Creatively Cool 2015: Kimi Hanauer & Lee Heinemann
In communication with upcoming Creatively Cool, we received a request from 22-year-olds Kimi Hanauer and Lee Heinemann that was just to be too good to pass up.
“Dear Olivia, can our interview be in pink and purple lettering? We thought we’d ask…totally cool if you want to follow the normal format. xo xo xo xo xo,” Hanauer wrote in the email. “Yezzzz omg,” Heinemann added.
And it’s like that as they do with their work, they find a way to successfully set themselves apart from their peers. But, in a number of projects they have accomplished, standing out is always a team effort.
“It’s much easier and more enjoyable to work with a team than solo,” Heinemann said. “So lucky to have amazing collaborators in my life!”
The two recent Maryland Institute College of Art graduates met during their first year at the art school. Heinemann was a Kansas City boy, while Hanauer -originally from Tel Aviv, Israel, grew up in Pittsburgh, Pa. They met through mutual friends, began working together on some projects, including co-hosting a “legendary” Christmas party in Hanauer’s dorm room.
“In my first weeks at MICA I was really bummed about leaving the collaborative group I was working with in Kansas City and suddenly Kimi was here organizing meetings and trying to get events together–it was exactly what I needed,” Heinemann said.
“Oh man, the Christmas party! One of the finest forts I’ve ever worked on,” Hanauer added.
Since then, they have continued working together on a number of endeavors, which some have spotlighted them as rising stars in the Baltimore art community. One of them includes Alloverstreet, a monthly night of simultaneous art openings in galleries and spaces throughout the Station North Arts & Entertainment District. “Alloverstreet came out of some collaborative projects at Penthouse Gallery and the potential to coordinate shows with all of the amazing art spaces in this area,”Hanauer said.
“I think this project was born out of the lack of accessibility and inclusivity in some art events in Baltimore. The project really evolved organically as Penthouse coordinated shows with its neighbors and new spaces started to pop up or join in.”
And after two years of the periodic art walk, thousands have taken a part in the event that tries to shine light on various galleries and the artists they showcase.
“Now, we’re looking for ways to make the project more sustainable and keep going on,” Hanauer said.
The duo can also take credit for helping to develop the now annual publication printed by The Contemporary museum, which they worked on as interns there, along with colleague and friend Max Anderson. Such collaborative efforts were not going unnoticed. MICA later invited them to give a presentation on the topic of collaboration to the institution’s Community Art and Service Program. And they were even invited to display that teamwork by exhibiting a show at the college’s Middendorf Gallery.
Among all of these efforts they have made together, these two still manage to make time for individual and impactful projects. Heinemann founded and leads Get Your Life! Productions, which was created while he was a France Merrick Fellow, working at 901 Arts Baltimore, a children arts center located in the Waverly neighborhood. “I wanted to create a structure for middle schoolers to work in direct collaboration with adult artists, and access the resources of the arts communities in the city,” Heineman said.
In collaboration with colleague Maggie Fitzpatrick, the kids in the GYL! Productions program take on positions as writers, directors, designers and performers, while adults are producers, fabricators, and crew. “This year, we worked with nine middle schoolers and we did a four week residency at Gallery CA, where we used the gallery space to produce an ambitious, collaborative short film.” Heinemann said. “This spring we screened videos at Open Space’s Publications and Multiples Fair and at our own World Premiere Film Festival.”
In Hanauer’s world, her most recent project, called Press Press, takes multiple forms as an interdisciplinary initiative with which Hanauer started with colleague Sonja Solvang. From pop up print shops to actual publications created, Press Press continues to create work that connects art to community. They’ve touched on everything from the Baltimore uprisings to education, including becoming a platform for immigrant teens, in collaboration with the Baltimore City College Refugee Youth Project. “There, I developed an ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) creative writing program with the amazing Leila Khoury, who joined the Press Press team for this project,” Hanauer said. “The program was developed for a group of teens originally from Burma, China, Yemen and Thailand.”
Even though the talented young people are the epitome of ‘team,’ they do admit to butting heads. But, knowing they are both working towards the same goal gives them a united front in taking on any project as a duo.
“I think our most fundamental goals are very similar and complementary, so even when our approaches are different, the intentions are the same,” Heinemann said.
Teamwork definitely makes the dream work.
Now, enjoy their colorful responses in our extended chat.