Season Lookahead: Visual Arts Exhibition Highlights

“Andrew Mcilvaine: Resilience Story,” installation view, Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art (Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Johnson County Community College, Overland Park, Kansas)

Kansas City Metro

Andrew Mcilvaine: Resilience Story, Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, April 6 – Oct. 15, www.nermanmuseum.org
Andrew Mcilvaine’s powerful mixed media installation and sound exhibition “Resilience Story” shares the dark history of “paño” fabric (Chicano prison art) and how Mcilvaine transforms the material into one that underscores the power of art to outstrip systemic inequalities and generational trauma. Mcilvaine’s exhibition offers a sacred space in which the viewer is allowed a moment for recovery and to gain some resilience. Ashley Lindeman

Spandita Malik, “Rukmesh Kumari IV” (2023), photographic transfer print on khaddar fabric, phulkari silk thread embroidery, unique, 50 x 65 1/2” (courtesy of Spandita Malik. art and photo © Spandita Malik)

Spandita Malik: Jā!ī—Meshes of Resistance, July 7 – Feb. 25, Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, www.kemperart.org
Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art presents the “Spandita Malik: Jā!ī—Meshes of Resistance” exhibition, which displays embroidered portraits that speak to Malik’s social advocacy for women and their human rights. Made in collaboration with women across North Indian states, Malik’s work demonstrates her mastery of distinct embroidery styles as well as her ideas about women’s agency in precarious situations. The exhibition takes viewers on an uplifting journey built by women with shared experiences. Ashley Lindeman

“Morning,” by Skye Sumire Taniai, is on view in the “2023 Kansas City Flatfile + Digitalfile” exhibition at H&R Block Artspace. (from the artist)

2023 Kansas City Flatfile + Digitalfile, H&R Block Artspace at the Kansas City Art Institute, July 7 – Sept. 23, kcai.edu/hr-block-artspace
This biennial show never disappoints, with its collection of works by well-known and up-and-coming artists from the Kansas City area contained in large flatfile cabinets that viewers are welcome to open and browse. As in past iterations, this year’s show, featuring more than 250 regional emerging and established visual artists and designers, will reward several visits, and both seasoned and beginning collectors are guaranteed to find something they can’t live without that fits their budget. One way to get started is to peruse the dozens of pieces on the walls, presented in rotating installations selected by guest curators, and then head for the drawers to see more. Alice Thorson

Potential Futures: Prototypes, curated by Kimi Kitada, Charlotte Street Foundation, Aug. 11 – Sept. 23, charlottestreet.org
“Potential Futures: Prototypes” moves beyond the gallery and traditional artmaking practices to imagine new creative processes that address issues such as affordable housing, environmental sustainability and human/land relationships. The eight featured artists’ work will be spread throughout Kansas City to highlight the way art and social causes can interact. Carl Stafford’s Boon Area 1, which created a community garden and functional art installation, is an example of how these projects can have lasting, real-world impacts. Featuring: Amy Cantrell, Ponkho Bermejo, Mikal Floyd-Pruitt, JC Franco, Zach Frazier, Sia Joung, Sydney Pursel and Carl Stafford. Emily Spradling

Carl Stafford’s “Boon Area 1,” a community garden and functional art installation, was the inspiration for the Charlotte Street exhibition “Potential Futures: Prototypes.” (courtesy of Carl Stafford)

Sarah Zapata, creator of the Kemper Museum Atrium Project, “So the roots be known” (photo by Ignacio Torres)

Atrium Project: “Sarah Zapata: So the roots be known,” Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Aug. 18 – July 28, www.kemperart.org
Peruvian American Sarah Zapata’s “So the roots be known” pays homage to queer movements, cross-cultural identities and resilience through sculptural and textile techniques. Zapata draws from her distinct identities, Kansas City’s queer, feminist histories, as well as broader historical signifiers of difference. This lively site-specific installation blends the familiar with the traditional and layers commentary within the work. Emily Spradling

Wild Life! New Chapter, Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Sept. 7 – Nov. 12,
Through curatorial expertise and yeoman’s work, Bruce Hartman guided JCCC’s art collection and exhibition program from its humble beginnings in a single gallery through the conceptualization and completion of the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art. For 30 years he supported artists — emerging and otherwise — and built a wide-ranging collection, much of which is on exhibit throughout the campus, providing students, faculty and staff with an important and often stunning daily interaction with visual art. On Sept. 9 the best party of the fall, Wild Life! celebrates Hartman’s legacy with a major publication, “Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art – Celebrating 30 Years of Art on Campus,” and a live and online art auction. In addition to displays of works in the auction, the museum opens the exhibit “New Chapter,” featuring acquisitions from the past two years, most on view for the first time. Don’t miss it. Dana Self

Dana Claxton, “HIP HOP NDN” (2022), inkjet print, 54 x 72”, is part of the Nerman Museum’s “New Chapter” exhibition. (collection Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art; gift of the Jedel Family Foundation)

“Love Come Down,” a mixed-media work by Nic Ortega, is part of the “Lost and Found” exhibit at Kansas City Kansas Community College Gallery. (Kansas City Kansas Community College Gallery)

Lost and Found, Kansas City Kansas Community College Gallery, Sept. 11 – Oct. 27 www.masakc.art
Kansas City Kansas Community College Gallery has partnered with the artist collective Migrating Assembly for Stories and Art (MASA) to host their second exhibition, “Lost & Found.” In it, 16 Latinx artists tell the stories of their journey to Kansas City through various visual art mediums. “Lost and Found” zooms in on the individual stories of these artists, while underscoring the grief, loss of culture, self-discovery and growth that come from migrating to a new place. Featuring: Emily Alvarez, Faviola Calymayor, Daniel Garcia-Roman, Edwing Mendez, Dani Coronado, Cesar Velez, Emiliano Zapata, Marisa Adame Grady, Paulina Otero, Victor Antillanca, Baldemar Rivas, Socorro Reyes Ramirez, Rodrigo Alvarez, Erick Felix, Nicolas Ortega and Isaac Tapia. Emily Spradling

Monet and his Modern Legacy, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Oct. 28 – March 10, www.nelson-atkins.org
Any time paintings travel from Paris to the Nelson-Atkins is a cause for a fete, especially when they are three Monets from the Musée Marmottan Monet, which houses the world’s largest collection of Monets. This exhibition — part of a global museum celebration of the 150th anniversary of Impressionism’s birth — examines the influence of late Monet paintings and how the Nelson-Atkins acquired its iconic waterlilies panel. The exhibition will also draw a connecting line between Monet’s works and modern painters including Abstract Expressionists Helen Frankenthaler, Grace Hartigan and Sam Francis. Seeing the museum’s outstanding Hartigan and other modernist works in a fresh context promises visual and conceptual rewards. Dana Self

Claude Monet, “Japanese Bridge” (1918), oil on canvas, 35 x 39 3/8” (Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris, inv. 5092. Michel Monet Bequest, 1966)

A Layered Presence, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Oct. 14 – Sept. 8, www.nelson-atkins.org
“A Layered Presence,” the third in the Nelson-Atkins’ “KC Art Now” series, features 22 Latinx heritage artists in Kansas City with ties to Colombia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru and Uruguay. Exhibiting a variety of styles and media, “A Layered Presence” underscores the artists’ personal narratives and the intersectional identities that play a powerful role in their artworks. With themes that relate to family histories, immigration and national identity, the body and queerness, and celebrating their communities, this exhibition will feature must-see local contemporary art. Ashley Lindeman

Energy is Jazz, American Jazz Museum, Oct. 26 – May 5, www.americanjazzmuseum.org
Since Frederick James Brown’s triumphant joint exhibition of portraits featuring jazz and blues icons simultaneously exhibited at the American Jazz Museum and Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in 2002, his artistic spirit has haunted Kansas City’s artistic consciousness. Exploring Brown’s career and work, “Energy is Jazz” will bring that spirit back to the forefront by exploring his work and overall career. Co-curated by the American Jazz Museum with Bentley Brown of the Frederick J. Brown Trust, it promises not to disappoint. If you are familiar with Brown’s work, you will know that it is wise to wear comfortable shoes, because you may be moved to dance by the dynamic energy in his paintings. Harold Smith

Sun Young Park, “Banana Tree” (2023), ceramic and mixed media, 39 x 12 x 12” will be part of the Charlotte Street Fellows 2023 exhibition at the Nerman Museum. (Charlotte Street Fellows)

Charlotte Street Fellows · 2023, Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Nov. 17 – May 12, www.nermanmuseum.org
Ruben Castillo, Sean Nash and Sun Young Park are the 2023 winners of the Charlotte Street Visual Artists Awards, which are accompanied by a cash prize along with media coverage and a major exhibition. The prize has grown from a humble $2,500 in 1997 to $10,000. Castillo’s work is grounded in discovering intimacy and queerness in and between everyday scenes and objects, often leaning into his printmaking background. Sun Young Park’s ceramic and mixed-media works capitalize on her imagined relationships between objects and the emotional dynamics of disparate ideas, experiences, objects and textures. Sean Nash’s sculptural paintings of food (included in the new art collection at KCI) and eco-transformative processes such as fermentation, examine the possibilities in the spaces between experimentation, queerness and physical and emotional change. Dana Self

Installation view of the exhibit “Lesley Dill, Wilderness: Light Sizzles Around Me,” coming this fall to the Ulrich Museum of Art, Wichita State University (Figge Art Museum, Davenport, Iowa)

Dread Scott’s “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free” (2023), is part of the “Black Writing” exhibit at the Spencer Museum of Art. (courtesy of the artist and Cristin Tierney Gallery, new york / photo by Elisabeth Bernstein)

Around the Region

Lesley Dill, Wilderness: Light Sizzles Around Me, Ulrich Museum of Art, Wichita State University, Aug. 5 – Dec. 2, ulrich.wichita.edu
“Lesley Dill, Wilderness: Light Sizzles Around Me” may bring in viewers based on the title alone. The exhibition features Dill’s investigation into the activists of America’s past through sculptures and two-dimensional works. Dill draws inspiration from historical figures John Brown, Sojourner Truth, Mother Ann Lee and Dred Scott to visualize what she calls “the wilderness inside us.” Ashley Lindeman

Derrick Adams’ “Heir to the Throne” (2021), is part of “The Culture: Hip Hop and Contemporary Art in the 21st Century” exhibit at the Saint Louis Art Museum. (private collection© Derrick Adams, courtesy of the artist)

Black Writing, Spencer Museum of Art, University of Kansas, Aug. 19 – Jan. 7, www.spencerart.ku.edu
It is through the written word that the various nuances and layers of the Black American experience are most succinctly recorded and archived. At the Spencer Museum, the exhibit “Black Writing” uses visual art to mark the 40th anniversary of the History of Black Writing, a research center at the University of Kansas, and extends the goals of the project’s archive of Black storytellers to include art and visual culture. Curated by Ayesha Hardison, associate professor of English and women, gender, and sexuality studies at KU, and Joey Orr, the museum’s Mellon Curator for Research, the exhibit includes stunning work ranging from video by Carrie Schneider to paintings by Dr. Fahamu Pecou and sculpture by Stephanie Dinkins. Placing these works in conversation, unified by their common reference to Black writing, promises to stimulate thought. Harold Smith

“Flush Sky,” by Jim Simpson, is part of his exhibit at Birger Sandzén Memorial Gallery. (Birger Sandzén Memorial Gallery)

The Culture: Hip Hop and Contemporary Art in the 21st Century, Saint Louis Art Museum, Aug. 19 – Jan. 1, www.slam.org
Not long ago, hip hop was routinely demonized by politicians who considered it an easy target. But on its 50th anniversary, the movement rooted in urban African American culture is receiving the mainstream respect that it has so long deserved. “The Culture,” a collaboration between the Saint Louis Art Museum and the Baltimore Museum of Art, addresses the vast influence of hip hop across media including music, the visual and performing arts, fashion and technology. Artists represented range from Jean-Michel Basquiat to Carrie Mae Weems. Calvin Wilson

Artists’ Portraits from the Emprise Bank Collection, Wendy Tan, Jim Simpson, Glen Ediger, Harley Elliott, Birger Sandzén Memorial Gallery, Aug. 20 – Oct. 22, www.sandzen.org
Headquartered in Wichita, the Emprise Bank has built a collection numbering more than 3,500 works by more than 850 artists working in pottery, sculpture, photography and painting, including many portraits, which are the focus of the exhibit at the Sandzén Memorial Gallery. Concurrently, the museum is featuring exhibits of poured paintings by Wendy Tan, “In the Garden” by Jim Simpson, “environmental exposure” works by Glen Ediger and works from Harley Elliot’s “Ally” series. All four artists are based in Kansas. Alice Thorson

Lilly McElroy’s “I Control the Sun #11” (2015), is part of the “Read the World” exhibit at the Spencer Museum of Art. (courtesy of the artist and Rick Wester Fine Art)

To the Stars Through Art: A History of Art Collecting in Kansas Public Schools, 1900-1950, Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art, Kansas State University, Aug. 22 – May 11, beach.k-state.edu
“To the Stars Through Art” pulls from Kansas Public Schools’ rich history of art collection from 1900 to 1950 for use in public schools, boarding schools for Indigenous students and segregated schools. Seventy paintings and prints from numerous regionally and nationally recognized artists will be featured. While the broad historical significance is clear, the exhibition also pushes Kansas schools to preserve their artistic collections and use them to enhance education. Emily Spradling

Reading the World, Spencer Museum of Art, University of Kansas, Aug. 26 – Feb. 25, www.spencerart.ku.edu
“Reading the World” homes in on the natural world through an artistic lens, inviting viewers to consider unanswered and unexplained forces that exist all around us. In partnership with Huixuan Wu, associate professor of aerospace engineering in KU’s School of Engineering, “Reading the World” blends science with visual art. Wu and each of the artists have an ongoing fascination with “natural phenomena that can be difficult to interpret.” Emily Spradling

Sarah Crowner, “Untitled (Around Orange)” (2023), acrylic on canvas, sewn, 72 x 144” (© Sarah Crowner, courtesy of the artist, Luhring Augustine, New York, and Galerie Nordenhake, Berlin, Mexico City and
Stockholm / photo by Charles Benton)

Sarah Crowner: Around Orange, The Pulitzer Arts Foundation, Sept. 8, 2023 – Feb. 4,
A New York-based painter, Crowner is known for geometric abstractions that evoke “hard-edge painting” of the 1950s and ’60s (which reflected the influence of such artists as Wassily Kandinsky and Piet Mondrian). “Around Orange” will feature three new site-specific artworks in which she pays homage to The Pulitzer’s Tadao Ando building and Ellsworth Kelly’s wall sculpture “Blue Black,” which is on permanent view in the foundation’s main gallery.Calvin Wilson

Hajra Waheed, “Hum” (2020), multi-channel sound installation with custom speaker casings, 36 minutes, 17 seconds. Installation view, Portikus, Frankfurt, Germany (July 11 – Sept. 6, 2020). (courtesy of the artist / photo courtesy Diana Pfammatter)

Robert Blunk’s “Geologica” (2012) is part of his one-person exhibition at the Salina Art Center.

Hajra Waheed: A Solo Exhibition, Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, Sept. 8, – Feb. 11, camstl.org
Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis has a solid reputation for showcasing artists whose work demands to be seen. Montreal-based Hajra Waheed, whose practice is multidisciplinary, certainly fits into that category. Waheed’s first major museum solo exhibition in the United States will include recent and newly commissioned works, encompassing video, painting and works on paper and centering on a new iteration of “Hum,” a multichannel musical composition and sound installation.Calvin Wilson

Found Along the Shore | Robert Blunk, Salina Art Center, Sept. 21 – Oct. 30, www.salinaartcenter.org
As his 100th birthday approaches this year, Kansas icon Robert Blunk, the inaugural commissioner on the Kansas Art Commission, is still creating and showing work after more than 60 years of artmaking. This fall, Salina Arts Center will feature a major exhibit of Blunk’s work, inviting viewers to “listen to the voice of eccentricity, within ourselves and in the world. The alien, the dangerous, like the negligible near thing.” The exhibit, which includes abstract painting, metalwork and sculpture, is guest curated by Jay Nelson, former owner of Strecker-Nelson Art Gallery in Manhattan, Kansas, until retiring in 2017. Emily Spradling

Adam Pendleton, “Untitled (WE ARE NOT)” (2021), silkscreen ink on canvas, 120 x 234” (© Adam Pendleton, courtesy of the artist)

“William H. Johnson, Three Great Abolitionists: A. Lincoln, F. Douglass, J. Brown” (about 1945), oil on paperboard, 37 3/8 x 34 1/4” (Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, d.c. gift of the Harmon Foundation Bridge)

Adam Pendleton: To Divide By, Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum at Washington University, St. Louis, Sept. 22 – Jan. 15, www.kemperartmuseum.wustl.edu
According to the Kemper website, this solo exhibition by New York-based conceptual artist Adam Pendleton will feature new and recent paintings, drawings and visual portraits revealing “abstraction’s capacity to destabilize and disrupt.” Pendleton has described his work as a “way to talk about the future while talking about the past; it is our present moment.” In a 2021 article about his “Who Is Queen?” exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, the New York Times noted that Pendleton “has emerged as a foremost multidisciplinary thinker with a compelling aesthetic.”Calvin Wilson

Fighters for Freedom: William H. Johnson Picturing Justice and Barbara Earl Thomas: The Illuminated Body, Wichita Art Museum, Oct. 8 – Jan. 14, wichitaartmuseum.org
The geometrically stylized paintings of William H. Johnson exhibited along with the surgically precise cutouts of Barbara Earl Thomas promise to take viewers on a journey of hope inspired by the historical triumphs of the Black American spirit. The thought of Thomas’ cut paper artworks that “celebrate young people who live lives of joy and achievement even in unjust circumstances” sharing the same space with Johnson’s early 20th-century portraits of Black Americans, from sharecroppers to preachers, is visually mouthwatering. Both artists bring a razor-sharp aesthetic to the presentation of their ideas. In these times of challenge, that sharp aesthetic is needed for all of us.Harold Smith

“Unearthed Fragments #7,” by Robert Quackenbush, is part of his exhibit, “Unearthed Fragments” at the Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art. (Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art)

Robert Quackenbush – Unearthed Fragments, Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art, St. Joseph,
Nov. 18 – Jan. 7, albrecht-kemper.org
The Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art presents paintings by Robert Quackenbush, veteran Kansas City painter and mixed media artist. With experiments in media, texture and color, this exhibition seeks to demonstrate the artist’s innovation as well as his explorations of the human condition. While contemplating art historical precedents, Quackenbush offers what he calls an “exciting record of progress” in his artwork. Ashley Lindeman

Brave Work: Women and Their Contributions By Patricia Streeper, Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art, St. Joseph, Nov. 18 – Jan. 7, albrecht-kemper.org
Portrait artist Patricia Streeper’s exhibit makes for important conversation at the Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art at the end of this year. Exploring themes of race, gender, ethnicity and belief, Streeper’s paintings tell biographical stories of historical women who should be recognized for their accomplishments as agents for social change. Making history alongside the women in her paintings, Streeper encourages viewers to learn more about what comprises women’s “bold work.” Ashley Lindeman

Burnt Pantanal, still from Richard Mosse’s “Broken Spectre” at the Momentary (image courtesy of the Momentary)

Broken Spectre, The Momentary, Bentonville, Arkansas, Nov. 18 – April 14, themomentary.org
It’s hard not to feel anxiety-ridden about the world: climate crises, banking crises, human suffering; it’s overwhelming and we may want to look away. Irish artist Richard Mosse’s cinematic/photographic “Broken Spectre” asks that we contemplate the world we’ve created. In examining the Amazon rainforest’s deforestation, Mosse takes us on a large-scale, emotionally penetrating journey to bear witness. Through film, photography, sound and GIS imagery, Mosse puts us in the middle of this catastrophe. Sound artist Ben Frost creates the accompanying score. But that’s not all to consider: Susannah Sayler and Ed Morris’ video installation “Eclipse” pays homage to the lost species passenger pigeons; once so abundant that a dense flock overhead felt like an actual eclipse. Rome Prize winning-artist David Brooks, whose art often centers on ecology, extinction and our natural environment, focuses his work on certain Amazonian fish and the resilience that may offer hope. Dana Self

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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