“Steve Frink: Works on Paper” and “Jason Needham: Works on Paper” at The Late Show

Above: The “Untitled” abstractions created in pen, ink and acrylic are part of the exhibit, “Steve Frink: Works on Paper” at The Late Show

A pencil remains the most basic of all art tools and, in the right hands, can still be one of the most satisfying. At The Late Show, Kansas City artist Steve Frink’s group of 23 x 30 inch drawings, some in lead and others in colored pencil, demonstrate a range of mark-making that ranges from the calculated to the intuitive. His untitled works, all from 2013, reward the viewer who spends time looking at them closely.

Frink, a 1993 graduate of the Kansas City Art Institute, here sets himself the task of experimenting with three different forms: the grid, straight line drawings, and works of swooping arabesques. The results resemble left brain/right brain exercises. Known mainly as a painter, Frink demonstrates obvious skill and intense concentration in these pencil pieces.

There are two gridded, checkerboard works on paper – one in which the various colors of the picture’s 1,200 squares are completely flat, and another with the same dimensions but with color that is mottled. It’s instructional to look at one and then the other, in an op-art way, as the piece with the shredded colors seems lit from within and threatens to break apart, while the other work, over time, appears increasingly entrenched on its paper support.

One particularly dynamic drawing resembles an explosion. It is deceptively formed all from straight lines that compactly intersect in the middle of the artwork, with other lines that dance around it. A handful of tiny white dots float in the center of this constellation, and give the appearance of either escaping from or being swallowed up by a black hole.

Frink’s arabesque works all relate, but vary according to color and density of space. Several of his curved, sinuous shapes are Art Deco in composition, while others recall fan dancing. Frink makes good use of overlapping, tertiary colors, but the most evocative drawing of all is an all-black, pointillist piece that looks like leftover, ghostly smoke from a fireworks display.


Also at The Late Show are six small pen and ink drawings by Jason Needham, whose monumental drawing, The Big Hug, appeared on the Missouri Bank Artboards last fall. These charming, cartoonish black and white pieces are from his “Flora” series, and have a fairy-tale, landscape sensibility. Like all good children’s fairy-tales, they combine both the whimsical and the ominous, but in Needham’s works we are never given the ending to the story, which is why they hold the imagination.

“Steve Frink: Works on Paper” and “Jason Needham: Works on Paper” continue at The Late Show, 1600 Cherry, through Aug. 29. Hours are 11 a.m.to 6 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday. For more information, 816-516- 6749 or www.lateshowgallery.com.

Elisabeth Kirsch

Elisabeth Kirsch is an art historian, curator and writer who has curated over 100 exhibitions of contemporary art, American Indian art and photography, locally and across the country. She writes frequently for national and local arts publications.

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