Artrageous hosts guerrilla art event, featuring local artists

Friday, July 19, 2013 | 6:00 a.m. CDT; updated 2:58 p.m. CDT, Saturday, July 20, 2013
Artrageous Fridays, a collaboration of galleries and businesses that allows visitors to walk from different exhibits and see work by local artists, hosted a guerrilla art event on Thursday before Friday's event. The idea behind guerrilla art is to bring art from the gallery to the streets.

COLUMBIA — Art in downtown Columbia doesn't have to be confined to the walls of a gallery.

Artrageous Fridays, a collaboration of galleries and businesses that allows visitors to walk from different exhibits and see work by local artists, hosted a guerrilla art event on Thursday before Friday's event. Kate Gunn, the executive director of Artrageous Fridays, said that guerrilla art is all about bringing art into the street.

“The concept of guerrilla art is just to be an attention grabber; you want people to stop and take notice and appreciate that the beauty of art is all around them in not only a philosophical way, but a very real way,” Gunn said.

The idea of guerrilla art in Columbia is to extend the gallery space and give people something to appreciate. If they're going from venue to venue on Artrageous Friday, or they aren't aware of the event, they can still be drawn in and get involved. 

“It’s a great way to interact with art,” Gunn said.

Artrageous Fridays started doing guerrilla art in April 2012, and has had three to four exhibits each time. The events occur four times per year.

“Cities like Denver do it on such a grand scale, and that’s a goal of ours, but guerrilla art is meant to be spontaneous," Gunn said. "Sometimes that spontaneity hinders size."

Artrageous Fridays generally tries to do one big exhibit, and smaller, more inconspicuous pieces that force the observer to seek them out.

Yarn bombing

Kat Miles tends to stand out. One of Thursday's featured artists, she uses found or donated objects to turn lampposts and trees into giant flowers.

Miles, who lives in Jefferson City, specializes in pop-up flowers. She constructs giant flowers using lampshades, yarn bombing and knitting onto tree branches. She uses zip ties to hold everything together. 

While this is her first time doing guerrilla art in Columbia, Miles is no rookie. Her first installation was done years ago in Oklahoma City.

"It was the first outdoor flower sculpture I’d done. It was with permission," Miles said.

Miles is a tagger, which means that many of the installations she creates are done without permission. Artists can tag with anything including spray paint, paper and yarn.

"I very rarely do it in broad daylight," Miles said. "The exciting part of tagging on the fly is that you're preparing for weeks and then you have to get it all up at once before campus security comes or something."

Miles said the importance of street art is taking art out of the gallery and putting in on the street where anyone can see it.

"I enjoy going out and finding interesting spots," Miles said. "I used to take Route 66 back and forth from Lebanon, Mo., to Oklahoma City, and I would just see barns and structures that inspired me and pull over and do something."

Miles said she was inspired by the artwork of her children. She thought of the piece she was working on as she spoke, a flower of crushed plastic around a lamppost, when she saw her daughter playing with a trash bag.

"I love nature. I love flowers. I love poppies," Miles said. "My tagger name was Knitta by Nature."

She said that she always has supplies and yarn in her car so that when no one's paying attention, she can tag wherever she likes. Or come back later at night.

"I've never met anyone who isn't supportive," she said. "They might wonder what I'm doing at first, but they're supportive."

Hula hooping

Lois Bennett and Renee Brochu are new to guerrilla art, but they had support too. Brochu's 3-year-old son, Travis Buchanan, helped them set up their hula hoop display.

"Yeah, he's really helping us out," Bennett said, as Travis broke one of the hula hoops. 

Bennett and Brochu had planned to construct a hula hoop arch, but they realized during their practice run that the heat would prevent the structure from staying up.

"We're not architects," Bennett said.

The two decided instead to build two columns, framing the gateway they were working on.

"Maybe if it falls, it'll be interactive," Bennett said. "Play with it!"

The two women don't just build with hula hoops, they also dance with them.

Bennett has been hooping since 2008 and fire hooping since 2010. Fire hooping is dancing with a hula hoop that's on fire.

"It's addictive," Brochu said. "You never forget your first time."

Brochu has been fire hooping since 2012. She and Bennett work with Burn Circus, a fire spinning community in Columbia.

"We also work with kids, we just did Family Fun Fest. We call them play hoops when we do something with kids," Bennett said.

Bennett makes some of the hoops herself, using irrigation tubing.

"They sell connectors for them, I guess they're used for something in the irrigation world for watering stuff," Bennett said. "I use them to make hoops."

Bennett and Brochu heard about the guerrilla art event through Facebook.

"I saw a post asking for artists, and I wanted to do it," Bennett said.

The 32 hoops used to construct the towers will be donated to World Hoop Day after they're taken down. World Hoop Day is an organization that provides hula hoops to schools, orphanages, villages and camps around the world.

Supervising editor is Jake Kreinberg.

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