Behind the Culligan are a pair of spectacular John Hull acrylic-on-canvas paintings. Hull, who lives south of Denver after many years back East, is interested in capturing the psychological tension of dangerous interactions. In this year's "Anvil of Despair," a shirtless man, his back to us, is being confronted by a cop with his gun drawn. The setting is a backcountry gas station at night, with the figure of a lonely stray dog in the foreground adding a particularly poignant touch. In "Where the Sidewalk Ends," a young woman is about to be assaulted. Hull's meticulous technique, reminiscent of the old masters', is a striking counterpoint to the criminal elements that are his chief subjects.
Judish has pushed the show to the limits of his gallery, extending it into a conference room and the office. In these elegant, if tight, spaces are several interesting things, including a dozen of Evan Colbert's paint-chip compositions titled "12 Colors." The Denver artist uses acrylic and ink on wood to create small panels that pair a color field with a printed name for each shade. Also found here is a 1996 oil painting encrusted with Austrian crystals by Boulder artist Kay Miller; Judish has just signed Miller as one of the gallery's regulars.
Surely there are some who will think that the two exhibits are copouts because they've been put together out of each gallery's closets and back rooms. But it hardly matters where the stuff came from when the strength of both shows is that they expose us to the varied work of so many different contemporary artists.
Landscape x 7 + 2 Upstairs & 3 Outside, through August 21 at the William Havu Gallery, 1040 Cherokee Street, 303-893-2360.
Summer Stock, through September 4 at Ron Judish Fine Arts, 1617 Wazee Street, 303-571-5556.