Left: “Hidden Lake Road,” by Carol Zastoupil, is part of “real/unreal” at the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art. (from the artist). Right: “Are We From Where We Are,” by Chico Sierra, is part of “Evocations • Celebrating the Museum’s Collection” at the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art. (Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art / photo by Brandon Frederick)

The announcement of JoAnne Northrup as the new executive director and chief curator of the Nerman Museum roughly coincided with the June 1 resumption of regular gallery hours (admission by appointment) and the opportunity to view two new permanent collection exhibitions organized by Bruce Hartman, who retired as executive director and chief curator Dec. 31, 2020.

Installed in the first-floor exhibition galleries, “Evocations • Celebrating the Museum’s Collection” reflects the museum’s commitment to diversity through paintings, sculptures, ceramics, photographs, works on paper and textiles by 39 artists, including 28 works being shown for the first time.

When the pandemic forced the postponement of the “Evocations” exhibit from spring 2020 to spring 2021, Hartman spent the subsequent months pursuing acquisitions, with an eye to increasing the collection’s holdings of major works by African American, Latinx, Native American and LGBTQ artists. Midway through the pandemic, he was enthused to acquire a work on paper by El Paso-born Kansas City artist Chico Sierra.

In addition to the Sierra piece, works by Kansas City-area artists Norman Akers, Kwanza Humphrey, Don Kottmann, Emily Sall, Roger Shimomura, Harold Smith and Art Miller assert a strong presence in the exhibit, joining works by Kansas City Art Institute alums Roberto Lugo, Angela Dufresne and Holly Wilson, who have moved on to other cities. Viewers will remember many of the artists in the show from previous exhibitions, including Ramiro Gomez, Monty Claw, Fritz Scholder and Jarvis Boyland.

On view in the Kansas Focus Gallery is “real/unreal,” a landscape-inspired exhibit of works by 13 national, international and local artists. Old favorites, including Tomory Dodge’s evocative oil on canvas “Wasteland” (2007) and a classic Nebraska landscape by Keith Jacobshagen, “Between Bennet and Palmyra” (2005) are joined by more recent acquisitions, including works by Kansas City artists Dylan Mortimer, Jason Needham and Carol Zastoupil.

The exhibits continue at the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, 12345 College Blvd., Overland Park, through Dec. 22. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Visitors must schedule an appointment by emailing tours@nermanmuseum.org.

Alice Thorson

Alice Thorson is the editor of KC Studio. She has written about the visual arts for numerous publications locally and nationally.

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