Sketches

Brief reviews of current shows.

Rococo. Longtime Edge-ster Mark Brasuell is presenting a body of new works at the co-op that take the form of mixed-media paintings, some sporting collage elements. To some extent, these pieces, in which Brasuell mixes issues related to his own biography with the notions of formalist abstraction, represent a continuation of the kind of work he's done over the past fifteen years. However, they also seem to be striking out on a new path for him, as he has incorporated representational -- or at least semi-representational -- imagery of plants, birds and animals. These images are created using antique stencils and cut-up pieces of a how-to-draw book that Brasuell has had since he was a teenager. Brasuell also incorporated script into the pieces, using the content of actual letters he's received. As usual, the use of strong colors in striking contrasts is an important aspect of the works. All of these elements -- abstraction, representation, script and color -- inspired the show's title, Rococo, a more-is-more European style that pushed the excesses of baroque, the previous style, to the breaking point. Through October 9 at Edge Gallery, 3658 Navajo Street, 303-477-7173.

Selected Recent Acquisitions and Highlights. The impressive roster of permanent holdings of the CU Art Museum in Boulder is known as the Colorado Collection, a fitting appellation. It was started modestly as a teaching aid in 1939, but today it represents much more than that, containing more than 5,000 works of art, including drawings, paintings, photographs, sculpture and pottery. Director Lisa Tamiris Becker chose the pieces in Selected Recent Acquisitions and Highlights of the CU Art Museum's Permanent Collection. The show focuses on those items that were acquired between 2002 and 2005, along with significant works brought in since the inception of the collection, more than sixty years ago. The show has examples by the old masters, including Brueghel, Rembrandt, Daumier and Dürer; modern masters such as Picasso, Rauschenberg, Warhol and Dubuffet; and contemporary notables, including John Baldessari, Jackie Winsor, Manuel Alvarez Bravo and Mary Kelly. In addition, there are Asian, South American and African artifacts. Through October 21 at the CU Art Museum, in the Sibell Wolle Fine Art Building on the CU-Boulder campus, 303-492-8003.

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Steve Altman and Crowded. The fall openers at the Singer Gallery of the Mizel Center are Steve Altman: Incognito and Crowded: Drawings and Collages by Elliott Green. Altman is a well-known local painter whose work combines an abstract-expressionist sensibility with depictions of recognizable things. Singer director Simon Zalkind organized the show, selecting recent paintings and older pieces that together briefly survey Altman's career. Zalkind was especially interested in Altman's take on the big themes of life and death -- and everything in between. The newer paintings feature prominent depictions of the figure, while the earlier ones tend to be more thoroughly abstract. The other, smaller show, Crowded, installed together with the Altman exhibit, highlights Green's cartoonish and somewhat Picassoid collages and drawings. The show's title refers to the fact that Green's compositions are crowded with as many figures as possible. The New York artist is fairly famous, and he was directly involved with this show, lending all of the pieces for it. Through November 6 at the Singer Gallery, Mizel Center for Arts and Culture, 350 South Dahlia Street, 303-316-6360.

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