Jillian Youngbird had a big year in 2017. Her comical sculptures of animal people, made from cardboard and covered in cut-up paint samples, were on display in Kansas City and as far away as Alaska. Youngbird’s humorous sculptures are all about environmentalism, and they attempt to make the topic approachable and interesting. Inspired by a childhood “in the Ozarks among the hillbillies” and her great-grandmother Mable, Youngbird seeks to unite her art with her Native American heritage and environmentalist beliefs.
Kansas City Ballet completed 2017 in high style. The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts invited the company to Washington, D.C., to perform Devon Carney’s “The Nutcracker” over Thanksgiving weekend. “This is a particularly satisfying fantasy,” wrote Sarah L. Kaufman for “The Washington Post,” which “positively oozes charm.” High praise from a Pulitzer Prize-winning dance critic.
Artist Glyneisha Johnson, a May 2017 graduate of the Kansas City Art Institute, has received several honors in very short order. In September 2017 she landed a studio residency from the Charlotte Street Foundation, and in January 2018 she had a solo exhibition at The Writers Place, where seven poets created works in response to her collages. Bruce Hartman, executive director of the Nerman Museum, purchased one of the collages from the show for the museum collection.
On the heels of an exhibit of small collages at Haw Contemporary last November, Kansas City artist Armin Mühsam is poised to open a solo museum show. “Armin Mühsam: Archipeinture” opens March 23 at the Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art in St. Joseph. The exhibit, of small sculptures and paintings on paper populated by geometric motifs, was organized by the museum’s executive director, Brett Knappe.
It’s been called Big Fun Art and it’s making major waves throughout the art world. Kansas City has a fresh new venue for this multidisciplinary ain’t-nothin’-but-a-party art movement — that is, if you can find it. Enter Alter: Art Space, quite literally birthed last summer in the West Bottoms by recent Kansas City Art Institute graduates, Boi Boy and Bo Hubbard, who proudly refer to themselves as its “moms.”
What do Shakespeare, Jack Palance and yak hair all have in common? Robert Fletcher, legendary set and costume designer for stage, television and movies, now living in Kansas City, transformed all three into the Klingons, those uber-galactic villains that have plagued Star Trek protagonists for decades. The story of their creation, a stranger-than-fiction account, is one of many peppered throughout Fletcher’s remarkable 75-year career.