End Runs

Shows at Mizel, CU and Regis will soon close.

Becker has loaned several works to the Norlin Library, notably a newly acquired painting by Elizabeth Murray, but I hope she is cautious -- because putting the art out also puts it in danger of fading (especially true of prints -- and the CU collection is lousy with them) and possible theft.

A less controversial change for CUAM is the return of a faculty show, which Becker's predecessor, Susan Krane, had banished. "When I was hired last year, there was the desire to have a faculty show," Becker says, with a flair for the understatement. The result of that desire is the 2003 Faculty Exhibition.

The show does a good job of representing the tremendous diversity of media and styles embraced by the CU art department. There are a number of strengths displayed, including ceramics, digital media, installation, video and, of all things, representational painting.

"Facts," by Jerry Kunkel, oil on board.
"Facts," by Jerry Kunkel, oil on board.
"Symbols of the Big Bang #244," by Vitaly Komar and 
Alexander Melamid, mixed media on paper.
"Symbols of the Big Bang #244," by Vitaly Komar and Alexander Melamid, mixed media on paper.


Symbols of the Big Bang and The Testament of the Priest and Teacher
Through October 27
Singer Gallery, 350 South Dahlia Street

2003 Faculty Exhibition
Through October 25
CU Art Museum, University of Colorado, Sibell-Wolle Fine Arts Building, Boulder

Steven AltmanThrough October 23
OíSullivan Arts Center, Regis University, 3333 Regis Boulevard

In ceramics, there are the marvelous wall sculptures by Scott Chamberlin, which are related to those in his solo at Robischon. Also cool are the two flower-based floor sculptures by Kim Dickey.

The digital-media displays include the works of Jim Jonnson and Ken Iwamasa, best known for their compositions in other mediums. In a related though distinct vein are the three photo-based digital images by Albert Chong, which explore his Jamaican and Chinese heritage.

There are several installations, notably the wonderful mirror-covered barricades by Yumi Janairo Roth and the absolutely stunning steel-and-tire arrangement by Garrison Roots. True, the Roots owes a debt to Bruce Nauman, but so what?

There's video, video everywhere. Now, I'm not a big fan of fine-art video -- I like television too much, and it's typically better -- but it's hard not to be impressed by Mark Amerika's "Codework." Installed in its own mini-theater, the piece incessantly flashes and seems to be completely abstract and non-narrative, despite the repeated image of what looks like a male head and the female voiceover.

Finally, there are those wonderful contemporary representational paintings. First is the pair of signature landscapes by Chuck Forsman that are just edgy enough to look surreal. Next is the quartet of Jerry Kunkel paintings, including "Facts," which are still-life scenes with all the verisimilitude of photos.

The 2003 Faculty Show at CUAM reveals not only the art department's strengths, but also its weaknesses. And the big shortcoming, as far as I can tell, is that, aside from gifted printmaker Clint Cline, there's little abstraction going on. Representational imagery, on the other hand, is the style of choice for several teachers, and, to be honest, half of them aren't very good at it.

Someone who is very good at what he does -- in this case, abstract painting -- is the subject of a handsome solo at the O'Sullivan Arts Center on the campus of Regis University. Steven Altman: Passions, Cynicisms, and Conundrums displays the artist's new paintings, which include felt, something he began working with a couple of years ago.

At first the felt really didn't work; Altman's paintings, which had formerly been extremely elegant, all of a sudden looked funky -- which I didn't like as well. But since Altman is a father, I chalked up the whole felt thing to insanity brought on by being in the constant presence of young children. Well, he's apparently come to his senses, and his paintings are becoming elegant again. (Maybe the kids are finally off at school?) The new paintings still are not as beautiful as his efforts from the 1990s, but the latest works do make the pieces of the past couple of years look transitional -- which makes me feel a lot better.

There are two strong points to any Altman painting, whether successful or not: exceptional drawing and sophisticated color choices. He has an instinctive sense for drawing, and his colors, laid out in broad, luxurious fields, are gorgeous. Check out that pink and orange combo in "Trouble With Perfection," the painting used on the O'Sullivan poster, or that incredible sea-blue-green in "Don't Know."

The O'Sullivan is an impressive facility, but there's no real director or staff to support it, and as a result, none of the shows there get much attention -- not even those that deserve it, like the wonderful Steven Altman.

I'd like to add a sense of urgency to my recommendations this week, because instead of discussing shows that have recently opened -- the ordinary topic of this column -- I'm plugging ones that are on the verge of closing. And that means, of course, that you'll need to go soon if you want to catch them before they're history.

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