HOMEWARD: A Fictional Response to Forebears by Mark Raymer

The following is a fictional response to Mark Raymer’s work “Forebears,” from the show Pinch/Punch at Beco Flowers in February 2017.

08 Forebears

The rain is finally starting to let up. My hair is slicked fearfully against my cheeks as I make my first sinking steps at the base of the mountain. At first, the gentle floral prints are inviting and kind to my bare feet. But I can see, even from here, in the pieces stitched together forming the quilt of mountain peaks above, there are coarser fibers ahead. I touch the ground, I feel how it is woven together, the threads pulsing and weaving all the way to the top. I am here, almost. I press on.

I wade the river of thread, traverse canyons where paisley meets plaid. I flatten my body, hide from the moon’s looks. I bury myself here, in the ridges.

The moon can’t be trusted, really. It turns on me, showing me its darkness. I make measured confessions in the bed of cotton. The moon is looking the other way; for a moment, I am safe. I whisper into the fibers. I speak what I need. There is a lot to be thankful for here, on the quilted mountain, but there is anxiety bound up in every seam.

When I left, she said, “You cannot decide where home is.”

I replied, “Today, there are new colors.”

By night, I sleep wrapped in soft stitches. By day, frayed edges fumble my footing.

I could pinpoint the day the cicadas stopped. It is harder to sleep, now, when I can hear all the small sounds their collective buzz had cloaked.

My hair is growing long, my feet tough. I come across new fears every morning.

I find a skull. What if a skull symbolized immortality instead of death? I think about dying here, decaying here, and I selfishly pray it won’t happen, because I don’t want to fertilize fabric flowers.

As I dig my fingers into the green cliff, I look up: red giants blooming in the sky, a satellite blinking messages from home. I close my eyes and hum. And climb. And I climb higher than the moon. It smirks and glances. “And what will happen when you reach the peak?”

I say, “Then I’ll be there.”  

The moon is steady, “Mmmhmm. And then?”

I scuttle sideways on the cliff, and don’t look back again at the moon. What was it that Brecht said? Never mind all that, just keep humming, climbing.

The turtle stuck its neck out as I passed, croaking, “The colors have always been this way.” What do monks know, in their tombs lined with books?

I stand up in a clearing, suddenly finding myself surrounded by weeds. I had been so sure about the colors. But, somehow, they’re just the same. The same familiar greens and browns. My hands are the same. My skin is the same. My eyes are the same. My hair is the same, but longer now.

I squint off into the distance, but there’s nothing.  No swooning opening of land against sky to inspire, no beams of sunlight to instruct, no savior, no solution.

The cactus speaks: “What now, what next, traveler?”

I look to the armadillo but it only looks back in silence, awaiting my answer.

“Away from the needles, into the thread.”

The cactus looks disappointed. “That’s fine enough for now.”

What next? Mouthburn, unspent gratitude, a long drive, overworn patience, time-lapse flowers blooming, forsythia, gardenia, hyacinth, iris, jasmine, kalmia, lisanthius.


Crushed/Optimistic: Photography, Poetry, & Brandon Forrest Frederick

Brandon Forrest Frederick is an artist / organizer / educator / person that I happen to know very well. We have worked side by side for four years as members of Archive Collective, and both pursued our photographic educations in the same institution (four years apart). This shared experience means that neither of us can navigate Brandon’s work without first considering its relationship to the functions, the implicit qualities, and often, the inadequacies of photographs. Seeing these things as a driving force, rather than a limitation, enables Brandon to meet the viewer between playfulness and subversion in an exhibition like Sensible Disobedience.

The following writing was made in response to Brandon’s practice and efforts to explore new modes for working through his ideas, as well as my own desire to bring this level of intuition and experimentation to art writing.


Image of Brandon Forrest Frederick’s work courtesy of the artist.


Photographs like


an aphorism

a truth

of everyday objects

that we all know


aim to




but not without


a certain poetry

in reflection

that comes from empathy


not declarative

or assertive

but a clear question


of ‘the everyday’

that feels elevating.


Faith placed

in observation

to share

to take with you

and consider

in daily interaction


a ‘something out of nothing’

like that cliché

of vernacular photographs.


Beauty in and of the everyday.


Transforming like

through the lens



decisions made

for photography


between us

the photograph

and the outside world.


Process like

an overly complicated means to an end

calling attention to what confounds

(see Rube Goldberg)

presented clearly




that perhaps art can be simple

but our ideas

and truths

are more often

somewhere in the mess.


Humor like

Science Fiction

a good way to talk about tough things

and tough times

with the ability

to stay light.


A rigid object


a signifier of culture

shared alien

collapsed space

stuffed soft

crumpled again

our combined laughters

are first ones of

Michelob Ultra

of consumption

and second of

extravagant photographic failures

and wit.


A flaccid pillow

a more obvious joke

not dumb



evolving from


avoids only partially

some underlying sadness

of the still image.


New work



lit from within

with the same punchline



a new gift

an archeological dig

through American habits


not the American spaces

we learned about

in Photo History.


Teaching and making

as learning


a new education

and new ideas

or shared ideas

and new vehicles.



guided by the process


not by what we already know.

SENSIBLE DISOBEDIENCE: DISRUPTING CULTURAL SIGNIFIERS IN A NEOLIBERAL AGE was curated by Lynnette Miranda -Charlotte Street’s Curator-in-Residence- and is up through April 22nd 2017 at La Esquina (1000 W. 25TH STREET KC, MO 64108)


The following piece is a fictional response to the performative exhibition Perfect Sunset (there’s nothing sad about it) by Kristen Cochran at Front/Space. The show centered around retirement parties and examined the idea of endings.


The cake was exactly the cake you’d expect. It tasted like every other cake you’ve ever had. Smooth white frosting in a thin layer over chocolate cake that was once fluffy. You taste the plastic fork in equal parts with the cake. Even so, it’s gone too quickly. You hold the empty paper plate and plastic forks like props. Your hands have an occupation. Very sensible.

Though Al is hanging up his shirt for the final time, though all that’s left are seams and cuffs, he buttons the tattered cloth, squares the shoulders onto the hanger before turning away. Ready for delicate retirement. Starched blues traded for a night in a tux, traded for a year of Bermuda shorts, traded for a blanket of earth, deep.

Al greets his guests, his handshake crisp with arrogance. He walks the way a cowboy would walk, knees never quite bending, swinging each leg out the side before bringing it forward, a meandering kind of step that demands space, a right to its own pace.

Excepting the bolo tie, the son is the embodiment of aspirational neutrality. He is here to tell the family story, the story of the acquisition of cars and homes, footnoted by changing heights of children. A white balloon looms and bobs over the corner of every projected slide, every image refracted through its white body. There is mic feedback. Exuberant laughter surrounds each image and the son’s self-effacing commentary, relieved by happy exhales in the dark intermission of slide changes.

We see a baby with mouth agape, mother’s lips a crescent, her smile forever at half mast. We see presents underneath a Christmas tree, a flood spreading across tan carpet, drowning the frame, the brother a cropped sidenote. We see a wedding party arranged tidily next to a server’s tray of sliced cake. We see three women, stuffing a turkey in a golden ratio, arms at Michelangelo angles. We see the story of the women’s movement as told by the purchase of mom’s new orange Camaro. We see a family clustered on the edge of the blank concrete patio of a shit-brown house, white clothes blinding the exposure.

This is farewell, after all: farewell to sales calls, farewell to coming home late, farewell to ladder rungs, farewell to profit, farewell to value.

Farewell to meaning, farewell to life entire, farewell farewell fare well.

Let us toast the new car, the borrowed boat, the new house, the vacation.

The wife grabs her gold glittered top hat and hikes up her starched white skirt, revealing legs shaped by white hose. Her head cocked, smiling into some imagined sunset, she begins tapping. Her tasteful white shoes tap out an unexpected rhythm. Her skin shimmers. The crowd is in upheaval; a reaction equal to a walrus leaping out of the water and performing Swan Lake, to a baby sticky with placenta reciting Shakespeare’s verse, to your mother cooking an edible meatloaf.

Let us toast the new car, the next house, the bigger lawn, another vacation, another new car. Let us toast the sun glinting off the windshield, never setting.

The woman in the blue suit embroidered with glass beads bats her empty eyes: “Why thank you so much for this lovely dinner. I just wish you and Hilda all the best!” She blinks. “I wish you all the happiness.” A beat, her eyes a vertiginous void. “Bon voyage!”

There is a man so sturdy that he could wear a pink shirt in 1988. He gestures across the room as his vowels are compressed and his words sprawled out. “Al said I made too much money,” his laugh like a cough. Thick hands cast out heavy words. “You taught me that…you taught me expense reports are creative writing.”

From the corner of the room, he says twice what a pleasure it was to have made Al’s acquaintance. At night, in his California King bed, watching ceiling shadows swell and recede, he would wonder if he had a voice. Or, if, instead, every sound was swallowed by the cosmos, inconsequential, if he himself would fade away, into the quiet dark, into a place where his house his children his fears his California King bed never existed at all.


In all the years Al worked at the window blinds company, his secretary never read the Vince Lombardi speech on the pegboard.


She recites now as tears fall on her broad yellow lapels.


“That’s Al,” she says, “It sure is.” A voice encourages the secretary with the lapels to finish.


Al’s red tie is violent against the hotel ballroom’s palette of grey and grey. He has the nonchalance of the entitled who’ve never asked questions, of one who carries blind trust in bounty. He describes his blessings: “Benito Mussolini did not get a dinner. Fidel Castro won’t get a dinner. Daniel Ortega didn’t get a dinner. But I, I have gotten a dinner I’ll not soon forget.” What color are his eyes? They look like something to be strung on a necklace.

He never did buy the boat he wanted. All he can think about now is the sea wind on his face. No windows to measure, no warranties to push, no telephone calls, no children, no earth to feel beneath his feet, or to be buried in.

A fog descends from the sky like a dog loosed from its chain; swooping through the open patio door, masking the clouds of white hair on women’s heads, embracing the white balloons as lost cousins, floating the white tablecloths, disappearing the guests into their final honeymoons.

You dreamt you had a body. And you wore a white-sequined shoulder-padded blouse. You flew over the water while the Indiana Jones theme song played. “There’s nothing sad about it,” you whispered.

BOIBOY: “A Place Called Home” / KC ART NEWS

BOIBOY recently debuted his first solo show at the UNDERGROUND
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space in the Leedy-Voulkos Building. Featuring a video installation, large cigarettes and pills, and paintings, his exhibition creates an illusionary home with indications of neo-Freudian oral fixation. BOIBOY speaks to KC ART NEWS about his inspiration and thoughts on his first solo. Video shot and edited on an iPhone by Mark Allen.

West 18th Street Fashion Show – KC ART NEWS

This year’s West zoloft reviews 18th Street Fashion Show, titled, “Ceremonial Summer,” was the biggest and most exciting show yet. Every year, the block between Baltimore and Wyandotte is closed off. Thousands of people filled the streets, the seats, and the roofs of buildings to catch a glimpse of taking clomid and evening primrose oil the withdrawal symptoms of cymbalta show.

Mark Allen interviews Gigi Harris, junior intern for Birdies, and Danielle Meister, co-owner of Birdies and a show producer, to see what they thought. Watch the video below for full coverage of the event.


Alt Reviews: Ethan Cook at Bill Brady KC

Is doge a perfect medium for visceral first reactions to contemporary art? A longer, more in-depth look at this show and others in the context of the West Bottoms to come in the next few days. For now, here’s our informal alt reviews:



tweets of micro criticism overheard last night


informal review 101:

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appropriating the doge meme for art criticism



Did you have a quick reation to any of the shows Friday night? Send your Tweets, Instagrams, memes, and more to editor@informalityblog.com or send it via our submit page.



PLUG Project’s Publication 8 1/2 x 11 is Online and Free!


Twice a year local gallery Plug Projects puts together a beautiful print – AND ONLINE – publication of art reviews, interviews, essays, and creative writing covering the Kansas City region called 8 1/2 x 11. Copies of the physical magazine are limited and are free at Plug Projects gallery space in the West Bottoms, or at Plug Boxes throughout the city (YJ’s, La Esquina, KCAI Campus) for a nickel.

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Issue #2 Spring/ Fall 2013 : features writing by Stephanie Bloss, Jose Faus, Jeff Eaton, Will Meier, Emily Kenyon, Derek Dobbins, Sarabeth Dunton, Amy Kligman, Lucas Wetzel, Halcombe Miller, Elizabeth Schurman, Blair Schulman, Melaney Mitchell, Maria Ogedengbe, Nika Winn, Phillip Bakala, Jessica Hogan and Stephanie Iser


Each issue is unbound in an envelope printed on standard sheets of 8 1/2 x 11 sheets of Paper , thus each writing corresponds to the image on the back side of the 8/12 x 11 sheet the works are printed on. As a collection of arts related critical writing, 8 1/2 x 11 is a fantastic way to participate in the written art dialogue in Kansas City. A second call for submissions for the next issue will be announced in the next few months. Be on the look out for that announcement. Until then, don’t be afraid to submit writing to us at Informality by visiting our SUBMIT page.