Every year at this time, Phil Bender presents a solo show at Pirate: A Contemporary Art Oasis (3659 Navajo Street, 303-458-6058). He's been doing this for more than twenty years, ever since he helped found the co-op in 1980 and became its driving force. This year's show, Paris, Paris Architecture, Etc, Etc., partly chronicles his recent trip to the French capital. While he was there, Bender did what he always does: He checked out the junk shops, looking for material to use in his art. The show features work made with Bender's Paris finds, as well as pieces procured from local stores. In the latter category is "Chevy Hubcaps" (above), a wall relief in the form of a grid of flattened Chevy hubcaps (the cruciform logo used by Chevrolet identifies them as such).
In the Associates Space is Don Carleno: new paintings, featuring work that is well within the stylistic parameters that the artist has been pursuing for the last ten years or so. Using traditional styles and techniques associated with the old masters, Carleno surrealistically imposes inappropriate elements. In this year's group, he combines religious images with occult ones. Most of the pieces are simultaneously intimate and creepy.
An exhibit called honey neck. david brady is seen in the tiny Treasure Chest. This informal conceptual show, which is not unrelated to Bender's, includes such impromptu sculptures as a split Close-Up toothpaste tube sticking out from the wall and a sculpture stand that supports a pair of red gumdrops.
Finally, in the Ilk @ Pirate space is Neil Irwin: slides of new work. Irwin has lined the walls with viewing racks made of wood painted flat black. Propped up on the racks are tiny abstract paintings that Irwin has mounted as slides, both standard slide mounts and oversized ones.
It's been quite a while since there have been four shows worth seeing at Pirate -- lately you'd be lucky to find one. But easy come, easy go, with all four closing this Sunday.