Home on the Range

The Gallery of Contemporary Art and Studio Aiello map out different parts of the local scene.

There are so many worthwhile things in the exhibit that it's impossible to even mention all the standouts, let alone to account for every artist who's been included. Don't miss the fanatically detailed renderings of fish by Geoffrey Ridge, or the feathery landscapes by Joellyn Duesberry, including a wonderful floor screen. Also compelling are the sublime color-field abstractions by Colorado masters David Yust and Mark Dickson.

Suffice it to say, there are enough reasons to make the arduous trip to Colorado Springs to catch Open Press LTD: A 15-Year Retrospective at CGA. It does seem strange, however -- and a little telling -- that we have to travel out of town to celebrate this Denver institution.


"First and Second Print," by Mark Lunning and Dale 
Chisman, transfer print.
"First and Second Print," by Mark Lunning and Dale Chisman, transfer print.
"Evolution of Form & Concept, #2," by Morgan Barnes, 
steel sculpture.
"Evolution of Form & Concept, #2," by Morgan Barnes, steel sculpture.

Details

Through October 1, Gallery of Contemporary Art, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, 1420 Austin Bluffs Parkway, Colorado Springs, 1-719-262-3567

Group Show 2
Through October 15, Studio Aiello, 3656 Walnut Street, 303-297-8166

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The other intriguing group presentation on display has the straightforward title of Group Show 2, and it's at Studio Aiello, north of downtown. As the title indicates, this is the second in a series; the first was the gallery's grand opening two years ago.

Group Show 2is a juried event; Kathy Andrews, director of the Center for Visual Art, is the sole juror. Andrews has crafted a wide-ranging exhibit that includes almost every medium imaginable. And unlike many juried shows, it has a number of established artists along with the expected neophytes. The explanation? The top prizes were future exhibition slots at Studio Aiello. The three winners are: Tsehai Johnson for 3-D media, Mark Brasuell for 2-D media, and Tim Berg for new media.

The exhibit handsomely fills all three of the large galleries that make up Studio Aiello. As viewers enter the first space, they can't help but notice Morgan Barnes's totemic sculpture, "Evolution of Form & Concept #2." The kinetic metal sculpture, which has been quirkily patinated with rusted polka dots, is a rocking stele that chimes when it moves. It's really great and fairly original. The form is deadly serious, but the dots and the sounds make it pretty funny, too.

Another notable thing in this first section is Jeff Strahl's "Brussels," a C-print that has a double image of a woman confined in an art nouveau border. The colors -- the yellow flowers against the purple-pink background -- and the repetitive composition mark the piece as an example of neo-pop, which is all the rage right now. It really does look very contemporary.

Around the corner is another sharp work with a thoroughly contemporary look: Susan Berkley's "Safety Zone," a constructivist painting with a modulated yellow bar running across a white field. The composition is utterly simple, but the brushwork and the revealed under-painting are positively baroque. (Studio Aiello is a huge place, so it's strange that this large painting has been crammed into the corridor while smaller pieces that aren't nearly as good are given lots of room to breathe.)

In the center gallery, there are two eye-popping installations placed just inside the entry. On the floor is Chris Walla's "Nothing to Say," a pile of wood and plaster shapes that look like the caption bubbles used in comic strips. (Walla is one of the only artists in the show who is not from Colorado.) The pieces are painted with all-over patterns and have no words on them, referring back to the title. On the wall that runs down the center of the room is award-winner Johnson's "Field #2," made of porcelain and feathers. Johnson has cast shapes that are evocative of penises and then trimmed them with feathers, which makes the shapes even more obscene-looking. Around the corner is a pair of enormous black, gray and white abstract paintings by the second award-winner, Brasuell.

Finally, the last section includes the work of two emerging artists, Justin Simoni and Agnes Kunz Vigil, both of whom are doing photography, but each to very different ends. Simoni's "Pins, Seattle" is a process piece that documents tiny straight-pin sculptures that he erected on a trip from Denver to Seattle. Ready or not, Simoni and many of his fellow young artists are out to prove that the '70s are back with a vengeance. Vigil's color photos of goldfish and eggshells are a lot more poetic, but they look '70s, too. Right at the end of the show is the last of the award-winners' pieces: Berg's loop of a split screen, with a skeet launcher on one side and a skeet catcher on the other.

Group Show 2 is uneven, but it's surprisingly good-looking, considering that it's juried. And, like the Open Press event, it provides a chance to take in the recent creations of some of the area's most interesting artists -- in one fell swoop.

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