March 23, 2013
My last day of Snow Break 2013 in Kansas City was spent at modern art museums. I struggle with much modern art, especially the less representational modes, but recently I got a real kick out of the modern art pieces at Crystal Bridges in Arkansas. So I braved return visits to the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art and Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art.
I dislike the spider motif at the Kemper, based on the sculpture by Louise Bourgeois. Given my frustration with much of modern art, I’d prefer they play off their Crying Giant sculpture by Tom Otterness. For example, a close friend of mine loves Capri by Brendan Cass, while I struggle to appreciate his bold abstracted style of landscape painting. But we both enjoy the huge portrait Count Basie by Frederick James Brown.
I liked looking directly up at Dale Chihuly’s Campiello del Remer, Ireland glass chandelier, but the highlight of the collection for me was Source Figure by Robert Graham. The original sculpture of an African American woman is at the source of a fountain at the Bunker Hill Steps in Los Angeles. The three crabs at the base are mysterious and lend themselves to ribald commentary. But the woman’s figure is sensual, and the museum has cleverly placed the sculpture in an exterior alcove with windows highlighting views of her profile and setting her against Architect’s Handkerchief by Claes Oldenburg and Cossje van Bruggen.
I then drove miles westward to the Nerman Museum on the campus of Johnson County Community College, where security guards kept a careful watch as I progressed through each gallery. The museum cafe featured some nifty cylindrical light fixtures which caught my eye, but Do-Ho Suh‘s Some/One was the real eye-catcher with its large hollow robe composed of gibberish-covered dog tags.
Bones were prominent in the permanent painted collection since they were major features of Brad Kahlhamer‘s Eagle Fest USA, with its prominent skulls, and Allison Schulnik‘s Skipping Skeletons, which had them skipping through prominent 3D flowers of thick paint.
I’m impolitic and crass enough to interpret Tomory Dodge’s Wasteland as a commentary on much of modern art, but I did appreciate Stephan Balkenhol’s rough-hewn wooden Man Lying on Platform. My favorite painting was the abstract Miasma (2) by Marc Handelman, which is a dark version of his sunburst painting Miasma. The much better (2) version is more powerful at a distance than close-up.
It was a snowy drive back to Bartlesville, a fitting conclusion to this Snow Break.