Our critics recommend these shows.

Art Capsule Reviews 

Our critics recommend these shows.

American Dream: In Question The second installment of the Belger's American Dream series requires an open mind and an adventurous spirit. National artists such as Robert Rauschenberg, Jim Roche, Renee Stout, Robert Stackhouse and William T. Wiley, among many others, share space with local artists Archie Scott Gobber and May Tveit, offering a variety of media with intriguing results. Rather than trying too hard to keep with the show's theme of questioning the American dream, it's probably best to just bask in the wide-open oddity on exhibit. Violence is a motif in many works, including Robert Arneson's "The Colonel" sculpture, in which a mushroom cloud adorns the hat of an officer with hollowed-out eyes and sharklike teeth. For a brutal examination of the South, William Christenberry's haunted lithographs offer a perspective on America that most people choose to ignore or forget. Through Feb. 2 at the Belger Arts Center, 2100 Walnut, 816-474-3250. (R.T.B.)

Art and Science The title of this show says it all. These seven pieces by Stanton Fernald — a scientific illustrator with an awesome name — blend the two fields into a delightful whole. The science side is more intriguing because Fernald has built nearly every aspect of his installations. For each, wood-hinged tripods stand on the floor and hang from the wall as regalia from an earlier time. Imagine 1940s sci-fi: projected images of the Pantheon or the inside of the Lowell Observatory as if from some apocryphal world history. Like a technological octopus, the arms of "Pantheon II" curve from the walls, projecting the ceiling of the titular work as the repeating boxes and grid form a gentle, ghostly image. Two tripods cross legs for "Lowell I" and "Lowell II," the images stacked one on top of the other. And in "Centipede," the creepy crawly is rendered with surprising grace. In Fernald's hands, science is more stimulating than we ever imagined it could be. Through Jan. 27 at the Late Show, 1600 Cherry, 816-474-1300. (R.T.B.)

Group Show The kinetic, obsessive and expansive drawings by James Trotter include enough doodles and cartoons masking as social commentary to fill the Dolphin gallery. Trotter is in good company, with David Ford's skewed take on a white-picket-fence America, Ky Anderson's childlike paintings, and work by Russell Ferguson and others. But it's mostly Trotter's show. The three sections of "Stare Decisis" fill one wall, the oversized prints inviting viewers into the world of his animation madness, where a personal, journal-like quality imbues the work. In all three, cartoon characters from the past wander around on the pages as if lost in a postmodern loop. In sharp contrast, Archie Scott Gobbers' newly painted "Flash Back" (2007) features his usual neat arrangement of block letters, summing up the zeitgeist of our time in three neat phrases drifting into the blue background: "Boot up, Sign In, Log Off." Yes, that's the cycle of life captured in wonderfully simplistic tech talk. Through Jan. 27 at the Dolphin, 1901 Baltimore, 816-842-5877. (R.T.B.)

Homecoming The Johnson County Community College Gallery of Art and Village Shalom's Epsten Gallery have teamed up to exhibit the work of 10 artists who used to call Kansas City home but now make their living — and their art — elsewhere. They've returned from many different cities, and although they all share a preference for abstraction over realism, their sources of inspiration are varied. Andrzej Zielinski paints bright and bowed ATMs. Eric Sall steals imagery from skateboard culture. Sandy Winters makes innovative use of aluminum foil in a triptych of paintings. Rashawn Griffin's "Sculptures and Landscapes" collages have a brooding, introspective quality; one canvas whispers, "We're dying. Can you help?" Through Jan. 28 at the Epsten Gallery (5500 W. 123rd St. in Overland Park, 913-266-8413) and JCCC Gallery of Art (12345 College Blvd. in Overland Park, 913-469-8500, ext. 3972). (S.R.)

Remembering the Future Because of its diversity of media, this exhibition feels like five shows crammed into one. The eclectic arrangement isn't jarring, though; it's an inspired selection of 40 fantastic works culled for the most part from the Bebe and Crosby Kemper Collection. Themes of memory, loss and time string various pieces together in tangential threads, so the mechanical butterflies flapping their wings in soothing, wavelike motions in John Kalymnios' graceful "Untitled (Butterfly)" logically connect to the suggestive, dreamlike videos in Bruce Yonemoto's "The Wedding." And for the concrete reality of death, James Croak's cast-dirt "Dirt Baby" hangs on the wall like a foreboding omen. Deep and profound, this show creates new memories while examining the nature of old ones. Through Jan. 28 at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, 4420 Warwick, 816-753-5784. (R.T.B.)

Sound Exchange A little more interesting in theory than in practice, this is still a cool idea. Two artists, Amy Stacey Curtis from Portland, Maine, and Amber Hasselbring of San Francisco, recorded nine sounds indicative of their surroundings. They swapped them in the mail, then drew impressions of what they heard; each contributed nine 11-inch-by-11 inch drawings in charcoal, graphite, watercolor pencil and inkjet. The resulting collaboration, a visual and aural dialogue between East Coast and West Coast, analyzes place and our relationship to it. The interactive quality of the exhibit, in which gallerygoers are asked to play the recorded sounds on headphones while looking at the work, leaves us lost in the waves of "Pacific Ocean." We're not complaining. Through Feb. 24 at Grothaus and Pearl Gallery, 2012 Baltimore, 816-471-1015. (R.T.B.)

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