09/11/14

Ceiling Scape: An Installation by Jill Downen

Thursday September 25th from 6-9pm

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The house shelters daydreaming,

the house protects the dreamer,

the house allows one to dream in peace.

From Gaston Bachelard, “The Poetics of Space”

When the Hown’s Den founders, Crystal Brown and Bobby Howsare, invited me to make a work of art for the exhibition space situated in their home, I was intrigued.  The program’s focus on the domestic space as a site for experimentation and neighborhood engagement is distinct from museum contexts.  First, the space is for the family, parents with a young boy. Unlike the quiet and clear spaces of a traditional gallery, the house is an active space with furniture, toys, books, art, functional objects, and a cat.

I felt an attraction to the concept of Hown’s Den immediately because of the role that their home plays in providing art to viewers outside of an institution.  My connection to this domestic exhibition space is natural since the ideas in my artwork can be traced to architecture of my childhood home.  Growing up in a three-story working-class house played a key role in the development of my worldview and artistic vision.  My parents labored continuously to modify the domestic spaces to meet the ever-changing needs of the family.  My father installed flooring, drop-ceilings, concrete steps and more.  He cut into the house with a chainsaw to install a window.  From him, I learned that architecture is like flesh (porous, flexible), always bending to the forces of nature and in need of care.  I learned that labor is an act of love.  Architecture is not static; but rather an active dimension of relative energies.  The sites we call home have the power to become extensions of our thoughts, selves, personalities, and our dreams.

The understanding that space is subjective, experienced through the human body and senses, permeates my work today. My art is an investigation of the symbiotic relationship between the human body and architecture expressed in temporal installations, drawings, and models. The art envisions a place of interdependent relation between the human body and architecture, where the exchanging forces and tensions of construction, deterioration, and restoration emerge as thematic possibilities.

Through the use of site-responsive installations, my art endows architecture with a human sense of being while maintaining the structural integrity of the built environment.  Sculptural forms made from ordinary construction materials denote bulges, wrinkles, folds, and biomorphic elements that intertwine with walls, floors, and ceilings.  While space demarcated by walls, floors and ceilings is perceived with the eye, it is also sensed and understood in directional terms such as above, below, inside, outside and beyond.

Sensory experiences fuse the mind and body with architectural space.  The void created by a building’s walls is a space that the installations seek to disrupt.  Sculptural forms embedded into the flesh of architecture expand and contract space in order to suggest a sense of place.  The work intends to stimulate the viewers’ awareness of space and their bodies’ relationship to the built environment.  I seek to offer viewers an opportunity to reflect on the physical and social structures that contain and protect human fragility.

Jill Downen

BIO

Jill Downen is currently an assistant professor of sculpture at the Kansas City Art Institute.  Significant awards include: 2010 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation fellowship, Studios Inc Residency in Kansas City for 2013-1015, MacDowell Colony National Endowment for the Arts residency, and Cité International des Arts Residency in Paris. Downen was selected for the 2004 Great Rivers Biennial, a grant and exhibition sponsored by Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis and the Gateway Foundation. Downen has been invited to lecture about her work extensively, including the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C. and the Luce Irigaray Circle Philosophy Conference in New York. Her art has been reviewed in publications including Art in America, Sculpture, Art Papers, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the New York Times. Downen lives and maintians her studio in Kansas City, and is represented by the Bruno David Gallery in St. Louis. She holds a BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute and an MFA as a Danforth Scholar from Washington University in St. Louis.

09/1/14

We moved and we are having a party!

The Hown’s Den House Warming & Silent Auction

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Please join us on Saturday, September 6th from 3pm to 8:00pm for a housewarming and art auction. We recently moved from Kansas to Missouri and would like you to check out our new space at 5624 Lydia Ave KCMO. We will be having a silent auction to raise money for our October exhibiting artists Christopher Willey and Tonia Klein from Milwaukee. Our goal is to raise $300 dollars to match the money they received via the Mary L. Hohl Suitcase Export Fund in Milwaukee.  We will have works from past and future artist that have/will have exhibited at The Hown’s Den.  We will also have the wonderful Linz n Chaz Portrait Performance here. All ages are welcome and encouraged. We will have some refreshments, but feel free to bring your favorite drinks.

We hope to see you soon. Feel free to email me for more information.

 

Featured artist include:

Jill Downen

Justin Beachler

Casey Whittier

Tonia Klein & Christopher Willey

Linz n’ Chaz

Robert Howsare

Crystal Ann Brown

07/12/14

Marni Kotak: A 60 Minute Screening

I owe a big thanks to artist Marni Kotak and MICROSCOPE gallery in New York for putting this program together and allowing me to screen this work at The Hown’s Den.
I’m very excited to present the following program scheduled for Thursday July 17th. There is a $5.00 suggested donation fee that will fund the Artist Marni Kotak and MICROSCOPE Gallery.
The screening will start at 8PM.
This is our last event at our current address 2024 Esterly Ave. KCK. Stay tuned for more information about our move.
Hope to see you soon!
Marni Kotak: A 60 Minute Screening
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1.) The Birth of Baby X, 2011 (4:29) 
“The Birth of Baby X” was a durational performance that Kotak conducted from October 8 through November 7 at Microscope Gallery in Brooklyn New York, culminating in the live birth of her baby boy Ajax, on October 25, 2011. The entire gallery was installed to create her ideal homebirth center, including an inflatable birthing pool, the rocking chair her mother used to rock me to sleep on, her grandmother’s bed upon which Baby X was conceived, a shower stall with a curtain covered in photos from my baby showers, an altar to Baby X’s ultrasound, a kitchenette, and a video projection, sound piece, and photo wallpaper border of the artist and her husband at Marconi Beach. This time lapse limited edition video depicts the actual live gallery birth.
 
2.) Raising Baby X: The First Year Series, 2011-2012 (Approx. 32 mins)
This series of eleven short videos comprises the video component of the Raising Baby X: The First Year project. After launching the project with the first video in December 2011, Kotak released the remaining ten videos on major holidays in 2012, during the child’s first year, leading up to his first birthday. The videos depict how baby Ajax spends his holidays and represent a way for Kotak to share her family’s intimate experiences with a wider public, commemorating the significance of everyday life.
 
Raising Baby X: Project Launch Video 9:40
Baby New Year 1:06
Postpartum Love 2:09
Little Brother Leprechaun 2:50
Ajax, Stronger Than Dirt 1:02
Ajax Visits The Mall Easter Bunny 1:51
Warriors of Love 2:35
DaDa Walk 1:47
American Family 2:05
Labor Day Lullaby 1:19
Story Time 6:18
 
3.) “Snowman” (from Raising Baby X: Little Brother), 2014 (6:49)
“Snowman” is a video segment of Ajax seeing his first snowman during superstorm Hercules in early 2014, as part of the ongoing Raising Baby X: Little Brother”. In this project, Kotak outfits her son Ajax with a tiny wearable video camera capturing the intricacies of his early infancy and toddlerhood from his own perspective. Ajax’s camera has captured everything from bedtime stories, to his first time in the ocean, to his first snowstorm, to his first trip to the zoo, all from his own point of view.
 
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4.) How to French Kiss, 2009 (6:56)
“How To French Kiss” was held at Grace Exhibition Space on June 19, 2009, and curated by Jill McDermid as part of the Bushwick Biennial organized by NURTUREart Non-Profit, Inc. This performance was a re-enactment of practicing how to make out with my best friend in the 5th grade, where we covered our mouths with plastic baggies in order to not be “really making out.” 
 
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5.) My Grandfather’s Funeral, 2009 (6:17)
“My Grandfather’s Funeral” was performed at English Kills Gallery on August 29th and 30th, 2009 with a cast of clergy, soldiers and family members. In this piece, I created a re-enactment of my grandfather, Chickie Kotak’s 2005 funeral in Norwood, MA. The piece involved three acts – The Wake, The Funeral and Burial Rites – and approximately 20 performers.
 
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5.) Hot Water Bags, 2010 (3:07)
“Hot Water Bags” was performed at Plato’s Cave on April 9, 2010 as part of an exhibition and edition series organized by Eidia House. In this piece, I re-enact a scene from childhood where I would hide out in my closet playroom and masturbate with plastic baggies full of hot water. While placing the warm baggies between my spread legs, I went through a series of emotions from pleasure to shame to horror and ultimately happiness, reflecting the contentious feelings a child has about their own sexual proclivities.
 
6.) Our Year, 2010 (collaboration with Jason Robert Bell) (1:50)
“Our Year” was first presented at Brooklyn Fireproof Gallery as part of Bushwick Site Fest 2010. In this video, Jason and I are making love to the Zombies’ “This Will Be Our Year”, celebrating new love.
06/17/14

Material Translations and The Memory of Things

An Exhibition By Casey Whittier

June 26th 6pm-9pm

Whittier,CaseyFB

Artist Statement

What happens when an object’s physical and identifying qualities are changed so drastically that the object teeters on the edge of no longer being what it was? If “string” cannot be manipulated, in what way is it still string? If it is no longer string, is it merely a relic of its former self? How does the physicality of an object or a material inform the system we use to evaluate it? What is more important: what is present or what is absent?

I choose to work primarily in clay for its inherent variations in surface and texture, its ability to mimic, to be thick, thin, ephemeral or permanent. Liquid or solid, it can be soft and pliable or fragile and brittle. It can take on its own shape or be used to embrace the form and surface of another substance.

Much of my larger body of work is concerned with issues of time, legacy, memory and mortality. I come to this work with the same fascination and devoted interest in a material that has played a role in the domestic and industrial spheres of nearly every known culture.  This allows me to both tap the collective memory of inhabited spaces (house/home) and to make work that is specific to the Hown’s Den and its inhabitants.

 

Artist Biography

Casey Whittier holds a BFA from KCAI and an MFA from the University of Colorado, Boulder. Growing up in Maine, her love for collections, textures and anything with a past was enhanced by a childhood spent in a big old house that was full of secrets, surprises and heirloom dust.  Whittier currently teaches at JCCC, Park University and will be teaching at KCAI for the 2014-15 school year.

http://caseywhittier.com

 

06/3/14

The Mother Load at PLUG Projects

This weeks film will take place at PLUG Projects in conjunction with their film nights, Frames Per Second. The Films include Moyra Davey’s “50 Minutes” and two shorts by Sasha Waters “The Waiting Time” and “Our Summer Made Her Light Escape”. The screening will start at 8pm.

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04/25/14

“The Mother Load” Backyard Film Series

After much reworking  it is finally here! The 2014 Backyard Film series at The Hown’s Den. This year the theme focuses on six mother centered films. All films will be screened outside and guests are welcome to bring along blankets and snacks. All screenings will begin at 7:30pm with a short introduction to the work. The Mother Load Web