Subterranean Gallery

A small basement apartment gallery in Midtown Kansas City. MO. 


Subterranean Gallery facilitated dialogue and community engaged programming that extended the reach of already established and emerging visual artists, writers, and thinkers. Through an active online presence and programming schedule Subterranean Gallery aimed to be a catalyst for artists who benefitted from enhancing the digital presence of their practice and thought.


Subterranean Gallery, founded in 2010 by Ayla Rexroth, was an underground hybrid art and domestic space in Kansas City, Missouri. Rexroth acted as artist, curator, and hostess by modifying her apartment to accommodate the installation of artworks.  In contrast to the traditional “white cube” gallery, Subterranean always strived to facilitate an environment that engages creativity with intimate ambiance. Consistently working to create opportunities for the Kansas City art community, Rexroth emphasized the importance of collaboration between artist, site, and artwork.

After a three year history of 8 exhibitions and 19 public events, the gallery changed hands. In 2013 resident and director Melaney Mitchell continued Rexroth’s mission focused on taking the genuine experience and interaction that happens at Subterranean Gallery and sharing it with the expanding audience online. She is currently an editor for Informality Blog a new online art and culture publication for Kansas City that will work in tandem with the exhibitions and programming at Subterranean Gallery. Informality aims to to enhance outreach in order to allow Kansas City artists to engage with the worldwide image and thought making community through social media. This increased discourse was focused on helping reshape the city’s art economy by importing collectors and exporting our work and dialogue.

Photo by Ayla Rexroth

Photo by Ayla Rexroth

Subterranean Gallery

is a place that exists between the strange and unexpected histories of a basement domestic space. Midwestern suburban basements are usually filled with walnut wood panelling, old shag carpet, light up signs for Old Style beer, and stacks of now unused teal green Tupperware jello molds. The experience of art in that space, in lieu of ones own father's collected sports memorabilia, allows for a different kind of conversation. One that is more intimate and familiar, even though it is a gallery for contemporary art. It's a space of collaboration but more importantly a space for conversation. As I personally walk away from the project I realize that the part of Subterranean that I will be longing for is the conversation. The talk of art in Kansas City is the hearth of what makes a stark white painted basement apartment a wonderful space see and be with art.

Rexroth's Transformation of Apartment B

Hot Tub Dialogues Lecture Series

The Hot Tub Dialogues’ aim was to create an open conversation between emerging and established members of Kansas City’s arts community by interacting in an informal setting. It will also play a pivotal role in promoting Subterranean Gallery and funding its 2012 exhibition costs through ticket sales. Most importantly this will be serious fun for all (How often do you go to an art lecture in February with your bathing suit under your parka?!)

Co-curators of the series Clayton Skidmore and Ayla Rexroth launched an online Kickstarter fund raising campaign in November 2011 and received over $2,500 to produce the series. They are thrilled with the generous support the community has shown the project, and are excited to present a unique experience where each audience member’s presence can effect the dialogue that takes place.

Early 2014 Exhibitions

Digital Exhibition Series