Quartet. An interesting if uneven exhibit of abstract paintings and sculptures is now at Studio Aiello. The show is called Quartet because it includes the work of four artists: Andrew Speer, Chad Colby, Michael Burnett and Jonathan Hils. Speer is well known because he's taught in the fine-art department of Metropolitan State College for a decade. His dark abstracts are worked to death, resulting in a scuffed-looking and muddy surface. Colby also used to teach at Metro but is now on the faculty of Fort Lewis College in Durango. He integrates photo-based imagery with abstract forms, all of it seeming to come right out of a paint-by-numbers picture. Burnett's neo-abstract-expressionist paintings are the real revelation, because they're so unexpectedly good. He uses a combination of overlapping loops juxtaposed to a serpentine stripe, and it all comes together for him. Hils, whose sculptures are displayed in each of the three painting-filled spaces, is from Oklahoma. Using repeated forms that he welds together, he creates wonderful organic shapes that sit on the floor. Through December 3 at Studio Aiello, 3563 Walnut Street, 303-297-8166. Reviewed November 18.
The Quest for Immortality. With the rise of archaeology in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, scientists began excavating Egyptian tombs and discovering a wide array of gorgeous artifacts. This tomb art is what makes the blockbuster currently on display at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science absolutely fabulous. A traveling exhibit about midway through its coast-to-coast tour, The Quest for Immortality was organized by the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., in collaboration with Copenhagen's United Exhibits Group and Cairo's Supreme Council of Antiquities. An army of scientists, curators and scholars worked on it, headed up by Betsy M. Bryan, a professor at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. The heart of the exhibit includes objects found in the tomb of Thutmose III, as well as an astounding digital re-creation of the tomb itself. The show is jammed with visitors, but don't let all the people -- or the steep ticket prices -- dissuade you: This is one show that you've really got to see to believe. Through January 23 at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, 2001 Colorado Boulevard, 303-322-7009. Reviewed October 7.
Random Art Two. It's safe to say that Brandon Borchert's Random Art Two, currently at Capsule @ Pod, is one of the season's hottest prospects. Although Borchert has shown around for the past several years, he was little known until his big breakthrough in this summer's wildly popular Repeat Offenders at the Mizel Center for Arts and Culture. That show included pieces by some big names in town, but the real news was the appearance of a trio of upstarts: Borchert, a conceptual painter, and photographers Katie Taft and Jason Patz. Borchert has an intriguing organizational program in which he has developed a set of images that correspond to the Powerball numbers 1 through 53. The images fall into four categories: "sex, death, food and art history." (Hey, isn't that a Swedish movie from the '60s?) Associating the images with the numbers, Borchert comes up with pseudo-narratives. For these Warholian acrylics on paper, he then creates straightforward renditions of the selected images. Through December 4 at Capsule @ Pod, 554 Santa Fe Drive, 303-623-3460. Reviewed November 25.
TIWANAKU. In the Helen Bonfils Stanton Galleries on the first floor of the Denver Art Museum is the unusual show TIWANAKU: Ancestors of the Inca. Tiwanaku was a large city on the shores of Lake Titicaca, in the mountains of Bolivia, that existed from 200 to 1100 A.D. The people who lived there, also called Tiwanaku, were not really ethnically related to the Inca, though the Inca adopted them as their cultural forebears and believed they were gods. Margaret Young-Sánchez, the DAM's pre-Columbian curator, put together the show, which is groundbreaking as a scholarly endeavor. There are nearly a hundred objects, including ritual pieces, ceramics, gold jewelry, pottery and a selection of remarkable textiles. Interestingly, much of the material is not from Tiwanaku, coming instead from surrounding towns. After all, the Inca -- and then the Spanish -- had looted the place centuries earlier, so there's little left. Through January 23 at the Denver Art Museum, 100 West 14th Avenue Parkway, 720-865-5000. Reviewed November 25.