Art Exhibitions 

Blue Gallery Aaron Morgan Brown's oil-on-canvas paintings are spectacular evocations of the technique used on television shows such as Cops in which faces are obscured with an undulating matrix of flesh-colored blobs. These large compositions read like photographic scenes that have been similarly obscured and then copied in painstaking detail. The effect is intriguing and funny; Brown's work has an unexpected cleverness. Ann Piper reveals her own sense of humor with her thoughtful, realist renderings of posed figures. "Camouflage" depicts a woman in a dog mask, surrounded by real dogs. The paintings are also great displays of the artist's technique. Nicole Cawlfield's photos of familiar Kansas City burlesque performers are imaginatively posed and theatrically funny; Cawlfield brings freshness and eccentricity to now-familiar notions of unconventional beauty, conveying these ideas in her own voice. Kansas City Art Institute graduate Bernal Koehrsen's acrylic-on-resin-panel paintings are immediately attractive — lickable, glistening slabs adorned with deliberate arrangements of freely painted spiral forms, the artist's characteristic abstractions. Through Feb. 29 at the Blue Gallery, 118 Southwest Blvd., 816-527-0823. (Chris Packham)

Heart of Glass Valentine Show The 18th-annual Valentine's Day show at the Late Show Gallery is curator and owner Tom Deatherage's wide-armed embrace of the army of familiar local artists he has spotlighted over the years. In an untitled mixed-media drawing, Travis Pratt's open gestures and clean constructions evoke the prefab geometries of portable housing (but without the draftsman's hand). Doug Schwietert offers a haunting mixed-media assemblage of dimensional lettering ("The Youngest Son Crawls Gingerly to the Edge"), a black bird's wing affixed to a painted wood substrate. Jesse Christopher's oil-on-canvas "Cone" is a vivid, spiraling abstraction in primary colors on a white background, an organic counterpoint to Tim Rowland's "Abstract," an equally bold arrangement of verticals that seems less painted onto the canvas than gouged in. House favorite Dominique Elkind exhibits sensual, feminine surrealism depicting sexualized women in the woods, rendered with her characteristic fine linework. Adolfo Martinez's "Papa" is a lovingly rendered biographical illustration combining imagery with biographical copy, depicting a father figure teaching the artist to cook breakfast. Among the exhibit's many other artists: Steve Frink, Rusty Leffel, Colby K. Smith, Marci Aylward and Apryl McAnerny. Through Feb. 29 at the Late Show Gallery, 1600 Cherry, 816-474-1300. (Chris Packham)

Susi Lulaki The vivid guinea hens central to Susi Lulaki's February exhibit at Pi range from realist renderings to near-abstractions, all accomplished in a variety of media and with an equal range of effectiveness. The hens themselves make spectacular subjects for paintings, with their spotted plumage, enormous bodies and disproportionately tiny heads. "Two Guineas on Porch," a mixed-media work on wood, depicts twin birds roosting on a wooden deck chair, a confluence of prairie wildness with matter-of-fact domesticity. The eyes of these birds, as rendered by Lulaki, betray zero awareness of the danger implicit in their transgression of human boundaries. It can be hard not to anthropomorphize these creatures, and if you do, the effect is comedic. But Lulaki conveys the vulnerability of her flightless, somewhat brainless subjects in an elaborate series of paintings that has the birds roosting not just on the fixtures and furniture of human occupation but also on and around abstract elements of the compositions themselves. Among the larger mixed-media paintings, Lulaki elaborates on this theme of territorial boundaries with smaller acrylic and oil works — cats and birds painted on reclaimed shingles. Through Feb. 29 at Pi, 419 E. 18th St., 816-210-6534. (Chris Packham)

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