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New art exhibit offers peek into one of Kansas City’s most exclusive collections

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Posted at 9:10 AM, Sep 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-08 10:10:48-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — People visiting the Kansas City Art Institute Gallery over the next five weeks will be able to see one of the region’s preeminent private art collections.

Sue and Lewis Nerman have loaned 16 works from their home to the gallery.

The special exhibit, titled “All Things Being Equal,” spotlights artists of color, including Kansas City native Harold Smith and KCAI graduate Nick Cave.

Gallery director Mike Schonhoff said the Nermans follow a motto of “searching, securing and sharing” when it comes to collecting fine art.

The pieces at the gallery are normally on display at the Nermans’ home.

“It [sharing the pieces at a gallery] allows the work to have another life outside of theirs,” Schonhoff explained. “It allows it to inspire someone else, which is what great art can do. It allows it to be seen a little bit differently.”

Lewis Nerman followed his parents, Jerry and Margaret, in collecting mostly contemporary and modern art.

The museum on the campus of Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kansas, is named after the family.

The exhibit at the Kansas City Art Institute Gallery in Kansas City, Missouri, is free and open to the public Thursday through Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. Reservations are available on the school’s website.

One highlight of the exhibit is a piece by Hank Willis Thomas named "Refusal."

It shows one man on a large canvas. When viewers turn off the overhead light and shine a flashlight directly at the piece, it reveals the one man is the only person in a group refusing to give the Nazi salute.

The exhibit includes paintings, sculptures and mixed media works of art.