December’s First Friday emphasizes affordable gift options
Start your December 5 First Friday over lunch, at the Commerce Bank Building’s Box Gallery (1000 Walnut). From 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., the space puts on an opening reception for a modified version of a strong multimedia installation by Tom Parish. His maps, high-def photographs, text and recordings document the native-stone, arched-roof root cellars of Kansas’ Flint Hills region. Take Shelter was organized by Theresa Bembnister, associate curator at Kansas State University’s Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art (and a longtime Pitch contributor). In her notes on the exhibition, she writes, “The cellars are often the last remnants of pioneer homesteads. Presentations of historical and oral history research and Parish’s evocative and beautiful photographic art will encourage a dialogue about these structures and shed a light on how they were built and functioned.” She and Parish will be at the reception.
After your workday ends and First Friday’s evening hours begin, head to Vulpes Bastille (1737 Locust) for its exhibition of Chico San’s newer paintings. Straight Out the Ole Brain Hole, exploring the artist’s subconscious, is open 6–10 p.m. Friday and by appointment.
Many of the new shows this First Friday are group exhibitions, often with items priced for immediate purchase so you can check off gift-list items (or simply enrich your personal collection). In its renovated space, SeedCo Gallery (2016 Main) opens a show of its resident artists, the Fresh Produce Art Collective of Lawrence and photographer Jodi Vander Woude. The Jones Gallery (1717 Walnut) is also open tonight, and Hello Art is hosting a small-works and holiday sale inside the Hotel Phillips (106 West 12th Street) that features more than 20 artists (including Alexander Austin and Cheryl Eve Acosta and the open studio of the hotel’s artist-in-residence, Madeline Gallucci). The latter includes free valet service (please tip), so you don’t have to stress about downtown parking.
Red Star Studios at Belger Crane Yard Studios (2011 Tracy) hosts its Holiday Open House all weekend, with artwork by staff members of Belger Arts Center and Belger Crane Yard Studios. This is in addition to a new show, Merge, which features functional and sculptural ceramics, paintings and mixed-media assemblages by Brock DeBoer, Tommy Frank, Shellie Kascillas, Catie Miller, Cydney Ross, Brandon Schnur, Jessica Thompson-Lee and Cheryl Gail Toh. The reception runs 6–9 p.m. Friday. Saturday hours are 10 a.m.–4 p.m., and Sunday’s are 11 a.m.–5 p.m.
And if you need even more ceramics to choose from (as well as paintings, prints, sculpture and design), this is also the biannual weekend for the Kansas City Art Institute’s end-of-semester show and sale. It goes from Friday through Sunday on campus in each of the departments (map: kcai.edu/about-kcai/campus). Hours are 5–7 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Saturday and noon–5 p.m. Sunday.
Mattie Rhodes Art Gallery (919 West 17th Street) kicks off its annual celebration featuring La Lotería–inspired artwork (you can even play while you’re there, starting at 7 p.m.; it’s like bingo) and, for handmade gifts, Hecho a Mano Mercado. The opening reception is 6–10 p.m.
The Late Show (1600 Cherry) begins its own seasonal staple, the Naughty Elves exhibit. It features Jeremy Bena, whose paintings combine gender-bending allusions to the likes of Star Wars, I Love Lucy and King of the Hill. (It’s not really suitable for children.) Other artists in the show include Asheer Akram, Kenny Bini, Troy Swangstu and other usual Late Show suspects, with a 6–10 p.m. opening reception.
Todd Weiner Gallery (115 West 18th Street) is modifying last month’s exhibition to showcase collaborative work (monoprints and mixed media) by Heinrich Toh and Alessandra Dzuba: Duality. It opens 5–10 p.m. Friday.
The Free Art Friday Kansas City group celebrated its first anniversary last month, and organizer Ruthie Becker, who runs Gallery 504 (504 East 18th Street), is presenting a show there of 17 artists who have participated in these “free art drops.” It’s a lighthearted and intriguing concept: Just leave a piece of artwork somewhere in the city for a random stranger to find. Share the beauty by joining the 850-plus members of its Facebook group to find hints as to where artists are leaving their work (or to participate in the future). And stop by the gallery show, where additional works are available for sale (with no gallery commission).
Main Street Gallery (above Anton’s, 1610 Main) features works by Lori Raye Erickson, Tianna Hughes, Chris LaValley, Barbara McCreery, Doug Schwietert, Brantly Sheffield, M. Scott Torri, Mauricio Zuniga and others. That opening reception is 11 a.m.–2 p.m. Saturday.
Finally, VML Wise Gallery (2020 Baltimore, third floor) is the site for Hearts Social Club, an auction benefiting Children’s Mercy Hospital guest services and organized by resident artist Donald “Scribe” Ross. More than 25 local artists — including Guinotte Wise, Stacy Hoyt, Matt Eeks, Alisa Ross and Aaron Sutton — have donated their time and talent to create 100-plus works of art, all crafted on heart-shaped wooden bases about 15 inches by 12 inches. The preview party starts at 6 p.m., with bidding from 7 to 8 p.m. (nothing less than $50, nothing more than $100), and there’s an afterparty until 9 p.m.