Art Beat

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

Most of the time we expect to see historic Colorado art at Elizabeth Schlosser Fine Art (311 Detroit Street, 303-321-4786), but the gallery has also regularly shown contemporary art. Right now, for example, Schlosser is presenting Bernice Strawn, a show of recent sculptures by this well-known Colorado artist. Schlosser has presented an annual Strawn solo for the last five years.

Most of the pieces are wall-hung sculptures, and all have been assembled from twigs and found wood and metal. "A lot of artists use sticks and found pieces of wood," says Elizabeth Schlosser, the gallery's owner. "But [Strawn] was one of the first, and I think she's the best."

The majority of works on display are abstract-expressionist assemblages such as "Crossroads" (above), which is informal in its use of found planks and yet rigorous because of the simplicity of the composition and its strong diagonals. Strawn's finishes are beautiful; she paints some of the elements and leaves others in a natural state. She uses a lot of white and is generous with turquoise, blue and red, as well.

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A few of the sculptures aren't completely abstract, but refer to recognizable subjects -- specifically, boats. Strawn and her husband and fellow artist, Mel Strawn, live in the Arkansas River Valley in Southern Colorado, right along the river where small boats are an everyday sight during the summer. Canoes and kayaks are a favorite sculpture topic for Strawn; surely, many have seen her hanging kayak sculptures at the REI superstore. The boat pieces at Schlosser's are the living-room-sized versions of the gigantic REI pieces.

The Strawn show closes on December 23, and Schlosser gets back to historic art right after New Year's, with a show and sale of the Ethel Magafan estate, slated to open on January 4.

 
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