Art performances inspire Blitt
Several years ago artist Rita Blitt turned on some music in her studio and started to paint with two hands. It was freeing, she says. “It felt like I was dancing.” Plus, if you take a broad look at the influence that gesture and motion have had on her work, it’s not hard to figure out why a painter and sculptor like Rita Blitt became a donor to the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts early in the capital campaign.
“Art performances of many types have long been major influences on my work. Dancing and movement in music and nature have inspired me greatly,” says Blitt. “So the idea that we could help to provide outstanding venues for Kansas City’s dance, theater and opera groups was a natural match for my art and for Irwin’s community involvement.” Her husband Irwin Blitt is a businessman and founding partner in Copaken, White and Blitt.
Since childhood, Rita Blitt has considered herself an artist. “One of my fondest childhood memories of grade school is the sight of fresh drawing paper being passed out,” she says. In her book The Passionate Gesture you can see at least one drawing she did at age 10 — of a happy girl, singing and swaying. A reviewer noted of the piece: “Rita created a naÃ¯ve, conceptual artwork, referring to the visual arts, music and dance.”
So the Kauffman Center’s strong commitment toward education in the arts hits a soft spot in Blitt’s heart, too. “When I was 10 and 11, I received scholarships for Saturday classes at the Kansas City Art Institute. It was a milestone event for me, because I saw the possibility of a life built around art,” Blitt shares. “If the Kauffman Center has the same effect on other youth, what a difference it can make in young people’s lives.”
Blitt’s connections with the performing arts are wide and deep. In the 1970s she met a young, talented dancer named David Parsons. “He is from Kansas City and I saw him dance at the Midland Theater,” Blitt reminisces. “He was just 14, but I intuitively knew I was seeing real talent.” Blitt went back stage to meet him and a life long relationship developed with him and, later, the Parsons Dance Company.
David Parsons says, “In Rita’s creations, I find movement caught in time. Her paintings and sculpture allow me to see elements of my dances, which normally pass too quickly.”
Many experiences at the Aspen Music Festival have also influenced Blitt’s art, thinking and approach to life. “Experiencing music combined with the nature of the mountains has been a wonderful inspiration for me. When I listen to music I feel the movement,” Blitt says.
“So I can’t wait to see the music and movement that occurs on stage at the Kauffman Center,” Blitt says. “Who knows how it will inspire not only my artwork but also lives in the greater Kansas City community.”
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See the latest rendering of the Kauffman Center’s Concert Hall.
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