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Nebraska Artist Sends Kansas City A Valentine In Lights

Flashing lights are sending a message from the windows of downtown Kansas City, Mo., buildings. In Morse code, a signal taps out "LUV U." The light installation, in eight locations from City Hall to the Central Library, is called Message Matters. 

The project by Nebraska-based artist JamieBurmeister, first appeared at the Bemis Center of Contemporary Art in Omaha, Neb. 

"They had just installed new windows on the upper floors of the building," says Bermeister. "I was just thinking of the simplest way to activate the building, so I thought of these lights ... and Morse code became a way of sending a message." 

Message Matters has also traveled to the Akron Art Museum in Akron, Ohio. It's sponsored in Kansas City by the Mid-America Arts Alliance (MAAA), which creates and manages arts programming in six states. The M-AAA's building in the Crossroads is also one of the eight venues for the work. 

"Since we've renovated our building (in the Crossroads) and opened up — for First Fridays and Thursdays and Fridays during the week — we've been trying to tell people, 'Hey, we're in town. We've been in town since the early '70s,'" says Tim Brown, a curatorial assistant at M-AAA.

"But only very recently have we had this immediate interaction with the public," Brown says. "So his project really nicely dovetailed with what we're trying to do in Kansas City."

This video by artist Jamie Bermeister shows the installation lit at night: 

The Artists in Their Own Words series is funded by the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency. 

Kansas City is known for its style of jazz, influenced by the blues, as the home of Walt Disney’s first animation studio and the headquarters of Hallmark Cards. As one of KCUR’s arts reporters, I want people here to know a wide range of arts and culture stories from across the metropolitan area. I take listeners behind the scenes and introduce them to emerging artists and organizations, as well as keep up with established institutions. Send me an email at lauras@kcur.org or follow me on Twitter @lauraspencer.
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