By Show and Tell
By Bree Davies
By Bree Davies
By Cory Casciato
By Emilie Johnson
By Robin Edwards
By Bree Davis
By Josiah M. Hesse
Geometric Abstraction. This group show at the UMC Gallery at the University of Colorado at Boulder brings together works by a variety of artists who did geometric abstraction in the '60s and '70s. This kind of thing was perfect for the times, because the simplicity meant that there was no content other than form and color, making it corporate-friendly, unlike the narrative-heavy pop art of the same period. Despite the stylistic affinities that link all of the Geometric artists, the show includes two distinctly different generations: Frank Stella and Sol LeWitt, who were responding to abstract expressionism; and Herbert Bayer and Ilya Bolotowsky, who were embracing geometry before the first abstract expressionist flung the first wad of paint. The two generations were motivated by different impulses, even if their pieces are all superficially compatible. The included works come from the Colorado Collection, CU's impressive art holdings. Through November 4 at the UMC Gallery, University Memorial Center, Broadway and Euclid Street, Boulder, 303-492-7465.
Jack Balas and Wes Hempel. Berthoud-based artists Jack Balas and Wes Hempel have been partners for more than twenty years, and each is an established artist with his own distinctive style. However, the two are also able to play together on hybrid pieces, as is revealed by this show. But they don't work simultaneously on the same piece: Balas typically comes in after Hempel has completed his part. In some cases, the Hempel contribution was an abandoned painting that Balas took over and made whole. Balas was trained as an architect and fine artist, which possibly explains his interest in neo-pop, while Hempel is a self-taught artist who started out as a writer, which may be why his paintings are so narrative. Balas's pieces often include scribbled passages and shifting scale distortions; Hempel, on the other hand, lends his tightly done pictures a surrealistic quality through depictions of historic art and architecture. There is one thing the two artists have in common: They both like to incorporate depictions of good-looking young guys. These figures represent the everyman on whom the intellectual content of the pieces rests. Through November 5 at the Robischon Gallery, 1740 Wazee Street, 303-298-7788.
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.
Revealing the Muse and Colorado Innovators. Hugh Grant, founder and director of the Kirkland Museum on Capitol Hill, curated both Revealing the Muse and Colorado Innovators both at the Lakewood Heritage Center using pieces borrowed from his institution's permanent collection. The Kirkland Museum has an impressive assemblage that includes paintings by Kirkland himself, work by other Colorado artists and an extensive group of decorative arts. Colorado Innovators provides a survey of mid-twentieth-century artists working in Denver. Most of the objects included have either never been exhibited or haven't been seen in living memory. Revealing the Muse is a Vance Kirkland retrospective that begins with his work from the 1930s and ends with pieces done right before his death in 1981. I think it could be argued that surrealism was Kirkland's most important influence, and one of his most important innovations was the mixing of oil paint and water poured onto the surfaces of his pieces. Beginning in the 1950s, this mixture led to some of his greatest paintings ever. Through February 10 at the Radius Gallery, Lakewood Heritage Center, 801 South Yarrow Street, Lakewood, 303-987-7850. Reviewed September 8.