Art Capsule Reviews
Rachel Frank Really, the best way to see this show was to have attended the experimental dance production Elicit, for which Frank’s sculptures provided one part of the set. “Bird-Headed Girl,” a taxidermylike wall plaque, formed one side of a silent dialogue with dancers. “Falling Woman,” a disturbingly lifelike (if spineless) embroidered doll lying among tulle, was splayed out in front of a movable wall that doubled as a projection screen. Still on display alongside Frank’s stuffed-cloth sculptures are light installations created by James Woodfill for the performance. Called “Anchors” and “Spinner,” these works created light in motion for the dancers. Unsettling at first, the lights became part of the dancers’ movements and now can be studied on their own. What remains of the performance is on view through Nov. 6 at the Fahrenheit, 1717 W. 9th St., 816-474-5477.
Heroes and Villains, A Sideshow in Two Parts Just so you know, the work in the west-facing window at the Dolphin Gallery, which changed throughout the presidential campaign, will continue to change in its aftermath. So even if you’ve seen this theatrical political display, there’s no reason not to go back for Kansas City Art Institute printmaking students’ up-to-date reactions to the electoral process. The day before the election, the two candidates’ heads were superimposed onto a fat green monster (representing Bush) and a hunky dude in tighty-whities (Kerry). Bush sports fangs and a desperate neck tattoo that reads “I can’t live without you.” Kerry, apparently, costs only 10 cents. What a deal! Citizens whose heads have been transformed into animal mugs — some of them covered in red, white and blue stripes — strike sexy poses nearby. Recently, a bag to send the incumbent packing appeared in the display as well. We know it was meant for him because the letter W was crocheted into it. Through November at the Dolphin, 1901 Baltimore, 816-842-5877. (G.K.)
Manipulated Realities: From Pop Art to New Realism Photo-realist artists feel the need to paint pictures that look as real as photographs — instead of actually taking photographs — because they are control freaks: As painters, they can control every detail. Each artist in Manipulated Realities, curator John Buchanan says, “manipulates reality in an effort to send an individual message.” For example, in a print commissioned for Myra Morgan’s collection, John Baeder changes the name of a diner to “Morgan’s,” and Richard Estes substitutes his own name for signage over a shop in one of his mind-numbingly detailed street scenes. But not all of the artists in this show are driven by ego. Richard Pettibone paints tiny reproductions of other artists’ full-sized paintings. Pettibone’s “Chris Cross: Hooker Headers” is displayed right next to Chris Cross’ “Hooker Headers,” an extreme close-up of a motorcycle in which a desert landscape is reflected in the bike’s chrome. Weighing in at an overwhelming 121 paintings, sculptures, prints and photographs, the show would benefit from some editing, but overall it’s a great opportunity to see a lot of realist art in one spot. Through Jan. 7, 2005, at the Belger Arts Center, 2100 Walnut, 816-474-3250 (T.B.)
Moving In Is Moving Out Filing, folding laundry, shoveling leftovers into Tupperware bins, transferring receipts from a wallet to a shoebox — because of the utter dullness of storage, the location and premise of a show at a storage facility in a blighted Topeka neighborhood might sound less than promising. Don’t be fooled. The storage facility — dubbed “FLEX” — was built by the progressive Kansas City architecture firm El Dorado in hopes of inspiring what can only be called suburban renewal. If the effort works, the building could easily be converted from a storage facility to a retail space. And the big surprise is that it’s an attractive structure, one that actually glows on one side, with giant silhouettes of passers-by projected onto the exterior walls. For now, the building’s compartments are filled with installations by Kansas City artists Mike Sinclair, Jordan Nickel, Marcie Miller-Gross, James Woodfill and Miles Neidinger. Of special note is the room with colorful plastic hangers hooked into the wire-cage ceiling. On the night of the opening, T-shirts with slogans such as “Re-Move,” “U Moving Me” and “Seriously, I’m Free” hung from these. The message, loud and clear, was an instruction to steal the shirts. A video loop capturing the T-shirt thieves at work — transforming the space from a dense maze of cotton blend into an open, airy hanger-mobile display — now plays for visitors. Through December 18 at 447 Southeast 29th St. in Topeka. (G.K.)
X Marks the Spot Something about being in your early twenties makes where you came from and where you’re going such pressing matters. During those years, the urge to settle down and domesticate competes with the urge to wander around and see what other dots on the globe might offer. Nowhere have we seen Early Twenties Geographical Anxiety take visual form so precisely as in the embroidered fiber works of Nancy Bach and Lauren McEntire at Momo. These women — one a recent Kansas City Art Institute graduate and the other still a student — keep their collaborative work simple and concise, which is how it draws its emotional strength. Vintage suitcases line the floor. Opened, they reveal screens with versions of the women’s geographical timelines embroidered in a way that makes them look like train schedules or bus routes. (The last stop on the timeline is always a question mark.) The writing is small enough that viewers must crouch down and peer into each suitcase, which not only feels intimate but also evokes familiar sensations of packing and unpacking. Meanwhile, on the wall is a giant quilt map of the United States. The artists have assembled color-coded push pins and ask that gallery visitors use one color to indicate where they’ve already been, another to show where they hope to someday go and still another to mark places they never want to go again. Now that most of the pins have been used, the map is a testament to the emotions inspired by places — especially for people who reside in wanderlust-ridden Kansas City, where moving away and coming back could be considered an official local sport. Through November at Momo, 1830 Locust, 816-474-4814. (G.K.)