Art Beat

Michael Paglia's brief sketches of what's happening in the Denver art scene.

Using Your Faculties is a three-part exhibition series at the Emmanuel Gallery that features the work of the art instructors at Auraria's three institutions of higher learning. Part two of the series, which showcases talent from the University of Colorado at Denver, is on display now and runs through December 16.

With the notable exceptions of John Hull and Debra Goldman, most of these artists rarely display their work around town, so it's an excellent opportunity to take a local look at the talents of Lorre Hoffman, Ernest Porps, James McElhinney and Moyo Okediji, among others.

But the real appeal of the show is on the second floor, in a section that honors the late John Fudge, who was among the first art teachers at UCD. The most remarkable painting here is also the oldest. "Last Judgement (Good Golly, Miss Molly)," an oil on canvas from 1965, is more painterly than Fudge's newer compositions. The style is representational and not hyper-realist like the more characteristic "Catalogue Shopping," an acrylic on canvas from 1995 (above).

The artist's widow, Jane Fudge, an assistant curator at the Denver Art Museum, has written that to her, the appeal of these paintings, in which unlikely elements are juxtaposed, is their ability to make her laugh. She writes that even after John's death last August, "they still make me laugh."

Not funny is the disturbing undercurrent that's there in Fudge's paintings as well. Also no laughing matter is that during his life, honors like this presentation eluded him, but now that he's dead, they're being heaped on his memory by the bucketful.

 
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