The Charlotte Street Foundation’s Free Community Block Party Celebrates the Organization’s 25th Anniversary

The Emotional Value Auction at the Charlotte Street Foundation’s 25th Anniversary Block Party asks participants to exchange written statements of value instead of cash. // Photo by Ana Textor

The Charlotte Street Foundation has been in its headquarters at 3333 Wyoming Street for a year. While Charlotte Street is known for its sizable calendar of events, staff’s initial plans for a block party in the new building have been pushed back due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On July 17, 2022, those plans finally came to fruition in a celebration of 25 years of supporting local artists.

Live performances by local musicians Eddie Moore, Jeff Harshbargerand Marcus Lewis were accompanied by face painting and lawn games. Betty Rae Ice Cream parked the truck on campus and handed out free cups of frozen treats.

Former Visual Artist Fellow Adrian Hermann hosted the Emotional Value Auction, a project she has hosted multiple times in multiple locations since 2017.

It was a gift for me to be invited and to be able to bring this project to Kansas City,” says Herman. “I live somewhere else, but Kansas City definitely feels like home.”

Herman’s goal is to help others release their emotional attachment to objects. Donors write a description of the object and its personal significance. Bidders write an explanation of why they would like the item and how they would value it. Then the original owner reads the offers and decides who will receive the item based on the writing.

Executive Artistic Director Amy Kligman described the auction as the “anchor event” for the block party.

“It’s very moving to read these descriptions, the moments that people have in their lives that make them cling to these objects for so long,” Kligman says.

“Many of us keep things that are still useful that we hope we can use again – while probably knowing that we probably won’t – or that were given to us by or related to someone with whom we feel a connection. “, says Herman.

She thinks that clinging to objects with this kind of history can create an “expectation pattern” and sometimes it becomes necessary to release this attachment.

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Art historian Michael Evans examines the auction items. // Photo by Ana Textor

The Collective of African-American artists, which received the 2019-2020 StartUp Residency from the Charlotte Street Foundation, hosted a poetry-writing activity in the lobby. Participants chose a series of words to create a poem or part of a poem, then pasted it on a poster board provided.

“The purpose of the collective is primarily for African American artists here in Kansas City to come together and support each other, promote themselves and do things as a group to get the message across that there is a strong group of African American artists in the region,” said member Michael Patton.

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Tables by the collective of African-American artists Michael Patton with a poetry activity for all ages. // Photo by Ana Textor

Scraps KC and the Kansas City Contemporary Photography Society contributed with children’s activities and a photo booth.

Some participants even came from different cities. The MdW Lounge is made up of seven partners from across the Midwest, including the Charlotte Street Foundation. The artist-run fair is based in Chicago, but one of its components is open-source field trips called “drifts.”

The Charlotte Street block party was a vibrant community event that had been in the works for a year, but it was also the edition of a Kansas City drift, which brought in visiting artists and supporters from other cities.

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Attendees escape the heat of the outdoors with a comfortable space to relax in the air conditioning. // Photo by Ana Textor

Joseph K. Bennett