Art Garden KC event unites Northeast artists

Nikki Lansford
Editorial Assistant

A windy day did little to deter the first ever Art Garden KC event, despite almost blowing away several of the art pieces on display. From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, March 7, a handful of artists from the Northeast set up their galleries for visitors to peruse and buy their work across from PH Coffee at Brooklyn and Lexington avenues in Pendleton Heights.

Art Garden KC will not be a one time event either, said Margarita Friedman, Pendleton Heights Neighborhood Association (PHNA) board member and resident of the Pendleton Arts Block. The plan is for it to continue running every Sunday at the same time for as long as weather permits. Any artist in Northeast is invited to set up shop and display their work. A wide range is welcome, from paintings and jewelry to arts and crafts.

Friedman, along with fellow Pendleton Heights residents Nathanaeli Leño and Bethany Alzanadi, organized the event based on inspiration from the three Jardínes del Arte, outdoor art gales, which take place every Sunday in Mexico City and Guadalajara. The outdoor galleries began as a way to remove barriers for smaller artists.

Friedman took her children to Jardín del Arte when they were young, and really saw the benefits such an event could have on the community. She said it was a safe and low-cost experience that brought everyone in the area together.

While walking around Jardín del Arte, Friedman would assign her children with three tasks: they were to find a piece of artwork for the bedroom and the living room, and the ugliest piece of art.

“In a way, they started to learn to appreciate art,” Friedman said. “I could see them make better choices as I had them explain the choices they made to me.”

Not only was the event great for visitors, but for the artists of the community, as well. For Friedman, Jardín del Arte was the first place she showed her work and made connections in the art world. She wanted to bring that opportunity to the many artists of Northeast.

Friedman said the difficulty of selling an artist’s work goes hand in hand with the difficulty of getting their artwork into a gallery. Without a gallery, there is not a great way for an artist to sell their work. Art Garden KC is an alternative way for a variety of artists in the area to get their work seen and sold.

“Being able to share our art without having to be in a gallery is really exciting,” said Shellie Kacillas, a ceramic artist at the event. “It can make us all feel like anyone can come over here and set up their artwork. We can all be making money and selling artwork, and it’s not limited to being accepted by a gallery.”

Art Garden KC not only gives Northeast artists the ability to sell their work, but also connects them to the artists in the area. Friedman said she hopes this event will allow artists to learn from one another and give them the ability to critique one another’s work.

“I definitely want to experience talking to other artists, and talking to other people to see what works and see what doesn’t work,” said Diamond Harris, a traditional anime and cartoon artist. “Learning from other artists is something I really, really love to do, and I take inspiration from it as well.”

While this first Art Garden KC event started off small with about five artists selling their work, Friedman said she has some big plans for it. She desires to one day have it become big enough that it will expand beyond the private plot of land that it is currently being held on, which the owners of PH Coffee offered them to use.

Her vision is to make this garden a destination point, a place where artists can meet to sell their work, interact with the community and work to show their process, as well as a place for families to have a good time and learn, Friedman said.

Eventually, musical and theatrical performances will be hosted outdoors during the event as well, Friedman said. She is optimistic that the weekly event will become big enough to create artists memberships and become a nonprofit that will support itself, resembling Jardín del Arte.

Friedman said she anticipates the outside visitors brought in for the event will be a new source of income to the food trucks and nearby vendors, thus improving the economic well-being of the neighborhood also.

The challenge Art Garden KC is currently facing is a need to get the art community more organized, Friedman said. Her next step is creating a contact list of all the artists who are interested in participating as a way to not only make the event run smoother and have more artists involved, but also connect fellow Northeast artists with one another.

“We are very disconnected. We want to focus on uniting the neighborhood artists,” Friedman said. “We also want [Art Garden KC] to be the center for the arts of the Northeast.”

An artist herself, Friedman said she has experienced the struggle of artists in the Northeast. She believes this Art Garden KC event will help promote a community of artists who are a big part of the Northeast.

UPDATE: This story previously referenced Art Garden KC as “Garden Of Art”

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