Vanessa Lacy’s artist incubator eliminates “the lonely artist,” she said, noting her gallery model replaces solitude with creative relationships and a collaborative community.
“Artists tend to get very isolated in their studio spaces working on their own; then they have a relationship with a gallery that’s really more of a business relationship,” said Lacy, owner of Vanessa Lacy Gallery. “There are a lot of needs that an artist has that are not met by a normal gallery situation, whereas here it’s more of a peer group and mentor-mentee type of [model].”
Lacy’s Stockyard Studios Artists Residency (STAR) program — operating from a site on Genessee Street in the West Bottoms — offers 24-hour access to studio space for three months for no cost, only asking for participation in events and work displayed in the gallery during that time, she added.
A sense of community has grown organically in the space, said Lacy.
“[This is a] really awesome community that I’m building,” she said. “We’ve been a really great team for the last several months now; it’s going really well. We all have meetings and help each other and critique each other’s work. [We] have great conversations about their art careers and art making. So it’s not your regular gallery model, really. It’s centered around building up artists.”
Growing into multiple spaces is the gallery’s next step, said Lacy, noting a need to better provide resources and contacts for artists throughout the KC area.
Lacy was heavily influenced as an artist and entrepreneur by her time in a fellowship at the Crossroads Arts Incubator KC 10 years ago, said the gallery owner and GUILDit alum.
All participants in the incubator knew they were a part of something special, she added, noting her time there spurred the conceptual reimagining in the West Bottoms space.
“Even though with the arts incubator, my experience with it only lasted a few years — it had a lasting impact on me and it helped me to connect with the Kansas City art community in a way that I just wouldn’t have been able to otherwise,” she said.
Artists joining Lacy’s STAR program go through an interview and jury process, she said, with opportunities to join open calls and residencies available twice a month through a newsletter.
The gallery is expected to play host to a Holiday Small Works Show to benefit Harvesters — with attendees invited to bring non-perishable food items to donate in exchange for raffle tickets for a gift certificate to the gallery, she added, as well as 10 percent of sales being gifted to the community food network.
Along with buying art to benefit the artists — it’s a triple threat of giving, said Lacy, laughing.
“[We’ll have] artwork by about 50 artists. All of the artwork is 14 inches or less in any dimension, not counting the frame, and under $500, so you should be able to find something affordable and unique and made by local artists,” she said.
Lacy is currently accepting applications for the gallery’s Feb. 8 Capturing Bliss showcase — deadline to apply is Jan. 14 — and reception, she said, noting artwork is expected to represent inspiration, color, and joy.
“[It will show] artwork that’s about being blissful or being blissful in your art making,” she added. “I thought that would make a really beautiful show with work people would love to have.”