art exhibitions 

Biographical Landscape: The Photography of Stephen Shore, 1969-1979 American photographer Stephen Shore's exhibition includes more than 150 images of '70s-era parking lots, motel rooms, restaurants, highways and other familiar road-trip images from across the country. Anyone who has been on a road trip knows these images by heart. The exterior photographs of filling stations, desolate dirt roads, billboards and other architectural features vibrate with color and ripple with texture. Shore is particularly adept at distilling the essence of light and its changeable nature; saturated colors give bricks a velvety feeling. His work conveys the wonder — and tedium — of ordinary scenes. "Trail's End Restaurant, Kanab, Utah, August 10, 1973" shows us a small stack of pancakes, half a cantaloupe, milk and water on a Western-themed place mat in a diner that could be anywhere in America. Seeing a Sambo's restaurant sign makes us wince, as does a Chevron sign with gas at 59.9 cents. Through May 18 at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, 4420 Warwick, 816-753-5784. (Dana Self)

Componere Margie McDonald of Port Townsend, Washington, makes her Kansas City debut at the Leedy-Voulkos Art Center with this exhibit of arch, glam sculptures assembled from recontextualized objects. "2x4 Cows" is an assembly of brass and stainless-steel stencil letters bound up with a net of copper wire almost neural in its complexity. One of the exhibit's most impressive examples of repurposed material is "Seascape," a ghostly and amazing sculpture made from steel window screen, billowing like a bolt of silk and hung with blossomlike assemblies made from the same material. The artist's sense of humor is obvious in pieces such as "1,000 Feet of Kenny G," an elaborate serpentine form created with unspooled 16-millimeter film depicting America's favorite smooth-jazz saxophonist. The Leedy-Voulkos is an excellent space for drama, and McDonald delivers with the shiny and immediately attractive "Chandelier Unplugged," a stalactite of chrome lamp shades dangling from the gallery's ceiling. Through April 26 at the Leedy-Voulkos Art Center, 2012 Baltimore, 816-474-1919. (Chris Packham)

Cursive New York artist Creighton Michael's definition of drawing is extremely elastic, encompassing traditional pencil-on-paper imagery, painting and sculpture. Gesture is key to understanding the pieces here; Michael is interested in the various ways in which physical movements create marks on a page or a canvas. His pieces, arranged in series, comprise a kind of dialogue, each responding to others in various ways. The exhibit's dominant piece may be "Rhapsody," a "three-dimensional drawing" made from graphite, paper and rope arranged on the floor; using a dense arrangement of curls and arcs, Michael explores similar ideas about gesture and line in 3-D. Oh, yeah — despite Michael's unapologetically cerebral approach, the work exhibited is really pretty. Through June 6 at the Belger Arts Center, 2100 Walnut, 816-474-3250. (Chris Packham)

Hong Chun Zhang and Chong Siew Ying Hong Chun Zhang and Chong Siew Ying join the many contemporary artists who use hair and images of hair to examine social difference, mortality, fetishism, gender and other cultural issues. Zhang, who was born an reared in China but received her MA and MFA degrees in the States and now lives in Lawrence, makes drawings in which delicate pencil lines mimic hair in a tactile way. "Split Ends," "Soft Cut," "Cheers" and "Recording" are also clever visual puns on the relationships between language and image. Also on display here are four paintings in which Zhang incorporates hair into everyday imagery, substituting it for such things as running water. Ying, meanwhile, paints images of beautiful, happy or smiling monochromatic faces floating inside groupings of flowers and butterflies, often superimposing the faces with serene clouds or mountains. These paintings are pleasing but facile, lacking the weight of experience or commentary. Through May 24 at Byron C. Cohen Gallery for Contemporary Art, 2020 Baltimore, 816-421-5665. (Dana Self)

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