By Show and Tell
By Bree Davies
By Bree Davies
By Cory Casciato
By Emilie Johnson
By Robin Edwards
By Bree Davis
By Josiah M. Hesse
The O'Sullivan Arts Center is just a couple of big rooms in an old, nondescript building on the Regis University campus. But somehow, there's always a good show on display, like the impressive Bill Joseph: A Retrospective, which fills the place now.
Joseph, who has been making art in Denver for over fifty years, is best known as a sculptor. During his illustrious career, he gained many commissions for public monuments and outdoor fountains. In downtown Denver, where there are only a few public works of art, there are two by Joseph: the "Christopher Columbus Memorial," from 1970, which stands in Civic Center Park; and 1975's "Beaumont Fountain," near the intersection of 18th Street and Broadway. Joseph also made a specialty of liturgical commissions, creating candlesticks, crucifixes and tabernacles for dozens of area churches.
The show opens with a monumental earthenware bust, "Van Duzer," from 1952. It is robust and animated, even if it's mostly naturalistic. More conventionalized and abstract is "Rachael," a woman's uplifted head modeled in 1948 but displayed here in a 1999 bronze cast. The patina is a mottled gray and quite beautiful. "Reflections" (above), from 1998, is one of the newer busts and includes an added abstract element that Joseph calls a "shadow." It has a dull golden patina.
Another hot-from-the-forge piece is 1999's "Observer," a seven-foot-tall bronze figural group consisting of a seated man and standing child. It was recently acquired by Regis and is installed in the entry of Carroll Hall, just a short walk across campus from the O'Sullivan.
A revelation of the show is that Joseph is apparently as adept at painting as he is at sculpture. Especially nice are his paintings of the last twenty years; they are representational, with a Picassoid twist. This characteristic is seen in "Couple #1" and "Couple #2," a matching pair of oil paintings from 1977.
Joseph has exhibited his work only a few times in the last twenty years, and that makes this show, which closes on March 2, something extremely rare and very special.