and then combined to achieve a new harmony. Clean lines, flawless integration with its natural surroundings, and modular domestic amenities inside and out are reminiscent of Japanese architecture.  Every square inch of space, overlap and point of contact is considered.

One of the most glaring differences between experiencing this home and contemporary homes are that the proportions of everything- thresholds, to rooms and windows, planters and the pool- each one is so contentious.

Frankly, I was shocked to see Wright use an ochre color of paint applied to concrete shaped into soft round, repeating curves. When I think of Wright’s style, angular bricks in squat midwest prairie iterations spring to mind. In my humble opinion, Falling Water also references Adobe abodes, so characteristic to the American Southwest.

Pueblos de Taos, New Mexico

The ochre body with red window trim made the home both pop and recede into the foliage depending on the strength of the sun through the clouds that day. I overheard a passing guide mention the color was derived from the underside of a fallen, dead leaf.

Falling Water's cantaliever

Paint Colors: Wright’s desire to create a unified and organic composition limited the color palette at Fallingwater. Only two colors were used throughout:  a light ochre for the concrete and his signature Cherokee red for the steel (PPG Pittsburgh Paints). –Fallingwater Facts

Even though this home was built in 1936, its vision and clarity resonates today. I wonder what kind of lives were enriched by existing amidst nature mingling with these walls. Fallingwater is a fantastic specimen of “superstruct,” the original foundation here literally being nature and conceptually being a myriad of architectural histories/principles that are built upon. It is a structure quietly ahead of its time.


Fallingwater is anchored seamlessly into natural rock. (extra points if you spot my mother)
We even admired the patio furniture; the raised center design takes into account the position of lounging legs and feet.


Peter Volkous sculpture signed '58 spotted by the spring-fed pool

Kansas City Architecture Tour

posted in: Architecture, Art, Blog | 0

A trip to the symphony last week at the Kaufman Center’s amazing new Performing Arts Building inspired me to search for a tour of Kansas City’s architectural highlights. I found this city guide on Arch Daily‘s website. They highlight 12 of KC’s more striking buildings (several of which, I would note, are art centers of some kind.) It’s also somehow satisfying to note how many of these buildings are fairly new to the skyline…a handful having opened their doors in the past 5 years or so.

Superstruct: Stephanie Snider, Sonya Blesofsky, Brady Haston, Kirsten Kindler, and Juniper Tangpuz

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Click here to download a pdf document of the press-release.

Plug Projects is pleased to announce our fourth exhibition entitled, Superstruct. This exhibition brings together the work of five artists whose diverse practices address ideas of the urban landscape. This grouping invites the viewer to consider how we interact with architecture, how we navigate public space or how we encounter urban renewal in our constantly changing built environment. The term “superstruct” is defined as a verb, “to erect upon a foundation or on top of another building or part.” The artists in this exhibition do their own form of building upon the existing foundations. The use of collage, layering of paint, and construction within a pre-existing space parallels the building methods found in the everyday urban environment.

About the artists

Sonya Blesofsky’s site specific installation builds upon the architectural history of Plug Project’s immediate surroundings, the West Bottoms. Her use of everyday materials such as tape, paper and foil, transform overlooked architectural elements into delicate ephemeral installations. The fragile nature of the materials and the temporary existence of the structure echo a cycle of construction and collapse that is prevailing in Sonya’s work. Blesofsky lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. In 2005, she received a MFA in Painting from San Francisco Art Institute and in 2000, she received a Bachelor of Arts, Community Studies & Studio Art from the University of California Santa Cruz. Most recently, Blesofsky has been selected as one of ten artists by the Brooklyn Arts Council for the ephemeral exhibition, Rethinking Memorial: Ten Interactive Sites for 9/11.

Brady Haston’s paintings and drawings place the viewer firmly within pregnant voids of blank space to witnesses a clash of historical references in the present moment, “resulting in an odd mix of signage, industrial forms, architectural details, and materials.” Culled from dated and found palettes, their playful colors point to optimism but the backgrounds acknowledge bland, repetitive and “unending sprawl.” Integration of text with symbols and forms hovering in space remind the viewer that bits of genuine culture are often lost and truncated in the fold of hasty progress. Haston currently lives and works in Tennessee where he teaches printmaking at Watkins College of Art and Design. He earned a B.F.A from Middle Tennessee State University in 1992 and his M.F.A. from Montana State University (Bozeman) in 1997.

Kirsten Kindler’s three-dimensional collages feature interior architectural forms intertwining and spilling into one another. Kindler’s work is all about precision and detail but breaks the rules of architectural language. Delicate extractions are arranged into round tondo compositions and invoke a sense of Escher-like vertigo. Classical, grand, contemporary, and commercial architecture overlap in an endless mobius strip of passageways. Kindler lives and works in Richmond, Virginia. In 1993, she received a MFA from San Francisco Art Institute and a BFA, Parsons School of Design in 1987. She has been shown at numerous art fairs such as, Scope in Basel, Switzerland; Miami, Florida; and London, England.

Stephanie Snider’s work utilizes familiar architectural grids and design elements as a focus for her compositional arrangements. The wall reliefs and collages employ stripped architectural elements at an intimate scale in order to open up architecture into an abstracted visual space. Bits of the paintings find their way into sculptures and sculptures reciprocate by finding a way into the paintings. Stephanie Snider lives and works in New York. She received her MFA from the Yale School of Art, and her BFA from Rhode Island School of Design. She is a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship for 2009-2010. Her work has been reviewed in major publications such as The New York Times, The Berliner Morgenpost, and Art in America.

Juniper Tangpuz’s new site specific sculpture, Spatium, bridges the liminal alley space adjacent to Plug Projects. Tangpuz draws inspiration from the architecture of numerous cultures, absorbing and adapting various aspects to create a whimsical addition to the West Bottoms landscape. Tangpuz’s sculptures create fissures for pause and contemplation by utilizing existing structures and elements of an otherwise overlooked space. Juniper Albert Tangpuz, a.k.a. T.J., was born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri and received a BFA in Sculpture from the University of Kansas. In 2008, he was awarded an Avenue of the Arts Foundation Grant and in 2009 participated in the Charlotte Street Foundation Urban Culture Project Studio Residency Program.

Multi-Channel: an Exhibition in Flux: Andrew Jacob Schell

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“Multi-Channel” by Andrew Jacob Schell is an environment of paintings, performances, sound,
video surveillance and Internet presence. Schell’s ideas regarding systems, artificial
organism structures, interactions of parts within the whole, and control vs. chance will be
expanded on and tested within the gallery space. The site of the gallery will function as an art
laboratory for experimentation as the exhibition continues to evolve over the six-week period.
The viewers will be able to both witness the artist at work and the evolution of the installation.
Thus the visitors to the gallery will become active participants in the process, affecting the work
by their presence within the environment.

Schell approaches his work from the position of a “tinkerer” or an experimental scientist with a strong
interest in industrial design, architecture, and media manipulation. In this exhibition, Schell
questions the support structures that we exist within and take for granted. Both physical systems
as well as systems of belief are presented in a new light that challenge traditional mode of art
presentation and the artist/audience relation- ship. He builds comparisons between aerial views of
suburban subdivisions and motherboards that are built up through layers of paint, cut plastic,
and fiberboard. His paintings are imbedded in a history of process and employ organic motifs that
simultaneously fracture, shift, grow, and spread. The layers read as terrains of thought and contribute
to Schell’s understanding of American culture and identity.

Schell will be inviting a series of artists to collaborate with him through improvisational interactions
utilizing the video and sound structures he has constructed within the gallery space. The Internet will be
used as a platform to broadcast a live video feed of current activity in the gallery. Believing in the
“art as experience” approach, Schell allows the audience to participate in shaping the work avoiding
a predefined end-result.

Andrew Jacob Schell was born in 1975, in Clinton, Missouri. He received a BFA from Emporia State University
in 1998 and an MFA in painting from Ohio University in 2005. Most recently his work has become part
of the permanent collection at the Yellowstone Art Museum in Billings, Montana. Schell has also
participated in group and solo shows across the country, including SOIL gallery in Seattle and
Epsten Gallery in Overland Park, KS. Currently, Schell is residing in Lenexa, Kansas, and teaches at
Johnson County Community College.

Yanda House & Cellophane Rain

posted in: Blog, Living Arrangements | 0

Did you know Kansas City is peppered with unique and visionary modern domestic dwellings? One fortuitous night, we took the long way home. In the narrow, meandering lanes of the Roanoke/Valentine neighborhood of midtown Kansas City, we stumbled upon this domestic gem. It happened to be the “magic hour”- when diffuse sunlight makes all colors burn just a bit brighter. Imagine rolling up to a bright citron yellow, domed home, on steel stilts. This residence is the non-sequiter of its neighborhood (just around the corner is Thomas Hart Benton’s former live-work space which is composed of muscular looking stone; a traditional Missouri building material). This hard-edged home gives new meaning to the term “domicile.” There is a small room at the top center that has a Plexiglass bubble from a bomber. According to this site, the builder/designer Albert J. Yanda, had to fight the city in order to utilize (“unsightly”) steel beams for support and won. I have heard rumors that you can make arrangements to tour this home free of charge. How does living and toiling in a “curated” or at the very least mediated space impact the kind of artwork we make?

Yanda Residence Kansas City, MO 1966

1966 Yanda Residence
Architect: Albert J. Yanda
Designed: 1965
Builder: Albert J. Yanda
Built: 1966
Size: 1700sq. ft. 2 bedroom 2 bath
Photographer: Unknown
The Yanda Residence was built by Architect, Albert J. Yanda for himself and his wife. The structure, built of steel, sits on what was considered for years to be an unbuildable lot. His creative response to the site is an introverted façade to the street and a soaring glass filled structure to the rear. The inspiration for this house may have been looking West to John Lautner’s Chemosphere house in California , built a few years earlier. Not long after completing this house Yanda would move west himself. Yanda had previously been in the employ of David B. Runnells, Architect to several early Drummond Projects. Yanda’s initials appear on many of Runnells’ drawings as the draftsman of these plans.

A fantastic flickr pic of the Yanda home in winter.

More information on the Yanda Residence and its Roanoke neighborhood.


On another note, here is a domestic gem we discovered while cross-referencing KC Modern Homes. Wow. All I can imagine is listening to Earth Wind and Fire tracks during all the swinging parties that must have taken place at its base. It makes so much sense- a fireplace with fringe on top in Missouri…

1965 Hyde Residence
Architect: Bruce Goff
Designed: 1964
Builder: Michael Rothstein Construction
Built: 1965
Size: 3400 sq ft. 5 bedroom 3 ½ bathThis is a raised rectangular plan with a partial basement. The ten foot by ten foot central skylight over the brick hearth is penetrated by the fireplace chimney, which has a purple mirrored triangular wall behind. Strips of “cellophane rain” hang from the skylight, creating a magic play of light on carpet and walls. With a fire burning, you understand the concept of Earth, Fire and Water. Many people know the house from the use of green dime store ashtrays used as stained glass elements in the doors and railing. 

Because Kansas City remains a car-centric city, I suggest taking a KCModern driving tour to view modern domestic spaces:

Driving Tour #1

Driving Tour #2