Our critics recommend these shows.

Art Capsule Reviews 

Our critics recommend these shows.

America Starts Here Kate Ericson and Mel Ziegler, both graduates of the Kansas City Art Institute, collaborated for 10 years on the work exhibited here, until Ericson's death in 1995 at age 39. Their widely recognized work is conceptual — it's about ideas rather than experiences. Through mixed-media sculptures and installations, they explore the ironies of American life. "Squeaky Clean" is a 19th-century wooden chest halved between hundreds of bars of soap and a pile of dirt. The painting "Oldgloryredbleachedwhitenationalflagblue" combines the red, white and blue of the American flag into one amalgamated pinkish goop. Through Sept. 29 at the H&R Block Artspace, 16 E. 43rd St., 816-802-3426. (Santiago Ramos)

Patrick Clancy: Breeding Ground Patrick Clancy is a photographer but also a painter: A large photograph of water or sand serves as a canvas, which he manipulates with props and various photographic techniques to create a surreal vision. "Atoms & Eve" and "Atoms and Eve Dispelled" use metallic lettering to spell out the titles on wavy yellow sand. A series of vertical photographs twists a standing image and creates a dizzying circular effect — "Exchange of Flows," a picture of the sea, is the most impressive of these. Clancy's weaker "weathering" photographs are long on technique but short on substance, and they bear such pretentious titles as "A Shadowy Photographer Stretches Across the Windy Archaeological Site where a Sand Storm Is Brewing a Vortex of ..." (it's actually longer than that, but we're out of room). Through July 22 at the Epsten Gallery at Village Shalom, 5500 W. 123rd St. in Overland Park, 913-266-8413. (Santiago Ramos)

Justin Gainan: You Are Sleeping, You Do Not Want to Believe. You Are Sleeping Most of these drawings by Justin Gainan (including the eponymous five-piece set of 26-inch-by-28 inch black squares) are solid blocks of black ink on white paper, painstakingly built up over two and a half weeks. Others — "Behind a Hill," "Terrible Is What It Is" and two pieces titled "Dirty Drawing" — are random lines of graphite that dangle on the page like clumps of lint. The companion pieces "White Dots" and "Black Dots" record the impressions of a series of punches that the artist planted on pieces of paper. A video ("Fan Light") and two big photographs of searchlights beaming into the sky complete this show, which may flummox both the layman and the art lover. Through July 28 at the Dolphin Gallery, 1901 Baltimore, 816-842-5877. (Santiago Ramos)

Judith Mackey: The Palette of the Prairie Painter Judith Mackey works within the regionalist tradition. This collection of oil-on-canvas landscapes exhibits the oranges, reds, purples and greens of all that land we see when we drive west on I-70. Quintessentially Kansan, Mackey paints the standard dawns and dusks; the eponymous (and large) "Palette of the Prairie" doesn't uncover any new mysteries within our horizon. Slightly more interesting is "Chase City Wall Cloud," depicting the titular dark and ominous gray cloud. Her vision becomes dramatic and unique only in a few striking paintings — "Lavender Smoke, "Burning at Dark" and "Prairie Burn III" — that beautifully capture the charred landscape remaining after a prairie fire. Through Aug. 31 at the Rice Gallery, 7060 W. 135th St. in Overland Park, 913-685-8889. (Santiago Ramos)

Phantasmania The Kemper's Phantasmania brings together works exploring the element of fear and morbidity in the collective conscious of 17 emerging artists. Wendell Gladstone's shiny textures and candy colors seem like the packaging on a new toy, but his cyclical scenes betray something much deeper — in "Resurrection Ritual," skeleton sailors and monkeys involved in urgent activities illustrate themes of evolution and rebirth. Israeli artist Shiri Mordechay's work is a festival of decay; she finds beauty in the colors and shapes of rotting flesh, often pairing female figures with images of fetid fish and rodents (a wall-sized untitled painting from 2005 threatens to tear away from the wall and disintegrate). Dan Attoe's painted landscapes are overlaid with deliberate, detailed compartments, like an intricately storyboarded movie scene. In one, a police search goes down in a winter forest reminiscent of imagery from Fargo, and a mountain panorama unearths memories both reassuring and ominous. Through Aug. 19 at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, 4420 Warwick, 816-753-5784. (Nadia Pflaum)

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