Art Capsule Reviews

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.)

Día de los Muertos Art Exhibition More than just an exhibit, Mattie Rhodes’ two-gallery exhibit Dia de los Muertos (or Day of the Dead) is really a monthlong celebration that started with a street festival on opening night and includes a second reception on November 3 and workshops at which you can create your own altars and skeletons. Day of the Dead is a traditional Mexican holiday that celebrates the dead through the creation of art such as the ofrendas, or altars, spread throughout the west gallery. In the east gallery are pieces by our favorite Latino artist, Adolfo Martinez. In “La Vida Es Un Juego,” he has cut female and male skeletal figures out of black foam core, drawn traditional Mexican dress on them in white ink and surrounded them with toy pinball machines; the figures dance, and their movements leave a ghost trail. Through Nov. 17 at Mattie Rhodes Art Gallery 919 W. 17th St., 816-221-2349. (A.E.F.)

Gajin Fujita: Zephyr By mixing traditional Japanese images into his graffiti-inspired paintings, Gajin Fujita creates what he calls a “dialogue” between two cultures — his native Los Angeles and his Japanese lineage — that’s repeated in exciting scenes throughout this show. In “Ride or Die,” Fujita uses spray paint, acrylic, paint marker and paint stick for a vibrant portrait of a warrior atop a reeling horse. Flying arrows surround him as he proudly carries a Los Angeles flag; behind him, indecipherable letters and words fill the tagged wall. (For blushes and giggles, head to the back of the gallery for erotic paintings with titles such as “Bangin'” and “Knockin’ Boots.”) Through Nov. 5 at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, 4420 Warwick, 816-753-5784. (R.T.B.)

Lisa Sandvitz: Flyover Missourian and painter Lisa Sandvitz 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”), Siegfriend and Roy’s Mirage Hotel (“Pussy Den”) and “Oklahoma City on New Year’s Eve.” Sandvitz 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