Category Archives: RMRE

River Market Regional Exhibition: Essay by Antonia Boström

“As a recently arrived staff member of The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, I am honoured to have been invited to serve as a juror for the Kansas City Artist’s Coalition’s River Market Regional Exhibition (RMRE). Not only had I heard from colleagues of the great work of the KC Artists Coalition, but also from recent international artists-in-residence. The work of the KCAC exposes artists in the city and the region to a stream of international practicing artists, whilst also allowing those artists to experience the cultural vibrancy of an American city outside the main centers of New York or Los Angeles. As any First Friday in Kansas City’s Crossroads demonstrates, there is ample evidence of a thriving and eclectic art scene in this city.

The current exhibition acknowledges and celebrates the work of artists working not only in Kansas City, but in the surrounding six states, thus in the very Heartland of the Midwest. As a European, resident in the US for eighteen years (Detroit, Los Angeles, and now Kansas City), I came to this selection with an open mind and little familiarity with the work of many of these Midwest artists. And I have been impressed by the imagery and technical command of this group of entries. My selection formed naturally around a number of related and complementary themes. Some works resonate with the gentle and haunting landscapes and skies of the Prairies, captured in different seasons and different media. Birds, animals and plants of the region recur as a motif. Even the selection of abstract works seems to harken to natural forms, materials and images. By contrast, a series of works on paper evoking sculptural installations, museum interiors and two large paintings of cultural landmarks in Paris, have added meaning for me through their direct reference to my own research as a sculpture historian and through my familiarity with European cities. Inevitably I have been drawn to those!

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When we record the land that surrounds us, whether through painting, graphic means or photography, we often unconsciously record our own nostalgia and longing for a familiar or idealized landscape. This longing shapes our perspective, and in a group of works of the sky (David Titterington), atmospheric effects (Larry Roggenkamp), stormy nights (VK Tucker and Sheron Smith), the sweep of hills and prairie, (Rebecca Riden and Ronald Beeton), abandoned rooms and sites (Ron Anderson), or a solitary seated figure (Judith Burngen), we see the world through a melancholic lens. Indeed, the title of Maryanna Adelman’s watercolor, All Roads Lead Home directly refers to that longing for home.

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A group of bird and flower images executed in experimental and historic photographic techniques–infrared (Marydorsey Wanless) and a sunprint (Rebecca Ofiesh) – or in graphite (Maryanna Adelman), and an expressionistic birdbath (Katherine Shadensack), represent poetic depictions of nature, in contrast to the direct, but tender, observation of a black steer (Don Wolfe). Raw nature is also hinted at in a group of abstract works whose titles and techniques refer directly to their inspiration: Amanda Jolley’s homonymous work uses encaustic, dirt, roots and oil. Others refer to natural forms (Sharon Keller) or atmospheres (Drew Simons and John Marak). Through their palette and technique even the abstract mixed-media works are embedded in nature and the built environment. Rachelle Gardner’s textile hanging evokes a burning, sun-soaked horizon, while Joyce Jablonski and Ruth Kolker’s layered images refer to the cacophony of the sights and smells of the city.

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A small group of three-dimensional objects seems to have been washed up on a sea shore. A weathered jaw-like form resembles driftwood (Ruth Laughlin); a jagged, bundle of paper and hair evokes skeletal forms (Betsy Knabe Roe), while the decoration of a bangle is made up of the delicate forms of sea shells (Sara LaGrand). A silver-gilt beaker (Genevieve Flynn), whose repoussé body virtually wriggles with marine creatures – including an octopus – is designed in the grand tradition of European precious metalwork that has been collected for magnificent “Cabinets of Wonder” since the Renaissance.

As a sculpture historian I reveal my personal bias by a selection of several works featuring figurative sculpture (Shakura Jackson, Brandon Frederick). And as a museum curator the echoing interior of a long gallery in the Louvre (Ada Koch), or the blurry image of seated girls before a painting (Jerry Stogsdill), evoke the familiar spaces and activities of my own museum career.

Finally, a final small group of photographs demonstrate that Futurism and Surrealism are alive and well. The utopian images of Metropolis and Lefi Riefenstahl’s films and Robert Rauschenberg’s sophisticated collages seem to haunt Brett Chenoweth’s photo-collages. And the wheels of a train at Illinois Central (Jo Narron) might start to move forward as if in one of Marinetti’s Futurist paintings.”

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PDF of RMRE Catalog

Available to view online:

http://issuu.com/jfskcac/docs/2014rivermarketregionalexhibition/1

Available at Blurb.com For ipad, free download: http://store.blurb.com/ebooks/478910-2014-river-market-regional-exhibition

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River Market Regional Exhibition: An Essay by Jerry Saltz

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Many people say they don’t understand art. No one says this about music. Or food. No one says “I don’t understand Mozart.” Or pizza. But they say it about art. Why? Because art is an alchemical process; seemingly not as direct as music or food. Art exists in the material world. In fact the artist’s primary job is to embed thought in material. Even Duchamp’s urinal has the artist’s thought embedded in it; in its title; in the idea of someone calling it art; of an artist sublimating his own choices in order to choose something that already exists in the world. Yet, people still look at much art and say they don’t understand it. This is art’s revolutionary power. That it exists just beyond language, in a non-linear, paradoxical realm where several things can be true at the same time, a place where your eyes don’t necessarily process everything that you’re seeing and what you’re seeing transforms in the mind into something that is not simply something to be looked at but that transcends this narrow modern definition of art and is transformed once again into an object that does something.

Art that does something. That’s what I was looking for when I juried this show. Art that surprised me. With more than novelty or a flash of skin. Surprised me for more than a moment, surprised me and kept me surprised. I look for art that tried to fail flamboyantly. I don’t mean art that someone dropped from their roof in a goofy Dada gesture. I mean art that when the artist made it I could imagine this artist thinking, “Oh no. What have I done?” Art that did something that the artist wasn’t expecting. Something, maybe that the artists didn’t want to happen, didn’t want anyone else to see, until it became clear that this was the way the art wanted to be seen. I looked for artists who didn’t seem to take the paths more traveled, the dependable academically approved ways and means of making art. I looked for artists who seemed to have skill but that then tried to unlearn or relearn skill, redefine it into something other than “good drawing” or “respectable abstraction”.

I looked for artists who seemed driven to provide some sort of unknown algorithmic reaction to their topic, their medium, material, process, and desires. Artists who where somehow trying to make things that haven’t been seen before, provide a taxonomy into their inner-lives, fashioning encyclopedic palaces in single works, were interested in the representation of the invisible, the unseen, the unseeable.

What shocked me; what thrilled me is that I saw a lot of these kinds of art coming out of the Kansas City area. This show could have been twice as large. I narrowed it down less because of quality than the finite problem of space.

I know that many will look at much of this art and think, “This judge is cracked!” They could be right. But for me, being “right” is one of the least interesting human qualities under the stars.

Jerry Saltz

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