A Fresh Look

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

Installed in the front space at Fresh Art (208 South Broadway, 720-570-2255) is Boys Dreams, featuring a series of new paintings by Denver artist Steven Altman. And, to put it mildly, they are completely unexpected, perhaps even shocking, because instead of the kind of automatist abstractions he's been exhibiting since the early 1990s, these are representational pieces, sporting recognizable figures. Also new is the use of text and an oddball art material: felt.

Now there are a number of qualities that link these new and clearly transitional paintings to the older, better-known abstracts. There are the predominating monochromatic color fields that unify the individual pieces, just like before. There are the colors -- red, silver, light green -- which also recall earlier works. Plus, as always, there is Altman's taste for spare compositions in which a few economical lines are used to fill in the entire picture. All of these attributes are displayed in "Incognito" (above), one of the most successful of the batch. (Is it just me or do these new Altmans reflect the belated influence of Bill Stockman, a former Denver painter now living in San Antonio?)

Fresh Art director Jeannie Nuanes King has teamed Altman's paintings with carved and constructed marble sculptures by Vanessa Clarke. There are more Clarke sculptures in the second space, along with her large, retro-'50s abstract watercolors. Both the sculptures and the watercolors are composed of interlocking organic shapes. Also in the second space are a pair of Mark Brasuell paintings and a marvelous expressionist panel covered in cursive writing and scribbles done by King herself.

King has established a breakneck pace at Fresh Art, with a new show set for every month. So time's running out on Altman, Clarke and the rest; they're all coming down on January 26. -- Michael Paglia

 
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