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. The 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 form the exhibit Stoppers. McKenzie's recent creations are close-up views of houses under construction. In the paintings, McKenzie focuses on unfinished structures, with all those straight lines of the skeletal beams suggesting constructivist abstractions. The Folkestad sculptures in Stoppers 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 the Sandy Carson Gallery, 760 Santa Fe Drive, 303-573-8585. Reviewed on October 20.

FRAMED and CROSSWALKS. In FRAMED (the light and dark of it), at Spark Gallery, Denver artist Roland Bernier continues with the sort of wall sculptures he first showed at the Singer Gallery last year. In these works, words made of wooden letters are combined with found objects that refer back to the words. Like his earlier efforts, Bernier's new pieces at Spark are hieratic, giving them a devotional flavor of altars. But there are some subtle differences, in particular the introduction of photo elements as key components. Also new-ish is the use of asymmetrical compositions. Though a solo, FRAMEDhas been hung with another solo, CROSSWALKS, which features paintings by Madeleine Dodge. The two shows are hung together with a Bernier, then a Dodge, then another Bernier, and so on. Spark artists have had a hard time figuring out how to use their space, but this particular approach represents a failed attempt. Dodge has shifted stylistic gears for CROSSWALKS, moving away from her traditional figural abstraction and toward a minimalist approach reliant on straight lines. Both through November 12 at Spark Gallery, 900 Santa Fe Drive, 720-889-2200. Reviewed on November 3.

Patti Cramer. Artist Patti Cramer is a Denver icon. The Westword contributor been the subject of innumerable solos over the past twenty years, and her work is in many collections in the region. In the past few years Cramer has kept a lower than usual profile, making the self-titled Patti Cramer at Open Press LTD a rare opportunity to see what she's been up to lately. The show includes paintings, monotypes and etchings, the latter two mediums being created at Open Press, which is more of a printmaking facility than a gallery. Cramer's signature pieces look like a cross between old master paintings and New Yorker cartoons. Cramer's world is made up of fashionable people socializing in restaurants and out on the sidewalks. There are also portraits and landscapes, as well as her characteristic depictions of horses. Cramer's horses are linear and are more abstract than any of her other subjects. Though the Open Press exhibition space is fairly small, Patti Cramer is a large show of nearly fifty pieces. Through December 10 at Open Press LTD, 40 West Bayaud Street, 303-778-1116. Reviewed on October 27.

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.

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