Beauty, Strength and Weirdness

Lyrical paintings, bold sculptures and bad behavior are all on display.

The impressive show at Space includes several standouts, but the best pieces are the largest and most ambitious, particularly "Fakura 3-12," a totemic sculpture Rand created by joining three of his signature vases at their bases and then stacking a dozen of them in a precisely vertical pile. The forms have been minimally glazed, with a flash of color visible only here and there.

A somewhat different idea is expressed in "52 Ascend," a wall sculpture in which five separate forms based on conjoined vessels are arranged in a straight line up the wall. The vessel-based shapes, some of which extend straight out from the wall, lend the piece a heightened sense of three-dimensionality, making it more like a sculpture than a bas-relief, which is what it actually is. The deep-black glaze on this piece is gorgeous.

In the smallish back gallery, Rand assembled a group of pieces made from dozens of the vessels pushed together while the clay was still wet. One of them in this very neo-abstract-expressionist group is "Blue Tumbler," which was done in a time-tested Chinese blue-and-white glaze.

"Race Day," by Jeffrey Keith, oil on linen.
"Race Day," by Jeffrey Keith, oil on linen.
"Blue Tumbler," by Mike Rand, wood-fired ceramic 
"Blue Tumbler," by Mike Rand, wood-fired ceramic sculpture.


Wet Paint
Through April 10, William Havu Gallery, 1040 Cherokee Street, 303-893-2360

Random Factors
Through March 28, Space Gallery, 765 Santa Fe Drive, 720-308-0105

Michael Burnett, director of the Space Gallery, doesn't typically turn over his entire place to a single artist. This has to do with both the spaciousness of the gallery and Space's specialty of the house, so to speak: emerging talent. Twenty-something artists typically don't have enough stuff to fill this kind of massive square footage. But unlike most others in his age group, Rand was clearly up to the job of taking charge of all that room, as he proves beyond any shadow of a doubt in Random Factors.

There are major changes planned for the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities, including a complete overhaul designed by Fentress Bradburn Architects. I think whatever is done to the center would be fine; it couldn't come out worse than the current building, which is neither attractive nor functional. However, I do wonder what's to become of the Vito Acconci at the entrance, the Clarice Dreyer installation at the outdoor theater, and other works that are permanently installed. Hopefully, spots will be found for them in the new facility.

Lately, everyone seems to be talking about the Arvada Center, but not about the impending construction. Instead, the talk has to do with some inexplicable moves that Jerry Gilmore, director of fine arts and chief curator, has made over the past several months.

In the fall, just as Frank Sampson: Retrospective was set to open, Gilmore pressured the show's organizer, Rudi Cerri, into quitting. Cerri worked for the Arvada Center as an exhibition designer and sometime curator for almost twenty years, whereas Gilmore came on board a year or so ago.

Soon after he was hired, Gilmore started pushing Cerri around and hurling personal insults at him in front of the rest of the staff, which seems like an open-and-shut hostile-workplace complaint to me, though one was never filed. Adding injury to insult, Gilmore excluded Cerri from a dinner at the Arvada Center in honor of Sampson that was held just before the show opened. Under the circumstances, Sampson understandably didn't want to attend the dinner at all and only went on Cerri's urging. Gilmore also told Cerri not to come to the opening, but he went anyway. In a classic tit-for-tat, it was Sampson who did the urging this time, and he and Cerri attended the event together.

I didn't know anything about this until a few weeks later, when I went to review the Sampson retrospective and asked to speak with Cerri. But even before I found out what had really happened, I instinctively knew something was up when Gilmore gave me the very George Costanza-like story that Cerri was going to Italy to become an architect!

The first thing that occurred to me when I found out about the Cerri situation was that Susan Sagara Bolton, the other longtime Arvada Center curator, would be next. And I was right, because just a few weeks ago, Gilmore fired her.

After the "Cerri in Italy" song and dance, I didn't even bother to ask Gilmore about what happened to Bolton. And Bolton isn't talking, either, because she has wisely retained a lawyer. Here's hoping Bolton triumphs in whatever case is eventually filed.

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