Outside In

At Havu's, nature and the landscape provide the inspiration for a group show of contemporary paintings.

In "Groundwork," an acrylic-on-canvas diptych, the separate panels are subtly revealed. The predominant line, a horizontal bar at the top, runs at a right angle to the central joint of the diptych, which is further disguised by the heavily painted brownish field that makes up most of the piece. In "Santa Monica Mountains Burn," another acrylic-on-canvas diptych, Hillhouse highlights the central joint of the diptych by pairing a panel of purply gray with a reddish-brown one.

"Landmark," another acrylic on canvas, is an unusual stacked diptych. Hillhouse nearly fills the bottom panel with green, brown, yellow and red smears conveying the earth, and blue streaks over pink for the sky. This painting is one of the best of the group; surely that's why the title of the show was taken from it.

Another standout is "Random Streams," a twelve-foot-long mixed media on canvas. On a field of green, red and yellow, dark lines weave their way in and out. Unfortunately, the horizontal painting has been hung very high above the floor, between the west windows and the ceiling. This makes it hard to see from the first floor; from the mezzanine, the view is at least adequate.

"Santa Monica Mountains Burn," by Jeremy Hillhouse, oil on canvas.
"Santa Monica Mountains Burn," by Jeremy Hillhouse, oil on canvas.

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Through November 25
303-893-2360
William Havu Gallery, 1040 Cherokee Street

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Under the mezzanine are the photo-realist works of Navratil, the last of the three artists in this show. For the past ten years, Navratil has been painting landscapes based on his own photographs, but he gives the well-established style of photo-realism a few tweaks, including the unnatural colors he uses and his heavily painted surfaces, visible upon closer examination. From a slight distance, the paintings look like computer-generated photos, but up close the effect evaporates, since Navratil has applied the paint fairly thickly. This technical accomplishment is undeniable, and Navratil obviously has some astounding hand-eye coordination.

He's also gifted with composition, as seen in the sweeping "Roxborough," an acrylic on canvas in which the state's famous red-sandstone rock formations are off to the side and near the top, and in the three "Ancient Bristlecone" paintings, in which tight closeups of the oft-photographed Bristlecone pine trees are the subject.

In addition to the featured works, Havu has supplemented Landmark with sculptures by Jerry Wingren and a group of abstracts by Michael Gadlin.

Wingren, who lives in the mountains west of Boulder, is represented by sculptures displayed outside the front door and behind the gallery in the courtyard shared with the Grand Cherokee lofts as well as a group of small soapstone sculptures displayed on pedestals scattered through the show inside. The small sculptures depict houses and buildings, which is a kind of sight gag, since they're set among the landscape paintings. Taken together with Wingren's outdoor pieces, Havu is essentially presenting an ad hoc Wingren show alongside Landmark.

The Gadlins, which are great, are hanging upstairs. Though this Denver-based artist has shown several times around town during the last few years, these paintings mark his introduction at Havu.

Gadlin does collages and mixed-media paintings. The paintings are really well done, especially the large ones like the luxurious "Instructions on How to Move Mountains & Part the Sea," "Elements of Something Beautiful" and its companion, "Elements of Something Beautiful Outside." Stylistically, there's a retrospective character to Gadlin's paintings that is reminiscent of early-modernist abstractions.

Both Wingren's sculptures and Gadlin's paintings work beautifully with the Landmark show.

For a while it seemed that Havu had been somewhat stymied by his incredibly spacious and elegant gallery complete with its own building and sculpture garden -- too many options, perhaps? -- and as a result, different styles of art often collided unpleasantly, or at the very least, annoyingly. But Landmark, which comes on the heels of the successful Shark lithography show, makes it clear that Havu is beginning to better figure out how to get the most from his space.

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