Unseasonably Hot

Solos at Rule and Sandy Carson are among the top art attractions in town.

Is it just me, or does it seem like the art world is the midst of high season?

Nearly everywhere there's some exhibit that's worth taking in -- and that's really weird because the season should be shutting down for the summer. Ordinarily, June, July and August are the least important months for art shows, with the most significant exhibits shown in the fall and winter. But that pattern has clearly not manifested itself this time: Instead of kicking back for the dog days, the museums, art centers and galleries are kicking butt.

Just think about it.

"Space," by Dale Chisman, oil on canvas.
"Space," by Dale Chisman, oil on canvas.
"representing Friedrich," by Bob Koons, oil on canvas.
"representing Friedrich," by Bob Koons, oil on canvas.


Dale Chisman: New Paintings
Through June 26, Rule Gallery, 111 Broadway, 303-777-9473

Bob Koons and Quintin Gonzalez
Through June 18, Sandy Carson Gallery, 760 Santa Fe Drive, 303-573-8585

The Denver Art Museum is presenting scene Colorado/sin Colorado, made up of selections from the modern and contemporary department's permanent collections. The show, organized by curator Dianne Vanderlip, is a veritable who's who of the state's most prominent artists, including Matt O'Neill, Martha Daniels, Scott Chamberlin, Tracy Felix and Jeff Starr. Some have complained that the work is old, but that's to be expected, because the show highlights pieces acquired during the last quarter-century.

Newer work will be displayed in Repeat Offenders, which is opening next weekend at the Mizel Center for Arts and Culture. Put together by Simon Zalkind, it includes recent work by several artists who also appear in the DAM show, such as Roland Bernier and Stephen Batura. But Zalkind hasn't limited himself to established talents, as Vanderlip necessarily did; he's laudably included a smattering of young upstarts, such as Jason Patz. At +Zeile Judish, Emmett Culligan, Colin Livingston and Bruce Price are among the bevy of contemporary artists in State of the Union.

Older regional art is featured in The Painter's Eye at David Cook. This show includes many of the most important artists active in the West during the first half of the twentieth century, including such Colorado masters as tonalist Charles Partridge Adams and modernist Ethel Magafan.

Important group shows aren't the only attractions around. There are also some heavy-duty solos. Bernier is really out there, not only at the DAM and Mizel, but also in a major exhibit at Fresh Art that's set to close on June 4. Phil Bender, who's in the DAM show, just shut down his annual outing at Pirate. Then there's Sushe Felix, also in the DAM show, and Aaron Karp, both of whom are being feted at William Havu, while John Buck and Manuel Neri are ensconced at Robischon. And don't forget the major retrospective dedicated to the late David Rigsby at Denver's Museum of Contemporary Art.

See what I mean? And I haven't even gotten around to mentioning that Dale Chisman is the subject of a spectacular show at Rule, and Bob Koons and Quintin Gonzalez are paired in individual exhibits at Sandy Carson -- so that's what I'll talk about now.

It's no exaggeration to say that Dale Chisman is one of the most important painters in the history of Colorado. Though he spent much of his adult life in New York, he was born here in 1943 and grew up in west Denver. He studied with two of the late great ones back in the '60s, Martha Epp and Mary Chenoweth, and because of their influence, his work is steeped in the state's unique mid-century-modernist traditions. Underscoring his place in our region is his 1965 BFA from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

When Chisman came back from the Big Apple in the mid-'80s, he immediately emerged as an art star and became what could be called the dean of Denver modernists. Chisman has earned his fine reputation by presenting one great show after another -- and he's done it again with the drop-dead-gorgeous Dale Chisman: Recent Paintings, which is currently midway through its run at the Rule Gallery.

The show starts off with a bang: "Cake 2," an oil on canvas, is, to say the least, striking. Chisman has put a group of organic shapes in the middle of a white ground, then obscured them with a loopy red scribble that almost entirely covers the surface of the canvas. Though "Cake 2" looks very different for a Chisman, it's still obviously his. There's the use of automatism, and there's the tremendous skill for instinctively assembling forms in an invariably perfect asymmetrical balance.

"Cake 2" represents one of two kinds of Chisman paintings here. In this first group, they are covered with nets of scribbled paint, suggesting webs, roots and nests -- all things found in nature. Entering the main space, there are other paintings of this type, including the luscious "Cake," an oil on canvas done in a very smart-looking palette dominated by lipstick pink and khaki olive, and "History Part 12," an oil on linen that is the piece in the show most closely related to Chisman's earlier work. In fact, it would look great if it were hanging next to "The Ring," an oil on linen from 1989 currently on display at the DAM.

The other style of Chisman's paintings being shown at Rule also features scribbles on top, but the loopy lines are firmly held in check by a boldly colored vertical bar placed to one side. Sometimes Chisman allows the scribbles to run over the bars, as in the marvelous oil-on-canvas "Cross Tide 3," but in other cases, such as the elegant oil-on-canvas "Plane," the bars have been painted on top. In "Space," it's a little of both.

Next Page »
My Voice Nation Help