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Alice Thorson at the KC Star previews America: Now and Here:

The epicenter of May First Fridays is the Leedy-Voulkos Art Center, where the New York-based “America: Now and Here” project will present events that aim to initiate a conversation about America.

It’s a mammoth production, involving local and national artists, poets, actors, filmmakers and musicians. There’s also an emerging artist exhibit at the Cocoon Gallery and a performance by DJ Spooky during Friday’s opening festivities. The Leedy-Voulkos gallery is at 2012 Baltimore Ave. For specifics, go tohttp://kansascity.americanowandhere.org.

Read more: http://www.kansascity.com/2011/05/04/2847137/first-friday-america-now-and-here.html#ixzz1Lya3wHm2

By ALICE THORSON
The Kansas City Star

You know Kansas City has arrived as a cultural destination when New Yorkers seek it out as a venue. In recent years, the KC audience has become accustomed to big, multimedia, multidisciplinary events, largely through the Charlotte Street Foundation’s Urban Culture Project, which regularly presents showings that mix poetry, dance, music, performance, film and visual arts. On Friday, much of this local activity and many of its best-known practitioners will be folded into a multimillion-dollar national project spearheaded by NY artist Eric Fischl, a star of the 1980s art boom, and launching in Kansas City’s Crossroads Arts District. It’s called “America: Now and Here,” and its mission is to “open up a dialogue about America through the arts.” Fischl conceived the project — a traveling show of works by national painters, playwrights, poets, composers and musicians joined by their counterparts from the cities it will visit — “as a way to foster a new civic relationship with the arts.” “We’re not about art, we’re about positioning art for new and necessary kinds of dialogue about America,” said the project’s director, Dorothy Dunn,  […]

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No one can quite put their finger on what America: Now and Here is, what it will be, or what it might become.  A roving museum packed with visual art, film, poetry, and theatre freshly minted from the best and brightest artists in America aspiring to spark a dialogue with America.  Who are we?  What does America look like post 9-11, post Obama, post Hurricane or Oil Spill or Economic Crisis?  Art, for me, is about uncovering that face, finding that voice, discovering our collective (and by extension, personal) identity.  This new national arts project, America: Now and Here, is looking for that conversation.  It kicks off next week here in Kansas City and I am proud to be a part of it.  Even if I can’t quite get my finger on what it will look like.  I am one of the 10 local actors tasked with bringing to life the works so many local and national playwrights have written in response to Eric Fischl’s call for dialogue.  We will be performing in a museum in The Crossroads, one of the many thriving arts areas of Kansas City.  Site specific, overheard conversation, guerrilla theatre are just a few of the theatre buzz words floating around as people try to describe what it might be like in performance.  But no one really knows.  And that, in the end, is kind of exciting.  I don’t know what America’s identity is in these turbulent times; I don’t know what we may become, or even what we are.  But I look forward to the conversation.  So far the journey has been amazing, confusing, and inspiring.  And I hope you’ll join us.

Check out the fantastic website for more info and perhaps a clearer explanation of what this project is about.

The Museum opens its doors in Kansas City this First Friday (May 6th) at 11am and will be open Wed-Sun through-out May.  Then the museum picks up and moves to a new metro area and starts the process over.  Be ready: here, there, or anywhere.