Shooting Star. The handsome exhibit Shooting Star: The Artwork of Frank Mechau (1904-1946)is currently on view in the Vida Ellison Gallery on level seven of the Denver Central Library. Mechau grew up in Colorado, but in the 1920s he went in search of first-rate art training and spent time in Chicago and Paris. In Paris, he was exposed to modernism, which left a lasting impression on the style of his work. He returned to Colorado in the 1930s, where regionalist style of the Boardman Robinson type ruled. Mechau's signature is a combination of Parisian modernism and good old American regionalism -- an interesting combo, to say the least, and one that Mechau got a lot of mileage from. His most famous subjects were horses, which strike a nice regionalist note, but his modernist versions of the animals are flattened and lack details. Mechau died in his forties and though his career was cut short, he was one of the most significant Colorado artists working in the early twentieth century. That makes this show long overdue. Through August 30 at the Denver Central Library, 10 West 14th Avenue Parkway, 720-865-1814. Reviewed July 21.
STEPHEN BATURA and JAMES COLBERT. In the olden days -- meaning a couple of years ago -- August was decidedly notthe time to see solos dedicated to established talents. That has all changed. For example, despite being the off season, there are not only one, but two, solos given over to a significant Colorado artist at Robischon Gallery. The first is STEPHEN BATURA: Neighborhood, featuring the Denver artist's signature representational paintings based on historic photos. In this recent group of casein-on-panel paintings, Batura documents in breathtaking detail the moving of a house. Batura has done a number of commissions around town and is currently working on a mural for the Ellie Caulkins Opera House. The second solo is JAMES COLBERT: Visitations, featuring recent landscape paintings by the noted Boulder-based artist. Unlike Batura, whose pieces are photo-related, Colbert's come out of the tradition of representational painting, in particular the regionalist style of the early twentieth century, which gives his work a local resonance. Through September 10 at Robischon Gallery, 1740 Wazee Street, 303-298-7788. Reviewed August 18.
Summer Group Exhibition. This show at the Rule Gallery has an informal quality, nonetheless it's excellent. The first thing up is Mary Ehrin's installation made of tubular metal, faux crystals on chains and white feathers. The Ehrin crowds the things near it, so make a point not to miss the marvelous suite of Andy Libertone drawings that are partly hidden by the installation. Next to the Libertones is a selection of Jeff Starr's outlandish ceramics, including several bongs. Across from the Starrs are gorgeous photos by Jason Patz who, since 2002, has been taking his own picture. Despite the constrictions implicit in self-portraiture, he's been able to create a wide range of visual experiences. On the opposite wall are two intriguing paintings by one of the acknowledged contemporary masters of the area, Dale Chisman. Around the corner is a single sublime painting in a deep aqua with multi-colored lines done by Clark Richert, another local master. This show bring together several generations of Denver artists from old-timers who started their careers in the '60s to kids who weren't even born until the 1980s. Through September 10 at the Rule Gallery, 111 Broadway, 303-777-9473. Reviewed August 4.