Holidays and cold weather make for an abridged January First Friday in the Crossroads. But you can extend the evening by checking out what’s new in the contemporary galleries at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art , which stays open until 9 p.m. on Fridays.
The big surprise is a large painting by Argentinian artist Guillermo Kuitca in gallery L5. “Untitled (Full Moon)” is a haunting work, showing a collection of toppled chairs, beds and bed frames in a dark, watery setting that immediately brings disasters like Hurricanes Sandy and Katrina to mind.
“Specifically, it is a response to Pina Bausch’s extraordinary vulnerability and expressiveness in dances like ‘Full Moon’ and ‘Cafe Mueller,’ ” curator Jan Schall says, referencing a noted choreographer. “It also speaks to the undercurrent of terror Kuitca lived through during a series of repressive dictatorships and government-engineered disappearances of people of conscience in his native Argentina.”
Kuitca is a world-renowned artist whose career began climbing in the mid-1980s with works based on maps and architectural floor plans. In 2007 he represented Argentina in the Venice Biennale. Kuitca’s work toured the U.S. in a big traveling retrospective in 2009-10. Last month he concluded an exhibit at the Drawing Center in New York.
“Untitled (Full Moon)” was funded by the William T. Kemper Foundation-Commerce Bank, trustee, which recently made a gift to the museum of $1 million for the purchase of contemporary art.
It’s the second time the foundation has done this: its first $1 million pledge came in 1999.
The Kuitca piece continues the expansion of the museum’s holdings of contemporary Latin American art under director Julián Zugazagoitia. Last year op-art works by Paris-based Argentinian artist Luis Tomasello and Venezuelan artist Jesús Rafael Soto were installed along the Bloch Building gallery walk, and the museum commissioned Mexican artist Betsabee Romera to create a temporary altar in Kirkwood Hall for the Day of the Dead. In May the museum will present the renowned Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection of modern Mexican masterworks.
The pop art gallery (L3 ) has never looked better. Newly included are several large prints that hold their own with the paintings and sculptures.
Roger Shimomura ’s lithograph, “American Guardian” (2007), is the same print that Jay Inslee, then governor-elect of Washington state, gave to Bill Clinton in thanks for Clinton’s support of Inslee’s campaign. The work is part of an extended series by Shimomura about the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II — his own family included. It portrays a silhouetted American soldier looming over a view of the Minidoka War Relocation Center in southern Idaho. The piece was published by the Lawrence Lithography Workshop and was entered in the collection in 2008 as a gift from the Print Society.
On the opposite wall, Nelson visitors will see images that will be denied to the Chinese public next year, when “Andy Warhol : 15 Minutes Eternal,” a major travelling exhibit of 300 works by Warhol, stops in Shanghai and Beijing. That show includes 10 of Warhol’s acrylic and silkscreen portraits of Mao Tse-tung, which Chinese authorities will not allow to be shown.
The Nelson’s display of three of the artist’s serigraph versions of “Mao Tse-tung” (from a set of 10), shows what the fuss is about. The artist made the works in 1972, inspired by President Richard Nixon’s visit to China.
Hanging in gallery L4 with other minimalist and conceptual works, a 2012 inkjet print by Anthony Baab makes a timely appearance. On Jan. 18, Baab will open a major one-person show at Grand Arts, featuring photographs, decollage works, drawings and a live video feed. Baab created the Nelson’s print, a white-on-black work featuring a dense network of geometric lines, on the computer. Baab is represented by the Dolphin Gallery, which donated the work to the Nelson.
Thanks to a loan from a private collector, a work in the Nelson-Atkins building’s gallery P33 by an American artist has joined expressionist paintings by Germans Emil Nolde, Max Beckmann and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner.
Albert Bloch showed with the German Der Blaue Reiter group in the early 20th century, and his large painting, “Summer Night” (1913), with its ghostly robed figures in a fantasy landscape setting, embodies the group’s concern with the spiritual and symbolic. He returned to the U.S. after World War I, and Bloch taught in the art department at the University of Kansas for more than 20 years. The display of his painting, as well as Shimomura’s print and the new Baab work, suggests a new commitment to works by artists from the region.
At the galleries
** Charlie Paynter often makes the gallery rounds with art dealer Susan Lawrence. But this Friday he won’t be looking, he’ll be showing. Since retiring in 2008 from The Kansas City Star, where he worked in the mailroom and other positions, Paynter turned to art, creating sculptures from his collection of bottle openers. His Leedy-Voulkos show, “Enjoying the New Life,” follows a 2009 exhibit, “Opening a New Life,” at Pi Gallery.
“Since then,” Paynter notes in his artist statement, “I have been busy making sculpture and two-dimensional wall pieces from bottle openers, wire and found and recycled objects that I get from friends and find at thrift stores.”
Paynter says he recently completed a series of local musicians and is also working on a group of Bible scenes.
“These wall pieces have come a long way from the little bottle opener characters I started with,” Paynter says. “I am totally enjoying my new life as an artist.”
- The Main Street Gallery celebrates the new year with a group show. The artists include Travis Pratt, Carol Zastoupil, Lori Raye Erickson and others who have developed a local following from exhibits at The Late Show, the former Pi Gallery and other area venues.
THE LATE SHOW
What: “Mark McHenry: Sculpture”; “Carlyle Rayne: Works on Paper”
When: Friday to Jan. 26. Reception 6-10 p.m. Friday.
Hours: 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday and by appointment.
Where: 1600 Cherry St.
SHERRY LEEDY CONTEMPORARY ART
What: “Laura De Angelis: Pearl Diving New Figurative Ceramic Sculpture,” “Vera Mercer: Still Life Large Scale Photographs”
Where: 2004 Baltimore Ave.
When: Friday to Feb. 23. Reception 7-9 p.m. Friday
Hours: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday and by appointment
LEEDY-VOULKOS ART CENTER
What: “Charlie Paynter: Enjoying the New Life”
When: Friday through Jan. 26.
What: “Stacie Chappell: Mindful Movement”
When: Friday to Jan. 19
What: “Fernando Pezzino: Filling the Void” and “Michael Hager: Objects of Interest/Interest of Objects”
When: Friday to Feb. 23. Reception 6-9 p.m. Friday.
Hours: 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Thursday to Saturday.
Where: 2012 Baltimore Ave.
MAIN STREET GALLERY
What: Group show
When: Friday to Jan 31. Reception 6-9 p.m. Friday
Open restaurant hours: 11 a.m.-midnight Monday to Thursday and Sunday; 11 a.m.-1:30 a.m. Friday and Saturday.
Where: 1610 Main St. on the second floor above Anton’s Taproom and Restaurant
Info: 816.210.6534 or 816.716.5940
TODD WEINER GALLERY
What: “Hugh Merrill: Made in China”
When: Friday to March 4. Reception 5-9 p.m. Friday.
Hours: 11 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Wednesday to Friday; 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday.
Where: 115 W. 18th St.
BELGER ARTS CENTER
What: “Katie Parker and Guy Michael Davis”
When: Friday to Jan. 26. Open Friday 10 a.m.-9 p.m.
Hours: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Wednesday to Friday; noon-4 p.m. Friday.
Where: 2100 Walnut St.
RED STAR STUDIOS
What: “Silver and Gold Group Show”
When: Friday to Jan. 26. Open for First Friday 6-9 p.m.
Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesday to Friday; 10 am.-4 p.m. Saturday
Where: 2100 Walnut St.
What: “Wonder Wall: Works of Art for $500 or Less” group exhibition;
Lacey Lewis New Works
When: Friday to Jan. 28. Reception 6-9 p.m. Friday.
Hours: 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and by appointment.
Where: 118 Southwest Blvd.