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Michael Brohman. Pirate's smaller -- though still grand -- main space is given over to the solo Michael Brohman: Questioning My Head, which is filled with recently made sculpture. Brohman is a longtime member of Pirate, and he's been teaching art at the University of Colorado at Denver for the past ten years. This recent body of work, which marks a shift in his aesthetic concerns (though it's also clearly a continuation of them), was inspired by a five-week teaching gig in Ireland earlier this year. The trip put Brohman back in touch with his Roman Catholic roots. The sculptures at Pirate incorporate materials Brohman collected in Ireland, such as wool and goats' skulls, and things from around here, like iron, bronze and the artist's own hair. As could be expected from Brohman, the works have an unsettlingly macabre quality -- and not just the ones featuring skulls. It's hard to understand how the creepily elegant pieces refer back to a Catholic upbringing, though, other than in their titles, which include "Trinity" and "You Take Away the Sins of the World." Through September 4 at Pirate: a contemporary art oasis, 3659 Navajo Street, 303-458-6058.

STEPHEN BATURA and JAMES COLBERT. In the olden days -- meaning a couple of years ago -- August was decidedly not the 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.

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