Revival, acrylic on canvas, 48×60, 2019 to 2022
Nature in Kansas City doesn’t fit into a tidy narrative. Hiking trails are nestled into residential areas, enclaves of wooded areas can be explored just off the highway and vegetation sprouts from sprawling urban streets. Stepping into one of these natural pockets is an experience in sensory dissonance. At one moment, leaves crunch underfoot amidst bird calls and scurrying critters. At the next, car horns and the buzz of traffic breaks the spell.
Kansas City artist and Pollock-Krasner Foundation grantee, Jason Needham, creates a visual representation of this experience through his Weinberger Fine Art show, “The Majestic Mundane.” The scenes he highlights are average by all accounts, yet the detail he explores and expounds upon gives them an elevated quality. Everyday scenes may fade into the background — may appear mundane — but when they are spotlighted, their intricacies shine through. Needham’s ten pieces on display, ranging in size from 96” by 72” to 9” by 12”, reveal the breathtaking beauty lying dormant in the absolutely ordinary.
Needham doesn’t travel far for inspiration. For him, it’s all around the city, burrowed into hidden nooks. There he spends hours poring over a scene and capturing its likeness in plein air acrylic on canvas paintings. His work reflects a philosophy of careful consideration of the world around him and an ability to create an alluring image out of anything. Needham’s artist biography reflects this, saying, “Whether he’s standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon or staring into the corner of a room, the investment in looking is the same.”
This investment is clear in the show’s titular painting, “Majestic Mundane.” It stands at 96” by 72”, hulking over viewers like the sweeping branches of an actual tree. The view could have been captured in any wooded area during mid-fall. The vantage point is a clearing, pointed toward a sprawling web of trunks and branches. The yellow grass of a field is visible just beyond the tree line. Taking in Needham’s painting from a distance, the greens, whites, blues and yellows meld into a cohesive backdrop of forest foliage. However, upon closer inspection, the artist’s brushstrokes are evident, allowing his humanity to bleed through the carefully crafted artistry. The overall effect is of elevated familiarity. The trees, skyline and brush are commonplace — easy to gloss over, yet in such sharp focus, they morph into something sublime.
Evident throughout “The Majestic Mundane” is Needham’s uncanny ability to zoom in on the seemingly unspectacular to underscore its surprising grandeur. His plein air landscape pieces are a perfect addition to Weinberger Fine Art’s open concept space. In the heart of the Crossroads on Southwest Boulevard, Weinberger’s garage door is wide open on temperate days, inviting both audiences and fresh air into the space. Upon entering, Needham’s massive acrylic on canvas paintings pop off the white walls to draw viewers closer — to allow them to see his immense appreciation and care in rendering even the most minute details around him.
“Jason Needham: The Majestic Mundane” continues at Weinberger Fine Art, 144 Southwest Blvd., through Nov. 9. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday – Friday; noon to 5 p.m. Saturday, noon to 8 p.m. First Fridays, and Tuesday by appointment or chance. Needham will give an artist talk at the gallery at 2 p.m. Oct. 22, also available virtually. For more information, 816.301.4428 or www.weinbergerfineart.com.