Art Beat

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

Though Steven Alarid lives in Dillon, heís exhibited his idiosyncratic paintings, watercolors and drawings in Denver for more than a decade. Currently he is the subject of a solo show in the front gallery at Pirate. Itís made up of pieces from his Empirical: series, which includes the untitled painting seen above.

These paintings were created over the past year and reveal the influence of abstract expressionism on his work, which makes sense, since Alarid was the recipient a couple of years ago of a prestigious award from the Pollock-Krasner Foundation. The foundation was named for husband-and-wife abstract expressionists Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner. Alaridís recent style seems to refer, at least broadly, to the early work of Pollock.

The Empirical: paintings represent a continuation of Alaridís efforts of the last five years or so. They are extremely dense in their compositions, with the artist applying a wide array of smears, dots, smudges, lines and scribbles, one on top of another. This chaotic approach is used both to flesh out and to obscure Alaridís ambiguous subject matter. His pictures are covered with disparate images, including line drawings of eyes, stars and checkerboards and, more often than not, hidden somewhere among all these things, thereís the face of a woman.

The use of metallic paints and amber glazes lends a satisfyingly luxurious quality to these paintings, and as a result, they gleam like jewels. In fact, they could be called downright decorative -- and, as this exhibit reveals, thatís no insult.

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