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Charlotte Street Foundation Announces 2015 Artists' Awards

Five Kansas City artists will receive $10,000 in unrestricted cash as this year's winners of the Charlotte Street Awards. The awards went to three visual artists and two generative performing artists.

The Charlotte Street Foundation has been giving cash to selected artists for more than 15 years — the visual artist awards began in 1997; the foundation added awards for performing artists in 2008. In total, Charlotte Street has now awarded $700,500 to Kansas City artists, recognizing their accomplishments and encouraging their continued development and achievement.

This year's visual artist awards went to:

Jill Downen
An assistant professor of sculpture at the Kansas City Art Institute, Downen has created site-specific installations for museums such as Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, the Oklahoma City Museum of Art and American University Art Museum at the Katzen. Her installations, drawings and models focuse on the relationship between the human body and architecture, exploring themes of construction, deterioration and restoration.

Rashawn Griffin
Originally from Los Angeles, Griffin received an MFA from Yale University in 2005. His paintings, sculptures and installations have been exhibited nationally and internationally, including the 2008 Whiteney Biennial; his work was recently the subject of a solo exhibition, "A hole-in-the-wall country" at the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art. He is concerned with "poetic relationships between objects and painting," and works to highlight "the strangeness and beauty" in between.

Misha Kligman
A member of the curatorial collaborative Plug Projects and an adjunct associate professor of art at Johnson County Community College, Kligman received an MFA in painting and drawing from the University of Kansas in 2009. His work has been part of group exhibitions at Haw Contemporary and the Epsten Gallery; a solo exhibition is scheduled to open in May at 1522 Saint Louis exhibition space in Kansas City. His paintings and drawings explore themes such as "the tension between death and duty, thought and action, empathy and justice, and generally the relationship of art to one's life."

Generative performing artist awards went to:

Credit Paul Andrews
Jeff Harshbarger, recipient of a generative performing artist award from the Charlotte Street Foundation.

Jeff Harshbarger
A recipient of the Kennedy Center's Betty Carter Fellowship and the Steans Institute Fellowship, Harshbarger is a prolific composer and bandleader who has collaborated with musicians as well as visual artists, in Kansas City and internationally. Charlotte Street calls him "a major voice in the creative community of Kansas City for over a decade." Among his projects: Jeff Harshbarger Presents: An Alternative Jazz Series, promoting new and improvised music in Kansas City, and Jazz in the Afternoon on 90.1 FM KKFI.

Hunter Long
A performer, composer, and producer, Long is the founder of Black House Collective, which has produced music workshops, world-premiere operas and a two-month-long new music festival. Raised in Branson, Missouri, Long went to college in New York before moving to Kansas City to study jazz with Bobby Watson; he has been awarded jazz and classical residencies at the Banff Centre and was a 2014 residential composer for the Montreal Contemporary Music Lab (he is working on a musical exchange in which MCML and Kansas City musicians will create new music to be premiered in Kansas City on April 30).

Credit Courtesy Cory Imig
Courtesy Cory Imig
Bouyant Loss, by Cory Imig

In addition to these awards, Cory Imig has been selected to attend the prestigious Art Omi International Artists Residency, a four-week program in upstate New York this summer. Art Omi reserves one place for a Charlotte Street artist each year and selects residents through a competitive jury process; Imig will be among 30 artists from around the world.  A founding member of Plug Projects, Imig is a lecturer in the fiber department at the Kansas City Art Institute and the recipient of several residencies, awards, and fellowships. Her large-scale installations, which document time and highlight patterns (using common materials such as masking tape, string, wood boards and balloons) have been shown throughout the United States.

Visual art and performance awardees were selected in a competitive process that started with an open call for applications from artists throughout the metro area. Panels of local and national curators and directors chose the winners. Work by the visual artists will be shown in an exhibition at the H&R Block Artspace in October; performances by the performing artists will take place throughout the year.

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