September 28, 2023


Without Art It's Really Boring!!!

Jim Leedy, Crossroads Arts District visionary and longtime Kansas Town Artwork Institute professor, dies at 91 | KCUR 89.3

4 min read

Jim Leedy was a painter, printmaker, sculptor, overall performance and mixed media artist — but he thought of clay his preferred medium.

“Clay was usually a section of my life,” he explained to writer Kara Rooney. “I grew up actively playing with it.”

He added, “But from the incredibly beginning of my everyday living I did know that I was an artist. And that is strange due to the fact there was extremely little art all over.”

An artist and retired professor at the Kansas Town Artwork Institute, Leedy assisted spearhead the Crossroads Arts District. He died early Sunday morning at the age of 91 in Lake Lotawana, Missouri.

Leedy served as a professor in the sculpture office at the Kansas City Art Institute for more than 40 yrs, from 1966 till he retired in 2008.

Artist Hugh Merrill begun instructing at KCAI in 1976.

“And I do not genuinely bear in mind the first time I satisfied him,” Merrill told KCUR, “but I do bear in mind a standard sensation of here’s this person who’s even bigger than daily life, with this jean jacket on and throughout the jean jacket it’s almost certainly 2000 various varieties of buttons.”

“And, it was like, this guy’s truly cool,” Merrill reported. “You know, a theatrical character and greater-than-lifetime kind of character.”

Jim Leedy/Weinberger Fine Artwork


Jim Leedy’s combined media on canvas operate referred to as “Orb I.”

Priced out of renting a room in Westport for a studio and gallery, Leedy began seeking for a new place. In the 1980s, he purchased rundown structures along Baltimore and Wyandotte in downtown Kansas City and co-established the Leedy-Voulkos Art Centre at 2012 Baltimore in 1985. He encouraged other folks to shift into the community.

The area, now acknowledged as the Crossroads Arts District, is filled with restaurants, retailers and galleries.

“A large amount of folks would concur if I mentioned he was a visionary,” his daughter, Stephanie Leedy, instructed KCUR. “Because by shopping for these buildings and just plunging into anything, he could see that there was a long run down right here.”

Similar: Jim Leedy and Stephanie Leedy at the StoryCorps Mobilebooth in Kansas Town

Leedy was born on Nov. 6, 1930, in McRoberts, Kentucky, and grew up in rural areas of Montana, Ohio and Virginia. His creative skills led to stints cartooning for a local paper and to pictures — a skill he honed although serving in the U.S. Army from 1951 to 1952 in the course of the Korean War.

Following the war, he moved to New York exactly where he moved in the similar circles as Summary Expressionist artists these as Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline and Jackson Pollock.

He went on to receive a BFA from Richmond Professional Institute (now recognised as Virginia Commonwealth University), an MFA from Southern Illinois University and an MA in art background from Michigan Condition University.

Leedy began instructing at Northern Point out Faculty in Aberdeen, South Dakota, and from 1960 to1964 taught at the College of Montana in Missoula, where he solid influential friendships with ceramic artists Rudy Autio and Peter Voulkos.

In 1966, he moved to Kansas Town, Missouri, to believe a professorship at the Kansas Metropolis Art Institute, where by he taught for 42 a long time — and continued building artwork.

“While impressed by the historical past of artwork, like early cave paintings, non-Western sculpture, historical Chinese pottery, Méret Oppenheim, and Summary Expressionism – Leedy asserts that his most effective instructor is character,” wrote curator Heather Lustfeldt when Leedy was awarded a 2003 Charlotte Avenue Foundation Visual Artist Award. “His totemic, visceral clay is effective and assemblages expose his reverence for nature and the creative spirit within just.”


Jim Leedy/Leedy-Voulkos Artwork Centre


The Jim Leedy Home at the Leedy-Volkos Art Heart attributes a vary of operates, these kinds of as this ceramic piece, by the artist.

Leedy’s company for the duration of the Korean War and the horrors he witnessed have been reflected in his perform, which includes War, which was exhibited in 2000 at Grand Arts gallery in Kansas Town. It featured, as Leedy described it, “a huge wall of cranium and bones titled ‘The Earth Lies Screaming.'”

“With their amazing hues and lunar surfaces, some get in touch with them (Leedy’s paintings) cosmic,” wrote previous Kansas City Star artwork critic Alice Thorson. “His ceramics — designed of thrown, torn and twisted clay — broke new floor.”

Leedy’s do the job is included in the collections of several museums, like the American Craft Museum, the Los Angeles County Museum of Artwork, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, the Museum of Arts and Design and style in New York, and the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Artwork in Kansas Metropolis, Missouri.

The Leedy family posted a assertion Sunday on Facebook: “We are comforted in knowing that Jim will continue to dwell on by way of his extravagant stories, legitimate friendships and influential artwork he has developed all over the earth. Thank you to all who have shared, and go on to share, your memories of Jim. It keeps our hearts whole throughout this complicated time.”

Solutions will be announced.

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