Though the main spaces at William Havu Gallery (1040 Cherokee Street, 303-893-2360) are dedicated to celebrating Denver's "Month of Photography" ("Photo Play" ), the intimate areas beneath and on the mezzanine are given over to Painting exhibition: Julia Rymer and Kate Thompson, a show that has nothing to do with cameras.
Rymer and Thompson are two young artists who have both been associated with Havu as employees. Thompson is currently the gallery's director, a job Rymer held until a few years ago. But that's not the only thing the two have in common. They are both doing neo-abstract expressionism, and they are both graduates of the University of Denver School of Art and Art History.
Rymer left town to pursue a Master of Fine Arts at New York's prestigious Pratt Institute, which she completed earlier this year. Her paintings at Havu are in acrylic and graphite on board. They are very New York School and come right out of classic action painting of the '50s and '60s. Using pastel colors, she establishes a brushy color field as a background, then scribbles organic shapes on top in the manner of Cy Twombly. These small and delicately detailed paintings are elegant and have a subtle appeal.
It's a shame that viewers need to go upstairs to see the other half of Painting exhibition, because Thompson's abstracts would have looked great hanging next to Rymer's. These pieces also have something of a New York flavor, such as in "Richter" (above), but less so than Rymer's. Using acrylic applied with construction knives, Thompson puts one color over another. Because the knives have a straight edge, the smears are inevitably somewhat hard-edged. Working both horizontally and vertically, Thompson makes loosely organized patterns of smears separated by areas of the background. Her colors are interesting, and the secret to their density is that the pigments are pure -- that is, they haven't been cut.
Painting exhibition is a handsome twosome, and I think it's great that gallery owner William Havu has taken a chance on two young artists who've been invaluable in making his place run smoothly. The Rymer and Thompson exhibit runs through October 16.