Artbeat

Brief sketches of what's happening in the Denver art scene.

The Cordell Taylor Gallery (2350 Lawrence Street, 303-296-0927) opened six months ago in a very unlikely place: across the street from several of the city's largest homeless shelters. This location creates a lively mix of activity on the sidewalk, and you might not want to tarry on your way from the car to the gallery's front door. Once inside, though, you'll be glad to have taken a risk on this neighborhood. The spacious interior is divided into an airy gallery and beyond it a smart-looking design studio and salesroom called Hammered Design.

The current fare, Internal Automata, was organized by director Ivar Zeile. It's a strong premier showing by exciting emerging artist Zach Smith.

For the last couple of years, Smith has been orchestrating performance pieces in which machines, ranging from levers to computers, are unleashed with a singular aim: to destroy one another. In the end, all that's left is landfill -- and the squeals of the happy youngsters who make up the audience. If you think of the cult hit Junkyard Wars, which airs on the Learning Channel, you've got an idea. Smith wasn't inspired by cable TV, but rather by SRL (Survival Research Laboratories), the West Coast performance troupe headed by Mark Pauline.

For his latest batch of work, Smith has refined his aesthetic interests considerably. He's abandoned performance and has instead created five sculptures. The sculptures are of two distinct types: mechanized (or in the case of one, computerized with a Texas Instruments Speak and Spell), and not. The two mechanized sculptures, "Carpal Resonance" and "Corporeal Oscillation" (detail seen above), are both activated by foot pedals, and though each is modest in its movements, the repetitive thrusting is fairly threatening anyway. One especially nice aspect of Smith's sculptures is the play of the wood, metal and machinery against each other. Smith's formal language is also very nice, with most of the sculptures composed of primarily tall and simple vertical stacks, many of which soar overhead.

The exhibit indicates that Smith is the first rising art star of 2002. Catch his accomplishments before January 19, when the show closes.

 
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