Artbeat

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

 Force, at Fresh Art (208 South Broadway, 720-570-2255), is an elegant little abstraction show that includes paintings by Harry Tulchin, John Clark and Bill Brazzell, along with sculptures by Alex Harrison.

In some ways, the work of the three painters is related: All are engaged in late abstraction, and each uses color fields as a principal device, employing them as a ground on which they place their various abstract marks.

Tulchin's paintings have a neo-abstract expressionist character, with all-over scribbles laid on top of stained monochrome fields. Though Clark is perhaps best known as a post-minimalist, the painted paper squares that he has attached to Plexiglas are something else. Brazzell's also known for post-minimalism, and, unlike Clark, that's what he's showing at Fresh Art: paintings of vertical stripes. Especially nice is the small wall relief made of boards put together to match the vertical stripes in the paintings. The boards are covered with partly painted-over newsprint.

The Harrison sculptures are different stylistically from the paintings. Harrison embraces organic shapes that seem to refer to the body, as seen clearly in "Incise" (detail above), a three-part hanging sculpture that explores vaginal imagery à la feminist art, even down to the threatening phallic references that pierce the sides. The other Harrisons here, notably the cluster of welded and bolted steel rods, are less obviously narrative.

Though it hasn't been billed as such, Force, which stays up through May 25, is something of an ILK reunion. The quartet of artists involved were among the key players at ILK in the late '90s, when the co-op was one of the city's art powerhouses, mounting significant shows at its headquarters on Santa Fe Drive as well as in an annex at Pirate, where it began. Sadly, even if the shows are still good, ILK today is a mere wisp of its former self, surviving on life support in that side room at Pirate. But there's no reason to wax nostalgic: This Fresh Art show proves that at least some of the ILK spirit is still alive and well, even if ILK isn't.

 
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