Artbeat

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

The Andenken Annex, a new art-exhibition venue, opened last weekend in the Steelbridge Loft Building in LoDo, at 1449 Wynkoop Street. Although it's billed as a branch of the Andenken Gallery, the annex is an independent space, and it has its own director: Warren Kelly, an ambitious young artist who intends to fill the place with his equally ambitious young pals.

If the first show is any indication, the future looks bright. In For Sale: New Paintings by Colin Livingston, Kelly has put together a marvelous and imaginative show featuring a local twenty-something artist.

Livingston uses abstraction in these paintings -- some of which are incredible -- to comment on the notion of art as a commodity. But don't let the serious topic give you the wrong idea: Livingston's laughing about it the whole time. And you may laugh, too, when, for instance, you notice that several of the paintings have been shrink-wrapped and have labels like those you'd expect to see in a mall's discount-poster shop. Floating under plastic wrap, the labels read, in part, "Delux Art Work," "suitable for hanging" and "A Great Painting." Not only that, they've been trademarked!

Some of the jokes are more inside than others. Among the shrink-wrapped pieces is a trio aimed at sending up three emerging Denver talents: Karen McClanahan, Michael Chavez and John Morrison. Livingston's done a convincing job of replicating each of their styles. But by putting the pieces in plastic sleeves with his phony labels and adding bogus -- though accurate -- day-glo green price tags (they're $350 each), he's made them his own.

The humorous aspects of pop art and dada are easy to see in many of these paintings. "Scotch Tape Painting" (above), an enamel on canvas, takes the tiny plaid detail from a Scotch Tape label and blows it up to a six-foot-tall pattern painting. In this piece, Livingston shamelessly parodies neo-minimalism, and even post-minimalism, although the painting is technically an example of the latter.

One of Livingston's paintings says it all: It's called "That Colin is so hot right now" -- and I couldn't agree more. The show closes on July 1.

 
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