Art Capsule Reviews

American Pastoral Where does grief go? Several places, apparently. It evaporates or corrodes or erupts in a welter of agony. And sometimes it coalesces into artistic works such as Robin Bernat’s American Pastoral. Bernat created this five-part video installation after the death of her lover, who fell from a cliff in Argentina. If the tragedy sounds like the stuff of exotic melodrama, Bernat takes her consolation in sleepy ordinariness — soft-eyed cows, river ends clotted with driftwood, tree-lined country lanes walked by flannelled wranglers. Bernat sets these worn images of American rural iconography to whispered text and soul-heaving gospel. In one segment, a slow-motion fireworks bloom accompanies two staggered recordings of Bernat reciting Gertrude Stein’s “Tender Buttons.” The sibilant wisps and consonant plods of Bernat’s voice drop eerily in the exhibit space. Through Sept. 30 at the Kemper Museum of Modern Art, 4420 Warwick. (Ashley Brown)

Citywise Wending through the hypersaturated, vacuum-packed fluorescence of Brett Millard’s marker-and-pen renderings of midtown would be a real trip. The heavily outlined cityscapes, awash in neon and almost Escher-like in their conflation of staircases and windows, look like snapped-together puzzles. This decidedly graffiti-inflected exhibition, on display at the Mercy Seat, buzzes with the swampy summer rhythm of the urban grid. Although largely unpeopled — except by blunt-sucking snakes and vaguely human ogre faces — the slim streets and skewed storefronts hum nervily in pieces such as “Street Scene,” a collaboration with Gunther Magillacuty. “Snake in the City” offers a brief narrative of a sinuous antihero negotiating the mean streets. In “Aztec Pyrat,” a black-and-white anomaly, intestinal mazes form tightly packed coils, shot through with grinning, fat-lipped interlopers. Through Aug. 30 at the Mercy Seat, 210 East 16th Street. (Ashley Brown)

Meccanismo Stan Fernald’s magnifications of insects and cellular structures are projected from machinees cantilevered from the bottoms of the rigid screens on which they cast their images. As physical objects, the pieces are surprisingly elegant, and it is fitting that Fernald’s art, like microscopic objects, can be seen only via an arrangement of lenses. Nora Goddard’s mixed-media works are fluid, simple evocations of femininity; their organic flow contrasts nicely with John Warnick’s juxtapositions of female forms with engine blocks and chain saws — graphite and ink drawings built up from superimposed sheets of translucent paper. Through Aug. 31 at the Late Show Gallery, 1600 Cherry, 816-474-1300. (Chris Packham)

Summer Group Exhibit It requires a delicate hand to peel an orange’s spongy casing in an uncorrupted spiral. Ceramic artist Rachel Euting has that delicacy of dexterity, at least with ceramics, her medium of choice. Her piece “Nested Vessels” resembles a series of perfectly peeled concentric fruit rinds nestled into one another like a Matryoshka doll. In Euting’s “Bud Vases,” pastel green pods, squashlike and bottom-heavy, are topped with tiny apertures. They look like molten olives, or, disconcertingly, like a litter of eyeless maggots, little mouths yearning for sustenance. Andrew Gilliat’s jars look like miniature towers of stacked tires topped with nipple-like spires. His “Juice Cups” is a line of small glasses with distended bases and fluted shafts. Ginny Sims’ pieces are the most ecstatic of the bunch, with inky newsprint decals of type and images countered by gold accents. Her white finishes are intentionally messy — drippings are visible near the bottom of each teacup, like frosting. Through Sept. 2 at Red Star Studios, 821 West 17th Street, 816-474-7316. (Ashley Brown)

Categories: A&E