Art Capsule Reviews

American Dream: In Question The second installment of the Belger’s American Dream series, the one that questions the titular phenomenon (the first, American Dream: In Design, closed in early October), requires an open mind and an adventurous spirit. National artists such as Robert Rauschenberg, Jim Roche, Renee Stout, Robert Stackhouse and William T. Wiley, among many others, share space with local artists Archie Scott Gobber and May Tveit, offering a variety of media with intriguing results. Rather than trying too hard to keep with the show’s theme, it’s probably best to just bask in the wide-open oddity on exhibit. Violence is a motif in many works, including Robert Arneson’s “The Colonel” sculpture, in which a mushroom cloud adorns the hat of an officer with hollowed-out eyes and sharklike teeth. For a brutal examination of the South, William Christenberry’s haunted lithographs offer a perspective on America that most people choose to ignore or forget. Through Feb. 2 at the Belger Arts Center, 2100 Walnut, 816-474-3250. (R.T.B.)

Cryptozoology: Out of Time Place Scale A cryptid is a creature like Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster — that is, lost, rumored or thought to be extinct. Cryptozoology is a science — or pseudoscience, depending on whom you ask — that studies such creatures. A real-life cryptozoologist named Loren Coleman joins 17 artists from around the world in a tribute to the human imagination and the seductive attraction of the unknown. Among the animals not to be missed in this surreal zoo: Rachel Berwick’s 4-million-year-old Coelacanth and her extinct Australian thylacine, Walman Corr;êa’s Ondina mermaid and Mark Swanson’s Yeti. The exhibit takes a turn for the tragic with Rosamund Purcell’s images of conjoined and disfigured human twins. And the section devoted to Coleman’s work goes beyond art: He claims to believe that a lot of these cryptids — including the Chupacabra of X-Files fame — really exist. Through Dec. 20 at the H&R Block Artspace, 16 E. 43rd St., 816-472-4852. (S.R.)

Homecoming The Johnson County Community College Gallery of Art and Village Shalom’s Epsten Gallery have teamed up to exhibit the work of 10 artists who used to call Kansas City home but now make their living — and their art — elsewhere. They’ve returned from many different cities, and although they all share a preference for abstraction over realism, their sources of inspiration are varied. Andrzej Zielinksi paints bright and bowed ATM machines. Eric Sall steals imagery from skateboard culture. Sandy Winters makes innovative use of aluminum foil in a triptych of paintings. Rashawn Griffin’s “Sculptures and Landscapes” collages have a brooding, introspective quality; one canvas whispers, “We’re dying. Can you help?” Through Jan. 28 at the Village Shalom Epsten Gallery ( 5500 W. 123rd St. in Leawood, 913-266-8413) and JCCC Gallery of Art (12345 College Boulevard in Overland Park, 913-469-8500, ext. 3972). (S.R.)

Lisa Sanditz: Flyover Missourian and painter Lisa Sanditz lives in New York but hasn’t forgotten where she came from. Her canvases portray the territory that her hip East Coast friends probably dismiss as flyover country. Closest to home is “Subtropolis,” an imaginative depiction of the world’s largest underground business complex, located in Kansas City. Her acrylics also cover Dollywood (“Dolly Parton’s Peaks”), Siegfried and Roy’s Mirage Hotel (“Pussy Den”) and “Oklahoma City on New Year’s Eve.” Sanditz colors as wildly as Matisse and doesn’t aim at representation; rather, she intensifies the essence of a place with abstraction and brightness. It’s enough to prompt cross-country travelers to ask for more connecting flights. Through Jan. 7 at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, 4420 Warwick, 816-753-5784. (S.R.)

Michael Schonhoff: Ground Rules and Capsules A good show built around found objects is hard to pull off. We know that Michael Schonhoff is telling us a story with the hand cart in “Carry the Load,” the treadmill in “Mill of Powerlessness” and the numerous gelatin capsules (filled with cocoa, soy, hemp, corn and sugar) spread on top of various components of this exhibition (a disheveled bed, a snowy television). We also know that that story has a moral to it — Schonhoff writes that his work “evolved from ideas about our relationship with energy” — and we’re prompted to reflect about waste, excess and power. But the coy storyteller fails to lift his materials beyond banality. Where is the artist who owns all this stuff? Through Nov. 30 at the Thornhill Gallery, 11901 Wornall Rd. (S.R.)

Categories: A&E