Now Showing

Mel Strawn. Salida-based artist Mel Strawn has a long exhibition track record in Colorado, but in recent years he's kept a low profile. That makes Mel Strawn: Retrospective: 1957-2004 a rare chance to catch up on what he's done over his long career. Strawn was educated in California in the 1950s and taught at a variety of colleges before becoming the director of what was then called the School of Art at the University of Denver in 1969; he remained at DU until 1985. Although the Sandra Phillips Gallery is hardly large enough for a real retrospective -- so it might be a stretch to call this one -- there's room enough to briefly sketch out Strawn's development over nearly half a century. In a variety of paintings, works on paper and digital images, Strawn reveals his interest in bold compositions with emphatic divisions between the forms and colors. The players in the art world change so often that it's hard to keep up, but someone like Strawn is too interesting to be forgotten, and this show is a good way to remember his contributions to the scene. The exhibit opens with a reception on Thursday, March 3, from 6 to 9 p.m. Through March 30 at the Sandra Phillips Gallery, 744 Santa Fe Drive, 303-573-5969.

Siqueiros. The exhibition Sigueiros: Spirit of a Revolutionary at the Museo de las Américas is evidence that the beleaguered institution -- which all but collapsed last year -- is still alive and kicking. The gorgeous exhibit, put together by Alfonso Miranda Marquez of the Museo Soumaya in Mexico City, includes more than a score of works by one of the greatest Mexican artists of all time: David Alfaro Siqueiros. Using paintings, drawings and watercolors, Marquez economically surveys the artist's career from the 1910s to the 1970s. Sigueiros was one of "Los Tres Grandes" of the Mexican mural movement, and like the other two -- Diego Rivera and Jose Clemente Orozco -- he created work with one eye on vanguard styles developing in Europe, and the other on left-wing political action at home in Mexico. An interesting aspect of Sigueiros's style is that it had an influence on artists in the United States, and not just the social realists, but the abstract expressionists, as well. Through April 23 at the Museo de las Américas, 861 Santa Fe Drive, 303-571-4401.

Three Dimensions and David Mazza. The William Havu Gallery is presenting Three Dimensions, an ambitious group show made up of monumental sculptures by three important artists working in the West: Denver's Lawrence Argent; Austin's Stephen Daly; and Tempe, Arizona's Mary Bates Neubauer. Argent, who is well known in town for his prominent public commissions, is represented by recent sculptures and several of his cerebral photo-enlargements of pacifiers. Daly is showing his large installation "Controller," along with a selection of his signature heads. A few major Neubauer bronzes are on display, as well as a large selection of smaller cast-iron pieces. On the gallery's mezzanine -- humorously dubbed the "Mazza-nine"-- is David Mazza, which is made up of recent sculptures by the local whiz kid. In addition, Mazza has a new piece installed on the sidewalk near the gallery's entrance and works on display in the sculpture garden out back. Also outside is the work of Michael Clapper. Through March 12 at the William Havu Gallery, 1040 Cherokee Street, 303-893-2360. Reviewed February 24.

Upstarts and Matriarchs. Feminism transformed American society in the '70s, allowing female artists to turn the art world upside down. 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 outdone 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 Street, 303-399-2660. Reviewed February 17.

Will Boys Be Boys? In her recent programming at Denver's Museum of Contemporary Art, director Cydney Payton has really tried to push some buttons. Last fall the topic at hand was drug use; now, for the second half of the current season, it's the life of teenage boys, in Will Boys Be Boys? Questioning Adolescent Masculinity in Contemporary Art. Looking at art about teenage boys could make viewers uncomfortable, especially in the case of those pieces in which kids are acting like grownups by drinking, doing drugs and becoming sexual. That last part is particularly edgy, since it brings in the dark specter of the sexual abuse and exploitation of children. The provocative exhibit, which fills both the main floor and the mezzanine at the MCA, is a traveling show put together by Shamim Momin, an associate curator at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Momin selected pieces in an array of mediums, including painting, sculpture, installation and video, by such artists as Larry Clark, Collier Schorr, Chloe Piene and many others. Through April 17 at the Museum of Contemporary Art/Denver, 1275 19th Street, 303-298-7554.

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