Our critics recommend these shows.

Art Capsule Reviews 

Our critics recommend these shows.

Summer Farrar: Folks Summer Farrar doesn’t paint faces — she stitches them. A recent graduate of the Kansas City Art Institute, she works from a snapshot or from memory, employing various fabrics — scraps from clothing, upholstery and other materials — to create an image on canvas. “Jori,” a portrait of a local art-scene personality, is the fuzziest picture, using for its background the green of a poker tabletop, and a thick black carpet for the figure’s hair. “Billie Jean,” Farrar’s grandmother, wears a blue sweater in front of a quaint floral background. The value of this work is in the story told by the character’s face -- the tired eyes behind the gold-rimmed glasses; the thick, red lips arched downward, frowning at the contents of a piece of paper (a medical bill? a tax audit?). Through April 28 at the Pi Gallery, 419 E. 18th St., 816-210-6534. (Santiago Ramos)

From the Fat of the Land: Alchemies, Ecologies, Attractions Casting corporate biotechnology as a kind of subculture, Adam Zaretsky's short film pFarm tries to relate its politics to organic farming and sadomasochism. Part documentary, part performance art, it's the tip of the cerebral iceberg for a laboratory-style exhibit that references the sensual while evincing the clinical. Many of the pieces are works in progress; in July, he'll conduct a performance piece during which he will demonstrate the extraction of DNA from organic samples using easily obtained equipment. Elsewhere, Micaela O'Herlihy's short film loop Alone in the Woods Till Death Do I Wander spools not just through a small projector but also through pulleys mounted on the ceiling and walls, dimly illuminated by the screen's flicker. The effect is surprising, like encountering an animal in a darkened cave. (The film itself is an oblique fantasy about a boy raised by wolves.) O'Herlihy films additional footage this spring for incorporation into the existing loop. Through July 27 at Grand Arts, 1819 Grand, 816-421-6887. (Chris Packham)

It's a Bit Messy, But It's Home Travis Pratt renders improbable architectures with a rainy, muted color pallet and scalpel-sharp lines. This KCAI senior studies ceramics, but here he shows his skill in a variety of other media. Pratt combines etching, graphite and acrylic paint in these isometric studies of tall, angled structures. The proportions and features of his buildings are unlikely but never cartoony. And though the paintings can be playful, the overcast tones ground Pratt's work with a moody edge. Many, like "Stilted Store Front," are suspended over a featureless abyss. The surprising variations of technique are in accord with Pratt's unexpected angles and dreamlike imagery; his straightforward compositions and their unaffected presentation serve to highlight the strangeness of these architectural landscapes. Through April 29 at the Late Show Gallery, 1600 Cherry, 816-474-1300. (Chris Packham)

Lyrical Legacy: the Prints of Karen Kunc This career survey includes many of Karen Kunc's small wood veneer folios, screen-printed with matrices of color. These bold forms and vivid colors didn't just happen, but they reveal so organically that it's almost possible to overlook the mastery of her technique. "History Book" intrigues with its proliferation of media: screenprint, watercolor, etching, collage and beeswax on thin substrate of Brazil wood, arranged as a small book. "Braided Waters," a layered image of a stylized river and a double-helical motif, presents as three separate woodcut prints on a single piece of shaped paper, connected in theme like conversational digressions. "Original Fission," with a similar color palette, suggests a scientist's monitor screen, its data radiating out into the matrix of delicate cuts that define the surrounding composition. Through April 28 at the Leedy-Voulkos Art Center, 2012 Baltimore, 816-474-1919. (Chris Packham)

Photography Show Spurred by the February demise of the Society for Contemporary Photography, Dolphin owner John O'Brien assembled 11 local photographers in an effort to soften the blow to their genre. Hallmark photographer and art historian Keith F. Davis offers a silver gelatin print in which the white pyramids of Giza acquire an almost conscious existence amid the vast, arid Egyptian desert. Elijah Gowin exhibits photos that he lifted from the Internet and composited as "Fall #1" and "Fall #4," both showing a human figure in free fall above a body of water. Gloria Baker Feinstein's Shredding Project — five scanned, shredded and re-assembled family photos from the 1950s — is the showstopper. These works are moving even if you don't know that the black-haired woman wearing horn-rimmed glasses in "Yosemite" is the artist's recently deceased mother. Through April 28 at the Dolphin Gallery, 1901 Baltimore, 816 842-5877. (Santiago Ramos)

The Prints of Wales The cute name of this exhibit, featuring 10 Welsh printmakers, hints at the sense of fun they bring to the works while belying their craftsmanship and cumulative years of experience. Paul Croft's Alphabet lithograph series renders what appear to be letters, but half-formed, primeval versions of their more evolved descendants. Steffan Jones-Hughes offers Hunting the Wren, an unconstructed series of minimal etchings based on a Welsh winter tradition. Brian Jones' works might be the most playful; they juxtapose iconic imagery from art and the wider popular culture, conflating Elvis with Che Guevara and riffing on Scream by placing Edvard Munch's horrified figure under America's golden arches. In conjunction with the Southern Graphics Arts Council, through May 4 at the Belger Arts Center, 2100 Walnut, 816-474-3250. (Chris Packham)

Arnie Zimmerman and Bobby Silverman Arnie Zimmerman's white stoneware sculpture is preoccupied with builders and their constructions. Hieronymus Bosch-like crowds of sculpted figures surround elaborate, coiling superstructures and artful towers. "Monument Builders," the exhibit's simplest piece, is nearly a statement of purpose, depicting workers bearing the pieces of a half-finished structure. In "Old Story," Zimmerman's figures cling to a boat tossed on a tempest evoked by a signature stone lattice of impressive intricacy. By contrast, Bobby Silverman's glazed porcelain slabs are studies in assertive stillness. Brightly colored and minimally adorned, they evoke Jolly Ranchers, with all the sensory associations that implies. Utterly simple but painstakingly wrought, many of the pieces offer hue and sheen but little else. Others stealthily comment on the exhibit itself, hiding quotes about art's utility by Adolf Loos, John Ruskin and Walter Gropius as patterns of Braille writing and Morse code fired into the work. Through April 28 at Sherry Leedy Contemporary Art, 2004 Baltimore, 816-221-2626. (Chris Packham)


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