50/50 KC adds contrast to the Historic West Bottoms

Kansas City Art Institute graduates Cambria Potter and Hannah Lodwick fulfill a hole in the KC art community.

by Katie Donnellan, Staff Writer

Normally when we think of art in Kansas City, we think of the Nelson-Atkins or the Crossroads art galleries, but most would not associate large, metal shipping containers normally found on cargo ships to contain delicate exhibits of art. Art gallery 50/50 KC takes a modern and urban twist on art in Kansas City as we know it.

In an empty parking lot situated in the Stockyards District of the historic West Bottoms lie two connected grey shipping containers. Inside of these containers are two galleries. Cambria Potter and Hannah Lodwick, Kansas City Art Institute grads, created the project focused on fulfilling a hole in the Kansas City arts community. The gallery opened Aug. 21, drawing a mixed crowd of young and old art fanatics and crunchy West Bottom dwellers.

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I entered a group of people drinking luxurious wine and eating fine cheese while they babbled about the revolutionary vibe the gallery gave. There was a cultured buzz in the air almost as if it were fine art from Europe. With the weather at a perfect 70 degrees, people mingled outside the gallery to admire the shipping containers and their rough and edgy contrast to the projected art inside them.

In addition to the gallery is a billboard with an “OPEN” sign designed by Ari Fish, Kansas City artist. The billboard will be switched out every other month and a new one will be added soon, according to Potter and Lodwick. The billboard adds a more finished and professional feel to the outside of the gallery. Without the billboard, the shipping containers would look isolated and dull.

As I entered the gallery, I felt like I was truly experiencing the art rather than just looking at it. The limited space of the containers forces efficient use of space but also something that will grab onlookers attention to keep them inside and interacted.

The current show, called COHOST, features artists Robert Howsare of Kansas City and Kristin Walsh of New York. Howsare’s exhibit includes projection with a vintage sound projector and silk-screening color onto a film strip. I felt as if I had been teleported into the early 1900s experiencing a film at the movies. Across from Howsare, Walsh includes a digital projector to project Google Street View images onto acrylic objects in her exhibit. It was breathtaking watching the wall with shiny objects turn from a desert to a crowded city street.

The two exhibits fought for my attention. The soothing sound of an old film projector complimented the new popping colors displayed by both exhibits. I felt a mixture of the old with the sound and the new with the bright and vibrant colors. The gallery is an excellent representation of the West Bottoms and the mixing of the old history with the new that is to come from this district.

I highly recommend checking out 50/50 KC if you are bored on your Saturday afternoon. You can grab a quick brunch at Genessee Royale around the corner beforehand and then head out in the West Bottoms for an art adventure. Along with 50/50 KC, you can check out PLUG projects, Haw contemporary and the Bill Brady gallery for free.