Major Leagues

A similar mix of "major" abstract and representational art is seen in the Open Press companion show. But in this case, everything was made right on the premises, in Lunning's back-room print shop.

Lunning is not just a print technician, he's a fine artist as well. The best proof of this is the untitled monoprint in which he shows off his increasingly impressive etching technique. Lunning has placed a small vertical etching of a scribble next to a large view of a sidewalk receding into a halo. For the capper, he has saturated the paper with ink, rendering the colors absolutely luminous.

So what group show of important locals could possibly leave out Denver legend Dale Chisman? Not one put together by Lunning, who here showcases two Chisman prints. The striking colors Chisman achieves in his monotype "OP 194" are the kind of accomplishments that earned him his imposing reputation. Using a rich, nearly metallic golden ocher and the blank paper as his ground, Chisman draws straight and curved lines in a deep, vibrant indigo.

Another great abstract print is "Untitled," a monotype by Lynn Heitler. Made up of a wide array of warm greenish and cool purplish grays, both in inks and in photo transfers, it strikes just the right tension between rectilinear elements and gestural ones. "Untitled" is a beautiful work of art.

Taking an entirely different tack is Joellyn Duesberry, one of Denver's most respected representational artists. Her monotype "Mt. Desert From Calf Island, Maine" is a lyrical scene of mountain and sea. This print looks like a watercolor, since the inks have been used at their most transparent and vaporous limit--the blues of the sea and the tans of the sand are sublime.

The only artist in either show to reveal the influence of pop art is Doris Laughton, a transplanted New Yorker who now works in a home studio in the foothills. "The Night's Scream," a monotype that incorporates stamped images and chine colle, brings together a menagerie of ducks and songbirds with humanoid figures and a tornado. And the compositionally surefooted Laughton is more than equal to the task of associating such disparate pictorial elements.

As one leaves Major Paintings and its mate, Major Prints, it's tempting to reflect on just how easy it really is to put together top-tier exhibitions. Rather than follow the latest trends, Hughes and Lunning simply chose to include important works by important artists. Now, wasn't that simple?

Major Paintings, through May 31 at Inkfish Gallery, 116 South Broadway, 715-9528.

Major Prints, through June 30 at Open Press, Ltd., 40 West Bayaud Avenue, 778-1116.

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