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Art Capsule Reviews

Our critics recommend these shows.

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Carrousel As the first and last thing that visitors will see at the disparate but satisfying Carrousel exhibit, the assertive colors and bold shapes of Marcus Cain's vinyl-tape wall installation bracket a collection of works by past Charlotte Street Award winners as well as young local artists making their Paragraph debut. Cain also contributes a smaller abstraction that both echoes the visual themes and forces a reinterpretation of his larger piece. James Trotter's drawing "Four-Sided Love Triangle," a tangle of color at a distance, resolves up close into a dense grouping of small figures, cartoon characters and text, all rendered in colored pen. The name of the show, derived from the euthanasia ritual in Logan's Run, also evokes Mike Sinclair's striking photos of tourist traps and roadside attractions: fairs, carnivals and landmarks of Branson, Missouri. Sculptor Beniah Leuschke presents a quartet of commemorative porcelain plates bearing a photo of an electronic roadway sign, its pixels altered with Post-it notes to read "Road Does Not End." Through March 3 at the Paragraph 23 E. 12th St.; 816-221-5115. (Chris Packham)

Current Works, 2006 The Society for Contemporary Photography closes with a loose examination of the difference between land and property. In Jeff Krolick's digital prints, natural fissures separate developed land from untouched earth under miasmas of benign clouds. Each could be a glossy sympathy card with a rural postmark: "Sorry about that road coming through." Jamie Kreher's droll study of parking-lot medians replaces asphalt with stark white, leaving decaying concrete and lonely grass to float in space. Without shopping carts and cars lapping at their shores, the islands could be the work of urban bansai artists or a series of ugly putting greens. Kansas City Art Institute junior Katie Watson's collapsed furniture suggests catalog photos from a Bizarro Restoration Hardware more than a warning against disposable goods. For that, the show relies on (and gets a huge boost from) Seattle artist Chris Jordan. His vivid, textured series "In Katrina's Wake" (excerpted here) paints scenes of abandonment and loss (jars of bloated fruit ruined in Day-Glo brine, piles of orange squirt guns in a demolished dollar store) in tropical aquamarines and bilious yellows. The absence of human figures underscores not nature's wrath but its brutal indifference. Through Feb. 17 at the SCP, 520 Ave. Cesar E. Chavez, 816-471-2115. (Scott Wilson)

Sound Exchange A little more interesting in theory than in practice, this is still a cool idea. Two artists, Amy Stacey Curtis from Portland, Maine, and Amber Hasselbring of San Francisco, recorded nine sounds indicative of their surroundings. They swapped them in the mail, then drew impressions of what they heard; each contributed nine 11-inch-by-11 inch drawings in charcoal, graphite, watercolor pencil and inkjet. The resulting collaboration, a visual and aural dialogue between East Coast and West Coast, analyzes place and our relationship to it. The interactive quality of the exhibit, in which gallerygoers are asked to play the recorded sounds on headphones while looking at the work, leaves us lost in the waves of "Pacific Ocean." We're not complaining. Through Feb. 24 at Grothaus and Pearl Gallery, 2012 Baltimore, 816-471-1015. (Ray T. Barker)

James Woodfill: Rehab In a huge installation that nearly dwarfs the space it fills, local icon James Woodfill creates a funky escape for gallerygoers to hide from their winter blahs. Rubbermaid plastic storage containers stand next to used metal shelves to form meandering walls. Lights of different wattages and shapes glow and flash from ladders and within shelves and boxes. TV sets show moving circles and blocks while a musical hum creates aural tension. At 60 feet by 60 feet, it's a piece that a person inhabits rather than views; it's suggestive, mysterious and slightly overwhelming, so we recommend taking your time. Keep an eye on the two fluorescent lights that turn in a slow, hypnotic twirl from the top of a ladder at one end of the installation — the enigmatic figure of the artist embodied by a cryptic, mechanical beacon, always spinning. Through Feb. 16 at the Review Exhibition Space, 1708 Campbell, 816-471-2343. (Ray T. Barker)

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