Five Flatfile artists to look for as you leaf through the latest Artspace sprawl

Every other summer, the H&R Block Artspace assembles the Kansas City Flatfile, an invitational exhibition of two-dimensional work stored in two metal chests of drawers in the main gallery. A rotating cast of artists and curators selects individual works from the artists’ portfolios to display on the walls, but the best way to experience the Flatfile is to put on white cotton gloves (the gallery has them for you) and page through the drawers at your own pace. It’s like an art version of a Choose Your Own Adventure novel. Here are five cul-de-sacs worth wandering into on your own Flatfile artventure.

Artist: Scott L. Dickson
Education: MFA, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, 2009;
BFA, painting and art history, University of Kansas, 2007

What’s in his portfolio: Dickson’s drawings and collages ruminate on the major personalities and moments in the history of pro wrestling. The pieces are delicate, with thin and wispy lines, shading and scribbles on plain paper, but they depict some of the most macho men ever to have pushed themselves into Spandex. With handwritten notes recording the outcomes of matches and other facts, Dickson’s contribution here seems at first like simple fan art, but ultimately his work explores masculinity in unexpected ways. (Pictured above: “Juice Hogan” [detail], 2008)

Artist: Sandra Van Tuyl
Education: B.A., Carthage College, 1980

What’s in her portfolio: Van Tuyl writes that her work is about “dialogue (or lack thereof) in society.” She paints slender, ropelike lines that interweave and knot together, forming nets in some places, dead ends elsewhere. You don’t have to buy her dialogue metaphor to appreciate her brushwork and palette, though. Tiny strokes of brilliant, kaleidoscopic color blend to create umber-toned ropes. (Pictured above: “Bound/Unbound” [detail], 2012)

Artist: Amanda Gehin
Education: BFA, Kansas City Art Institute, 2006

What’s in her portfolio: Ask any artist what question he or she hears most from nonartists, and it’s most likely to be “How long did it take you to do that?” Gehin’s breathtakingly complex gouache drawings might beg that question even from other artists. Her patterns of dots, lines and tie-dye-effect washes are so mesmerizing that looking at them blurs time. The minutes fade quietly away. Her architecture (spiral-shaped castles on hills) and animals (ducks and cats) seem to illustrate familiar, yet not quite recognizable, fairy tales or fables. (Pictured above: “Doomcatscape,” 2010)

Artist: Andy Maugh
Education: BFA, Kansas City Art Institute, 2002

What’s in his portfolio: In 1970, artist Tom Marioni titled one of his works “The Act of Drinking Beer With Friends Is the Highest Form of Art.” To make the piece, Marioni drank beer with friends and left the bottles on the floor of the Oakland Art Museum. Maugh’s “National Beer Authorization Form” continues the esteemed genre of beer-drinking art with tiny blue slips of paper that allow users to document their ownership of beer. Now that brewing has come into its own as a craft, isn’t beer appreciation an art form? (Pictured above: “National Beer Authorization Form,” 2006)

Artist: Harper Hair
Education: BFA, Kansas City Art Institute, 2010

What’s in his portfolio: If Pixar hasn’t finished animating Monsters University (the sequel to 2001’s Monsters Inc., due out next year), it may still have time to hire Hair as a creative consultant. The artist’s portfolio is full of paintings of creepy-cute creatures to inspire simultaneous awwws and ughs. Hair’s sometimes muddy palette and broad, swirling brush strokes lend these images a gestural, unplanned feel. (Pictured above: “Zany Times,” 2011)

Categories: A&E