art exhibitions

Biographical Landscape: The Photography of Stephen Shore, 1969-1979 American photographer Stephen Shore’s exhibition includes more than 150 images of ’70s-era parking lots, motel rooms, restaurants, highways and other familiar road-trip images from across the country. Anyone who has been on a road trip knows these images by heart. The exterior photographs of filling stations, desolate dirt roads, billboards and other architectural features vibrate with color and ripple with texture. Shore is particularly adept at distilling the essence of light and its changeable nature; saturated colors give bricks a velvety feeling. His work conveys the wonder — and tedium — of ordinary scenes. “Trail’s End Restaurant, Kanab, Utah, August 10, 1973” shows us a small stack of pancakes, half a cantaloupe, milk and water on a Western-themed place mat in a diner that could be anywhere in America. Similarly, “Sugar Bowl Restaurant, Gaylord, MI, July 7, 1973” reveals the restaurant’s pristine interior, with two booths and a view of an unremarkable exterior. Seeing a Sambo’s restaurant sign makes us wince, as does a Chevron sign with gas at 59.9 cents. Through May 18 at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, 4420 Warwick, 816-753-5784. (Dana Self)

Componere Margie McDonald of Port Townsend, Washington, makes her Kansas City debut at the Leedy-Voulkos Art Center with this exhibit of arch, glam sculptures assembled from recontextualized objects. “2×4 Cows” is an assembly of brass and stainless-steel stencil letters bound up with a net of copper wire almost neural in its complexity. One of the exhibit’s most impressive examples of repurposed material is “Seascape,” a ghostly and amazing sculpture made from steel window screen, billowing like a bolt of silk and hung with blossomlike assemblies made from the same material. The artist’s sense of humor is obvious in pieces such as “1,000 Feet of Kenny G,” an elaborate serpentine form created with unspooled 16-millimeter film depicting America’s favorite smooth-jazz saxophonist. The Leedy-Voulkos is an excellent space for drama, and McDonald delivers with the shiny and immediately attractive “Chandelier Unplugged,” a stalactite of chrome lamp shades dangling from the gallery’s ceiling. Through April 26 at the Leedy-Voulkos Art Center, 2012 Baltimore, 816-474-1919. (Chris Packham)

Cursive New York artist Creighton Michael’s definition of drawing is extremely elastic, encompassing traditional pencil-on-paper imagery, painting and sculpture. Gesture is key to understanding the pieces here; Michael is interested in the various ways in which physical movements create marks on a page or a canvas. His pieces, arranged in series, comprise a kind of dialogue, each responding to others in various ways. “Field 5207” and “Field 5307,” paintings on convex panels, are inspired by ocular-migraine-induced visual ambiguities the artist has actually experienced; they evoke perceptual confusion with dense networks of tight gestures. “Impact,” a simple, open composition of loose gestures on a concave panel, offers a wholly premeditated response. The exhibit’s dominant piece may be “Rhapsody,” a “three-dimensional drawing” made from graphite, paper and rope arranged on the floor; using a dense arrangement of curls and arcs, Michael explores similar ideas about gesture and line in 3-D. Oh, yeah — despite Michael’s unapologetically cerebral approach, the work exhibited is really pretty. Through June 6 at the Belger Arts Center, 2100 Walnut, 816-474-3250. (Chris Packham)

William Shipman With the exception of a single depiction of a road, the oil-on-masonite landscapes in William Shipman’s March exhibit are devoid of human influence. Instead, they’re dramatic and timeless evocations of nature’s secular spirituality. Shipman orchestrates his observations into canny arrangements of form and color. His “#1” is a rolling composition of cool greens and pale yellows sweeping around the edges of the painting. Greens and earthy browns necessarily predominate in this series of forest images, but “#4,” a sunset captured during what photographers call “the golden hour” — in which the light is diffuse, striking objects at an angle rather than from above — gets its autumnal pallet from the time of day and the season implied by a series of bare trees. The artist’s facilities for mood and lighting are evident in “#11,” a painting of the woods under a cloudy gray sky. Through March at the Late Show Gallery, 1600 Cherry, 816-474-1300. (Chris Packham)

Debra Smith The rectilinear designs that Debra Smith assembles from sewn antique silk seem simple, built predominantly from reds and whites. But they give way to a slow burn of small details: patterns, subtle curves and what sometimes looks almost like a darning technique. The result is fabric art with the quality of painting, the works arranged in several series, each elaborating on a visual theme. “Forced Containment,” a 12-panel series, evokes old Saul Bass animations and classic abstract expressionism with a kinetic interplay of shapes. By contrast, the linear movement of “As You Are Too, I-II” is cut through with gentle curvatures. Whereas reds dominate in these pieces, “The Movement You Know I-VIII” pursues similar aesthetic goals in an exploration of negative space — though the “negative” whiteness in these pieces is not emptiness but rather pieces of white fabric as painstakingly shaped and sewn as the smaller red pieces that read as “positive” elements. Through March 20 at the Dolphin Gallery, 1901 Baltimore, 816-842-4415. (Chris Packham)

Categories: A&E