Summer brings lots to see at Kansas City’s museums and performance venues. The Nelson-Atkins is riding high with an extraordinary gathering of works by renowned Black artists in its “30 Americans” show. Kemper Museum has launched “Lexicon,” its big 25th-anniversary show of collection highlights and recent acquisitions, all linked by an emphasis on gesture. The Nerman Museum is also celebrating its permanent collection and unveiling new additions, including a striking painting of queer men of color in an intimate, domestic space by Chicago-based Jarvis Boyland. (See the artist’s essay about his work on the Nerman Museum page in our Consortium Members section, p. 100).
For music lovers, there are Summerfest Concerts, Music at the Cathedrals and a Summer Series presented by the KC Baroque Consortium, as well as performances by KC jazz artists, including Amber Underwood and the Kansas City Latin Jazz Orchestra. Fringe Festival will keep theater goers busy for two weeks in July. August brings an opportunity to reflect on how far we’ve come on the status of women, with Kansas City Actors Theatre’s production of the Ibsen classic, “A Doll’s House.” As director Darren Sexto recently observed, the play that was “so shocking when he first wrote it, is now shocking because, in 2019, it still feels familiar.” And on Aug.16, Spinning Tree Theatre opens “Every Brilliant Thing,” the first production in its new home at the Johnson County Arts and Heritage Center.
Summer also brings plenty to see outdoors, including multiple artworks and performances downtown by Kansas City-based artists courtesy of Art in the Loop. (See Gallery Glance, p.136) Outdoor art displays can be found throughout the city. The most ambitious project is the Andy Goldsworthy “Walking Wall” on the grounds of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art (see Steve Paul’s column, p. 16.) Elsewhere on the museum grounds, a new mini-golf course inspired by works in the collection recently opened for play. For an evening of outdoor fun, mark your calendar for Kansas City’s Big Picnic, now in its sixth year, from 4 to 8 p.m. July 21 in the museum’s Donald J. Hall Sculpture Park.
For spectacle, don’t miss “Reflecting Motion,” a floating sculpture made of shimmering silver streamers commissioned by Union Station from Poetic Kinetics, the studio of Los Angeles-based Patrick Shearn, a former creature maker and visual effects supervisor in the film industry
Adding to the mix are new “drive-by” artworks, including a giant owl sculpture on the property of Stephen and Barbara Abend at 5940 Ward Parkway, and a colorful Stanley Whitney Project Wall at the Kansas City Art Institute’s H&R Block Artspace. Visible to motorists on Main Street, it’s a beauty, and it makes you think.
In the Crossroads, the Charlotte Street Foundation has recently unveiled new Mobank Artboards at 125 Southwest Boulevard. Both sets of images, mounted on two-sided billboards, find inspiration in the sky. Lilly McElroy’s “I Control the Sun” features photographs of the artist trying to do just that, in what she describes as “an act of defiance as well as an interruption of the beautiful.” Kiki Serna and Xan Holt’s “Only Here, Nowhere Else” pays tribute to the unique beauty of the Kansas City sky.
While you’re in the area, check out James Woodfill’s new “Tuning Field” installation at the Crossroads Hotel, 2101 Central St., which the artist intriguingly describes as “flickering between a ‘Storage Wars’ blind reveal and a stop-motion film.”