Spring Cleaning

Across from Bohm's weirdly wonderful paintings are the even weirder efforts by Karen Bozik featured in On Family: Portraits From the Carnival. Bozik obviously knows her way around a paintbrush, and her skill at capturing faces and figures is really quite accomplished. The best of these suggest the influence of medieval Persian miniatures; especially impressive is the border of lotus blossoms that Bozik runs across the bottom of "Lovers Drinking (US)." But these references to Persian art may be lost on many viewers, and where Bozik is less sure of her influences, as in "Ascension (Nancy)," we may recall instead the illustrations in the books that Hare Krishnas have a constitutionally protected right to sell at Denver International Airport.

Around the corner from the Associates Gallery is Pirate's intimate Treasure Chest, which is filled to the rafters--literally--with Ladders and Laundry, an interesting installation by Kathy Hutton. The floors have been painted a lovely terra-cotta shade, the walls an eerie green. Handmade ladders constructed of twigs hold up clotheslines hung with tea towels, which have been embroidered with pictures of hearts that tell a country-and-Western-type story of the mending of a broken one. The ladders are a fine metaphor, and the embroidered story is quite nice, but the lighting is obtrusive--something Hutton really needs to work on.

Just off the front door at Pirate is the space known as ILK at Pirate, which is run by a wholly independent cooperative that subleases the room. Showing there now is painter J. Hankinson Clark, who presents a very sweet series of multi-panel minimalist paintings in the exhibit Lighthouse From the Body. Clark has painted grids or strips of rectangular boards non-objectively with oil and encaustic, getting his greatest results when the paintings blend into a homogenous surface--as in the companion pieces "Lighthouse From the Body" and "Body From the Lighthouse." In the very cool "Mist," a vertical lineup of rectangular painted panels climbs the walls, interspersed with panels of painted glass.

Pirate isn't the only place with a great show right now. And Clark isn't the only local artist interested in minimalism, a style that is apparently going through a full-scale revival. Also taking a major interest in the minimal is Bruce Price, a relative newcomer to the Denver circuit whose work is being featured at Rule, one of the city's finest commercial galleries. Price's Between Rigor and Indulgence exhibit is very brief, but it's a good showcase for his talents.

Price is a protege of that master of local geometric abstraction, Clark Richert. And while the mentor's influence is clear in the younger artist's hard-edged approach, the new kid on the block is definitely setting off in his own direction. Price borrows from Richert the habit of using different levels of illusional space, but his work is much simpler in overall composition. In "First Cut," a gorgeous acrylic on canvas, he drips a large vertical field of orange paint over a soft acid-green ground. The whole thing is held in place by the dark and weighty blue field that tops off the piece.

All of the exhilarating art on display this spring must be the product of many hours of work by the artists over the bleak winter months. But it's not only the artists who've had to deal with privation and cabin fever; exhibition-goers have, too. That may explain why several of these exhibits have sprouted those wonderful black dots the way lawns are now sprouting dandelions. The dots--which indicate that works have been sold--mean that many people are again putting their money where their art is. And that's what really makes the art scene grow.

Works by Linde Schlumbohm, J. Hadley Hooper, Nancy Bohm, Karen Bozik, Kathy Hutton and J. Hankinson Clark, through May 4 at Pirate: A Contemporary Art Oasis, 3659 Navajo Street, 458-6058.

Between Rigor and Indulgence, through May 3 at Rule, 111 Broadway, 777-9473.

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