Fast and Loose

This contemporary survey is the opening volley and fond farewell of MoCAD's director.

This use of palette as a linking mechanism to propel us through the show also connects Guralnick's paintings to "Foxy," a sixteen-panel composition by Denver's Lauri Lynnxe Murphy. This artist also uses lots of orange and green, but "Foxy" explores feminist issues with a neo-pop attitude. In it, Murphy addresses female appearance -- hairstyles, in particular. She has incorporated photocopies, yarn and other found or ready-made materials into her acrylic paintings.

Turning around, we see a classic painting titled "Sticks and Stones," by Denver artist Trine Bumiller. Masuoka connects the Bumiller to the Murphy though the multi-part format used by both, then back to "Mirage" through the subtle and dusty palette Bumiller shares with Dickey. The two side panels, which are marked by crossing lines in Bumiller's triptych, contrast with the center panel, which has a pair of concentric circles formed by dots. Like all Bumiller paintings, "Sticks and Stones" has a luminous surface, the product of her application of layer after layer of oil glazes.

Leaning against the wall in a corner nearby is Denver sculptor Myron Melnick's subtly elegant cast-paper sculpture "Brancusi." The title refers to Romanian modernist sculptor Constantin Brancusi, and with it, Melnick pays homage to Brancusi's "Endless Column" sculptures created in the first half of the twentieth century. But instead of soaring skyward, as Brancusi's did, Melnick's seems to have fallen over. The repeated cubelike shape that undulates in and out of "Brancusi" reminds us of a similar device Dickey used to make her palm trees.

Detail of "Tongue Toys," by Standish Lawder.
Detail of "Tongue Toys," by Standish Lawder.
Colorado Biennial unfolds with Kim Dickey's "Mirage."
Colorado Biennial unfolds with Kim Dickey's "Mirage."


Through December 29
Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, 1275 19th Street

At this point, the show changes gears with "House Call," a small installation by Lawrence Argent, a teacher at the University of Denver who is generally regarded as a local master of installation. "House Call" is a deceptively simple piece made up of a wooden table placed at an angle to the wall. On top of the table is a translucent casting of an old doctor's bag that has been internally lighted. Next to the bag is a glass of water, and at the bottom of the glass is a mixing rudder -- straight out of a science lab -- that constantly rotates by means of the electromagnetic mechanism hidden under the table.

The dark brown table, which dominates "House Call," leads our eye to the mammoth "Hearts and Minds," a wall construction by Manitou Springs artist Floyd Tunson in which both painted and photographic elements have been laid down in a dark wooden frieze. Through the use of pop imagery, including handguns, targets and portraits of young black men, "Hearts and Minds" addresses the struggle of poor black youths stuck in a culture dominated by violence. Tunson, who is one of the state's great artists, just retired from teaching after more than thirty years at Palmer High School in Colorado Springs; he used some of his former students as subjects for the piece.

Adjacent to the Tunson is an installation called "mapping, in every room of my life," by Debra Goldman, a photography professor currently on leave from the University of Colorado at Denver. Hanging on the wall is a computer-generated black and white image of a jellyfish that is essentially abstract. Beneath it is a set of three small metal tables; on each is a stack of one hundred computer-generated reproductions. The stacks are held in place by flat metal bars.

Opposite this piece is "Me, the Flower and the Pistil," an organic figural abstraction by James Surls of Glenwood Springs. Hung from the ceiling, this sculpture is made of poplar, oak and steel, and it depicts a man's profile above a spiraling flower. Surls, who only recently moved to Colorado from Texas and has already earned a national reputation, was the first artist Masuoka selected for this exhibit.

In the corner, beyond and behind the Surls, is Linda Herritt's "As If," made of fabric and a rotating light. Herritt teaches at CU-Boulder but is currently on sabbatical. Her piece, in which she has draped the bottom of the corner of the room with red cloth, expresses a feminist ideology, as her work always does, by commenting on domestic environments.

Commenting on another aspect of everyday life is "American Master Works," by Denver's John McEnroe. The artist has built a group of organic sculptures, some of them sprayed with automotive paint and carrying chrome-plated marquee labels, including "Explorer." It's with heady pieces such as this one that McEnroe keeps his master smartass status. The joke is obvious: It is cars, not paintings, that are the greatest accomplishments of our culture.

Behind the McEnroe and through a doorway is Scott Massey's "Birth Weights," in which a group of articulated wooden cylinders are suspended on wires from the ceiling. The brackets that connect the wires to the ceiling and the cylinders are elaborately figured bronze casts that look positively art nouveau. The materials, in particular the dark-finished wood, remind us of Argent's, Tunson's and Surls's work.

The last three artists are grouped in the third and final leg of the show. They are united in their use of moving pictures in their pieces.

Eric Ringsby, who splits his time between Aspen and Wyoming, has stretched a translucent rawhide over a frame. Video of a rodeo is projected onto the rawhide, but the details are difficult to see and thus become dreamlike.

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