Art Beat

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

RedShift Gallery, which combines a frame shop with a minimal exhibition space -- just a few walls, really -- has been framing for ten years and presenting art shows for the past five. But it's only been in its current location in the Ballpark neighborhood for the past two years. "We used to be on the 1400 block of Wazee, but we left when everyone else did," says owner Ron Phelps. "The parking had gotten impossible." The gallery is now showing Bill Amundson: Drawings & Constructions, which closes January 29.

Amundson is well-known not just as an artist, but as a media star and raconteur. His drawing style is renowned for its careful attention to detail. Many of his drawings make a comment on society, such as the tract housing that he lampoons in some of them. Others are more surrealistic, like 1999's "Longhorn" (above), a pencil-drawn portrait of a beefy businessman with animal horns on his head. Another mythical creature appears in "Medusa," in which a fat old man smoking a cigar has snakes coming out of his American Legion cap.

Amundson's drawings are so meticulous they're almost fanatical, but even more over the top are his sculptural constructions, which include scores of hand-carved and -painted elements. One of them, "United States Marine Corps Memorial Lounge and Disco," which has been exhibited before, is spectacular.

Amundson's work with pencil or chisel is interesting because of the ways in which he combines breathtaking technical skill with a sense of humor. This allows him to wear a straight face as he looks at topics with his tongue placed firmly in his cheek.

 
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