Art Exhibitions

Bountiful Nora Othic’s archetypal figures and her dynamic, posed compositions evoke regionalists such as Thomas Hart Benton and Grant Wood but also such mid-20th-century muralists as Anton Refregier and Milton Bellin. In “Mean Bull,” two laughing ranch hands dive over a fence, chased by an enraged bull. The masterly “Diner” is an energetically composed image of two waitresses tending a roomful of truckers. This group exhibit also includes Joe Gregory’s archetypal landscapes — built up from simple geometrics and planes, he illuminates his intent with a realist’s color palette, bathing his forms with light and deep shadows. Paula Hauser Leffel’s impressionistic and seemingly optimistic still-life paintings are as much about brush strokes and texture as they are about her subjects. “Table With Apples & Pears” becomes somehow epic, larger than its subject. Keith Kavanaugh’s landscapes are rendered in a palpably wintry palette, suggesting more detail than that which is present on the canvas; his pieces are haunting and mysterious. Through Dec. 2 at the Late Show Gallery, 1600 Cherry. (Chris Packham)

Looking West This exhibition could have been an eloquent disquisition on the uneven American cultural fascination with “the West” — its history and politics, ideas of American expansionism, racism, colonialism and American Indian rights. Instead, work in the exhibition seems to have been chosen simply because it in some way visually refers to cowboys, Indians and some western landscapes. Precious few of the artists here evoke the important issues or simply make interesting work. Jaune Quick-to-See Smith’s prints combine iconic images of mythical animals and humans, drawn with a deliberately naïve hand to form a pastiche of personal and political commentary on issues facing American Indians as well as the environment. Fort Guerin borrows from popular culture and cartooning. Appropriating images from TV and movies, Gordon McConnell suggests a mythic ideology that popular culture embraced — and often still does — about Manifest Destiny. Photographers Larry Schwarm and Wes Lyle document the beauty of the Kansas prairies and the lives of those who populate the Midwest, respectively. Through Feb. 1 at the Belger Arts Center, 2100 Walnut, 816-474-3250. (Dana Self)

Categories: A&E