The pandemic twisted life for Molly Balloons, forcing the whimsical balloon artist — who thrives amid public exhibitions of her creativity and work — to reflect on what truly fills her soul with the most purpose and joy, she shared.
A new summer popup launches this weekend in the West Bottoms, officially blowing Balloons back with a bang and offering a Balloon Wonderland for Kansas Citians emerging from COVID restrictions.
Balloon Wonderland is an interactive photography studio for all ages, especially the inner child. Featuring a dozen-ish unique backdrops. Guests will leave feeling delighted and proud of new, top-knotch instagram content. You can expect totally unique photo opportunities that activate all of your senses. With limited capacity, guests can experience Molly Balloon’s imagination through unique self-guided photo shoots. Click here to get tickets to Balloon Wonderland.
Balloon Wonderland is an interactive photography studio for all ages, especially the inner child. Featuring a dozen-ish unique backdrops. Guests will leave feeling delighted and proud of new, top-knotch instagram content.
You can expect totally unique photo opportunities that activate all of your senses. With limited capacity, guests can experience Molly Balloon’s imagination through unique self-guided photo shoots.
Click here to get tickets to Balloon Wonderland.
“I’m going to die one day,” Balloons said bluntly. “And what do I want to spend my life doing? … A lot of my work has been done for other people, which sometimes sucks the fun out of these projects. It was time to do something that was unadulterated, unapologetically Molly Balloons. I can yell a lot of ‘Yeah boy, cowboys!’ into the camera for marketing because it’s completely my brand.”
Click here to read more about Molly Balloons early pandemic outlook.
After spending the winter months in Colorado as a self-described ski bum, she was ready to come out of hibernation with a showstopper event, Balloons said.
Her idea: create an interactive photography studio filled with eye-popping backdrops, as well as offer dance and yoga classes in an otherworldly space.
Balloon Wonderland is divided between two different locations (or as Balloons described, “planets”). The art studio intended for photoshoots and dance classes can be found at 1324 Studios, whereas yoga classes are down the block at Blip Roasters in the West Bottoms. The exhibitions are now open and will run through June 14.
Click here for more information on purchasing tickets to Balloon Wonderland.
Balloons credited Jenny Martin from Yoga Brain for lighting a fire under her and getting the grand event rolling.
“Jenny is a freaking genius,” Balloons said, noting that her entire team of professionals, artists, friends and volunteers (also all known as “badass babes”) are why this event is possible.
“There is so much talent in this room,” she continued as dozens of individuals twisted balloons and designed backdrops within 1324 Studios. “I have the ability to galvanize people and create really talented teams of really cool people. … So a lot of the artists I bring in, it’s like, ‘What’s that thing you’ve always wanted to do but no client will pay you for that weird, specific bullshit?’ Then I put those pieces together and make it a cohesive flow.”
The badass babes
Award-winning balloon artist Rob Balchunas came from Los Angeles to work on the wonderland exhibition. With awards in both twisting and decorating, Balchunas described himself as a “balloon chameleon,” floating between different parts of the project and helping where needed.
“It’s easy to forget how magical balloons are because [us artists are] so close to them all the time, and it can be very stressful,” Balchunas said. “But with an incredible display like this, it’s really cool to see how it affects people. Even the building process has been interesting — it’s the first time I’ve been able to see friends and work on a cool project like this now that I’m vaccinated.”
Another professional, Lisa McIntire, jumped in to say that one of her biggest regrets was not coming out to help with a Molly Balloons’ event back in 2018.
“She’s really able to play into each person’s individual strengths,” McIntire said, as she took a break from designing an organic balloon wall filled with various hues and sizes of blue balloons. “It is truly such a collaborative space.”
Motorcycle enthusiast and balloon artist Sam Cremeens echoed his fellow professionals. For Cremeens, balloons are another way he can express his passion for motorcycles, he explained as he pointed at a Pal (creatures that started as Balloons’ doodles then came to life through balloons) riding his motorcycle creation.
“Everybody knows Molly in our industry,” the Nashville-based artist noted. “She goes up to random people and starts talking and makes friends fast. A lot of us have been all around the world to do this, so it’s fun to be [in Kansas City] working together again.”
A new phase of life
This summer marks 10 years of Molly Balloons, she said.
“I’m not that old, so to have been doing anything for an entire decade is like … ” Balloons said in disbelief. “I don’t have my age anymore as a default to being impressive. I just need to be impressive.”
To start off this new phase of her career on the right foot, Balloons created a list of four major goals she wanted to accomplish with Balloon Wonderland.
No. 1: it needs to be profitable.
“That’s not very romantic at all,” she noted. “But this has to be a moneymaker, so that I can continue to do these big projects that I love to do.”
No. 2: it needs to be replicable.
“I needed to have a good, professional system in place,” she said. “This is the gig I want. I want to have my time off and then work on these big projects.”
No. 3: it needs to be the unfiltered Molly Balloons’ brand.
“All of my favorite artists are the ones who do something that’s so specifically hilarious to them and so deeply their style,” she continued. “That’s what I want people to see when they walk in.”
No. 4: it needs to be meaningful.
“I’m not here to help anyone with their taxes or really help anyone with the logistics of their lives,” Balloons shared. “I’m here to remind you that: however much you plan on enjoying your life, you’ve got to do that now. That inner child is who makes your life really magical on a Tuesday. Because life has a lot of Tuesdays; and what you do with your days is what you do with your life.”
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This story is possible thanks to support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a private, nonpartisan foundation that seeks to build inclusive prosperity through a prepared workforce and entrepreneur-focused economic development. The Foundation works to change conditions, address root causes, and break down systemic barriers so that all people – regardless of race, gender, or geography – have the opportunity to achieve economic stability, mobility, and prosperity.