H&R Block Artspace

Collection of the Kansas City Art Institute

In the middle of the last century, where Jesse Howard lived in Fulton, Mo., it wasn’t unusual to see hand-painted signs on country roads advertising a traveling fair or a farm sale.

Jesse Howard’s signs offered Bible verses. They proclaimed his anger at his neighbors and the government, his disappointments with the world around him. His canvas was most often a wooden plank or some scrap metal salvaged from dilapidated outbuildings, or any piece of farm equipment with a flat surface big enough to whitewash with house paint and cover with carefully lettered, all-caps screeds.

C.J. Janovy

People who go to the Kansas City Flatfile show at H&R Block Artspace get to do something that feels wrong: touch the art.

That’s the fun of the Flatfile exhibition, which takes place every two years. The show features work by 160 Kansas City artists, and visitors get to pull it out of the metal files themselves, spending as much time as they want having what Artspace director and curator Raechell Smith calls an "unmediated" experience with the art.

Courtesy of the artist

A traveling exhibition at the H&R Block Artspace, Performance Now, includes performance art from the last decade, with work by artists spanning generations, such as Marina Abramović, Yael Bartana, and Clifford Owens.

There’s a 12-hour performance of a 3 ½ minute aria; a slightly-scripted soap opera filmed in Ikea stores; and a Claymation film about urban violence. There are also re-performances, or re-creations of famous works from the past.

Performance art, then and now

Laura Spencer / KCUR

The Project Wall, a temporary site for public art at the H&R Block Artspace at the Kansas City Art Institute, currently features Seven by conceptual artist, Luis Camnitzer. This large image of eight ivory dice on casino green felt - spelling out the number seven - is simple yet striking; it draws the attention of those passing by, in cars or on foot, to the exterior of the Artspace, a boxy gray building at the intersection of 43rd and

Julie Denesha / KCUR

Kansas City Art Institute students experienced cross-cultural communication through art during a Sunday workshop with visiting artists at the H&R Block Artspace. As part of their 1o-day residency in Kansas City, the Xijing Men led the students through activities designed to inspire them to use their skills as budding artists.