Sketches

Brief reviews of current shows

Andy Warhol's Dream America. Hot on the heels of its smash hit, Chihuly, the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center is presenting yet another blockbuster devoted to the work of a household name in contemporary art: Andy Warhol's Dream America. The exhibition was curated by Ben Mitchell of Wyoming's Nicolaysen Museum. The more than 100 prints -- on loan from the Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation -- survey the pop pioneer's career from the late '60s to 1986, the year before he died. There are many iconic Warhol images included, such as his depictions of soup cans, shoes, Marilyn, Jackie and Mao. More than any other pop artist of his generation, Warhol anticipated the art of today by working not only in traditional media, such as the prints in this show, but also in film and performance. He is generally regarded as having been among the most important artists in the world during the second half of the twentieth century, and one of the greatest American artists of all time. The wide range of prints in this show neatly explains why. Through December 31 at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, 30 West Dale Street, Colorado Springs, 1-719-634-5581.

Constructions and Stoppers. Sandy Carson Gallery is hosting two disparate solos that are installed together. On the walls are contemporary representational paintings by Sarah McKenzie in a show called Constructions; on the floor are conceptual sculptures by Virginia Folkestad that make up the exhibit Stoppers. McKenzie's recent creations are close-up views of houses under construction. In the paintings, the artist focuses on unfinished structures, with all those straight lines of the skeletal beams suggesting constructivist abstractions. The Folkestad sculptures are all fairly alike and are all titled "Stoppers." Scattered throughout the spaces in the front, the sculptures take the form of gigantic concrete eggs with a steel arch emerging from the top of each. The ends are cracked and open, with tangles of braided rope spilling out from the inside. Through November 12 at Sandy Carson Gallery, 760 Santa Fe Drive, 303-573-8585. Reviewed on October 20.

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 isone 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 rest. Through November 5 at the Robischon Gallery, 1740 Wazee Street, 303-298-7788.

The Modern Muybridge Series. This is a clever show that features recent work by Rodney Wallace, who runs the gallery with the oddball name of KOUBOU a Deux, an invented Franco-Japanese phrase that means "artist workshop for two." The show's title refers to Eadweard Muybridge, a pioneer of scientific photography who took sequential photos of people and animals in motion. Free association connects them to Warhol's repetitious imagery, and Wallace references both sensibilities simultaneously. Particularly Warholian are Wallace's bright colors. Also compelling is Wallace's gritty take on city life: His pieces include depictions of a woman loaded down with luggage, a homeless man pushing a shopping cart and an assault in progress, among other contemporary urban scenes. To do the paintings, Wallace took digital photos, some of them staged using models, and then projected the images onto blank canvases. Tracing the images with watercolor pencils, he painted in the forms using acrylics that melted the tracings so that no outlines were left behind. Through November 5 at KOUBOU a Deux, upstairs at 7571/2 Santa Fe Drive, 720-203-1944. Reviewed October 13.

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