Wednesday, Feb. 20 2013 5:30PM
Arts alive at MCC-Longview
By Toriano Porter
The Cultural Arts Center at Metropolitan Community College-Longview is a growing gathering place, a hub to celebrate some of the finest artists, writers and performers in not only the area, but the country and from around the world as well.
The 18,500-square-foot center opened in October 2012 and provides a state-of-the-art landscape for the visual and performing arts. As a college facility, the center provides space for theatre, music, and dance performances as well as a gallery for displaying student and faculty artwork. In addition to enhancing the college’s contributions to the cultural arts, the center provides a venue for community theatrical, musical, and dance performances, as well as art exhibits and lectures.
Guests on the campus have run the gamut. From internationally-known art exhibits, to award-winning theater productions to hosting one of the fastest growing literary festivals in the metropolitan area, the campus at 500 S.W. Longview has cemented its push of recognizing the importance of the arts in the community.
“Here at MCC-Longview we’re always interested in providing the most intimate and most expansive context for how artwork is being made today,” said Daniel Reneau, director of the center’s art gallery. “While we frequently are showcasing the work of our students and faculty to the Lee’s Summit community, we’re also attempting to present artwork from the region and nation to our backdoor.”
In January, the center presented its fourth annual high school fine arts competition and exhibit, “The Lee’s Summit Fine Arts challenge,” that featured the works of fine arts students at the three Lee’s Summit high schools. Cash prizes were awarded to the first, second and third place winners. The juror for the competition was Tabitha Schmidt, who currently serves as director of the School for Continuing and Professional Studies at Kansas City Art Institute.
Prior to that, in October, the Cultural Arts Center hosted a new exhibit for Daniel Cummings, a Los Angeles based artist, who exhibited a collection of his drawings and paintings and Rita Blitt’s work was also on exhibit at the center.
“Just this last semester we had two fantastic exhibits,” Reaneau said. “Jonathan Dankenbring presented “LO-” in September and is an Austin based artist whose artwork addresses issues with technology and minimalism. Dankenbring was able to attend the opening and speak with gallery visitors for the entirety of the night. In October we hosted LA based artist Daniel Cummings’ beautifully crafted abstract paintings. Cummings is represented by ACME, which is a very highly recognized gallery in LA and we were honored to be showing his work for most of October and November in our gallery.”
In October of 2011 10 of Blitt’s paintings found a new home at the Cultural Arts Center after she donated the works in support of the college’s ongoing mission to support the arts in Lee’s Summit and Kansas City region through the Cultural Arts Center.
“It was my great pleasure to exhibit there,” said Blitt, who is known for her passionate expressions of both joy and pain. Blitt’s international exhibit sites include France, Germany, Israel, Italy (Florence Bienalle), Singapore, Taiwan, Japan, and Australia. Her works – including sculptures up to 60 feet in height – have been permanently installed and exhibited in museums throughout the United States. “They were very supportive, caring and showed great interest in my thoughts and works.”
The campus also hosted the fifth annual MCC-Longview Literary Festival in the Mel Aytes Education Center. Missouri Poet Laureate William Trowbridge was the keynote speaker.
“For me, one of the largest attractions of the festival is the diversity of genres represented,” said Susan Satterfield, an adjunct English professor at the school and coordinator of the literary festival. “We get many new attendees because those from previous years talk about the wonderful and inspiring experience from their participation. The festival has become a good place for writers to network and share resources concerning the changing face of publication.
“The groups participating provide our attendees with a means to locate those who share their own interests whether it is reading, writing, or even information about publishing and promoting your work.”
Satterfield said usually events like the MCC-Longview Literary Festival require a membership fee which can often add up to several hundred dollars depending on the types of workshops provided.
“Attendance to the MCC-Longview Literary Festival has always been free for attendees and participants,” she said. “Without grants from the Lee’s Summit Arts Council, the Bank of Lee’s Summit, and the support of MCC-Longview keeping this event free for everyone would be impossible.”
Satterfield added administration at Metropolitan Community Colleges has backed the festival from the beginning and the support comes from the MCC-Foundation to Humanities Department Chair, Diana Grahn, to (campus) President Fred Grogan, and include the physical facilities, technology, and even security officers who provide the necessary materials for the festival to be successful.
“Administration at MCC not only supports the literary arts, but also music, dance, art, theater and so much more,” Satterfield said. “I am proud to be part of an institution which believes an education includes exposure to a wide variety of ideas and concepts including the arts.”