Art Capsule Reviews

Terri Bright: Inner Order Terri Bright says she’s a stranger in most of the places where she takes pictures. Her goal is to document the tension between the disorder of her actual surroundings and her internal desire for pictorial order. As a result, her series of photographs is about color, light, shape and symmetry — among her chromogenic prints, we find uniform arrays of trees; bare, rectangular walls with square windows and black shadows; a lonely, vacant gas station; and expanding ripples of water. There’s no use trying to focus on action or admire details — the work provokes thoughts about structure and shape. Despite her effort, though, Bright fails to impose order: There are cracks on the wall, one of the trees is smaller than the rest, and someone in that gas station must have turned on the light. That’s what keeps us looking. Through Oct. 28 at the Society for Contemporary Photography, 520 Ave. Cesar E. Chavez, 816-471-2115. (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.)

Gold Standard In his paintings, David Ford — who is essentially a Kansas City icon — uses cultural icons to convey moral messages. In “UNRA” (the title may be a reference to United Nations relief or reform efforts), Ford has twice painted the torso of the Hindu god Shiva floating on clouds in a golden sky. One depiction is large; the other is smaller and appears to recede into the background. Opposite the two Shivas is a bubble atop a golden cloud containing masked doctors — surgeons, perhaps — above whom Ford has painted the words “Limited Offer.” The surgeons are dwarfed by that dominant Shiva. We’re intrigued by Ford’s use of iconographic imagery and his style — even if his intentions remain mysterious. Through Oct. 28 at Dolphin Gallery, 1901 Baltimore, 816-842-5877. (A.E.F.)

Megan Mcginnis Family photos never felt so creepy. Megan Mcginnis captures seemingly innocuous events in snapshots and then paints them with subtle changes so they’re somehow scary — we’re not sure why we should be weirded out, but we are. Two girls seated in front of a dollhouse in “Shared Room” look at the viewer with a blank stare; a veil of whitewash separating the girl in the background from the older girl in the foreground creates a sense of foreboding, heightening our anxiety. Mcginnis uses her camera’s depth field to create a similar feeling of unease in “Big Boy,” in which an adolescent boy is seated in front of a TV in what appears to be a rec room; Mcginnis has smeared a bit of paint around his eyes as the light from the basement window trickles down. Even the few smiling faces in Mcginnis’ images foretell awful things. Through Oct. 28 at Byron C. Cohen Gallery for Contemporary Art, 2020 Baltimore, 816-421-5665. (A.E.F.)

Jane Pronko: New Work and Private Stock At a Late Show exhibit last year, we loved Jane Pronko’s oil paintings on first sight. Pronko paints the mysteries of city streets at night, when streetlights, traffic signals and vehicle headlights are the only sources of light. Her gorgeous work explores the line between lonely and wondrous. She earns additional points for sometimes using Kansas City locations — “Pink Snow” depicts the 18th and Vine District. This Pi Gallery show includes old and new work by Pronko. (One piece was still drying on the day we went.) Contrasting her haunted night scenes are autumnal landscapes in which the sunlight is always diffuse and nature’s graceful arrangements reveal themselves in, for example, stream gently cutting through a field. Ultimately, the countryside is just as anonymous and impenetrable as its urban counterpart. Through Oct. 28 at the Pi Gallery, 419 E. 18th St., 816-210-6534. (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.)

Categories: A&E