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. Reviewed November 17.

Building Outside the Box. With the Denver Art Museum's outlandish Hamilton Building by Daniel Libeskind taking shape at West 13th Avenue and Acoma Plaza, there's a lot going on outside the place. Inside the gorgeous Gio Ponti tower, it's a different story. Up until the opening of the Hamilton next fall, there will be one show on the main floor titled Building Outside the Box: Creating the New Denver Art Museum, which has been given the cutesy nickname of B.O.B. If the Hamilton Building itself is exciting, its explication put forward in this show is decidedly not; it's the kind of thing you'd expect to find in an airport or a shopping mall, but surely not at an art museum. This dog looks as if it were organized by a committee and not by a curator with some expertise -- like Craig Miller, the head of the DAM's architecture, design and graphics department. He always does such a good job, so he obviously had nothing to do with it. The shame is that with the existence of this dumbed-down feature, it's unlikely that a proper show on the topic will be done in the future. Through Fall 2006 at the Denver Art Museum, 100 West 14th Avenue Parkway, 720-865-5000. Reviewed November 10.

Colorado: Then & Now II. In the late 1990s, internationally known photographer John Fielder came up with the idea of re-photographing old shots done by William Henry Jackson. This idea led to an exhibit at the Colorado History Museum in 1999, with this current show being the long anticipated sequel to that one. The CHM has a vast collection of Jackson's work, dating back to his first photos of the state done in 1873, when he was part of the federal Hayden Survey of the American West. In 1880, he opened a Denver studio, which he closed in 1896. As he did for that first Then & Now, Fielder went through the vast Jackson archives and selected the images he wanted to recreate and then revisited those locales. This time, however, Fielder picked more views of buildings rather than depictions of the wilderness. During the show the CHM's gift shop will have Fielder's accompanying book, Colorado Then & Now II for sale, as well as having volume I available for those who missed it. Through April 5 at the Colorado History Museum, 1300 Broadway, 303-866-3678.

DIALOG:21. Over the last decade, Denver artist Peter Illig has made a reputation with pieces featuring representational imagery. Like other current realists, Illig has brought something new to the age-old tradition -- in his case, obvious references to pop culture, particularly the movies. Like movies, Illig's works feature juxtapositions of visual information, and although the narratives are confusing, they are clearly there nonetheless. In recent years, Illig has carried out his ideas on gigantic sixty-foot-long charcoal drawings, but for DIALOG:21, he's shifted gears and done more than a score of small paintings. He collectively calls these his "Modular Dialogue" series, which he describes as an "image matrix." In them, he achieves the same effect as in his drawings, because taken together, the panels become parts of one piece. There is a difference, though: Because the paintings are moveable, the arrangement of the images -- and therefore the story -- can change. A reception is planned for December 2, from 6 to 9 p.m. Through December 10 at Spark Gallery, 900 Santa Fe Drive, 720-889-2200.

Illusions. The Walker Gallery in the Golden Triangle has paired Bonny Lhotka's unusual digital photo-enlargements with Christopher Oar's geometric sculptures that refer to everyday objects for the show Illusions. The title, of course, is meaningless since the word could be used to describe anything in the visual arts. Lhotka is an experimental photo artist who uses unusual forms, like lenticular photos (the ones with different images depending on the viewer's vantage point), and odd materials, such as metal and ultraviolet-cured inks. Though Lhotka employs digital technology, she also does a lot of handwork to come up with her finished pieces. Her compositions are jammed packed with imagery and drenched in colors, some of them boldly bright, others recessively dark. Oar does tabletop sculptures made of welded steel. Typically, he sets up a stack of flat rectangles reminiscent of piles of books, and then places a single steel sphere in the mix. According to his statement, this sphere is meant to represent his aloneness as an artist. Through January 4 at Walker Fine Art, 300 West 11th Avenue, #A, (entrance on Cherokee Street), 303-355-8955.

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