I was surprised when I heard that Roland Bernier joined the co-op Spark Gallery (900 Santa Fe Drive, 720-889-2200). After all, Bernier is an acknowledged master of contemporary art in Denver. He's had a solo at the Denver Art Museum, for heaven's sake! But there is an explanation: The key perk of Spark membership, as with that of any co-op, is a guaranteed show once a year. That's a luxury for any artist, even one as established as Bernier.
In his current exhibit at Spark, FRAMED (the light and dark of it), Bernier continues with the wall sculptures he first showed at Singer Gallery last year. In these, he combines words made of wooden letters with found objects that refer back to the words. Like those earlier efforts, the new ones are hieratic, giving them a devotional flavor reminiscent of altars. But there are some subtle differences, including the introduction of photo elements as key components, as in the title piece, for which Bernier assembled a lineup of old family photos. Also new-ish is the use of asymmetrical compositions. In "Forked" (above), the sculpture is essentially symmetrical in overall shape, but with lots of asymmetrical elements.
Though a solo, FRAMEDhas been hung with another solo, CROSSWALKS, that features recent paintings by Madeleine Dodge. The two shows have been installed in alternates, with a Bernier, then a Dodge, then another Bernier, and so on. I've said before that the Spark artists have had a hard time figuring out how to use their awful space, but this particular approach (which has been tried before) surely represents a failed attempt to deal with the problem.
I'm not sure when it happened, but Dodge has shifted stylistic gears big-time. For CROSSWALKS, she has moved away from the figural abstraction that she's done for many years and toward a minimalist approach that relies exclusively on straight lines.
Both FRAMEDand CROSSWALKS run through November 12 at Spark.