Rich and I took in the abstract art at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art.
We were severely underdressed, as it was Opening Night for Phantasmania and the Members showed up in full fashion force. We only got in trouble twice although we garnered several disapproving (or at least puzzled) looks. We only had iced tea and diet coke in the Café (our waiter was psyched for massive tips, although he did recover after the initial obvious disappointment). The above photo I took in the Special Exhibit Hall (no pictures allowed of the art, I complied! Still, I was chastised. Oy.) Our favorite was Dan Attoe: Accretion 38 (This has been coming…) (one selected comment apparently by an owl, “a bunch of shit nobody cares about”), and Accretion 34 (Be at peace with what you’ve done), with a line that sparked a chuckle from Rich: “Hank Williams died on New Year’s Eve.” Attoe’s work is described as “oil on canvas on paper” but those are just the physical materials and does no justice to the juxtaposition of visual images and (tiny) text.
Robyn O’Neil‘s graphite on paper sketches were also interesting, Being Together, Standing Below This Eternal Covenant, (both pictured at Matthews The Younger’s blog and Their Fear Blurred and They Were Still. It was fun to move from her monochromatic perspective to “Blind Faith and Tunnel Vision” by Jules de Balincourt (pictured at Your Daily Awesome). His “Insiders and Outsiders” (scroll down) is probably the most transparent of the art we saw but powerful nonetheless: one cannot miss the potential implications of current historical trajectories.
Pictures are allowed in the permanent collections, so I snapped several. I very much liked the painted wood by Louise Nevelson; it was cool to then see a portrait of her by Dan Budnik (couldn’t eliminate reflections, bummer). The colors and chaos of Rising Sun (Hans Hoffman) caught me,
and the birds in this oil on canvas work by Joseph Stella drew me past the soft pastel first impression: Dance of Spring (Song of Birds).
It looks as if *I* captured Roy Lichenstein at work,
but really this is another portrait by Budnik. I almost always like color, such as James Pollen’s 13 Bands (fused silk with painted other stuff – the camera failed :-/).
All of the selections from the permanent collection were chosen by museum patrons “Putting the U back in Curator.” Lei Ilima is not my taste at first glance but the circle drew me closer. I’m not sure this piece by John Buck “suits my temperament” but I can imagine its appeal could grow over time. All three selections from Seven Poses by Hung Liu are pleasing.
The Kemper was the second museum of the day. First?
The introductory film is fantastic, featuring just about everybody who was anybody, with several clips of original performances and classic interviews. The first phrase that caught me was from (I think) a member of Shirley Horn‘s band, talking about performing jazz meaning you are on stage “nerve naked.” Rich had me listen to several of his favorites, including John Coltrane (Alabama), a tribute to the four African-American children killed in a church bombing in 1963. Its tempo is based on a speech by Martin Luther King, Jr. (I wish they told us which speech…an article in The Southern Review by Sasha Feinstein reports that it was the “eulogy for the girls).” The biographical text described Trane’s ambition “to use his music as ‘a force for good.’” Rich described Coltrane as the “#1 innovater for the saxophone,” and Miles Davis (we listened to So What) as number one innovator “for the trumpet.” (Listen – and watch! – Davis perform this with John Coltrane courtesy of youtube.) We also heard Water for Debby by Bill Evans, who wrote some scores for the Charlie Brown specials (but not as many as Vince “Doctor Funk” Guaraldi). 🙂 A particularly neat moment was listening to Jimmy Smith (The Champ), and Rich being reminded of Don Lewis. Gosh, I still miss that guy! Many fond memories. 🙂
Frank Marshall Davis described the accomplishments of Louis Armstrong as “distilling the meaning of black in sharps and flats.”
Did I mention that bro can play? 🙂
Dollar Brand (Abdullah Ibrahim) says, about jazz: “. . . I prefer to regard (rhythm) as that force that keeps the whole universe together.”
Here’s bro jamming to Pat Metheny, The Road To You.
Rich explained some of the history of the 18th and Vine District. All WWI soldiers came through Kansas City to get their uniforms. (I had no idea the garment industry was huge here, through WWII about half the soldiers still came through KC for their uniforms.) Live music poured out of this District, and the alignment of 18th Street is such that the midsummer sun (July-August) sets dead center at 9 or 10 pm, just as the place would really start hopping. A few years ago, Kansas City hosted a cow-painting event. 18th and Bovine is a beaut!