A few galleries have resolved to open for January’s First Friday

A show that opened just before the holidays goes on your first-of-the-new-year list if you haven’t already seen it: On Behalf of One’s Obsessions, at Haw Contemporary (1600 Liberty, in the West Bottoms).

The space’s Bill Haw and Emily Eddins have assembled pieces by artists whom they say embody a tenet of the late writer John Updike — “the willingness to risk excess on behalf of one’s obsessions.” Among the choice works are graphite line drawings by Anne Lindberg that are like 2-D versions of her famous string installations and that haven’t previously been exhibited locally. Barry Anderson’s single-channel video of a white-walled, mazelike landscape is captivating. And Susan White has transformed locust-tree thorns into a meticulous American flag that looms large in the front gallery, delicate and simultaneously foreboding. Elsewhere, Davin Watne’s series of small-scale paintings depicting various police vehicles was begun back in May, before 2014 made us all more familiar with heavy law-enforcement armor. Garry Noland surprises with two U.S. maps made of his now-signature materials: discarded foam blocks, colored tape and metallic paint. And if you haven’t seen Peregrine Honig’s 3-D selfies in person, two artist proofs stand in the Haw like little trapped fairies under glass domes.

Other artists here include Jon Scott Anderson, Anthony Baab, Robert Bingaman, James Brinsfield, Justin Gainan, Marcie Miller Gross, David Rhoads and Andrzej Zielinski. (The gallery is open 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Tuesday–Friday, and noon–5 p.m. Saturday.)

Among the few Crossroads galleries that confirmed their January 2 hours with The Pitch by press time are Vulpes Bastille (1737 Locust), with works by Mark Allen, Lydia Bryan, Caranne Camarena, Dustin Downey, Brandon Forrest Frederick, Ezra Lee Michaels and Jennifer Lynn Williams, in a show called No. 2. Jones Gallery (1717 Walnut) opens a group show called Thou Mayest Art, including works by Olga Hotujac and Ryan Wilks. And the Late Show (1600 Cherry) has two exhibits: Countenance, by Emma Jennings, and new works by Dana Swedo Bernal.

MLB Designs (2020 Baltimore) likewise puts up two solo exhibitions. Comprehending Time, by John Marak, includes art that he says is “inspired by urban and natural environments” and uses concrete, steel, plaster and enamel to craft surfaces that echo time’s march. And there are new works by eco-artist Lyndsey Helling, whose creations are several cuts above the shabby-edged things that artists who use found or discarded materials too frequently throw together.

Belger Arts Center (2100 Walnut) is also open First Friday, continuing Word Play and Expanding the Perimeter, which center on works from the Belger collection that feature — you guessed it — text and, less obviously, large-scale works. There’s also Sean Erwin’s Object, Self, with its porcelains of surreal faces and themes. Over at the Belger’s Crane Yard Studios (2011 Tracy) are two other don’t-miss exhbitions. Merge showcases works by Belger employees, and Sacred Spaces enlightens you with Asheer Akram’s take on gateways to religious experiences and their trappings.

Leedy-Voulkos Arts Center (2012 Baltimore) continues KC: America’s Creative Crossroads — A National Lifestyle Campaign by the Kansas City Area Development Council, which features engaging black-and-white portrait photography by Cameron Gee. The space also opens a part-two version of Travis Pratt’s The Joplin Paintings, with sound made in collaboration with Chris McFall; and Quotes From Underground, intricate pen-and-ink drawings by Justin Baldwin. (Leedy-Voulkos is also conducting an online-only auction of works from the estate of David Goodrich, a painter who exhibited at the gallery regularly and who died last July in a heat-related accident in the Utah desert. Goodrich’s works for sale are on view through January 31, and bidding closes January 12.)

Finally, a solo show by Martin Cail opens at Todd Weiner Gallery (115 West 18th Street). Cail is a colorist with a master’s degree in sculpture from Ohio State and a very active and professional presence on social media. His collected image bank is inspiring, and his previews of these new abstract — and colorful, fluid and well-composed — works are compelling. The ink works are manifestations of chaos turned order, of the artist allowing a process to come to fruition without getting in the way of the results.

Categories: Art