Art Beat

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

The Edge Gallery is highlighting the work of two artists who couldn't be more different from one another. In the front space, Gail Wagner features the artist's sophisticated abstract sculptures; in the back is Wendy Clough: Recent Work, a collection of representational paintings of the landscape.

Upon entering Edge, the viewer is engulfed in a Wagner-created world of fiber pieces that seem to be inspired by sea life, such as "Outgrowth" (above). With the exception of one multi-part piece on the floor, most of Wagner's sculptures are hung on the wall, and all of her works appear to be made in the same way. Using a cable stitch and thick cording, the artist creates cones, spheres or pockets; some have armatures inside so they hold their shape, while others have been stiffened with paint.

Painting the fiber forms is a brilliant idea, since it allows Wagner to show off her skill as a colorist. The shades she chooses, often a group of related tones of the same color, always complement each other beautifully. Also wonderful are the plastic fruit and hotdogs she has attached to some of the sculptures. The plastic decorations dangle like chic bangles on a flashy cocktail dress.

Clough's quirky paintings are quite different. These are mostly small -- some extremely so -- and they've been put in antique-looking frames, many of them gilded. All concern a red tree or trees in a dark, predominantly brown landscape. Their mood is either dreamy or nightmarish -- it's unclear which.

What is clear is that both shows are well worth checking out -- and soon, because they close this weekend.

 
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