Jeff Burk, “Rock Fall, IL”
A portal serves as a door, an entrance that connects one space to another. The Kansas City Society for Contemporary Photography exhibit “Portals and Reflections” offers viewers a visual gateway between worlds. Twenty-five local fine art photographers produced 50 images displayed at 5529 Troost Gallery, sponsored by Kindness Arts KC/Kindness Inc. Aptly, these works are entry points into constructed realities as well as a transitory waystation to dwell in the past and present.
Step through the doorway of the unassuming brick building next to Blackhole Bakery along the busy corridor of Troost Avenue. Once physically standing inside the spartan gallery, viewers are able to mentally journey to disparate places. TR Barnard’s two star-swept works printed on metal, “Van Goghst” and “As the World Turns,” portray the night sky as a “portal into the universe that surrounds us, protecting us and keeping us grounded.”
“Rock Fall, IL” by Jeff Burk studies a door frame unattached to walls and located in a cleared paved lot occupied by weeds. Leafy trees, a house, and a car in the near distance appear to represent another plane of existence. The juxtaposition of an object with seemingly abandoned purpose and the suburban backdrop invites the viewer to step beyond the image and imagine a story to address questions of what, why, where, and how.
Paige Burrows spent the summer of 2022 exploring the world through windows. Burrows photographed what she saw in windows and through them as well as the frame itself. “Alpine Tunnel” depicts alpine trees on a hill poised to thrust into cottony clouds. Crossbars in a window frame create a focal point to anchor the viewer’s gaze. Burrows “plays with reflection and abstracts” in her photos as a “pathway to a mysterious edgy vibe” as found in “Pikes Peak.”
Shirley Harryman’s “Uncertain-Reflections” ventures to Caddo Lake, home to the world’s largest cypress swamp. Two black-and-white images capture towering cypress trees in silhouette. Their reflection on the watery surface reveals a haunting yet peaceful scene, a portal to an otherworldly realm.
“RIP Brancusi” by Jackson Daugherty parlays a distorted reflection into an examination of corporate architecture in Dallas, Texas, prompting thought about the permanence of hierarchy and status. What meets the eye externally distracts and obscures what behavior occurs within the building’s structure.
Jacquelyn Carioscia’s “Fenestella” challenges viewers to study an arrangement of circular shapes and consider vantage points in order to extract meaning with scant context. Converging lines in Gary Hodson’s “Underground Passage” propel the viewer toward a vanishing point. Bold colorful graffiti escorts the eyes along the way. As a portal to the Cold War era, “Stairway to Past Armageddon” by Nate Hofer shows a dark concrete stairway leading underground to a former nuclear missile storage bunker in Gardner, Kansas.
The exhibit provides not only a portal across space and time, but also a series of looking glasses to examine, explore, and reflect on what we encounter.
“Kansas City Society of Contemporary Photography: Portals and Reflections,” continues through April 29 at 5529 Troost Gallery, 5529 Troost. Hours are 11 to 4 p.m., Saturdays. For more information, kcscp.org.