Rocket Grants Awards Cycle Begins, Spencer Museum Hosts Information Session for Artists
Lawrence, KS, January 21, 2014 – The call for entries for the 5th round of Rocket Grants—providing direct support for innovative, artist-driven projects that take place outside of established arts venues—is now open. Artists interested in applying are invited to attend an information session at The Commons at KU on Monday, February 3 to gain a clearer understanding of the types of projects the program funds and to benefit from the experience of past recipient Jarrett Mellenbruch.
Mellenbruch’s project, Haven, was awarded a Rocket Grant in 2010. For this project, Mellenbruch, an artist and beekeeper, proposed to install a new kind of beehive in public places—first in Kansas City and eventually across the nation. Designed and manufactured by Mellenbruch, Haven was created solely for the benefit of the bees and not for the harvesting of their products, with a goal of helping to rebuild dwindling honeybee populations. The artist installed the first beehive with distinctive architecture at the DST Community Gardens in downtown Kansas City, and it was a resounding success. Most importantly, the project didn’t end when the Rocket Grants cycle came to a close; Mellenbruch has continued to work at the intersection of art and science ever since. That’s precisely how the program is intended to work, says Spencer Museum Director Saralyn Reece Hardy, who partners with the Charlotte Street Foundation on the Rocket Grants program. “The idea is to identify projects with real resonance that will propel artists and their visions even beyond the grant cycle,” says Reece Hardy. “The nature of these grants is to open up new possibilities and opportunities for artists.”
After garnering a positive response to the early stages of Haven, Mellenbruch was able to earn further opportunities to intervene in Kansas City’s urban landscape. Subsequent projects have changed the way people in the community interact with specific settings—and one another. For Float, a 2012 Avenue of the Arts project, Mellenbruch installed several hammocks on the lawn in front of the Kansas City Convention Center’s Grand Ballroom, just down the hill from the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. The public response to the installation was overwhelming; a previously underused green space between bustling civic establishments was instantly activated, becoming a lively destination for people throughout the city. Mellenbruch’s artistic career has been activated as well. “The Rocket Grants program provided the seed funding I needed to launch my growing Haven project and the visibility associated with the grant has helped to attract ongoing support for my work,” says the artist.
Rocket Grants are intended to enable individuals and groups of artists to take new risks with their work, push the scope and scale of their activities, develop and pursue collaborative projects, and engage with members of the public, the public realm and other artists in inventive and meaningful ways. The Rocket Grants program is a partnership of the Spencer Museum of Art and the Charlotte Street Foundation with funding provided by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. The deadline to apply is March 24, 2014. For more information about the program and application guidelines: rocketgrants.org.
A Rocket Grants Info Session featuring Jarrett Mellenbruch will take place at 7 pm Monday, February 3 at The Commons at KU, 1340 Jayhawk Blvd, Lawrence, KS 66045. For information, call 785-864-4710 or visit spencerart.ku.edu. For driving directions, go to thecommons.ku.edu.