Belger Craneyard Studios | Arts Upload

Belger Craneyard Studios | Arts Upload


(Randy)
There are certain names
that come to mind when we think about growing
the arts in Kansas City, Kemper, Bloch, Hall, Helzberg. (Maris)
And to that list,
we should be adding Belger. (Randy)
Well, you know, it”s a name
you”ve probably seen attached to cranes
or large trucks. Their cartage company
goes back to 1919. But what began with
an art gallery in the company headquarters has spawned the Red Star
ceramics studio and now another
amazing complex called the Crane Yard Studio. What Dick and Evelyn
Craft Belger are quietly
building here is definitely worth
further examination. (Mo)
Boston, Massachusetts,
Melbourne, Australia, Phoenix, Arizona,
Tijuana, Mexico, Austin, Texas, Greenville, South Carolina,
and on and on. Yeah, the way I remember it was,
Dick said, “I been going to museums
for 30 years, and half the time,
I get in my car and I think, ”What the hell
was that all about?”” He said, “All I want you to do
is hang out and talk to people.” And then we have this mysterious
3-dimensional box. “And explain to ”em
why I collect what I collect and why we do the shows we do.” And I have found it”s been
a pretty successful formula. (Randy)
Ten years have passed now
since Mo Dickens took the reins of the gallery
that the late Myra Morgan had started a few years earlier. Myra also gets the credit
for starting Dick Belger on his art collecting odyssey
several decades before that. Turns out he”d already had
plenty of practice. (Dick)
I think I”ve collected
about everything except bottle caps
and baseball cards. If you collect, you”re learning. If you”re learning,
you”re still alive. If you”re not learning,
you”re dead. (Randy)
For a guy who claims he could barely spell art
when he started, Dick caught on quickly, amassing works by the likes of
Jasper Johns, William Wylie,
Robert Stackhouse, William Christenberry, and other top flight
contemporary artists. Works which soon began
finding their ways onto the walls
of the company headquarters. (Dick)
I have a real curiosity, and I discovered later,
I”m a fan of process. You know, how do you get
from here to there? What happens in that? That”s what
those artists are doing. They”re processing. They”re going through a process
to do that work. And they”re resolving
some of their own issues, some of their personal issues. And that”s really
what got me hooked in art. (Randy)
The Belger collection
runs so deep on certain artists that Mo and the staff here regularly receive calls from high profile museums
around the country putting together
exhibitions of their own. In fact, Evelyn Craft Belger
met her future husband while serving as
Executive Director of the Arts Center
in St. Petersburg, Florida. They”ve been married
six years now. (Evelyn)
I respect and love
the collection, and I love
Dick”s collecting vision. I would probably buy things
in an undisciplined manner because I love them. I love seeing people
try new things, develop new skills, and hopefully grow as an artist. (Randy)
So far, Evelyn”s biggest impact, aside from helping Dick dial his work week down
to just six days, can be found a few blocks
further east. Across the train tracks
from the real crane yard, the Belger Crane Yard studios
at 20th and Tracy contain a little bit
of everything: exhibition space, a new home
for Red Star Ceramics, the Lawrence Lithography
Workshop and the metal shop
where Asheer Akram built his highly acclaimed
Pakistani Cargo Truck. (Evelyn)
And I believe
it”s really important to provide an opportunity
to as many people as possible to experience
the creative process. If you”re in
a museum environment, you have so many
other restrictions. When you are in
an art center environment like ours,
which is a private gallery, we can take a lot more chances. because we”re–what we”re doing is trying to educate
about the creative process, and that
includes mistakes and it includes opportunities
for people to soar, you know, that they
wouldn”t have had before. When I still had the shop
in Lawrence, some of the artists
that he was collecting, like Stackhouse and Wylie
and those guys, they were sending over to me
to print with. And he wanted the idea of a shop
here in this area instead of just
on the East or West Coast. (Randy)
After spending some time
in Texas, Mike Sims brought his
printmaking prowess back to town. In 2005, Lawrence Lithography became the first and,
for a number of years, only occupant
of this formidable old building that once housed
a wax paper plant. (Mike)
I like, personally,
that we”re not right down
in the Crossroads District. I like that this
has its own little niche. The view out these windows
every single day is stimulating. When the weather changes, the show out the window
is great. Now the Red Star is downstairs,
and with the metal shop, all of this is now becoming
an arts destination point, so we”re all
feeding off each other this way. We”re getting
a critical mass here that”s really
bringing people out. (Asheer)
There are facilities that strive
to do similar things in town. Like,
there”s the Hobbs Building. There was the Arts Incubator, but I think the way
they”re approaching setting everything up and letting it kind of
organically define itself is unique here,
and it”s working really well. (Randy)
Nothing as ambitious as
the Cargo Truck has passed through lately, but plenty of metal fabrication
continues. In fact, Asheer showed some large-scale pieces
upstairs last winter. And, in the spirit of things, he”s also been playing
more frequently with ceramics. Which bring us
to Crane Yard Clay, a wholesale operation housed in the east end
of the complex. Selling art supplies
for pottery making has steadied
the revenue stream, and that”s by design. (Evelyn)
My background
is in business first, and then it was the arts. And even though it was
the business side of the arts later on, I think you”ve got to have
both elements. It can”t be all
wishful thinking. There”s a lot of hard work
into any career in the arts. (Dick)
That creative process
not only works in the arts. It also works as a business. Because you have to be
quick on your feet and be able to adapt
to new ways of thinking in the business world
to be successful. And that”s one good influence
that the arts have on me is, my feet aren”t quite
planted so deep in cement. You know, I can move
a little bit quicker. (Randy)
As unusual as this mix
might seem, think of it this way: the heavy hauling business moves things
from Point A to Point B, not unlike the artistic process that Dick Belger finds
so fascinating. I think his biggest contribution
to the city– and he makes a whole lot of incredible contributions
to the city– but is the backing he gives
the arts at the ground level building out. (Evelyn)
I won”t say we”re reclusive,
but we”re pretty private people. The only reason
to put our name on anything is to say that it”s important
that everybody give. Whatever level
that you can do something that opens another person”s eyes
to the arts or creative process,
that”s really important. So this is
very early. And this is kind of funny to me,
”cause I found– Students from the art institute
frequently come down here, and they say, “How do I
get a job like yours, Mo? And I, you know,
learned pretty early on the correct answer was, “I don”t think
there is a job like mine. If I ever hear of one,
I”ll let you know.” Come here. I got to show you the way
Peregrine signed this thing. (man)
Oh. New Year”s Day, 2001. Look–get close.
Look how she signed it. She”s looking forward
and looking back. When you come
to the New Theatre, you get treated
really well. Cushy seats,
climate control, and a menu that”s
come a long way since the old days
of dinner theatre. It is a little different than the experience
you”d expect when you head off to the Heart of America
Shakespeare Festival, where conditions are,
shall we say, more variable. This year, the chosen play
isKing Lear,and it”s under way
in Southmoreland Park through July 5th. John Rensenhouse
is the actor chosen to wear those heavy robes and carry
all that inner rage. We got a chance
to speak with this veteran of many
such productions on the stone wall
at park”s edge. Away! By Jupiter! This”ll be my sixth time
to be in the play. Uh, but this will be
my first time to be playing the
titular character, King Lear. So back in February,
I started growing my beard and not cutting my hair
and letting it all go wild. And this is what we get. And I tell people, “You should
come to the park this summer. We”re doingKing Lear.”And they say,
“You look like King Lear.” And I”m like, “Well, okay. Halfway there.” I take Cordelia
by the hand, Duchess of Burgundy. Nothing! I have sworn.
I am firm. Sidonie Garrett, the executive artistic director
of the festival, has pulled together
a pretty consistent company that she uses,
and this year is no different. Mark Robbins is in the play. Matt Rapport. Cinnamon Schultz. Kim Martin-Cotten,
who I got to play with– We were Mr. and Mrs. Macbeth
together, and we were Antony and Cleopatra
together maybe three years ago. She is now my daughter. That is how I”ve aged. She used to be my girlfriend; now she”s my daughter. Her husband, Jacques Roy, who played a very memorable Puck inMidsummer Night”s Dreama
couple years ago, he”s in this. We”re a group that has really
gotten to bond over the various summers
out here. Rain and heat, humidity
will tend to make you bond with those you are around
at that time. Oh!
[chuckles deeply] [speaks indistinctly] When we did it 15 years ago,
it was much more civilized. We were wearing tuxedos
in the first scene. So it was the crumbling
of the civilized society. Here, I think it”s more of
the full realization of the more savage society that when allowed to
eat each other up, we eat each other up. Half his revenue? My son Edgar! (John)
Sidonie Garrett
lovesGame of Thrones,and so this is sort of
in a Middle Ages. It”s a barbaric play, so, you know,
it”s a good choice. You slave!
You cur! I am none of these,
my lord. I beseech your pardon. Do you bandy looks with me,
you rascal? [screams] I”ll not be struck,
my lord. King Lear wasn”t done much
throughout the years because of–just because of the nihilistic world view
that it offers. At the end of World War II, it started being done
a lot more because we had all seen
the horrors of the war. Oftentimes, people say,
“Well,King Learis the Shakespeare play
for our age,” which doesn”t say much
about our age. So it follows that I am rough
and lecherous. [laughs] There”s a classic sequence where he goes out
into the storm, and he”s sort of driven mad and goes out onto the heath
in the middle of a storm, and he gets to say the famous “Blow, winds,
and crack your cheeks. Rage! blow!” And that”s–that”s fun to say. And that”s fun to fully embody. And I now understand
why the character does it. Because there”s something
liberating. You just go, “Ah, bring it on. I can take it.” That”s a really fun
part to do. Spout rain! Nor rain, wind, thunder, fire,
are my daughters. I love it out here. I love it because
you”re in the open air. It”s difficult when the play
starts at 8:00, ”cause it”s not dark yet. And you can see the people
very clearly. You can see them
eating their fried chicken and drinking their wine, and it makes you want to be on that side of the fence
with them. It make–it makes me
actually very nervous when– to see the audience
in broad daylight. So for the first scene, it”s usually a little
nerve-racking. I won”t lie about that. But once you get going, you get into the flow
of the play and everything, and the audience
sort of drifts away. And then once it gets dark,
it becomes magical. Hath lost me
in your liking. Better thou
hadst not been born than not to have
pleased me better. (John)
And yeah, and you do have to get yourself mentally prepared
to just, “Okay, I”m gonna be
a sweaty mess. There are–flies may fly
into my mouth while I”m talking. That happens regularly. You choke on these flies,
you know. And then every night, though, is the great thing
why I love being out here. Every performance
when you get to the end and it”s cooled off a bit and the pretty lights
are shining and you get to
the end of the play, it”s a glorious thing. And it”s worth it.
It”s worth it, definitely. Do not
make me mad. [crickets chirping] And John Rensenhouse
without the beard will be on stage
as Mr. Kirby when the New Theatre
restaurant doesYou Can”t Take It With You
this fall. The show onstage right now
isHairspray,which, unlike many of
the productions here, doesn”t have a big name
out front. Over the years, Richard Carrothers
and Dennis Hennessy have found great success
mixing big names like Barbara Eden, Gary Sandy,
Marion Ross with some of the great
acting talent we have here in town already. Another thing we have
here in the metro are fountains. Lots of them. Their artistry speaks to
the things we value as a city, but sometimes they can become
very personal as well. On this edition
of My Favorite Fountain we head up North Oak
with producer Dave Burkhardt for a touching tribute
at the Children”s Fountain. [water rushing] [lively orchestral music] This fountain,
the Children”s Fountain in Children”s Fountain Park
north of Kansas City, is our favorite
fountain. And the story of why
begins with the birth and death
of our daughter, Milena, who was born
in July of 2013. (Saul)
It”s a fountain
about children. (Liz)
It”s a beautiful little park, even though we”re surrounded
here by very busy streets. Even though Milena was a girl, the sculpture that I actually
most grab onto here is of the little boy who”s
holding his crutches in the air. And it really just
immediately demonstrated, for me, a limitlessness, leaving behind all the cares
of the body and being free. And when I see it, I think of her
running and playing. (Saul)
I know for me,
I think of all of the ages that we hoped
to raise her through and to get to watch her
grow through. And the first sculpture
seems to be the youngest, and she”s just dipping her toe
into the water. But you know, at the other end, there”s the sculpture
who”s almost, you know, a full adult and is not looking back, is looking over her shoulder
a little bit, but mostly just has her arms up. And all of the documentation
that I”ve seen about the fountain
refers to her as Joy, which I think
is just a wonderful touch. (Liz)
This park has opportunity to memorialize people
who passed on: bricks, benches. We chose a tree. (Saul)
The tree is a redbud
over there. There”s a plaque in her honor. (Liz)
It”s going to be a true pleasure
to watch it grow over the years, to see it change
during different seasons. It”s got beautiful
bright pink flowers. (Saul)
It means a great deal to us for other people to be able to
remember her with us.   Here onArts Upload,we like to say that
we”re proving Kansas City is America”s Creative
Crossroads. We also share certain stories that come to us
from the outside world. Ah, and this next one
lets me say David Lynch
was on our show. As you may have heard,Twin Peaksis set
to return in 2016. But before Mr. Lynch
made movies, the renowned director found a creative outlet
in other forms. Take a look. (Robert)
The traces of Philadelphia
in his work are– you can”t–you can”t unwind
or pull anything apart without Philadelphia poking up. (David Lynch)
I haven”t seen
some of these paintings that are in this show
since the ”60s. When I went around
looking at the show upstairs, I got more–I got ideas. So I think it”s good to look
back sometimes. [moody atmospheric music] # #   (David Lynch)
I always say
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is my biggest influence. There”s something
about the mood here. There was dark carved wood
banisters and stairways. There was a certain
type of green that they would
paint the rooms– either white
or this strange green. The rooms had nice proportions. So there was a certain
kind of purity. It hadn”t been disturbed
except by the soot. (Robert)
It wasn”t
any one particular thing or scene
that you witnessed here. It was the mood. And it”s what
some of the images did when they got down
inside of you. Yeah. Philadelphia is,
uh… uh…percolating in me. [laughter] (Robert)
The Unified Field
is the first museum exhibition of David Lynch”s
paintings and drawings ever. It”s the largest survey
that”s ever been on view in an American museum,
and it”s the first. Back in 1965. And I want to thank– (Robert)
He”s also
an internationally known film director and writer. And he has been nominated
for Academy Awards. Pretty much a celebrity. He”s known
throughout the entire world as a film director. But David Lynch is, at heart,
a painter. I only wanted to be
a painter. I got into film by accident in this very building in one of the studios
right over here. The first film I ever made
is now being shown here as it was when I made it. And it was projected
in this room almost just to the right
of where you”re sitting on a 16-milimeter projector, and then I had a tape recorder
with a loop of siren. And it was played right here. [siren wailing]   [siren continues wailing]   (Robert)
One of the things I”m most
proud of about this exhibition is that we are presenting
Six Men Getting Sick,
which Lynch did in 1967,
for the first time since 1967. Where David Lynch begins, to me, as somebody who”s making work
that is uniquely his own, is withSix Men Getting Sick.It”s that piece that he made as his entry
into the second annual experimental painting
and sculpture competition that was held at PAFA. Lynch, who was an advanced
painting student at PAFA, didn”t produce a painting
but based on an experience he had
in his studio one night– He was painting an image
of green garden plants at night. It was a nocturnal scene– He paused, and then
from the painting came a wind that he heard and he felt, and then he saw the plants
start to move on the canvas, and he thought,
“Oh, a moving painting.” And he stresses
that he wasn”t on drugs. You know, this is the late ”60s, and everybody wants to know
“Was David Lynch taking drugs?” But all of his friends–
and he sort of asserts that he was pretty much
straight as an arrow. Not having had any film training
whatsoever– There was no film program
at PAFA. There wasn”t even a photography
curriculum at PAFA. He and his friend
Bruce Samuelson, who teaches here now; has been teaching here
since the early ”70s and was a classmate of Lynch”s– talked about
getting cameras together and starting some kind
of film experiments. Well, Lynch went and bought
a camera, a wind-up camera. And he started to basically
do stop-motion animation of a painting he was making.Six Men Getting Sick
isn”t the moment where there”s a crossroads and David Lynch picks film
over painting or drawing. It is the first manifestation
of what winds up being total– total sensory immersion. When you look at what the result
is,Six Men Getting Sick,it”s a filmed animation
that goes on for 60 seconds, and it”s looped, aimed at a sculpted screen
that”s 6×8 feet. And the animation is basically
a painting that he”s making that he gradually adds to, shoots two frames, adds to it, shoots two frames,
and continues to do that. And so he”s not making
little sort of animated cells. or approaching film in the way
a filmmaker would. Lynch is approaching film the way he knows how to do
any kind of studio work or come up with a solution. He is actually making a painting and filming it
as it is transforming, you know, through his gradual
add to process. I”ve been painting ever since. And–but I get something
from painting that I don”t get
from any other medium, for sure.   If you don”t know what it is, a sore can be very beautiful. A sore in the skin,
an infection, a deep cut with pus. But if you took a picture of it,
a close-up, and you didn”t know
exactly what it was, it could be a great… beauty
of organic phenomenon. But he”s constantly trying
to think of new ways of realizing that idea. And it”s a vision
of total sensory immersion rather than, “I am choosing film
over painting.” It”s all together. I only wanted to be a painter. Painting led to
wanting to do a moving painting with sound. So cinema, to me, is sound and picture
moving together in time. And for me,
it was born out of painting. (Robert)
Eraserhead
is also
this intuitive process, that he is making a film in a manner
that takes four years, partly because of funding, but also because of
the nature of the way he”s constructing
the world– constructed and added to
in the way that somebody working in a studio
doing something, putting something
in juxtaposition, adding something to it– would do a film rather than somebody
who”s shooting a narrative that has a linear
sort of trajectory.   He wants to constantly
remind people that it”s a muse. Philadelphia has been his muse,
basically. [DJ Shadow”sMidnight
in a Perfect World
playing] # # (Randy)
Incredible new look
at The New Theatre restaurant was just unveiled a few months
earlier this spring. But you know what”s
really amazing to me is that it has been
almost 23 years since they closed down
Tiffany”s Attic and moved out here
to 92nd and Foster. Also amazing? We are out of time
once again. But not to worry. Next week more stories, including, and I”ll only
say this once. Toytisserie. Plus, some graffiti
for a good cause. It”s all coming up
on the nextArts Upload.  No more, for these are
unsightly tricks. Return you
to my sister. Never, Regan. She hath abated me
of half my train, look”d black upon me,
struck me with her tongue, most serpent-like,
upon the very heart. All the stored
vengeances of heaven fall on her
ingrateful top! Strike her
young bones, you taking airs,
with lameness! (Cornwall)
Fie, sir, fie! Dart your–No,
you nimble lightnings, dart your
blinding flames into her scornful eyes! Infect her beauty,
you fen-suck”d fogs, to fall
and blast her! O the blest gods! So shall you
wish on me– (announcer)
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