February’s First Friday doesn’t lack political underpinnings

The Trump administration’s proposed budget is a right-wing hit list of the old school, including as it does the oft-recited wish to defund the National Endowment for the Arts. So when you hit the streets for First Friday on February 3, think about how much culture springs from the NEA — as well as from the similarly endangered National Endowment for the Humanities and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting — for just .02 percent of the federal budget. And look for artists beginning to respond to this troubled moment with a political edge that Kansas City arguably hasn’t seen in years.

Speaking of funding and politics, the Mid-America Arts Alliance (2018 Baltimore) shows a new ExhibitsUSA traveling show that takes exception to our traditional memory of World War II. Curated by Hal Wert, the Kansas City Art Institute professor who specializes in that conflict, the Cold War and Japanese literature, and has an extensive collection of election-related and other historic posters, Work, Fight, Give: American Relief Posters of WWII is open from 6 to 8 p.m. February 3, and then throughout the month by appointment. Learn about the National War Fund and how artwork was used to get people motivated to give to various relief funds.

Congress has expressed renewed interest in hacking up the Endangered Species Act, too, at a time when bees of various types have recently been added to the list of creatures facing crisis. Four artists who have been thinking about the plight of pollinators and their role in facilitating a huge part of the food chain are brought together at the Todd Weiner Gallery (115 West 18th Street) in Buzz. Coki Bijoux (a neighbor) is adding a selection from their bee (L’Abeille) collection of jewelry to complement mostly three-dimensional work by Steve Pistone, Jarret Mellenbruch and Dave Root. Pistone has created a giant honeycomb to attract the various wire-sculpted bees and flowers he’s made to illustrate the complex social structure of the hive, a departure from his wrapped-wire weaponry. Mellenbruch is still housing actual bees through his ongoing HAVEN series, which highlights colony-collapse disorder. Root imagines a future without honeybees, a favela of unsafe and overcrowded existence lacking in recognizable “society.”

February’s lighter side is, of course, about love, and over at the Late Show Gallery (1600 Cherry) Tom Deatherage has again assembled his annual Valentine’s Show. Casey Hannan is featured — “very graphic with a gay narrative, just perfect for our conservative friends,” Deatherage says. And there will be new barnyard fowl by Nora Othic, alongside new works by gallery all-stars Mauricio Zuniga, Kwanza Humphrey, Lori Raye Erickson, Carlyle Raine, Jane Pronko, Colby K. Smith, Elliott McAnny, John Davis Carroll and more. Open 6-10 p.m. February 3.


Experimental Films: Sam Jones

Night Blooms Darkroom, Bookstore & Coffee, 529 Southwest Boulevard

Tonight’s 7 p.m. free screening kicks off a weekly series this month. February 9: Crista Siglin; February 16: Taylor Marchand; February 23: Carly Hutton.


A Hard Swath to Mow: University of Arkansas Ceramics Faculty (pictured above: art by Linda Lopez)

Belger Crane Yard Studios, 2011 Tracy

Benjamin Cirgin, Jeannie Hulen, Linda Lopez and Adam Posnak each provide a different kind of window with their ceramic art to deal with the uncertainty of difficult terrain. Opening reception: 6-9 p.m.

The Painter’s Palette

Brandon Jacobs Gallery, 2015 Grand

Open 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. with a selection of colorful works by Derrick Breidenthal, Allan Chow, Chris Dahlquist, Kristin Goering, Anthony Benton Gude, Jenny McGee, Barry Osbourn and others. Gude (a grandson of Thomas Hart Benton) is preparing for a solo show at the gallery this fall.

David Ford: Bare Edge

The Bunker Center for the Arts, 1014 East 19th Street

The artist’s first solo exhibition of paintings and assemblages in three years showcases works made from 2014 through 2016 and reflecting the influence of travel, coupled with three decades of being rooted in Kansas City’s Crossroads.

Coloring Space, Warren Rosser

Central Library, 14 West 10th Street

First Friday at the library starts at 5:30 p.m. with music, snacks, activities and a view of the current exhibition in the Genevieve Guldner gallery (first floor), the first in a yearlong Every Street Is Charlotte Street anniversary celebration that includes showcases of work by past Charlotte Street Award fellows such as Rosser.

February Salon

Cerbera Gallery, 2011 Baltimore

Along with the usual wide selection of contemporary ceramics, this month features lithographs by Leon Galub, Dennis Oppenheim and Ken Price, oil paintings by Kerry Smith, and photography by Nicholas Dhervillers.

The Shape of Things: An Interpersonal Circumplex (pictured above)

Front/Space, 217 West 18th Street

A new collaboration by Kayla Mattes and Justin Seibert, loosely based on Timothy Leary’s “Interpersonal Circumplex,” explores personality through data collection. The Shape of Things is a 24-question quiz that generates a shape, which can be printed out and folded into a 3-D object. As with the algorithm quizzes on social media but with a tangible outcome, you can participate from afar, too, at circumplex.us.


The Jones Gallery, 1717 Walnut

This new group exhibition, curated by Teigan Hockman, artistic director of Kansas City Arts for Disabilities, showcases art by Amy Fischer, Hockman, Astro Pheline, Ernie Porter (founder of KCAD), Jasmin Raskas and Lo Rat; open 10 a.m. to  8 p.m. February 3 and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Saturday.

Auction preview

Kansas City Artists Coalition, 201 Wyandotte

The gallery is staying open late, until 6 p.m. (opens 11 a.m.) so you can get a chance to preview the dozens of works available in the annual auction, which is February 18.

Wonderland Remains: The Making of Bright Hopes! Photographs and Films

Leedy-Voulkos Art Center, 2012 Baltimore

The lower-level gallery at Leedy-Voulkos is home to a three-year project documenting more than 50 musicians assembled as “Secret Siblings” to record songs written by Mike Crawford. New in the front gallery: works curated by Kenneth C. Burkhart of the Chicago Cultural Center, who has chosen photos by Kansas City Art Institute alumni whose careers span the “analog meets digital” divide of the 1970s: Chuck Avery, Jeff Burk, Don McKenna and Russell Phillips; artists will be present at the opening reception (6 to 9 p.m.).

The Eclectic Company

Plenum Space Gallery, 504 East 18th Street

Neil Goss, Laura Maloney, Marie McKenzie, Carie Musick and Thomas Woodward are featured in a group show.

E.G. Schempf: Pedestal View (pictured above)

Sherry Leedy: The Weight of Light

Blue: Jane Booth, Carl Corey, Doug Freed, Cary Esser, Michiko Itatani, Jun Kaneko, Karen Kunc, Chris St. Leger, Mary Ann Strandell, Jason Pollen and Barbara Rogers 

Sherry Leedy Contemporary Art, 2004 Baltimore

Three new exhibitions open tonight with a 6-9 p.m. reception.

Chinese New Year Celebration

Windhorse Tattoo and Gallery, 1717 Wyandotte

It’s the year of the Red Fire Rooster, and Windhorse is celebrating with related artworks by Sarah Anderson, Matthew Crim, Alessandra Dazuba, Georgia Galloway, Mark Galloway, Ellen Goodrich, Travis Hulshizer, Andrew Milko, Danni Parelman, Bill Peacemaker, Lua Pettit, Jenn Rogers and Jason Wong.


Richard Learoyd: In the Studio

Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, 4525 Oak

Organized by the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, this selection of work by contemporary British photographer Richard Learoyd opens February 10, with one-of-a-kind direct-projection prints created with a room-sized camera obscura. A free lecture by the artist is set for 6 p.m. Friday, February 17; reserve tickets at nelson-atkins.org

Categories: Art