ARTSPEAK RADIO with V Holecek, Heath Church, GK & Kevin Callahan

Wednesday December 20, 2017
Host/producer of ARTSPEAK RADIO, Maria Vasquez Boyd talks with artist V Holecek, Heath Church, and GK & Kevin Callahan.

V Holecek is a painter and illustrator living and working in Kansas City, working in industrial and surrealist themes.
Holecek’s work was on exhibit for the Wormwood Collective’s 2-year anniversary Absinthe and Poetry event and recently he participated in the 10-year anniversary show for The Damned Exhibition in Detroit and the Mosiac Music and Arts feature for October at the Uptown Arts Bar.

Heath Church-“I’m a local Kansas City folk singer-songwriter and I love playing shows around town at local venues with intimate settings. Some of the venues I’ve played at include the Uptown Arts Bar, Main Street Coffee House, Union Station, and Inkwell Cafe. December 23 I am releasing my new EP entitled “The Things I’ve Tried”. It will be available on Amazon, iTunes, Spotify, and most other popular music streaming services. I will also be playing an album release show on the date of the release at Inkwell Cafe in historic Englewood Arts District of Independence. If you would like to learn more about me and my music, you can visit my website at

GK Callahan creates cultural change through social engagement, with a focus on humanitarian issues related to public health. As a trans-media artist, he has devoted more than a decade working in, and with, community-based arts. Callahan earned his MFA in Social Practice from the California College of the Arts and was awarded a BFA in Painting from the San Francisco Art Institute.

Currently, Callahan is employed as a Community Arts and Development Specialist for the University of Missouri. His focus is on economic and community development in Missouri communities, based around the arts. He is also the co-founder and primary producer for Contracting an Issue, a national social awareness project that explores the continuing impact of HIV/AIDS.

In 2010, he founded Please Touch Garden, an outdoor community space in San Francisco created in collaboration with the Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

A press release dated 8/24/17 Kansas City Beaded Quilt sets out to astonish, and educate with a mural made of 450,000 beads. GK Callahan and Laura White have become fast friends, they met at an art class for the blind and visually impaired. GK was about to start a large-scale community art project, and he needed a partner, someone who understood and reflected the community, Laura was just that person. Laura who is an artist herself has worked as a graphic designer and taught at both the Kansas State School for the Blind and Children’s center of visually impaired, unbeknownst to GK at the time she needed a project. Laura had left teaching and taken some time off to deal with both her vision and hearing loss; it was a perfect pairing…Together they have begun the ambitious journey to create the Kansas City Beaded Quilt mural.

This mural will be the second community-based mural made from beads Callahan has created with the blind and visual impaired community. The first Beaded Quilt Mural is located in San Francisco, CA, at the LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, and was installed June 2011. Callahan helped created the 8 x 8-foot mural out of 150,000 colored fuse beads, which took the community over a year and a half to create.

Callahan and White plan on making the KC Beaded Quilt mural MUCH larger than the first; their plan is to make a 10 x 9-foot mural using roughly 450,000 beads. Not only will this process impact more blind community members than in San Francisco, because they are involving multiple nonprofits, they also hope the artwork and its message will also reach a much broader audience by the sheer size and number of beads it will take to complete. The nonprofits involved are Alphapointe, Kansas State School for the Blind, and The Whole Person, they are also working with several apartment complexes that house folks with visual impairments.

For this project, the beading process is as important and significant as the end product; the time spent in what they are calling “beading circles” is a great form of art therapy, storytelling, and communing in a group setting. Callahan has found that making the mural echoes the relationship to the communal tradition of American quilt making. At the same time, the making process helps to fine-tune the makers’ manual dexterity, improve their hand-eye coordination, memory, and their color and shape recognition particularly in those who are visually impaired. The mural will be made up of a textural beaded grid of squares which symbolically highlights the colorfulness and diversity of the blind community, while demonstrating their togetherness to work on such a large project over a lengthy span of time. Callahan and White are estimating it will take around two years to complete; they are a good six months into the project.

White: “Being part of this mural process helps give the community great bonding time, and a sense of accomplishment.”

They both hope the mural will become a beacon of education for the greater KC community. The Beaded Mural illustrates how art made by people with disabilities does not remain at the level of crafts or outsider art. The Beaded Quilt-Kansas City will be created as a contemporary public art installation and as a statement about what one with disabilities can accomplish.

For more information about The Beaded Quilt-Kansas City email [Callahan or White] or visit Callahan’s website at

Kevin Callahan looks at life as a canvas. “Art,” he believes, “should be and can be fashioned from everything.” To prove his perspective, Callahan shapes art from just about anything he stumbles upon.

Primarily from the heavily wooded acreage behind his Missouri home, yet also from the high deserts of the southwest or the corn fields of Iowa, Callahan teases wooden spoons and dippers out of twisted tree limbs. His vision transforms washed out wood into one-of-a-kind keepsakes easy to imagine in the cupboard of Harry Potter or the Hobbit. Designed for decoration only (no eating on these creations), special oils are rubbed into the raw surfaces to restore and enhance their intrinsic beauty.
For those more on the cutting edge of collectible gathering, Callahan sculpts artisan knives from wood, antlers, artificial sinew, and stone. Available in varying sizes, the knives make the perfect gift for that discerning friend who fancies him (or her) self sitting around the fires of ancient man. Another option would be coup sticks or clubs. Used by Plains Indian warriors as late as the 20th Century, coup sticks were originally used to earn hard-won respect during battle. “Coup” was counted by touching an enemy with the stick itself. Callahan’s coup sticks include a variety of materials including copper, brass, deer antler/teeth, leather thongs, feathers, and cartridges. Fortunately, battles are not necessary to the design process.
Of all his innovations, Callahan’s walking sticks are probably the most multi-dimensional and attention-grabbing. When out strolling down a forest path or around the neighborhood park, a good walking stick is a great companion. “Pretty much any old stick will do, so you say. I say, why not be fashion-forward and use a stick that makes a statement?” says Callahan. And for the discerning walker, Callahan promises his sticks will fit the hand perfectly. Every stick he makes is personally “road tested” by the artist himself before he posts it for sale.
After years of imagining and creating his prairie-inspired innovations, Callahan naturally has a treasure trove of sketchbooks. He now offers years of originating designs through scans or prints at very modest prices. Many of these drawings grace hunting cabins, dens, and quite a few homes throughout North America.
Kevin’s artwork doesn’t stop at the edge of the canvas. A painter, he is also a sculptor, photographer, author of one novel and a myriad of short stories, plus a published poet. His most proud accomplishment however is that of husband and father.
Callahan’s artistic interpretations are shaped by three guiding principles: composition, story, and elegant line. According to the artist, “If you find the elegant line, your work will be lyrical.”
Fascination with constructing reproductions of primitive artifacts began when Callahan was a young boy on an Iowa farm. In fact, much of his artistic career was fashioned by this early passion for coaxing natural objects into works of art, though his portfolio includes a variety of mediums—painting, sculpting, photography, crafts, writing prose and poetry.
Callahan was awarded his Bachelors in Fine Arts (BFA) from Drake University in Des Moines, IA. At a Painting Intensive at the San Francisco Art Institute he studied with world renowned Israeli artist Larry Abramson. He also participated in the Ox-Bow School of the Art Institute Chicago under Phil Hanson and Michelle Grabner.
Artwork from Callahan’s portfolio hangs in private collections throughout the United States and Europe. He currently works and resides with his wife in Parkville, MO. Both of his sons are accomplished artists.
To find Kevin’s artwork go to: