Friday, January 13, 2012

A Picture Beyond Words

Yes, there are a lot of changes going on here. One thing is unalterable, though: The focus always will be on regional artists.

That said, there's nothing wrong with recognizing those artists' success outside this region, especially when it's against worldwide competition.

The Portraits group show opens today and runs through Feb. 25 (with an artist's reception set for Feb. 3) at the Center for Fine Art Photography in Fort Collins, Colo. One of the photographers in that show is Roeland Park's Sabrina Staires.

Divorce (the image above) is a portrait of Staires' daughter, Maddy, taken in the Crossroads. It's a complex piece -- beautiful and pensive, alive with youthful energy and yet subdued by emotional shadows -- and more than deserves its place in the exhibition.

It could be said that this is a bit of a two-fer (or is that a multi-fer?) for Kansas City artists: The backdrop, a mural by a collective of local graffiti artists, provides not only a colorful counterbalance against the dark pavement but also a sense of the tension -- even hostility -- implied in the photograph's title and subject matter. Throw in the line in the parking lot, speaking of balances to be struck and decisions to be made, and the old adage about a picture being worth a thousand words suddenly seems a bit stingy.

In this time when everyone with a cell phone lists "photography" as an interest on Facebook, it's always good to see the work of someone gifted in the field ... even though (or perhaps because) that appreciation comes with a bittersweet emotional twinge.


  1. If this is the mural at Foxx Equipment Co. on SW Blvd., it was actually painted by an entire crew of writers more than 6 years ago, of which Scribe is one member; the DF crew (also using the name ATT crew) members who painted this include: Gear, Emit, East, Rapes, Sub, When, and Aero. You can tell it's not by one person because each "piece" (name/word) is in a different signature style. The characters were painted by Scribe for the most part. I can't recall w/out looking at all 3 walls whether Rapes also included his brand of characters.

  2. Edited to reflect. Thanks for the heads-up! I recognized the characters as Scribe's but hadn't known about the collective.

    1. No worries! The graffiti world is still "underground" in many ways. It's its own culture, with mostly an oral-traditional history.

      Hint for future study: most times, the writers will include a smaller signature and year under the larger piece, and often, another signature of the crew name. That is how you can count how many different people are on the wall.

      Also, usually, one person won't make two word-pieces on a single wall, but s/he sometimes will make a word and a character combo single-handedly.

      Another good permission (ie: owners' consent) wall to see (but you have to get out of the car b/c it's tucked in a narrow passage) is at 3Axis design on SW Blvd in KCK. And James Elementary School in Historic Northeast has a long wall in the school yard with pieces by folks from KC and abroad, the work from the second "After School Special" event. Work from the first is underneath ; )


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