Stop by the Belger Arts Center on Friday for a riveting look at an important chapter of Kansas City history.
By ALICE THORSON
The Kansas City Star
During World War II, 21,000 people worked 24 hours a day designing and testing Double Wasp airplane engines at the citys Pratt & Whitney Plant in what is now known as the Bannister Federal Complex.
As recounted in The Pratt & Whitney Aircraft Story, published by the company in 1952, the engines promptly went into battle action, playing an important role in the Battle of the Bulge and other conflicts in Europe and the Pacific.
After the war, activity changed at the 3-million-square-foot plant, part of a 10-building complex designed by the Detroit-based Albert Kahn Co. Different firms and government agencies moved in and out. By the end of this year, all federal employees will be moved out.
When the government decides to vacate or sell a property, certain rules kick in. First it is required by law to determine whether the building is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, and if it is, the property must be documented for posterity.
Four years ago, the government hired Kansas City architectural historian Cydney Millstein to fulfill those tasks, and it is her research that forms the basis of the Belger exhibit, titled Velocity of Change: The Evolution of Albert Kahns Pratt & Whitney Plant in Kansas City.
Theres something for everyone. I dont think anyone will be disappointed, Millstein said. Its not just a chapter of Kansas City history, its a chapter of American history and the involvement of Pratt & Whitney in World War II and what the plant manufactured.
The exhibit features large-format photographs of the plant as it looks today by Richard Welnowski, commissioned by the Historic American Engineering Record in conjunction with Millsteins research, and historical images, provided by Albert Kahn Associates in Detroit.
Richards exterior images are phenomenal, Millstein said. You cant imagine the scale of these buildings. The historic photographs include an interior image of a test cell where they actually tested the Double Wasp engine.
The show also features historical written materials, she said, such as letters from the Royal Institute of British Architects and a copy of the Congressional Record from 1942 that talks about the importance of architect Albert Kahn.
Millstein, whose research resulted in the plant being on the national register, believes the core of the complex is worth saving if one considers the ongoing activities and how it interfaced with national security.
According to my sources, the fate of the building is yet to be determined, she added. Its an extraordinary building from a design and architecture standpoint and its connection with World War II.
And Kahn was an extraordinary architect. Find out more Thursday at a free lecture at the Kansas City Design Center.
At La Esquina
If you enjoyed Danny Orendorffs first show, Well Make Out Better Than Okay (the one with the giant talking sock puppet), you wont want to miss his second one. In The Tyranny of Good Taste, the 2013-2014 Charlotte Street Foundation curator-in-residence gives free rein to his interest in do-it-yourself and craft-based works.
The exhibit features works by 15 artists from around the country, and like Well Make Out Better, keys off the nations economic condition.
During a time of extreme economic turmoil, those included have developed abnormally resourceful and strategically inventive means by which to produce uncommonly experimental art forms, Orendorff states in the news release.
Look for works created from a variety of low-cost and lowbrow materials, from craft store finds to junk food and items rescued from landfills.
Willmotts at the Guild KC
Its a family affair at the Guild KC, where the opening of William Willmotts one-night exhibition William Willmott Presents Neon Nicodemus, will include a showing of Destination: Planet Negro! a new film by his father, Kevin Willmott, associate professor of film and media studies at the University of Kansas.
Working in their respective mediums, father and son present fictional narratives. William Willmotts two-dimensional works stem from his observation that In the past, African-Americans essentially had no place in the future. In Kevin Willmotts film, black leaders from the 1930s decide to solve the Negro Problem by heading to outer space.
The evening will also include performances by Cowboy Winter, a Madison, Wis. band with Kevin Willmott II in its lineup, and Middle Twin from Lawrence.
Base Gallery at Spyn Studio
Eugenia Ortiz: Reflection
When: Friday (6-9 p.m. reception ) through March 29.
Hours: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday, noon-4 p.m. Saturday and by appointment
Where: 2011 Baltimore Ave.
Have a Steadfast Valentines Day!
When: Friday (reception 6-9 p.m.) through Feb. 27
Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday
Where: 1922 Baltimore Ave.
Belger Arts Center
Velocity of Change
When: Friday (reception 6-9 p.m.) through May 3
Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesday-Friday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays and 10 a.m.- 9 p.m. First Fridays
Where: 2100 Walnut St.
Carter Art Center Gallery at MCC-Penn Valley
Converging Dialogues: Bess Duston, Cheryl Gail Toh, Heinrich Toh
When: Friday (reception 6-9 p.m.) through March 7
Hours: 1 to 5 p.m Tuesday-Friday; noon-3 p.m. Saturday; 1-9 p.m. First Friday
Where: 3201 Southwest Trafficway
City Ice Arts
Synchronized: Group Show
When: Friday (reception 6-9 p.m.) through March 1
Hours: Noon-5 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and by appointment
Where: 2015 Campbell St.
1522 Saint Louis
The Soviet Pen Pals of Johnny Naugahyde
When: Friday (reception 6-10 p.m.) through March 29
Hours: noon-5 p.m. Saturdays and by appointment
Where: 1522 Saint Louis Ave.
The Gallery at Christ Community
Shane Evans: Childrens Books, a Love Story
When: Friday (reception 5:30-9 p.m.) through Feb. 28
Hours: By appointment
Where: 1708 Baltimore Ave.
Greenlease Gallery at Rockhurst University
Sunday Painter: Kansas City Plein Air Coterie
When: Friday (reception 7-9 p.m.) through March 15
Hours: noon-5 p.m. Thursday-Saturday
Where: 54th Street and Troost Avenue
The Guild KC
William Willmott presents Neon Nicodemus
When: Friday (reception 6-9 p.m.), includes 7:30 p.m. film showing and musical performances. One night only.
Where: 1621 Locust St.
Kultured Chameleon Street Art Gallery
Art and Soul, Its My Thing: A Group Show
When: Friday (reception 6-11 p.m., featuring soul music by DJ Joc Max. through March 1
Hours: noon-7 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday
Where: 1739 Oak St.
The Tyranny of Good Taste
When: Friday (reception 6-9 p.m.) through March 29; curator gallery talk 2 p.m. Saturday
Hours: noon-5 p.m Wednesday, Friday, Saturday; 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Thursday
Where: 1000 W. 25th St.
Leedy-Voulkos Art Center
Wonder Women: SHEroes, Freedom Fighters and Women Who Kick Butt!
Amanda Lechner: Signals
Gorgeous & Outrageous: The Art of Tony Naponic
P&M Artworks presents Divine, a juried exhibition
The Fishnets Experiment: Chapter 3
When: Friday (reception 6-9 p.m.). Wonder Women and Lechner through March 29; Naponic, Divine and Fishnets through March 1.
Hours: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Thursday through Saturday
Where: 2012 Baltimore Ave.
The Late Show
Annual Valentines Group Show
When: Friday (reception 6-10 p.m.) through Feb. 22
Hours: 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday and by appointment
Where: 1600 Cherry St.
Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art
Contemporary American Indian Art
When: Friday (reception 6-8 p.m., with a 7 p.m. lecture by artist Jeffrey Gibson) through May 18
Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday; noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Closed Monday.
Where: 12345 College Blvd., Overland Park
Red Star Studios at Belger Crane Yard Studios
Fervor: Works By Brooke Noble, Mariko Paterson, & Justin Rothshank
When: Friday (reception 6-9 p.m.) through March 29
Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesday-Friday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays and 10 a.m.-9 p.m. First Fridays
Where: 2011 Tracy Ave.
Sherry Leedy Contemporary Art
Warren Rosser: The Space Between
Arnie Zimmerman: Slabs, Tubes and Holes
Chris Gustin: Breath
When: Friday (reception 7-9 p.m.) through March 22
Hours: 11a.m.-5 p.m., Tuesday-Saturday and by appointment
Where: 2004 Baltimore Ave.
Slap-n-Tickle 7th Annual Erotica Art Show
When: Friday (reception 6-11 p.m., with Bawdy Burlesque at 8 p.m. and Molly Gene at 9 p.m. $5 suggested donation at the door) through Feb. 22
Hours: Noon-4 p.m. Feb. 8, 5-10 p.m. Feb. 14 and by appointment
Where: 504 E. 18th St.
The Writers Place
If Not Now Then When
Mixed media by Paseo Academy senior Kimberly Ann Chexnayder
When: Friday (reception 2- 4 p.m.) through April 4
Hours: 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, and by appointment
Where: 3607 Pennsylvania Ave.
What was so special about Albert Kahns design for the Pratt & Whitney plant in Kansas City?
Find out tonight at the Kansas City Design Center, 1018 Baltimore Ave., where Charles Hyde, professor emeritus of history at Wayne State University in Detroit, will give a free lecture, The Pratt & Whitney Kansas City Aircraft Engine Plant: Innovative Architecture for War Production, at 6 p.m. Arrive at 5:30 for a happy hour reception; after the lecture Hyde will sign copies of his latest book, Arsenal of Democracy: The American Automobile Industry in World War II, which will be available for purchase.