Here, There

A new gallery opened last night in what they are calling the Stockyards District.  Bill Brady is showing artists from here, there (New York) and everywhere (LA), and word on the street (in the Star) is that the space “rival[s] many in New York.”  Whatever that means.  When they pull out pistols, of course Kansas City would win.  No one shoots anyone in New York anymore.

At any rate, I had the feeling I needed to be especially well dressed and smell especially good.  Maybe we’ll get more national attention (post Nelson expansion, post Kauffman Center), but it will have a big fat cow head on it.  At least the cow is cute and friendly looking, in spite of his looming execution.

I liked two pieces at Bill Brady: one with two skulls and a bunch of pulling, tense triangles, and one slashy color study with a composition I couldn’t quite figure out.  There was a tall pile of “YES”es that reminded me of “Yellow Submarine,” and made me wish there was a full bar graph of different answers: “MAYBE MAYBE MAYBE MAYBE,” “NO NO NO WAY.”  Maybe maybe maybe I was annoyed because they were already out of wine at 7:30, but they had a lot of work that didn’t interest me.

The space is indeed largest in the area “in volume,” (I had read that in the Star article, I think), a distinction so odd I think it’s meaningless.  The Tate Modern has volume, but this kind of volume doesn’t seem all that useful.  The ceiling was so high, and the room so square, I felt like I was in a trash compactor.  I know.  That’s me being weird.  It’s a great big white box, and that is great for a lot of art display.

I think of New York as the most masculine city, but maybe Kansas City is actually the masculine one.  New York is looked at, and Kansas City looks.  One of the great joys and trials of being a woman is that you are looked at.

The Dolphin, one of our most reliable galleries, had one of its strongest shows.  Straight ahead of you, there’s a painting of an ashtray and a virgin cigarette and a gleaming shot glass, as clean as God’s fingers.  (That’s Arthur Miller’s simile; sorry, year five teaching “The Crucible.”)  I loved the execution of that one.  Such sharp edges.

In the front room, a series of photographs reminded me how Kansas Citians are lookers and not looked at, as the feminists say, we act instead of appearing.  Us at the opening of the Kauffman Center.  Us at a school board meeting.  Our streets.  Our bluffs.  Our Loose Park, those plummy pink flowering bushes.  My intersection of Gillham and 39th, an “x” I see every single day, with the tennis courts glistening.  The compositions were quiet.

I think if I were younger, I would have thought they were weak, but now I permit some quiet and I have patience for some subtlety.  Where I live is being looked at.  My sycamores, some of my favorite trees in town, who are on my usual walk, were there on a cloudy day.  It hurt me a little that they were naked and the light was so thin.  Those trees in summer are as juicy as a Gauguin.  They could beat any Polynesian gooeyness.  But there they were, talking quietly like they were in a library, with the swing someone hung dangling between a few people in coats.  People who are not looked at, people who look.

The largest room has a painting by one of my favorite painters, Eric Sall, who is messing with peach paint.  I used peach in some paintings for my bathroom.  It’s such a horrible color, it was a great challenge to make something I liked.  His compositions and his textures always interest me.  Also in that room was a perfect array of diamond shapes in intriguing colors.

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