Archie Scott Gobber · Christopher Leitch · Jim Sajovic

The use of text is integral to the current work of Kansas City-based artists Archie Scott Gobber, Christopher Leitch and Jim Sajovic. WORD juxtaposes these three artists, highlighting their varying conceptual and visual approaches to the use of written language. Concurrently, Light Text presents a new group of neon works by New York-based artist Hank Willis Thomas. Widely known for his photo-based pieces, Thomas uses neon (and language) to continue to investigate the complexity of race in America in the 21st century. 

In the digital age, with the complexity of multi-culturism in a global society, what is the future of the visual/verbal in our present-day Tower of Babel? The three Kansas City artists in WORD – Archie Scott Gobber, Christopher Leitch and Jim Sajovic – offer very different and idiosyncratic answers, as WORD demonstrates. But they also share some important commonalities. Like the best word/art being created today, their work consciously acknowledges aspects of art historical precedents, while exemplifying new kinds of word/artforms that are deeply personal, subtly disturbing and truly unexpected. 

Gobber, Leitch and Sajovic have all rejected, hands down, the didacticism and anti-aesthetic stance of a previous generation of conceptualists. Each has insisted that aesthetics have a powerful and unforgettable presence in their work, even as the text holds center court. In their art, the overtly political and remorseless verbal language of the last several decades has given way to paintings and works on paper in which ambiguity and open-endedness rule, and where the viewer is encouraged to not just look but participate. If that proves somewhat destabilizing, so much the better. The “protocols of print” in our new network culture are disintegrating and reassembling in a manner yet to be fully determined, a fact that this exhibit poetically underscores.

An illustrated gallery guide, with essay by Elisabeth Kirsch, art historian/independent writer, Kansas City, will accompany the exhibition. The exhibition description above is excerpted from the forthcoming guide.

Born in Warrensburg, Missouri, in 1965, Archie Scott Gobber graduated from the Kansas City Art Institute in 1988. He has had solo exhibitions at Marty Walker Gallery in Dallas, Texas (2008); Gallery 210, University of Missouri, St. Louis (2008) and many exhibitions in the Kansas City area, including Review Studios Exhibition Space (2006, 2009), Writer’s Place (2005), Dolphin Gallery (1998, 2004), and Left Bank (1994). He has participated in group exhibitions at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art (2009), the Marty Walker Gallery, Dallas, Texas (2008, 2009); the Milo Gallery, Los Angeles (2008), the Milwaukee Art Museum (2004), the Lisa Flores and All Rise Gallery, Chicago (2007).

Christopher Leitch lives and works in Kansas City, Missouri, and is the Director of the Kansas City Museum at Corinthian Hall. He earned an MA in Visual Arts from Goddard College in Vermont, and a BFA from Kansas City Art Institute. His works have been included in solo and group exhibitions at the Boston Society for Arts and Crafts; the Brunnier Museum of Art, Iowa State University; Plymouth State College, New Hampshire; the Kansas City Jewish Museum; the H&R Block ArtSpace at Kansas City Art Institute; McAlester College Gallery of Art; Jan Weiner Gallery; and many others.

Born in 1943 in Chicago, Jim Sajovic received his BFA in painting from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, and his MFA from the University of Florida, Gainesville. His works have been exhibited at galleries and museums nationally and internationally, with solo exhibitions at the Daum Museum of Contemporary Art, Sedalia, Missouri (2005); the Lowe Gallery in Atlanta, Georgia (1997, 2000); the Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art, St. Joseph, Missouri (1998); Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, Iowa (1995, 1996); Leedy-Voulkos Art Center, Kansas City, Missouri (1991, 1993, 1995); and the Mulvane Art Museum, Topeka, Kansas (1990).