Occupation: “Art lady” might be my favorite descriptor. I am co-director of Charlotte Street Foundation, a nonprofit that nurtures, supports and connects artists in Kansas City through cash awards, project grants, commissions, studio residencies, exhibition and performance opportunities (through our Urban Culture Project), professional development training, etc.
Hometowns: Alexandria, Virginia, and Delmar, New York, growing up. But since my parents moved to KC as I was finishing college, and after nearly 14 years here myself, Kansas City certainly feels like home.
Current neighborhood: Roanoke
What is your sidekick? One bottomless-pit purse or another, in which I am, to the annoyance or amusement of others, constantly digging. And my laptop. Often, one of my fancy Bengal leopard cats, Biggie or Poppy, attempts to sit on my laptop.
Where do you drink? I’ve curbed my drinking significantly of late as I’ve become less resilient. But still, good cocktails on occasion are essential … R Bar, the Rieger, Grünauer or Pot Pie in winter; the Farmhouse, Aixois or the Westside Local in summer; Justus Drugstore when someone else is willing to drive.
What’s your favorite charity? Charlotte Street Foundation! Also KCUR and KCPT.
Favorite place to spend your paycheck: Almost nothing gives me as much pure pleasure as a Saturday of estate sales, and Kansas City is a great place for them. I love digging around for treasures and am a sucker for hand-embroidered linens, ceramics, mid-century whatevers, and strange odds and ends. But I could quickly and happily spend my whole paycheck on artwork, straight out of KC artists’ studios or from local galleries. Or go broke at Asiatica, Retro Inferno or George Terbovich’s store in Crestwood.
What local phenomenon is overrated? Boutique shopping at glorified strip malls in the suburbs.
Where do you like to take out-of-town guests? Giving visiting artists and curators a proper orientation to Kansas City includes YJ’s Snack Bar and the West 18th Street shops, Bob Jones Shoes, Arthur Bryant’s, a drive through the West Bottoms (with stops at the Dolphin and the Golden Ox), stops at the Nelson and Kemper and Nerman museums, Le Fou Frog for dinner, and then a send-off to Mutual Musicians Foundation as I go to bed. Friends and family might get a stop at Fervere for bread, coffee at Chez Elle, produce shopping at City Market, a long walk around Columbus Park and the old Northeast, piddling around in the Crossroads (with stops at Hammerpress, Black Bamboo and Cellar Rat), a view from the Liberty Memorial, then home for a leisurely dinner.
Finish this sentence: “Kansas City screwed up when it …” Built the highways that sliced up downtown and drove the evacuation from the heart of the city.
“Kansas City got it right when …” It completed the restoration of Liberty Memorial. It is such a beautiful and elegant site in the middle of the city. And then it got it right again establishing the dog park in Penn Valley Park, which means that there are always people there. One of my very favorite places to walk, including feeling like Rocky running up the stairs of the memorial.
“Kansas City needs …” To recognize that creative people are its greatest asset; to incentivize bottom-up, small-scale, mixed-use development; and to support its local culture makers. Plus, maybe a tobacco tax for the arts.
“People might be surprised to know that I …” Sometimes dream of being a homemaker.
What local tradition do you take part in every year? End-of-semester sales at Kansas City Art Institute. And the KC Flatfiles at the H&R Block Artspace every other year.
What TV show do you make sure you watch? Charlie Rose for brain food, Breaking Bad for existential drama, Project Runway and Work of Art for a kind of trashy yet talent-driven competitive fun.
____ take up a lot of space in my iTunes: Cat Power, Beastie Boys, Yo La Tengo and Billie Holiday
What movie do you watch at least once a year? Rushmore
Person or thing you find really irritating at this moment: The Republican Party
What subscription do you value most? I’ve been getting both The New Yorker and New York for more than 20 years, and I would experience massive withdrawal if they disappeared from my mailbox.
Last book you read: A Short History of Women, a novel by Kate Walbert that chronicles the lives and legacies of several generations of women descending from a suffragette who starved herself to death for the cause.
What was your most embarrassing dating moment? Several involve being kicked out of public places for inappropriate behavior.
Interesting brush with the law? See above.
Describe a recent triumph: I completed all of my holiday shopping in one day, on foot, not in a mall.
The Charlotte Street Foundation celebrates its 15th anniversary with a series of tours and talks called Artists’ Walks at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. The first — with Peregrine Honig and Mark Southerland — is 6 p.m. Friday, January 13.
Photo by Brooke Vandever