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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.

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.

Upstarts and Matriarchs. Feminism transformed American society in the '70s, allowing female artists to turn the art world upside-down. Surveying this trend is the topic of Upstarts and Matriarchs: Jewish Women Artists and the Transformation of American Art: 1970-Now. The exhibit was curated by Simon Zalkind, the director of the Singer Gallery of the Mizel Center for Arts and Culture, who has presented a formidable roster of first-rate shows over the years. It's hard to say that he's out-done himself this time, but he has. The scholarly show is installed both in the main multi-part space and in the nearby atrium gallery. The extra room was needed because Zalkind has included pieces by more than a dozen artists, among them major historical figures such as Judy Chicago, Audrey Flack, Nancy Grossman, Joyce Kozloff, Martha Rosler, Miriam Shapiro, Joan Semmel, Nancy Spero, Joan Snyder and Mierle Laderman Ukeles. Through March 27 at the Mizel Center for Arts and Culture, 350 South Dahlia, 303-399-2660.

Western Land: Scapes. Despite the single-show title, this presentation is actually a group of shows that highlight new paintings based on Western views. In the main space is the major attraction: Jeremy Hillhouse's abstracts that are loosely based on landscapes. his exhibit-within-an-exhibit was put together by Denver Art Museum curator Dianne Vanderlip, who became friends with Hillhouse after working with him at the DAM for decades. Vanderlip selected specific works for specific spots in the gallery, even going so far as to draw a map. The paintings, some of them very large, contain geometric references to the land as it might appear if seen from above. Most have a light-colored ground set off by dark lines. The landscape sets up an arena for painting, scraping and repainting. In the back of the gallery are Nebraska artist Stephen Dinsmore's dreamy, expressionist landscapes of actual places out on the plains. Up on the mezzanine, small, hyper-realistic landscapes by Wyoming's Scott Greenig are paired with fairly traditional depictions of the mountains in a post-impressionist style by New Mexico painter Cheryl Derrick. Through January 21 at the William Havu Gallery, 1040 Cherokee Street, 303-893-2360. Reviewed January 13.

James Westwater. The current solo in the main space at the Rule Gallery is James Westwater; 10 Years, Geometric Narcissism, 1995-2005. This is not the first time Westwater has had his work exhibited in Denver, but it is the first major offering. The Rule show is a brief survey of the conceptual artist's work done during the time he's lived in Santa Fe, where he moved in 1994. For Westwater, who exhibits his pieces nationally, "geometric narcissism" explains what he's doing -- specifically, using simple shapes, most often ovals, to mark the surface of his pieces, as if he were putting a personal stamp on them. In the late '90s, Westwater put the shapes within neo-minimalist formats -- and they look a lot like Ellsworth Kelly's compositions -- but in the later pieces, he puts the shapes on top of appropriated images and found objects, including a reproduction of a seascape, a sheet of faux bois laminate and a suitcase. The exhibit opens with a reception from 6 to 9 pm on Friday, January 21. Through March 5 at the Rule Gallery, 111 Broadway, 303-777-9473.

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