Our critics recommend these shows.

Art Capsule Reviews 

Our critics recommend these shows.

Five Locals, No Carbs, No Genomes, More Flavor In this show depicting work by five local artists -- Jessica Johnson, Meredith Burton, Sean Semones, James Trotter and Pat Alexander -- part of what you see is process. On the day of the opening, Johnson began drawing on the gallery wall as part of her installation. She was still at it two hours after the opening ended, and as of publication time, she wasn't quite ready to leave it alone yet. Coincidentally, two artists have submitted works using markers on paper -- unusual in the gallery world but impressive in these cases. Burton's marker drawings appear to consist of layers of paper because she varies the levels of marker saturation in a way that creates an illusion of depth. Trotter's marker drawings look like prints because they consist of several cartoon characters each drawn in a distinct color, then layered on top of one another without any blurring. The fact that this was done not with fancy equipment but with magic markers is what makes it intriguing, along with being able to see this kind of innovative technique as it's still being developed and refined. On display noon to 6 p.m., Thursdays through Saturdays through October 30 at the Telephone Booth, 3319 Troost, 816-582-9812. (G.K.)

Manipulated Realities: From Pop Art to New Realism Photo-realist artists feel the need to paint pictures that look as real as photographs -- instead of actually taking photographs -- because they are control freaks: As painters, they can control every detail. Each artist in Manipulated Realities, curator John Buchanan says, "manipulates reality in an effort to send an individual message." For example, in a print commissioned for Myra Morgan's collection, John Baeder changes the name of a diner to "Morgan's," and Richard Estes substitutes his own name for signage over a shop in one of his mind-numbingly detailed street scenes. But not all of the artists in this show are driven by ego. Richard Pettibone paints tiny reproductions of other artists' full-sized paintings. Pettibone's "Chris Cross: Hooker Headers" is displayed right next to Chris Cross' "Hooker Headers," an extreme close-up of a motorcycle in which a desert landscape is reflected in the bike's chrome. Weighing in at an overwhelming 121 paintings, sculptures, prints and photographs, the show would benefit from some editing, but overall it's a great opportunity to see a lot of realist art in one spot. Through January 7, 2005, at the Belger Arts Center, 2100 Walnut, 816-474-3250 (T.B.)

Sloppy Slobbering Monster There's nothing funny about a skinned cat -- unless it comes with a plaque that says "Pookie" and a motion-sensitive contraption that gets the cat's mandibular joint moving in time to slow, prerecorded semifeline utterances. Created by artists from large and midsized cities -- Houston, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Kansas City, Little Rock -- the work in Sloppy Slobbery Monster plays with the theme of monsters in a way that is colorful, silly and occasionally gross. There's a huge sculpture of a cartoonish face with a tree-branch-sized pencil plunging straight into one eyeball and a small installation made strictly of Nintendo games and Super Mario Brothers references. One of the best series in the show is also one of the most simple: a set of enlarged, hand-embroidered Lacoste logos. Reminding viewers that the cute, preppy logos actually depict scary, sharp-toothed creatures, the artist plays with all of our memories, subverting our nostalgia and, at the same time, appealing to it. Be sure and pick up a price list at this show, if only to read the titles of the pieces. Part of what unites these second-city artists is a laid-back, non-hoity-toity attitude. As evidence, see "Untitled (Artist broke into house for sale and did painting on wall and floor)" and "I Can't Remember the Title of This One, So Call It Whatever You Want." On display noon to 3 p.m. Thursdays and Saturdays through October 23 at the Bank, 11th and Baltimore. (G.K.)

The Strange and the Fantastic If NBC ever decides to bring back Freaks and Geeks, a show set in 1980 that follows the tribulations of social misfits at a Michigan high school (unfortunately, it was canceled after its first season), its producers should add an artsy character and hire Kris Kuksi to create that character's artwork. Kuksi's paintings, drawings, collages and sculpture are the perfect combination of freakiness and geekiness -- his technically adept work looks as though it could grace the cover of a '70s rock album or a fantasy trading-card game. "Song for Irina," for example, re-creates the creepy feel of an old-timey black-and-white photograph in which the subjects had to sit still for several minutes in order for the film to register an image. Yet here, Kuksi has drawn a woman's head on a skeleton wearing an elaborate headdress of fur or feathers. The woman's eyes are half-closed and shrouded in a dark, charcoal shadow, and her lips are slightly curved into a Mona Lisa half smile. Through Oct. 30 at the Leedy-Voulkos Art Center Back Room Gallery, 2012 Baltimore, 816-474-1919. (T.B.)

Thunderheads, Fronts and Collisions Ted Kincaid's digital photographs are part fact, part fiction. Combining bits and pieces from photographs of many real skies, then jacking with the colors, Kincaid creates skies that are not only fake but also totally insane looking. The cloud formations -- strange combination of skinny, stretched out lines and round cotton ball clusters -- are unnatural, maybe even impossible. The colors come just close enough to appearing realistic that the viewer gets a sense of what the weather might be like in the photos. The green skies are reminiscent of what happens before a tornado, but this particular shade of green -- a dark, army green -- doesn't overtake the sky even when a twister's coming. These fantastically eerie photographs are pieced together in a way that makes them look kind of like holograms when you hold them at the perfect angle to catch them between images. What we don't know about is the gallery's claim that creating photographic fictions is, in and of itself, edgy -- that's done every time a fashion model gets a zit. But then, these particular photographs don't appear to demand edginess in the first place. Through October 23 at the Society for Contemporary Photography, 2012 Baltimore. (G.K.)

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