Twenty-something artist Jenny Morgan is surely one of the most serious and ambitious young painters around. She's practically right out of school, having graduated only a couple of years ago from the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design. There she was a protegée of Irene Delka McCray, and, like her mentor, Morgan is a representational painter who's very good at conveying the human figure.
Despite her tender age, she's already represented by the respected + Gallery downtown. Her work is also included in New American Paintings, a juried exhibit catalogue that's filled with the work of some of the hottest talents across the country -- which means she's in very good company.
In her current exhibit, Mine not yours, at Pirate: A Contemporary Art Oasis (3655 Navajo Street, 303-458-6058), Morgan continues to use the self-portrait as her principle vehicle. With a great deal of painterly skill, she meticulously captures her own image -- or parts of it -- employing amazing attention to detail.
All pieces involve a nude Morgan interacting with a piece of fabric, a classic combination for traditional realism. She adds contemporary content by cutting up the figure and placing it against a solid-colored background. By doing this, the figures are abstracted by implication, if not in actuality. In a number of cases, as in "Fallout" (above), Morgan paired two panels to make a single piece.
The show looks very good, which tells me that Morgan can not only paint, but also hang a show -- which is an entirely different skill. Her paintings, mostly in exaggeratedly vertical shapes, handsomely take over the recently reconfigured Pirate, which though now somewhat smaller, is still very large.
Two Trains of Thought, a solo of Laurel McMechan's painted portraits, is ensconced in the Associates Space and works well with the Morgan outing. These McMechan paintings have a photographic -- or maybe even telegenic -- quality and a rich, dark palette. Some are surrealistic, but the best are not. The promising McMechan is developing her artistic ideas along some very interesting lines.
Both shows at Pirate run through Sunday, November 27.