Located in the historic Hobbs Building in Kansas City’s West Bottoms district, Ricky Allman’s studio is a place where things happen fast. Alongside several large canvases stapled to the wall, a mobile cart sits ready with dozens of bits of blue tape, ready to mask and re-mask. Next to the cart is a heat gun that Ricky kindly demonstrates as the best way to dry acrylic paint even faster. Despite a leisurely personal demeanor that will allow for a conversation ruminating on the regional impulses behind senior pictures, or the contents of a reuben sandwich, notions of speed and explosiveness sit beneath these rounded pleasantries.

This quality of speed is evident in the content of Ricky’s work, too. Whereas otherworldly landscapes and physically impossible architectural structures are often simply contemplative and whimsical in the hands of other painters, the images on Ricky’s wall have dynamism and boldness. The paintings act as questions that demand answers, and the spartan efficiency of Ricky’s studio make those odd, colorful questions seem even more important.

Ricky is a 2011 Charlotte Street Award Winner, and his work will be on display in the Charlotte Street Visual Award Fellows Exhibition at the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art this Friday, September 9, from 6–8pm. Ricky and the other winners, Peggy Noland and Andy Brayman, will be giving lectures at 8:00pm.

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