The work of iconic Mexican artists Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera is on display this summer at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. They’re part of an exhibit called Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera and Masterpieces of Modern Mexico.
Kahlo and Rivera are known not only for their paintings, but for their tempestuous marriage, which sometimes influenced their art.
Inspired by Kahlo and Rivera, we are profiling some of Kansas City’s creative couples on air and online. From ballerinas to sculptors to musicians, we want to find out how two artists make a life together, and how their relationship influences their work.
Ron Megee and Jon Fulton Adams
Imagine a room filled with drag queens, burlesque performers and cage dancers — this isn’t the stage at some late night club, but rather the entertainment at the wedding reception of Ron Megee and Jon Fulton Adams six years ago.
After they got married, a ceremony not recognized by the state but significant to their relationship, they moved into a house, and are now raising two dogs and three chickens.
Chestnut 1884, as they call their old Victorian style home in the historic Northeast, looks like the set of an old horror movie. The house reflects them as artists.
“I’m so used to being in and around theaters that I feel the need to live in a way, on a set,” says Fulton Adams.
Megee is an actor, director, playwright and a staple of the Kansas City theater scene. Fulton Adams is a costume and clothing designer.
On finding each other:
For two people who thrive on the dramatic, both Megee and Fulton Adams say they were shocked when they found themselves wanting to settle down with each other.
Jon says he didn’t believe in soul mates until he met Ron, and neither imagined they’d crave watching Stephen King and Bruce Willis movies at night.
The two weren’t always so comfortable with each other, though. In fact, Ron’s first impression of Jon was really negative.
Ron: I thought he was stuck up and mean.
Jon didn’t feel the same way. He was intrigued by Ron after their unique meeting at a benefit.
Jon: I wandered over to a table in the corner that I thought was empty and free, and I started to set my glass down. And from the middle of the table came a voice that said "Get your drink off my dress, I have to perform." And I looked up and the centerpiece was Ron Megee, and he was dressed as a table.
But since you can’t judge a book by its cover, or a table by its centerpiece, the two ended up dating.
On being married to another creative person:
Ron: One great thing is his design world is backstage and mine is onstage and we can mesh together easier. I think we learn from each other; l think that’s what’s keeping us still going. It’s fresh.
Jon: To have someone so supportive of your vision and want to be a big part of it is really special. When I feel overwhelmed he is the one that tells me nothing is impossible, make it bigger, make it louder and he is the reason I continue to do what I do.
This ability to learn from one another is intertwined in their professional and personal lives. Both Ron and Jon agree that once they met each other, their respective art careers were influenced by the other. Ron will incorporate inside jokes, like the couple's love of Red Lobster, into his plays. Jon has costumed many of Ron’s shows, with designs he knows they both will love.
On the Kansas City art community:
Both Fulton Adams and Megee have lived in different places, but they agree that Kansas City is the best place to practice their art. After living in expensive cities, Ron enjoys how cheap it is to live here, because he can focus on his acting career and not stress about money. Jon has a different connection with the city and its art community, which stems from a rocky relationship with his family a few years ago. When Ron and Jon got married, nobody from Jon’s side of the family attended.
Jon: [This] community is our chosen family. If you look at our wedding pictures we had jazz players, burlesque dancers, dominatrixes, and drag queens, but when I look at those pictures I see brothers and sisters. I wouldn’t be able to be in Kansas City without my family, my art family.
Ron: It’s a very open art community. It doesn’t matter if you’re single or married or divorced or whatever, we all want to work together and do projects together.
Ron: The theater and the art world, I feel, is a very lonely world, because you are giving your all to people. When you step onstage you should be giving 110 percent and that’s 350 people plus, or how many is in your audience, [that are] taking that energy from you, and if you don’t have someone to give that back to you it can be very lonely. And I don’t feel alone anymore.
Jon: It is always a joy and is always interesting and there is never a boring moment with Ron; there are quiet moments and there are tender moments, but there is never a boring moment.
Jon Fulton Adams is currently working on a high-end couture line he hopes to launch in September, while still working at Churchill, a shop in Fairway, Kan., and teaching costuming at William Jewell College.
Ron Megee just finished performing in Lyle the Crocodile at the Coterie Theatre, where he starred as Mr. Grumps. He also co-directed the production with Missy Koonce.
The Kansas City Creative Couples Series will air every week on KC Currents through August 18.