"Little Black Dress," Oil on Canvas.
All Dressed Up
7 a.m.-3 p.m. and 5:30-10 p.m.
1719 W. 39th St.
Kansas City, MO
Hours: 7 a.m.-3 p.m. and 5:30-10 p.m. Monday-Wednesday and Saturday, 7 a.m.-3 p.m. and 5:30-midnight Thursday-Friday.
Runs through: Sept. 11.
Not to get into the whole "Men and women are different" bit, which is the stuff of third-rate comedy and secondhand ideas, but the idea of getting dressed up doesn't come with equal baggage for both genders. We guys tend to get extra credit for putting on a blazer and knotting our own neckwear ... but the level of scrutiny gets ratcheted way up for women in the same situation.
So when Suze Ford created a series of paintings with classic party dresses as the dominant image, the statement was one of more than fashion.
Consumed with images and emotions of memories, dreams, faith, expectations, history, words, journals, colors, text, space, textures, culture, gender, identity, even lyrics and melodies, I find myself striving to make sense of it all, she writes. Sometimes it creates an overwhelming feeling of chaos. This is the inspiration for my work.
Everything on the "consumed by" list either is or can be involved in "dress-up" situations ... and more so for one gender than the other.
It's not a hopeless tale, though — and there's an elegance to Ford's brand of colorful chaos, which is on display through Sept. 11 at the Volker Neighborhood location of Room 39.
The simple lines of the dresses (as in Little Black Dress, pictured above) counterbalance and complement the riots of background color that are the hallmark of her paintings, each showing the other off to best effect.
My work comes from a perception of life as a girl, an adolescent and a woman, Ford writes. I like to think I illustrate an optimistic view point on the melancholy and awkwardness life can bring. The variable in all of this work is the place that each viewer comes from. One’s own life experiences are what define the story of each piece.
(To reinforce that ambiguity, all of the dresses are empty. Viewers are free to picture anyone they choose wearing them, for any variety of reasons.)
It's a beautiful, brainy body of work ... All Dressed Up and with all sorts of interesting places to go, for the eyes and mind alike.