The truly wonderful summer show at the Robischon Gallery (1740 Wazee Street, 303-298-7788), Divining: Art and Water in the West, provides Denver gallery-goers with some badly needed psychological refreshment on these hot, dry days. It's water, water everywhere -- at least by implication, because there's not a real drop in sight.
Although this is ostensibly a group show, the works of Mario Reis and Karen Kitchel are seen in such depth that the artists have essentially been given small solos within the context of the larger whole. The post-minimal process pieces by Reis, hung in the front, were made in an outlandish way, with each panel being submerged in different Western rivers and inevitably tinted by the different-colored sediments moving across the canvases. The Kitchels in the niche in the center space have been more conventionally done: Kitchel actually used paint and brushes to do her paintings of bindweed -- a beautiful if noxious and invasive plant.
Across from the Kitchels are more narrative representational paintings with a Western theme, these by Don Stinson and Chuck Forsman. Both Forsman and Stinson are interested in making social commentary with their landscapes. Stinson's "Lonestar and Pool" depicts an abandoned motel's empty swimming pool set in the breathtaking and otherwise pristine Western landscape. Forsman's critical view of the effects of development is similar, but he's tougher and a lot less romantic in "Gold and Dust" (above), which pictures a mountain being quarried out of existence.
Divining also includes a couple of pieces that represent newer media, including a floor-video projection by the artist Sterz and a video by Gary Emrich running on a wall-mounted monitor. The Sterz is a loop of blue water that looks like a virtual pond sitting in the middle of the gallery; it's very cool.
An added attraction at Robischon is an informal grouping of Judy Pfaff drawings installed in the Viewing Room. This show, which is something of a reprise of Pfaff's big solo presented here earlier this year, includes several never-before-exhibited pieces, in which references to Victorian architecture are combined with actual doilies.
Divining and the selection of Pfaffs at Robischon close on July 26.