Art Beat

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

Right now at the Edge Gallery, there's a quartet of very different shows, each of which has its own strengths and weaknesses.

In the entry gallery is Theresa Ducayet: Architectural Textile, in which the artist combines sculptures and sewn silk-and-paper collages. The silk collages have small scraps of maps or magazine pages arranged in ordered grids that have been machine-sewn together. Some of these silk banners are hung in the way of the front entry, but they work better when they're flat against the wall.

In the center space, Night Mirror is a collection of recent paintings by Susan Smolinski that includes images and words painted straight on the wall. The narrative style, combined with the graffiti and sgraffiti, which is in black and white, gives this show an installation component. Smolinski's murky realism may illustrate a dream, since a dreamy image of a crude head, as seen in "Cold Star" (above), is repeated in several of the paintings.

In the back room, there's Woman as Object, a sculpture show by Stefuni McLaughlin that also has an installation feeling. McLaughlin painted the room a warm golden ocher, then covered the floors with sawdust. The honey-brown glow that results provides the perfect setting for her carved-wood sculptures and ceramics, also in natural shades.

Finally, in the basement, is the mushroom lab, an installation by French ex-patriot Viviane Le Courtois-Mitchell. As you descend the steps, you'll be able to smell the musty odor of the piece before you actually see it. Le Courtois-Mitchell has lined the walls with sheets of rice paper on which she has dried molds. This piece is not nearly as stomach-churning as the chewed licorice she showed at Pirate in January, but as she did in that piece, Le Courtois-Mitchell uses disgusting material to elegant ends.

All four of these interesting but uneven shows close this weekend. -- Michael Paglia

 
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