Overdue Recognition

Visionary female artists step from the shadows at the CVA

THURS, 3/11

The average person has probably never heard of the seven women artists featured in a pair of exhibits opening today at the Metro State Center for the Visual Arts. The shows highlight the women's works from the '50s, '60s and '70s. "That's what's wrong with this world," grumbles curator Kathy Andrews. "This show really is about how very strong artists of that period -- while not working in utter obscurity -- certainly did not have the notoriety of their contemporaries who are male."

The sculptures and drawings in True Grit -- Seven Visionaries Before Feminism and Louise Bourgeois -- Selections From the Collection of Ginny Williams, represent the work of artists who were ahead of their time, Andrews says.

Female art pioneers get their day in the spotlight.
Female art pioneers get their day in the spotlight.
The Denver Jewish Film Festival has a new look.
The Denver Jewish Film Festival has a new look.
Christopher Paolini has created a fantasy universe in 
Eragon.
Christopher Paolini has created a fantasy universe in Eragon.
Book Buffs spotlights the wonders of Lakeside 
Amusement Park.
Book Buffs spotlights the wonders of Lakeside Amusement Park.

"So many artists working today are standing on the shoulders of these women," she adds. "They laid the groundwork for what was to come; they were forging new ways of doing things."

Louise Bourgeois, perhaps the most well-known of the seven, stands out as one who explores physicality, sexuality and the more abstract issues of women's identity in her work. Nancy Spero creates sexually explicit "quasi-anthropological hieroglyphics" on handmade paper, while Jay DeFeo produced abstract oils and photo-collages inspired by religious themes. Visitors might recognize the works of Lee Bontecou, who gained a measure of fame in the 1950s for her enigmatic abstract sculptures, said by critics to "juxtapose elements of machines, nature and the human body." Claire Falkenstein is recognized for thorny-looking sculptures made of metal fused with melted glass, Louise Nevelson is an abstract-expressionist sculptor and printmaker, and Nancy Grossman sculpts, carves and crafts assemblages of leather, rubber and metal. Although each of the seven artists creates works in two and three dimensions, the emphasis here is on sculpture.

An opening reception will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Center for the Visual Arts, 1723 Wazee Street; the shows stay up through April 24. For information and gallery hours, call 303-294-5207. -- Karen Bowers

Old Fave, New Twist
Jewish Film Festival springs forward
THURS, 3/11

There was a conspicuous absence on the Denver film scene in 2003. August came and went, and with it passed the period normally reserved for the Denver Jewish Film Festival. Had the cinefest buckled in its eighth year? On the contrary, the eagerly anticipated event had merely moved to the spring. "Summers are a rough time for something where we're trying to get people to come indoors," says Brit Withey, program director for the Denver Film Society, which co-sponsors the festival with the Mizel Center for Arts and Culture. "To keep growing our audiences, we made the decision to move the date."

In addition, organizers have added two locations to supplement the Mizel, which is closed Friday nights and Saturdays in observance of the Sabbath. All films will be shown once at the Mizel Center (350 South Dahlia Street), then at the Starz FilmCenter (900 Auraria Parkway) and the Cinema Saver Basemar Twin in Boulder (2490 Baseline Road). The festival, which opens tonight with the comedy God Is Great...I Am Very Small, will screen fifteen promising new films (documentaries, features and shorts) through Thursday, March 18. The diverse program includes everything from clip programs detailing Israeli and Palestinian filmmakers' exploration of the struggle for peace, to an offbeat, romantic comedy starring Amélie darling Audrey Tautou, to the Academy Award-nominated documentary My Architect: A Son's Journey.

For a complete schedule or to purchase tickets, $6 to $8, go to www.mizelcenter.org.; tickets can also be purchased at the Mizel Center and Starz FilmCenter box offices or at any metro-area King Soopers. Special packages are available for opening- and closing-night celebrations. -- Adam Cayton-Holland

Dragon Master
SUN, 3/14

After graduating from high school at fifteen, Christopher Paolinihad a little time on his hands -- and an active imagination. So he decided to write a movie script based on his love of fantasy tales. Along the way, his idea morphed into a novel called Eragon, which was published last August. The tale of a poor farm boy and a dragon became a hit with the twelve- to seventeen-year-old set. Today the nineteen-year-old writer -- who has his own interactive website, complete with Lord of the Rings-like artwork -- lives with his family in Paradise Valley, Montana, where he's working on the next installment of what he calls the "Inheritance" trilogy.

With master storyteller J.R.R. Tolkein long gone and J.K. Rowling no longer riding the bookstore circuit, fans have been flocking to this young author's readings, which feature elves, Norse myths, an invented language and a complicated universe. Paolini will visit the Cherry Creek Tattered Cover, 2955 East First Avenue, at 3 p.m. today, and if reports on a fan website are accurate, there could be a quite a crush of Eragon faithful in attendance. For those new to the phenom, here's a clue: Paolini has said his own favorite character is Saphira, the dragon who helps launch the hero on his quest. Call 303-322-7727 for information. -- Ernie Tucker

Roller Toaster
Book Buffs highlights the glories of Lakeside
FRI, 3/12

Lakeside Amusement Park's glory may be fading in the shadow cast by Six Flags Elitch Gardens, but the old art-deco "Coney Island of the West" has something its crosstown rival never will: a place in New York's Museum of Modern Art. MoMA recently purchased local artist Laura Russell's Lakeside: An American Icon for its collection. Now the limited-edition volume of photographs is coming home for the Book Buffs Second Annual Book Arts Lounge, which opens tonight with a 6 p.m. reception at the shop, 1519 South Pearl Street.

"I used to live about two blocks away from Lakeside, and I drove by it every day and always wondered what it was like inside," Russell says. "So I went over there, and I discovered I just couldn't spend enough time there. It's graphically interesting; it's architecturally interesting; it's great people-watching. It's like stepping back in time."

Colfax Day and Night, Russell's homage to Denver's other great dilapidated dream, will also be featured, as will other one-of-a-kind and limited-edition art books by Alicia Bailey and Alicia McKim.

The display -- which captures a reality the new Elitch's can't buy -- will continue through May 1. For more information, call 303-722-3630. -- Amy Haimerl

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