Like It Raw?


Get your head out of the gutter. We’re not talking about sex; we’re talking about art.

And music. And politics. After all, the artists whose work is included in a big group show at the Next Space have far-reaching interests.

The downtown space is perfect for a show that combines punk tendencies, a hip-hop flavor and a general street aesthetic. Owner Steve Collins’ run-down, unheated storefront is still under renovation, but it has featured hip-hop shows, theater events and art exhibits. Events at the Next Space always feel like the parents have left home and the kids are in charge. It’s a several-hundred-square-foot experiment in artistic anarchy.

The experiment is going well. Jeremy McConnell, who has been politically active in Kansas City’s urban community for years (painting murals, publishing zines and participating in Culture Under Fire) has gathered this group of artists who are, in one way or another, Breaking It Down.

From Phil Shafer’s digital collages of silhouettes hovering near graffiti-covered brick walls to David Ford’s huge painting of a smiling Indian woman next to a spot marked your god here, all of the work is engaging and just a bit subversive — but not so subversive that you want to cover your head for fear of being hit by an ideological hammer. L.A.-based Jim Mahfood sent some silly ink drawings to accompany his two-page rant about the beef industry. “I just kind of mixed it up,” Mahfood says. “I’ve known Jeremy for, like, ten years, so I know his taste.”

Even the two Canadian artists in the show knew McConnell’s taste well enough to send work that fit the bill, having met McConnell a few years back.

Some of the art, like Jessica Manco’s silk screens of roller-skating monkeys, is just fun. Skater monkeys rule.