Sketches

Brief reviews of current shows

Full and PLANNING.ABSTRACT. Denver painter Bruce Price is clearly Colorado's preeminent post-minimalist, as proved by the recent batch of fabulous creations in FULL: New Paintings by Bruce Price. These paintings, though clearly a continuation of Price's past efforts, are also completely new-looking and very different conceptually. A protegé of the great Clark Richert, Price has taken his mentor's concepts and turned them inside out. In the past few years, for instance, Price has become intensely interested in theories about decoration and ornamentation, things that Richert is pointedly not interested in. Seizing on the potential of decoration to convey pictorial content, Price lays one pattern next to another so that they seem to collide or overlap. And though Price's patterns sometimes look flat, at other times they seem to be covering three-dimensional space, giving his paintings a strange, if compelling, visual effect. Price's FULL is being presented with PLANNING.ABSTRACT: New Paintings by Jared Latimer. These abstracts concern the idea of conflict, combining organic passages with geometric elements. Through October 8 at + Gallery, 2350 Lawrence Street, 303-296-0927.

Metro Effect. Metropolitan State College of Denver is celebrating its fortieth anniversary, and in honor of that milestone, the Center for Visual Art is presenting a juried show of works by Metro alumni. A committee made up of former CVA director Kathy Andrews, art-department chair Greg Watts and art professor Yuko Yagisawa selected the 26 artists included. As could be expected from a commuter school like Metro, most still live in the area. What is unexpected is that some of them have emerged as major figures in the local art scene. This is surely true of Phil Bender, whose appearance in this show reminds everyone that Pirate, one of the city's oldest co-ops, was a spinoff of Metro's art department. Other artists familiar to Denver art audiences include Carlos Frésquez, Mark Friday, Lauri Lynnxe Murphy, Elaine Ricklin, Dave Seiler and Bill Starke. There are also those who left town to seek their fame and fortune elsewhere -- notably, Shaun Acton, who is now in New York. More than anything else, the show reveals Metro's significance to the life of the art scene in the Mile High City and beyond. Through October 29 at the Center for Visual Art, 1734 Wazee Street, 303-294-5207.

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 he 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 last fifteen years. However, they also seem to be striking out on something of a new path for him since 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 has received. As usual, the use of strong colors in striking contrasts is an important aspect of these works. 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 the Edge Gallery, 3658 Navajo Street, 303-477-7173.

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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.

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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