Charlotte Street Foundation Fellows · 2008

Jorge Garcia Almodovar · Mike Hill · Beniah Leuschke · Adolfo Martinez

Since its establishment in 1997, Charlotte Street Foundation has annually honored outstanding Kansas City-based visual artists with unrestricted cash awards. These Charlotte Street Awards recognize locally based artists who are creating outstanding artwork, and provide financial support, critical attention, and increased exposure for these artists with the aim of fostering their continued artistic and professional development. Through the awards program, Charlotte Street Foundation seeks to contribute to the vitality of Kansas City's art community and to enhance Kansas City's desirability as a place for artists to work and live.

Altering spaces in subtle and refined ways through site-specific installation is key for Jorge Garcia Almodovar.  He describes his artistic process as operating within a framework of “bare essentials” to provide “just enough” information for viewers.  His muses include architecture, line, and minimalism, all of which he incorporates to form his own unique visual language. 

Documenting the history of heavy metal across the globe, Mike Hill’s current work is a unique hybrid of analytical and visual data exploring one of the most intense musical genres of the 20th century.  Through statistical color-coded graphs and time lines, Hill creates a fascinating, obsessive overview of heavy metal that in effect demystifies this categorically demonized musical genre. 

To enter Beniah Leuschke’s alternative universe is to experience brilliant nonsense that makes sense.  Engaging word play – the palindrome, anagram, and double entendre – Leuschke’s creations flash with dark wit and truth.  A methodical thinker who balances solid execution and idea, Leuschke states: “I think of myself as a builder of ideas rather than a maker of objects.  I treat my work as the longest distance between two points.”

Infusing the familiar with inferences to culture, history and place, Adolfo Martinez creates stirring and passionate works.  Martinez began his sofa paintings series in 1999 in reaction to seeing a starving artist “sofa sized paintings” sale advertised on television.  He reinvents this innocuous painting genre through whimsical, thoughtful works imbued with cultural signifiers and motifs.  His inspirations include Native American imagery (which he studied extensively at Pan American University in Texas), Mexican murals, symbolism, and surrealism.    

A rotating panel of Awards Advisors is responsible for selecting Charlotte Street Foundation Award recipients (Fellows) each year. The 2008 committee included three local Advisors: Bruce Hartman, Director, Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art; Stacy Switzer, Artistic Director, Grand Arts; and James Martin, former curator, Sprint-Nextel Art Collection. This year’s two Visiting Curators/National Advisors were Gregory Volk, independent critic and curator, and Associate Professor, School of the Arts, Virginia Commonwealth University, and Lynne Cooke, Curator, Dia Art Foundation, New York.

An illustrated gallery guide, with essay by Heather Lustfeldt, Kansas City-based independent curator, will accompany the exhibition. Artist descriptions above are excerpted from the forthcoming guide.

Jorge Garcia Almodovar, b. 1972 in Paterson, New Jersey; studied at the School of Visual Arts, NYC, and at Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York.
Mike Hill, b. 1973; earned his BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute in 1996 and his MFA from the University of Pennsylvania in 1999.
Beniah Leuschke, b. 1974; received his BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute in 1998 with a major in Photography and New Media.
Adolfo Martinez, b. 1954 in Kansas City, Missouri; earned his BFA from Pan American University in Edinburg, Texas, and also studied at the Kansas City Art Institute.