Thursday, June 5, 2014

Get an early start on this extra-packed First Friday

Posted By on Thu, Jun 5, 2014 at 3:00 PM

click to enlarge John Balistreri, in studio, with By and Large, in a show at the Belger Crane Yard Studios. - COURTESY OF THE ARTIST
  • Courtesy of the artist
  • John Balistreri, in studio, with By and Large, in a show at the Belger Crane Yard Studios.

There's no rule that says you can't see a little bit of art before 5 p.m. on First Friday.

If you can get out around lunch, you can attend the opening reception, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., celebrating the 10th anniversary of Art in the Loop, the Downtown Council's public-art program. It's at the Box Gallery in the Commerce Bank Building downtown (1000 Walnut), where you'll see artists' sketches and photographs of installations that will make you go, "Right, I remember that one!" Then you'll wonder why you haven't taken a deliberate walk to revisit works such as Dylan Mortimer and Davin Watne's 2005 collaboration, "Uplifted Arms" (the standing portraits of people riding the Metro bus) or "Celestial Flyways," Laura DeAngelis' map of bird-migration patterns in the park at 12th Street and Walnut. In fact, you can plan a lot of art-centered lunch breaks when you look at the new map of KC's large collection of public-art projects. At the reception is the program's new director, Ann Holliday.

Grand Arts (1819 Grand) opens at 10 a.m. Fridays, so you don't have to wait till evening to see its latest exhibition, the Stanya Kahn film Don't Go Back to Sleep (see review here).

Also open all day Friday: the Kansas City Artists Coalition (201 Wyandotte), where the separate solo exhibitions now on view include Shin-hee Chin's wonderful sculptures of women made out of needlework and other materials. The figures seem to have risen up from animated balls of yarn and then frozen in time.

This is also your last shot at seeing The Stench of Rotten Flowers at La Esquina (1000 West 25th Street). It's worth the stop.

And, really, it's a good day to get the galleries out of the way while the sun is high. Because June's First Friday is the one that includes a music-centered block party at 19th Street and Wyandotte, where the revelry factor is higher.

So you'll have to do a little extra crowd-threading and head-bobbing to get to the father-son paintings at Todd Weiner Gallery (115 West 18th Street). Inner & Outer Limits, Michael and Ian Young's first show together, demonstrates that both artists use extremely detailed brushwork to create provocative fantasyscapes that start with the familiar and then push playfully into imaginary scenes. It's art that you can get lost in for a long time.

New works on paper by M. Scott Torri are at Main Street Gallery (1610 Main, above Anton's) and invite comparisons with the Youngs' way of seeing. Torri likewise uses familiar settings as starting points for humorous and complex compositions in his Subject to Change Without Notice. He calls them "accessible like a raw anecdote."

June also marks the return of Mattie Rhodes Gallery's (919 West 17th Street) annual fiesta celebrating the art of Frida Kahlo, complete with look-alike contests (for people and for animals - a nod to Kahlo's connection to her various pets), lots of folk art to browse and buy, food from Ponak's and even a pet-portrait station.

We're happy to see Jeran Avery back showing work. At City Ice Arts (2015 Campbell), he presents Drawing on Form, an exploration of dynamic forms, shapes and colors using the basics: pen, p
click to enlarge New work by Sarah Dirks, at Windhorse
  • New work by Sarah Dirks, at Windhorse
encil and line. He asks, "Can the heavy hand of the artist left evident give the customization another level or expression that has previously been sanded, polished or faded out?"

Continued from last month but not to be missed are Sarah Dirks' amalgamations of metal scraps and mechanical bits, which make up ghostly portraits and creatures at Windhorse Gallery (1717 Wyandotte), and John Balisteri's By and Large at Belger Crane Yard Studios (2011 Tracy), where you can walk through a brightly colored monument field of towering sculptures created over the past 30 months in the cavernous kilns of Jun Kaneko's studio in Omaha.

If you want to get out of the Crossroads, then the opening reception of the biennial Kansas City Flatfile at H&R Block Artspace (16 East 43rd Street) is your ticket. You can put on those white gloves and browse through 2-D work by approximately 160 local artists, and NewEar Contemporary Chamber Ensemble (with guest Mark Southerland) performs Paul Rudy's "Martian Chronicles."

Finally, this weekend happens to be the 70th anniversary of D-Day. Mid-America Arts Alliance (2018 Baltimore) marks World War II's "longest day" with two days of veteran-themed events and exhibitions. The Live in the Crossroads series brings the first public performance by Austin, Texas' Songwriting With: Soldiers project, and inside the gallery the Citizen-Soldier-Artist exhibition includes multimedia works by 18 men and women who share those three identities.

Click here for a full list of First Friday gallery openings and events.

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