November’s First Friday brings photography into sharp focus

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As this week’s issue goes to press, following the Royals’ exhilarating postseason and era-defining World Series win, all capped by Tuesday’s downtown parade and Union Station rally, it’s hard to imagine coming down from this metrowide surge of Kansas City spirit. Certainly not before this weekend’s First Friday, when favorable weather and a bountiful slate of exhibitions — photography lovers, in particular, can look forward to a full agenda — combine to keep the party going. 

First, get to Snapshot Gallery (1724 Main) to see Eggs and Nests, by Rosamond Purcell, and Harvest, by Larry Gawel, which both close after First Friday. The space is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., so you have some pre-evening time to tour Gawel’s lumen-printed edible botanicals and Purcell’s intimate looks at objects (eggs, nests) she says could not be more visually different.

Another space you can visit all day, the Box Gallery, in the Commerce Bank Building (1000 Walnut, open from 8 a.m to 8 p.m.), features Photography of the Grand Ole Opry, an Exhibits USA collection of black-and-white prints spanning the radio show from its 1925 founding through 1950.

Dallas-based Julie Shields makes a living as a wedding photographer, but she’s also the lead singer of the Capsules and produces painterly images using infrared photography and astrophotography. The techniques let her capture the deep colors of the night that are usually invisible to the human eye. A Unique Lens, her exhibition at Beco Gallery (1922 Baltimore), opens from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday and stays on view through November 27.

Among the new and continuing shows at Leedy-Voulkos Art Center (2012 Baltimore): Sense of Place, in which photographer Jeff Burk recounts creating his earliest photographs. He was 8 years old, on a road trip with his father in Oklahoma, when he encountered the unexpected and serene Chimney Rock. That experience, he says, kindled a lifelong quest for America’s obscure and wonderful landscapes.

The Jones Gallery (1717 Walnut) is particularly good at presenting the work of lesser-known artists, and November’s Fluttering Autumn is no exception. The show gathers pieces produced under the aegis of Anathema Art, a program that helps incarcerated artists use their time in prison toward rehabilitation. Also on view: works by Gary Rockhold and Nancy Morrison. Rockhold’s digital landscapes — derived from his photography and broken down into simplified shapes that he fills in with select colors from the original landscapes — are especially strong.

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Celebrate the return of the Kansas City Society for Contemporary Photography with Current Works 2015, a selection of 36 images by 33 photographers — juried by Jan Schall, the Sanders Sosland Curator of Modern Art at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art — at Haw Contemporary (1600 Liberty, West Bottoms). Schall speaks about her selections — which she says answer the question “What does it mean to stop time in an expanding universe?” — at 7 p.m. Friday at the gallery. A reception marking this 20-year photographic tradition goes from 6 to 9 p.m.

Another landmark, Eric Sall’s first solo show with Haw, Full Phase, opens at the same time. Sall here debuts new large-scale paintings, expressive and full of texture and process, which he created during a recent stay at the Roswell Artist-in-Residence Program.

Also outside the Crossroads, Greenlease Gallery at Rockhurst University (located between Van Ackeren Hall and Sedgwick Hall; campus entrance at 5400 Troost, where parking is available, even in restricted lots, for the 7–9 p.m. reception) welcomes Heather Leigh McPherson. She speaks at 6:30 p.m. about her multimedia exhibition, which includes elements of painting, digital images and installations that, according to press materials, “examine the complex visual and structural relationships between canvas and computer screen, portraiture and abstraction, and white cube and digital space.”

Painter Nora Othic herds her farmyard animals into new realms of commentary and caricature with Sideshow, opening at the Late Show (1600 Cherry) alongside works by Cory McGhee.

Fraction Print Studio (130 West 18th Street) is showing Intimate Response, a small-works collection featuring Dean Kube, Kathy Liao, Melissa Powlas and Cheryl Toh.

Todd Weiner Gallery (115 West 18th Street) offers a memorable selection of art by the owner’s favorites in Current Best, featuring Martin Cail, David Gant, Olga Hotujac, Don Kottmann, Heinrich Toh and others.

Weinberger Fine Art (114 Southwest Boulevard) puts up a heavy-hitting solo exhibition: Mark English: Master of the Visual Narrative. Now in his 80s, the Kansas City–based English began his career as an illustrator and has developed his work along more abstract and narrative lines. His theory about art? “It’s a lifetime search.” Good theory.

Plenum Space (504 East 18th Street) has collaborations by Sedona Alvarez and Ashley Warner, colorful, dreamlike vignettes with imaginary creatures and otherworldly experiences.

Finally, for something sophisticated and different, stop by the Kansas City Symphony offices (1703 Wyandotte) for the Kansas City Symphony’s inaugural First Friday open house, from 6 to 9 p.m. The event centers on performances, from 7 to 8:30, by an ensemble of symphony musicians. Grouped into a theme titled “Musical Kaleidoscope,” the program includes selections from favorite operas, Borodin’s “Nocturne” and more. Expect refreshments, live-reaction sketching by Warren Ludwig and even symphony ticket deals on upcoming shows.

Categories: A&E, Art