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Art Capsule Reviews

Our critics recommend these shows.

Kim Casebeer: 10 Miles From Home There are no boring places, only boring people. The regionalist Kim Casebeer stakes her work on this claim, and she's interesting enough to pull it off. All of the subject matter here lies within a 10-mile radius surrounding the artist's childhood home in the Flint Hills of Kansas. Most clever is the tongue-in-cheek pastel work "Hillsboro Evening Skyline." Featuring eight houses and a barn under an orange-and-blue sky, it highlights the humbling imbalance between our diminutive human structures and the scale of nature. The oil painting "The Warmth of the Evening" is Casebeer's most colorfully dynamic work, balancing the blue and gray of a pond with the warm orange and red of a setting sun. Through June 13 at the Leopold Gallery, 324 W. 63rd St., 816-333-3111. (Santiago Ramos)

Armin Mühsam Armin Mühsam's charcoal "Box Drawing" series has a mysterious, unfinished quality, thanks to roughed-in elements that are selectively completed. It's as though portions of the page have been brought into focus by a lens. Lacking backgrounds or true perspective, the bold lines and simple compositions intrigue without satisfying. Elsewhere, Mühsam's paintings include imagined landscapes built up from simple architectural forms. His stylized and deliberately architectural topologies, precisely rendered, contrast with the twitchy brushwork of exciting, impressionistic backgrounds — rolling plains and big, Midwestern skies dominate the machined smoothness of seemingly abandoned architectural forms. "Composition 5," an acrylic painting of a rectilinear industrial structure, and "Composition 7," a delicately rendered highway overpass, are outstanding variations on this theme. Mühsam's style also finds expression in the translucence of watercolor; indeed, with his "Watercolor on Grid Paper Series," ghostly penciled graphs (of precipitation per day over a crop year, apparently) are visible through characteristic juxtapositions of organic brushwork and fabricated precision. Through June 15 at the Mallin Gallery, 201 Wyandotte, 816-421-5222. (Chris Packham)

Picturing Artists: Photographs by Dan Budnik Beautiful art is sublime; art about art is an indulgence. This exhibition is a sublime indulgence: a collection of photographer Dan Budnik's dye-transfer photographic prints from the 1950s through the early '70s, starring some of the greatest artists to live in New York during that time. The Kemper pairs each of Budnik's shots with an original work by the portrayed artist. His picture of Robert Rauschenberg (looking directly at the camera, holding a car door) is accompanied by Rauschenberg's sizable mixed-media painting "Seminole Host." Budnik caught Willem de Kooning in action before a canvas in a far corner of his studio, with the floor covered by other unfinished paintings; next to this photo is de Kooning's "Untitled (Woman)." Other artists who met Budnik's camera: Roy Lichtenstein, Peter Krasnow and Jasper Johns. What they have in common is the intensity of their gazes. Through July 8 at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, 4420 Warwick, 816-753-5784. (Santiago Ramos)

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