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KC-area artists eager to showcase work at Art Westport amidst rising prices, inflation

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Posted at 7:45 AM, Sep 09, 2023

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Multiple artists at one of the city’s largest art shows shared how they deal with rising inflation in their industry.

Art Westport, a weekend-long art showcase, spans three blocks and three days in the Historic Westport District. It is hosting 141 artists from within a 50-mile radius of Kansas City in its 43rd year.

The 2023 Art Westport event details are as follows:

2023 Art Westport Event Details:

  • Friday, Sept. 8, 3 p.m. – 9 p.m.
  • Saturday, Sept. 9, 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.
  • Sunday, Sept. 10, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

While a number of artists spoke to an excitement about being able to meet new people and showcase their work, another theme was prevalent — the impact of inflation.
“Oh, absolutely,” said Emily Stumpff, a first-time artist in the show. “Hats are hard to get.”

Stumpff sells custom-made hats, a business she started just last June. She says nothing beats the in-person experience.

Hat artist

“I do a little Instagram, but I’m more of a face-to-face cause it’s so custom you have to be with me to do it,” Stumpff said.

One of her customers, Kimberly St. Clair, said she purchased a hat from Stumpff for that very reason.

“There’s no way she would have been able to sell me on the hat,” St. Clair said. “It was the actual talking to her, respecting her craft and her process and actually being able to see the product for yourself.”

St. Clair says she has a major respect for artists like Stumpff as an artist and entrepreneur herself. She recently patented a product called Doc Dash, which she hopes will help mend the relationship between law enforcement and civilians.

“I know what it means when you’re thinking, ‘Nobody’s gonna buy this,’ but something says do it anyway,” she said.

Another artist in the show, Aaron Coleman, said inflation and economic uncertainty is all too familiar to him.

“I’m a product of the Great Recession in 2008, and I got laid off at that time from landscape architecture,” Coleman said. “I started making art and I thought I would just end up doing it for a little bit, but I don’t know, there’s nothing better.”

He says because of his passion for the craft, he is able to remain motivated to create paintings. However, there’s always one lingering thought on his mind.

“[Inflation] makes you hope that you can get more for your paintings,” Coleman said.

Which brings up the issue of value. For Kemi Radji, she says the value of her paintings depend on a variety of factors.

“It really depends on the size of the canvas, the emotion and the time I spend on each canvas while painting,” Radji said.

Radji said that in terms of her materials she buys for her paintings like canvases, she has not seen much of an increase. Another artist, Chris Dowdy, shared a similar sentiment.

“Is it a large increase? Not too large, but you can feel that difference,” Dowdy said.

Woodworker

Dowdy’s artistry is woodworking, which he says allows him to implement sustainable prices to combat higher prices.

“Instead of throwing [wood pieces] into a burn or anything else or throwing them away, I’ll repurpose them into something like an ink pen or a wine stopper,” he said. “So trying to make sure that everything is used to its most ability is highly important.”

Stumpff also relies on repurposing as a cheaper alternative.

“I do a lot of antiquing and thrift stores, so a lot of my stuff is secondhand and used,” Stumpff said. “So I like to repurpose it, so that’s always fun for me.”

Ultimately, all these artists say their passion for the craft is a priceless motivator, and that has undoubtedly resonated with their clients.

“It’s not just the resources you put into it, but it’s the emotions and reasons why,” St. Clair said.