Artbeat

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

There's an elegant little show with the possibly insulting name of Silence Nothingness at Sandra Phillips Gallery (744 Santa Fe Drive, 303-573-5969). The title is taken from a Samuel Beckett quote, but taken out of context, the words are robbed of their meaning. The exhibit pairs abstracted versions of the Western landscape by Amy Solomon with Susan Jean Hart's rough-hewn sculptures, which also pick up the landscape theme.

In the '80s and early '90s, Solomon, then a neo-expressionist painter, was well-known in town, exhibiting her work in several hot spots, including the Cydney Payton Art Folio, the NewsGallery and David Rigsby's Progresso Gallery. Though she's shown her work continuously since then, she's kept a much lower profile.

The new Solomons are covered with scribbles of graphite and smears of paint in a fairly limited palette of cream, blue, black and gray, though some of them have little touches of green and orange. A few of the paintings are all-over abstractions and seemingly make no reference to the landscape. But most of them clearly have a horizon line that runs through the center, creating sky and land -- even though both sections are handled nearly identically.

These paintings are hung throughout the gallery, both in the space at the front and in the more intimate spot under the mezzanine. Filling the areas in the middle are sculptures by emerging artist Susan Jean Hart; her works are part of a tradition of wooden sculptures that have been done around here for decades. All of them are very cool, but I especially liked "Tree House" (right), a totem made of steel and a bundle of tree branches. It's the largest and, from my point of view, the best Hart piece in the show. I should also note that Hart's prices, especially in the case of "Tree House," are ridiculously low, considering their interesting quality and presence.

Silence Nothingness at Sandra Phillips was supposed to close at the end of the month but has been extended to November 7.

 
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