Art Beat

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

There are two compelling shows at the Emmanuel Gallery on the Auraria campus through tomorrow: Jerry Allen Gilmore on the main floor, and Christopher Nitsche in the loft.

The Gilmore show is made up of drawings and paintings that combine abstract painting techniques such as splashes, drips and runs with rudimentary depictions of recognizable subjects like the figure and boats. In the mixed-media drawing The Fisherman’s Hat,: the artist places a nude male figure done in a primitive style with a boat and a motif of repeated crowns. The figure is the fisherman; the crown is his hat. Nautical themes are also seen in A truly glorious wake: and the closely associated So long to find a simple soul,: both in oil on canvas. There’s a rowboat at the center of each picture.

The sea and shipping are Nitsche’s main concerns, as well. A couple of his sculptures have been placed among the Gilmores, but the pièce de résistance is Wotan (Withering),: an ambitious installation (detail above) that looks like a shipwreck, complete with little lifeboats. The piece looks rickety and dangerous with its hundreds of pounds of assembled wooden debris looming threateningly overhead, and as you climb the stairs, you may be tempted, as I was, to cover your head. It’s the effect Nitsche wanted, but he assured me that Wotan: is safe, since there’s a substantial armature underneath that holds the whole menacing thing up.

These two shows may be the last events at Emmanuel to elicit the interest of those of us off campus for a while. Interim director Ken Peterson is stepping down, and the place will be run by an intra-campus committee. The verdict for the important fall-season schedule is already in, and it’s completely filled with faculty and student shows, which have, if you’ll excuse me, an invariably incestuous quality that’s of little interest to most of the town’s exhibition viewers. While there’s a role for these kinds of shows, it’s a shame that Emmanuel, which has always devoted a part of its calendar to them, is now stuck with them all the way through the fall art season.

 
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