By Show and Tell
By Byron Graham
By Jamie Siebrase
By Bree Davies
By Zoe Yabrove
By Zoe Yabrove
By Jamie Siebrase
By Emilie Johnson
Nearly twenty years ago, the controversial Schrsder was one of the founders of the influential Pirate co-op, the flagship space of Denver's alternative art world. He left that group soon after it started, only to return briefly a few years ago; today Schrsder is a key player in the Denver Salon, a collective of fine-art photographers organized by Mark Sink.
Farther up Wazee street is that perennial favorite, the Robischon Gallery, which is hosting both Evanescence and On the Occasion of Dreams. Evanescence pairs Kansas City star Robert Stackhouse with Empire-based talent Don Stinson. Stackhouse is given the gallery's double-sized front space, while Stinson occupies the two spaces behind, an arrangement that allows each artist's work to be seen alone and in depth.
Stackhouse has gained a national reputation as a watercolorist and as an installation artist. In the pieces selected by gallery co-directors Jim Robischon and Jennifer Doran, both of these interests are reflected even in the absence of any installation pieces. That's because some of the watercolors on display are elements from installations, while others are conceptual sketches of the installations themselves.
Among the paintings from installations is "The Last Snake," which is hands down the strongest painting in Stackhouse's half of the show. The piece is a 1998 watercolor on paper applied to canvas. The large square painting, which dominates the front of the gallery, is made up of four joined panels. Spiraling out of the center is a large red snake enveloped by a variegated black ground.
The second type of Stackhouse, the concept image, is represented by another important watercolor, the subtly hued "K.C. Way" of 1996. The painting looks like an architectural rendering that reveals the curving skeletal walls of the installation "K.C. Way," which was a temporary, site-specific piece erected at the Kansas City Art Institute. Stackhouse's three-dimensional work is most often temporary, so even though "K.C. Way" is long gone, the watercolor remains a permanent marker of the installation.
Stackhouse's watercolors and installations are concerned with mysticism; his personal iconography includes serpents, wings, boats and architecture--all of which are evocative in their own ways.
The Stinson paintings are more down to earth--in fact, they depict the earth itself. Stinson's wide-angle landscapes are set in the West, and his format is exaggeratedly horizontal, reflecting the character of the outdoors. His signature is to juxtapose the majesty of nature with the detritus of humanity. A while ago Stinson painted picturesque mountain scenes with garish trailers in the foreground; for the last few years he's captured abandoned drive-in movie theaters. The artist imparts to these scenes a sense of loss and melancholy, but they're not angry, like the older trailer paintings. In these newer paintings, Stinson reveals his love not just for the mountains, but also for the solitary movie screen he uses as his dominant pictorial element. A good example is an elegant and monumental 1998 diptych, "The Necessity for Ruins," which is painted in oil on a pair of panels that have been hung with a wide separation. The left panel is horizontal, and in the foreground, the silver-and-white screen faces a field of golden prairie grasses that have grown over the parking lot. The top of the screen runs diagonally against the deep blue sky, where wispy clouds also float diagonally before fading away. Smaller and square, the other panel shows a view of the foothills in the background.
There is only one Stinson painting in the show that does not concern abandoned drive-ins. In "Crossing the Corridor," a 1998 oil on panel, the mark of civilization is instead the highway that fills the painting's foreground and mid-ground. At first glance this looks like a typical mountain landscape--there's even a peak in the center of the picture. But instead of an idyllic field in the foreground, tire tracks on the road's shoulder run all the way across the bottom of the painting. Under the mountain's peak, there's a tiny viaduct that in a traditional landscape might have been an interruption but here is downright charming.
In the recently created Viewing Room Gallery, beyond the main galleries, is the small but smart exhibit On the Occasion of Dreams, which features an array of large paintings by an old reliable, Berthoud's Wes Hempel. Among Hempel's familiar surrealist images of floating buildings is a recent and unusual one. In "Cloud Hospital," an oil on canvas done earlier this year, the expected landscape background has been replaced with an expanse of storm-tossed ocean.
Other paintings reflect Hempel's growing interest in painting the human figure while referring to the history of art. In another recent oil on canvas, 1998's "Practice," a luminous young man in contemporary garb stands before a dark sea with breakers in the background that looks as if it came out of the nineteenth century. The man, wearing jeans but with his shirt off, looks down at his hands in wonder. Hempel has based the figure of this painting, and others of its type, on photographs he has taken of the denizens of weight rooms. Like the Greeks and the old masters, his figures display idealized physiques meant to create a timeless quality even while his models sport current haircuts and attire.
Find everything you're looking for in your city
Find the best happy hour deals in your city
Get today's exclusive deals at savings of anywhere from 50-90%
Check out the hottest list of places and things to do around your city