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.