The UMKC Gallery of Art's next formal trading event will take place Thursday, September 27, from 5 to 8 p.m. Photo credit:Jonathan Piedimonte.

Gallery of Art hosts an evening of bartering

Participants trade for goods and services

When Mary Crosson entered the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s Gallery of Art, Thursday evening, she wasn’t sure what to expect. Then again, neither did any of the other attendees.
After all, the “Pop! Trading Post” was no standard art exhibit, even by the most liberal interpretations. But in a way, that was the appeal.
Participants in the “Pop! Trading Post” knew the basic instructions. They were there to barter. They could bring items to trade, or even skills to trade. There was just one thing that wasn’t allowed: Actual money.
So Crosson, a software support analyst, showed up with a bowl of eggs, and her wallet out of sight.
“I was intrigued by the idea of bartering. I wanted to see how it would carry out in practice, so I brought fresh eggs from my chickens at home,” Crosson said.
Nearly an hour later, Crosson’s eggs were gone. She walked out of the gallery cradling  two bags of arugula, homemade granola, vegan chocolate, some marzipan, and a little insight about her life. Somewhere between the granola and the chocolate, she’d had her tarot cards read. 

Lacey Wozny and Maria Calderon, an adjunct instructor in UMKC’s Art and Art History Department, are the co-creators of the event, which was one in a series of events called “Pop! A Series of Social Happenings.”

Through September 27, the Gallery of Art will house a week-long installation shrine entitled "Locality as Reliquary." The installation will run Sept 20- 27, and will stand-in for the live trading floor in the gallery during the interim week.

On Thursday, September 27, the second “Pop! Trading Post” will be held from 5 to 8 p.m.

“The idea behind the trading post is that we have a rich community full of very resourceful, creative individuals. We can establish relationships and fulfill our needs and desires by tapping into this community and creating a place for exchanges to happen,” Wozny said.

Key to that idea is the basic notion that everyone has something to offer.

That notion couldn’t have been easily debated. The gallery buzzed with activities and conversation, as people made quick negotiations. A little girl brought a box of her toys. Zac Manos, a biology major, brought homemade chocolates. Records, postcards, even canned pickles, exchanged hands.

The scene was exactly what Natasha Karsk had been hoping for. Armed with origami earrings, crocheted washcloths, and bundles of arugula from her garden, Karsk was one of the evening’s more active traders. She has tried selling her home grown or homemade goods in the past, but it always made her a little uneasy.

It felt odd to assign a monetary value to her work, she said. Trading just feels better.

“Trading for something else and putting your own value on it is really important,” Karsk said.

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"The idea behind the trading post is that we have a rich community full of very resourceful, creative individuals."

Lacey Wozny
Event co-creator