Earthly Delights

A block down Wazee Street at the CSK Gallery is another solo show, this one showcasing the work of a longtime Denver artist. Mark Dickson: New Works on Canvas and Paper, closing this weekend, also features abstracts inspired by the landscape (or, perhaps more accurately, by Dickson's own earlier abstractions of the landscape).

Dickson's exhibit includes only three paintings, which have been supplemented by more than a score of prints. Some of these prints, most of which are altered monotypes, have been pulled on-site at CSK's Graphic Atelier; the others are from Dickson's personal print studio. The paintings and the prints are all untitled.

In the three paintings, Dickson juxtaposes hard-edged geometric shapes with soft-focused organic ones. The paint has been thickly applied as though troweled on with a knife. And Dickson has toned up his colors, which he arranges in sometimes startling combinations. The best painting here sets orange against teal and raspberry, a successful color scheme with a jarring effect.

The same hard-to-soft tension is created in the prints, all beautifully done and more consistently fine than Dickson's paintings. But while the paintings make reference to the horizon, reminding the viewer that Dickson's subject is the landscape, the prints are less clearly related to terra firma--with the exception of one older piece that looks like an aerial shot of a grid of farm fields. In fact, these prints are essentially constructivist compositions, made up of vaguely geometric forms offset by drawn spirals and zigzags in crayon or pastel.

Considering the great antipathy many contemporary artists show for the tradition of landscape painting, it's more than a little interesting to find two abstract artists who have embraced it. Even if Scott and Dickson arrive at very different destinations, both begin at the same place: in the landscape of the mind's eye.

Sam Scott: New Paintings, through March 2 at the Robischon Gallery, 11740 Wazee Street, 298-7788.

Mark Dickson: New Works on Canvas and Paper, through March 2 at CSK Gallery, 1637 Wazee Street, 436-9236.

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