Four by Four

Kriegsman is chiefly known for her work in printmaking, so it's not surprising that all of her bas-reliefs are evocative of prints--even though they're not made of paper. The individual plywood panels, for instance, recall printing blocks or even movable type.

Jill Hadley Hooper is likewise interested in printmaking, but her work is radically different from Kriegsman's, and not just because she actually uses paper. Hooper incorporates painted, drawn and photographically reproduced images that she typically assembles to refer to issues in her everyday life. In "Cup," a linoleum block print embellished with pastel and casein, a woman in a chair is seen leaning over, bailing out her living room. The woman is Hooper, dealing with an unnamed personal problem. "Cup" is reminiscent of the sophisticated illustrations often seen in The New Yorker, and, in fact, a Hooper illustration was featured in the pages of that magazine last fall. (Hooper's artwork also has appeared in Westword.)

The other Hooper pieces in the O'Sullivan show are more painterly, even those in which she uses prints or photocopies. As a whole, they seem to be a refinement and critique of her earlier paintings, which have been exhibited frequently. As with those older paintings, the details of the recognizable figures and objects in these recent pieces have been blurred, and there's also an enigmatic quality to the narratives that leaves a disturbing aftertaste. "I always think my work is humorous," says Hooper, "but once I heard someone at an opening ask if the artist was present or had she already killed herself. I guess I'll have to work on that." But hopefully not too hard--the dark quality of Hooper's work is compelling.

Hooper loves to juxtapose unlikely elements. A swarm of bees covers a woman's neck in the surrealistic "Veil," and a real standout at the O'Sullivan is "Canary and Berries," which features a canary with the head of Hooper's mother eating berries off her wedding gown. "It's intended to be a flattering portrait about my mother putting a long and not-so-great marriage behind her," explains Hooper.

Unexpected subject matter also characterizes the paintings of Beverly Rosen, the last of the featured artists in the O'Sullivan show. Rosen, a former DU art professor, recently returned to her second home in the West Indies. But even from afar, she still holds her place on Denver's contemporary scene, as she has since the late 1950s. Here she is represented by just three large paintings, a continuation of her work of the last five years in which objects are alternately revealed and concealed within expressively painted fields of color. In the best of the lot, the triptych "Does Time Hold a Bell?," Rosen puts an expressionist abstract on either side of what looks like a schematic of a machine. She also incorporates cursive writing--a device that has become ubiquitous in contemporary art, but wasn't back when Rosen first came up with the idea more than thirty years ago.

This four-woman show is well worth seeing (those unfamiliar with the Regis campus should call for directions first). But don't go expecting a true group show. Rather than an artistic quartet, this interesting exhibit features four little solos.

Sally Elliott, Bethany Kriegsman, Jill Hadley Hooper, Beverly Rosen, through February 27 at the O'Sullivan Arts Center, on the Regis University campus, 458-3576.

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