Artist Corey Green has a new show at Ninth and State

Photography by Natalea Bonjour.

Corey Green’s art career took off when his clever Balloon Vases sold worldwide. The vases use latex balloons framed in acrylic designs to indicate when the water supply for a centerpiece needs to be refreshed.  

The Midwestern artist is originally from southeast Kansas, but he studied at the Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia. While there, Green’s line of vases blew up. With that under his belt, he was able to start his own art company. However, Green quickly realized he still had much to learn about running a business, so he paused everything and moved to Atlanta to become an art consultant. While there, he designed and produced commercial artwork for hotels across the country. 

Green moved back to the Midwest still under a two-year non-compete, so he earned an MBA and pivoted to instructing an internship for the KU School of Business while relaunching his art business, Wayne Studio West (@waynestudiowest), during the pandemic. 

We talked to Green about one of his latest collections, what inspires his work and his favorite spots around the city. 

Where did the concept for your new Eugen collection come from? The concept for the Eugen Collection [which includes photographs of a late nineteenth-century German bodybuilder] started as a collaboration. The gym I joined when I moved to Kansas City [Wellness Warehouse] does several pop-ups, and I became friends with Ashley from MiddlestWest who does custom embroidery. A gym, a bottle of champagne or two and conversations that led to lots of laughter are how the Eugen Collection came to be. 

I love history—there’s something about finding old things and making them relevant again that I’ve always loved. When it comes to Eugen, the images were taken in approximately 1890, but seeing them up on a wall today, you wouldn’t know it.

What’s your favorite thing to create? I’d say acrylic paintings are my favorite to do. It doesn’t matter if it’s abstract, figures or otherwise—there’s something therapeutic about a brush on canvas. It’s my way to detox from life and be present with myself. Life is my subject matter and sometimes that’s channeling my sad feelings or creating something that makes me smile.

How would you describe your artistic vibe? “Cautiously pushing the boundaries” is how I would describe my artistic vibe. I mean, I put an embroidered modesty leaf over a naked man. It’s suggestive but not offensive. I think straddling that line is fun, makes people pause and hopefully brings a smile to their faces.

What do you have in the works currently? I’m currently planning Encounters, a collection that will be more of my personal history with relationships short and long. It’s designed to be a personal reflection on the lasting impressions people have on one another—the good, the bad and the totally messed up. 

KC Favorites

9th & State: It’s totally a safe space. You can have a conversation with anyone, and Heather and Sean [the owners] are amazing.

Blip Coffee: Blip fully embraces originality and doesn’t apologize for what it is. I mean coffee, bikers, hipsters and dogs… but wait, they have cookies! Also, their chai latte is hands down the best that I’ve ever had (I prefer it on ice).

Liberty Memorial: If you’ve ever read the history of the sphinx statues that flank either side of the memorial, it’s incredibly impactful. It’s such a KC staple, but it is something I think every visitor to KC should see and experience. Their rotating works also make it a place to continually go back to since they only have about twenty percent of their collection on display at a given time.

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