Art dealer picks KC’s West Bottoms for next venture - Kansas City, MO

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Art dealer picks KC’s West Bottoms for next venture - Kansas City, MO
Art dealer picks KC’s West Bottoms for next venture - Kansas City, MO Bill Brady picks the former Daily Drovers Telegram Building as the site for his gallery. By ALICE THORSON The Kansas City Star Three years ago, John O’Brien moved his Dolphin Gallery and framing business from the Crossroads to a building at 1600 Liberty St. in the West Bottoms, where he joined businessman Bill Haw Sr., in envisioning a vibrant future for the area. The future, it seems, may be now. About two weeks ago New York gallery dealer Bill Brady, 44, a Kansas City native and 1991 Kansas City Art Institute grad, signed a lease on a Haw-owned building at 1550 Genessee St. — two blocks from the Dolphin — where he, too, plans to open an art gallery. “To have someone like Bill Brady come in with a new voice is really wonderful,” said John O’Brien, who helped Brady identify a building and spearheaded the design for the space. “We’re a city that’s trying to mature in the arts. We’ve come a long way; it’s kind of like stretching the rubber band. We don’t know where this might lead.” “It’s seismic,” says Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art director Bruce Hartman, who purchased many works for the museum’s Oppenheimer Collection from Brady’s ATM Gallery in New York. “He’s so well-connected nationally and is going to be working with some very prominent artists. Anything that keeps Kansas City in front of museums, galleries and collectors nationally can only benefit the entire city.” The new gallery, called simply Bill Brady, will occupy the north side of the former Daily Drovers Telegram Building. On the south side, Amigoni Urban Winery has plans for a tasting room at the front and an event space at the back. “There’s a real life for art here,” Brady said. ‘Close to my heart’ During family and business visits to Kansas City, Brady witnessed the explosion of the Crossroads Art District and the cheek-by-jowl crowds that gather for First Fridays. He also watched the city’s cutting-edge commercial gallery sector slowly contract with the closing of Jan Weiner Gallery and Byron Cohen’s decision to take his gallery online. “I feel there’s a need,” Brady said. Brady began looking seriously at Kansas City as a potential gallery location after his lease in Chelsea ran out a year ago. He considered moving to New York’s Lower East Side, where, he said, “new galleries are opening up like popcorn.” He also looked at the business model of art dealers who have opened spaces in small cities in Europe, and use those locations to do business at international art fairs and online. “The Internet changed everything. That’s why I can come to Kansas City,” Brady said. “I have a collector base all over the world. I want to get into collections here.” As a Kansas City native, Brady knows many of the local players. He is also intimately familiar with the West Bottoms, where he lived for a while in the early 1990s. “This neighborhood is close to my heart,” he said. “(I love) the grandness of the space. This is like the new frontier.” As a teenager, Brady worked at his father’s metal plating business at 23rd and Jarboe streets. He continued to work there after he enrolled at the Kansas City Art Institute in 1988. Following a summer in Skowhegan, Maine, at Skowhegan’s famed summer residency program, he graduated in fall 1991 and spent the next year applying to graduate schools and teaching art at the Guadalupe Center’s Alta Vista high school. In 1992, Brady moved to New York to earn his master’s degree in fine arts at the School of Visual Arts. He supported himself by working at the Guggenheim Museum and at Chase Manhattan Bank, taking care of the corporate art collection founded by David Rockefeller. Both jobs greatly broadened his knowledge of art history, he said, and gave him lots of experience with objects. The Chase job also made him think about how much money was to be made from ATM machines. With his wife, Young Mee Kang, he opened an ATM business that Young Mee continues to run. Brady says he’s not fazed when people ask about the wisdom of opening a gallery amid the challenges of an economic downturn. He launched ATM Gallery in October 2001 in New York’s East Village, a month after the 9/11 attacks. “I started (ATM Gallery) in a very funky time,” he said. “I’m not afraid to start this one in a very funky time.” Plans under way Over the next two and a half months, workers will renovate Brady’s half of the 1909 Telegram building into a pristine white cube featuring 1,600 square feet of gallery space and a reception area in front. Brady, who will continue to divide his time between New York and Kansas City, says he may be ready for a soft opening in December. In February, he will begin in earnest, presenting five shows per year, and closing the gallery in January and August. At ATM, Brady specialized in emerging artists, including Kansas City talents Andrzej Zielinski and Eric Sall. At the new gallery, he plans to do shows of some of the artists he launched, who then moved on to bigger galleries. He also will give KC exposure to other artists he admires who have dealers elsewhere, and he thinks there’s a lot of untapped talent in Kansas City. His recent visit included stops at several artists’ studios. Starting out, Brady says, he plans to concentrate on group shows, mixing out-of-town artists with area talents, and not get involved in representing a set stable of artists. He said he will also serve as a “conduit to get Kansas City artists into New York galleries.” “I know many dealers, and who would fit where,” Brady said. “That is what we’ve always needed,” O’Brien said. And the new Bill Brady gallery might well be just what the West Bottoms needs. “John and I ganged up on him and conveyed our enthusiasm about the area,” said Bill Haw Jr., a partner with his father in developing the West Bottoms. “Bill (Brady), with a lot of input from John, was able to design it from the bottom up.” “It’s very ambitious,” O’Brien said. “I think there are going to be people watching what he does. I hope it works and then other people might take a look at coming here as well, (in the same way) the Crossroads blossomed.” Source:
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