Fall Season Lookahead: Visual Arts

Critic’s Picks

“HEW LOCKE: HERE’S THE THING,” SEPT. 9 – JAN. 1, KEMPER MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART
Architecture, sculpture, textiles, photographs, paintings, drawings — International artist Hew Locke does it all with incredible invention as he confronts what he terms the “post-colonial ‘mish-mash’ of today’s invented culture.” Expect to be blown away. — Elisabeth Kirsch

“MEGAN RYE: FOUNDLING,” SEPT. 14 – DEC. 22, SPENCER MUSEUM OF ART
The exhibit’s themes of human rights, children, and the intersection of capitalism and adoption resonate with the values that inform my own role as a parent and educator, and I anticipate Rye’s show will inspire some challenging questions. — Matt Thompson

Megan Rye was adopted from South Korea and has drawn upon this personal experience in her installation of 100 portraits of foreign-born children. The likenesses, provocatively painted on Target shopping bags, are based on the photos utilized to entice prospective parents. — Nan Chisholm

“2019 CHARLOTTE STREET VISUAL ARTIST AWARDS EXHIBITION,” OCT. 3 – JAN. 26, KEMPER MUSEUM
OF CONTEMPORARY ART
This year’s group of award winners speaks to the diversity and strength of multidisciplinary art practices among a new generation of Kansas City art stars. — Brian Hearn

“ACCESS + ABILITY,” OCT. 19 – FEB. 9, NELSON-ATKINS MUSEUM OF ART
New York’s Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum has always been one of my favorite museums, and this exhibition of more than 70 designs that create greater accessibility and inclusivity for people of varying abilities speaks to me. From wearable navigation systems for blind people to apps for kids on the autism spectrum, designers push forward to make the world easier to navigate for everyone. — Dana Self

Although some may be put off by the fact that this loan exhibition will have been touring for nearly two years before it opens at the Nelson-Atkins, the show has the potential to break down barriers between good design and fine art, and to enlighten viewers about the lives of individuals with physical, cognitive and sensory challenges. — James Martin

“QUEER ABSTRACTION,” NOV. 21 – MARCH 8, NERMAN MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART
In these challenging times, the use of abstraction by queer artists to express their experience speaks poignantly to our collective experience. — Harold Smith

For those willing to look beneath the surface, abstraction has always served as a vehicle for commentary, with gender being a favored area to explore for the past half century. Featuring more than 50 works by queer artists who use abstraction to communicate the realities of their existence, “Queer Abstraction” is a fascinating showcase of this trend. — Alice Thorson

“QUEEN NEFERTARI: ETERNAL EGYPT,” NOV. 15 – MARCH 29, NELSON-ATKINS MUSEUM OF ART
“Queen Nefertari: Eternal Egypt” is a unique chance to see 3,000-year-old artifacts from the tomb of one Egypt’s most famous queens. Married to Ramesses II, also known as Ramesses the Great, Nefertari ruled over Egypt during one of its most expansionist and prosperous periods. Don’t confuse her with the better-known Queen Nefertiti of a century earlier, but the exhibition does promise to explore the role of queens and goddesses throughout the history of ancient Egypt. — Neil Thrun


Where to Find Art: These Neighborhood Will Keep You Looking

At once cosmopolitan and distinctively local, traditional and revolutionary, charming and transgressive, Kansas City’s fine arts scene is a supernova amidst the Midwestern Milky Way. A confluence of ideas, culture and people, the city’s visual arts have something to offer everyone. Whether you’re a brand-new visitor to Kansas City or a longtime patron of the arts, this fall offers many opportunities to explore the creative bounty of its unique neighborhoods.

Crossroads Arts District
The Crossroads Arts District remains, undoubtedly, the most prominent fine arts neighborhood in the city. And while the individual galleries are too numerous to list, the Crossroads has garnered a national reputation as an epicenter for the visual arts. The district’s First Fridays event (held the first Friday of each month), draws thousands of people to the area to enjoy new exhibit openings, food trucks, music and special activities. But the neighborhood’s renown does come at a cost, as some artists find themselves priced out of studio space and even living accommodations in this rapidly gentrifying community.

Southmoreland
Home to premier establishments such as the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art and the Kansas City Art Institute, the Southmoreland area of Kansas City offers a comfortable and accessible way for people to experience world-class exhibitions and collections, spanning the ancient to the contemporary. With a rich array of educational programming and public events, these venues always have something to offer. Beyond the large museums and institutions of higher learning, Southmoreland has a number of artists’ studios, shops and galleries.

18th & Vine
Long celebrated for its relationship with jazz and African American culture, the 18th & Vine neighborhood has plenty of treasures. In addition to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and American Jazz Museum, it is also the site of a burgeoning contemporary art enclave. EthnicArt Gallery KC, in the southwest corner of the community, strives to “highlight from an artistic view the many nuances of artistic expression that are often not seen or simply overlooked.” And some artists, like Tyler Kimball of Monarch Glass Studio, see inspiration in the history and character of the neighborhood itself. According to Kimball, “Most people who come to our gallery to find glass end up finding many other unique stores, restaurants, murals and other oddities while in the very culturally rich 18th & Vine district.”

WestSide
Meanwhile, the proliferation of arts organizations throughout Kansas City reflects the town’s growing diversity. The Mattie Rhodes Art Gallery, in the Westside, was established in 1999 to “provide emerging and established Latino artists a venue in which to display their art work, as well as a place for the community to celebrate and learn about Latino culture through visual arts.” In addition to its exhibition space, the Center offers an after-school art program for elementary students, art camps and workshops for people of all ages.

Tower East
Saying goodbye to its location in the River Market area, the Kansas City Artists Coalition recently moved into the old Acme building on Gillham Road. Known as Tower East, this district contains an assortment of arts-related nonprofit groups, businesses and studios. Marissa Starke, executive director of the KCAC, is excited about the Artists Coalition’s new space, observing “there’s a footprint already being established in (Tower East) of makers and artists and crafters that is very appealing.” Maker Village, a community wood and metal shop, even offers classes to the public.

West Bottoms
One of Kansas City’s oldest and most industrial neighborhoods, the West Bottoms, has also opened its doors to art and artists. Originally home to the Kansas City Livestock Exchange and Kansas City Stockyards, the area’s warehouses and manufacturing buildings are finding a new lease on life as art galleries, studios and vintage stores. Many of the region’s bustling antique markets host their own sale events to overlap with First Fridays weekends. Doc Snyder, a local sculptor and screen printer, has owned a property in the West Bottoms since 1997. A section of his building, called Doc’s Caboose, is available for practicing artists to rent as studio space. “I love it here, I really do,” says Snyder. “It’s really a very interesting part of the city. We’re fortunate to have all of these old buildings.” For those inclined toward performance art, the West Bottoms boasts an abundance of haunted houses during the Halloween season.

Art is alive everywhere in Kansas City, and the community is fortunate to have so many innovative people dedicated to expression and dialogue.

Matthew Thompson


Visual Arts Calendar

Foresight/Insight · Reflecting on the Museum’s Collection
Through Oct. 27
Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art
www.nermanmuseum.org

Harold D. Smith, Jr.: “Can You See Me”
Through Oct. 27; reception Oct. 24,
6 to 8 p.m.
Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art
www.nermanmuseum.org

“Katy Stone”
Sept. 6 – Oct. 5
KCAI Crossroads Gallery
www.kcai.edu/crossroads-gallery

“New Marks” by Juliette Hemingway
Sept. 6 – Nov. 1
Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Heritage Center
www.brucewatkinscenter.com

“California Gold Rush Daguerreotypes”
Sept. 6 – Jan. 26
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
www.nelson-atkins.org

“Hew Locke: Here’s the Thing”
Sept. 9 – Jan. 1
Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art
www.kemperart.org

“Cows!: Reflections on Romantic Visions and Reality in Rural Life Over Time”
Sept. 13 – Nov. 3
Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art
www.albrecht-kemper.org

“Megan Rye: Foundling”
Sept. 14 – Dec. 22
Spencer Museum of Art
www.spencerart.ku.edu

“Rebecca Hutchinson”
Sept. 15 – Dec. 15
Daum Museum of Contemporary Art
www.daummuseum.org

“2019 Charlotte Street Visual Artist
Awards Exhibition”
Oct. 3 – Jan. 26
Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art
www.kemperart.org

“Particle & Wave: PaperClay Illuminated”
Oct. 12 – Dec. 15
Daum Museum of Contemporary Art
www.daummuseum.org

“Access + Ability”
Oct. 19 – Feb. 9
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
www.nelson-atkins.org

“Aretha Aoki & Ryan MacDonald”
Nov. 1 – Dec. 7
KCAI Crossroads Gallery
www.kcai.edu/crossroads-gallery

“Queen Nefertari: Eternal Egypt”
Nov. 15 – March 29
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
www.nelson-atkins.org

“Queer Abstraction”
Nov. 21 – March 8
Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art
www.nermanmuseum.org

About The Author: KC Studio

KC Studio

KC Studio covers the performing, visual, cinematic and literary arts, and the artists, organizations and patrons that make Kansas City a vibrant center for arts and culture.

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