Artbeat

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

Walker Fine Art (300 West 11th Avenue, 303-355-8955) is currently presenting a three-artist group show with the meaningless and universally applicable title Contemplation. The exhibit brings together the work of Boulder sculptor Anne Shutan and Denver painters Eric Michael Corrigan and Angela Larson -- or does it?

All three artists are doing abstract work, but their pieces have little else in common. As a result, the show doesn't hold together as a coherent unit. It's actually more like three different shows crashing into one another in certain places. This organizational shortcoming is apparently insignificant, though, because the gallery sold five items on opening night alone, something that almost never happens anymore.

Shutan's carved wooden sculptures have been installed in the first space beyond the entry and throughout the enormous venue. A master woodworker who also creates handmade furniture, the Boulder artist is represented here by sculptures based on beams and by pieces that refer to stringed instruments. Of the two types, I think the beam sculptures (above) are more successful. Shutan has a taste for exotic hardwoods, including jelutong, padouk, butternut and cocabola, but she also turns to old standbys such as mahogany and walnut.

Larson's mixed-media, multi-part monochromes are installed in a niche space just beyond the two-story front room. These pieces are done on small individual panels that Larson assembled into simple arrangements, such as a giant "T" shape. The surfaces are veiled in a light-whitish color, and some include geometric decorations done in a powdery gray.

On the walls opposite the Larsons and surrounding the Shutans are a dozen or so neo-abstract-expressionist paintings by emerging talent Corrigan. These works, which have large, loopy scribbles, plenty of drips and more than enough smearing, are pretty good-looking. They clearly recall the work of the original abstract expressionists from fifty years ago, but they also owe something to local proponents Dale Chisman and Jeff Wenzel, who are active right now. This is not a negative observation, because I think that's how art works: Artists look at each other's work and respond in a range of ways, from homage to critique.

The generically dubbed Contemplation at Walker Fine Art runs through June 5.

 
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