Artbeat

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

Currently, there are three shows at Pirate: a contemporary art oasis (3659 Navajo Street, 303-458-6058) that have an after-dark character. In two of them, it's because the galleries themselves have been shrouded in darkness, but in the third, which is well-lit, the nighttime feel has to do with the adults-only character of the work.

In the main space is Crudely Formed, an exhibit of organic abstractions that glow eerily. The pieces, created by emerging artist Debra Sanders, are made out of glass and silicone with an internal light source; they have an unnerving visceral quality because they look like hunks of skin. Sanders has written that these sculptures were derived from a series in which she enveloped marshmallows in wax. There's only one problem with the show: There are too few of these pieces, making the large space look half empty.

In the Associates' Space, young hotshot Conor King created an entire atmosphere in which to view his photo projection, Hidden Landscape. The space has been partly cut off from the rest of Pirate by a black curtain, and beyond is a long, horizontal scrim in white on black. King projects onto the white part the mirror reflection of computer-created, photo-based images of men running with balloons. The effect is elegant, and the elaborate presentation thoroughly professional.

In the Treasure Chest, Michael Chavez is showing Guilty Pleasures, a group of Polaroid self-portraits. The nearly nude artist is shown with pornographic images projected onto his body and onto the background. It's an interesting idea.

The X-rated content of the Chavez presentation provides the perfect companion to Agnes Kunz Vigil's show American Slang, in the Cache space, which, though on the premises, is not part of Pirate. In these digital photos in giclée prints, Vigil recorded staged sight gags based on sexually charged slang expressions. Some are merely naughty, such as "Balloons," while others are pretty vulgar, such as "Choking the Chicken," and some, such as "Baby Batter," are downright disgusting. But no matter how much stomach churning her still-lifes cause, they're invariably funny.

The three shows at Pirate and the one in the Cache close on May 1.

 
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