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.

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.

Dale Chisman. Abstract painter Dale Chisman is at the top of everyone's list, both for his talent and his commitment to art. Chisman began his art career in the 1960s, when he studied with Martha Epp at North High School and, later, with Mary Chenoweth at Colorado College. After graduating from the University of Colorado, he left the area to seek fame in New York. He returned twenty years ago and has lived in town ever since. Dale Chisman at Rule Gallery is partly devoted to work Chisman did in New York in the 1970s and partly given over to paintings done just in the last few months. It's striking how consistent his aesthetic has been over the years; though the new paintings are clearly distinct from the old ones, they are obviously an outgrowth of them. Both sets feature simple palettes of strong colors and have all the tricks of the abstract trade, including smudges, drips, runs and scribbles. Expansive color fields provide a stage for isolated shapes -- geometrics in the old paintings, organic forms in the new -- to play on. Through January 14 at Rule Gallery, 111 Broadway, 303-777-9473.

Lauri Lynnxe Murphy and Andy Miller. As much as any place in town, + Gallery promotes conceptual art, even though it isn't so easy to sell. For its current shows, + has paired longtime denizen of Denver's contemporary scene Lauri Lynnxe Murphy with another cutting-edge notable, Andy Miller. Murphy is debuting a new body of work that not only represents a stylistic break, but is in a different medium, too. She has been doing mixed-media works on panels assembled into grids; in the new pieces, she creates organic shapes out of plastic and then scatters them across the walls. Murphy calls this series "Clusterf**ck." Miller is best known for installations, but for this show he's done individual wall pieces using various materials, including steel, neon, horsehair and artificial pearls. In addition, there is a display of works by artists who are represented by + and were selected for the Western edition of New American Paintings, a juried exhibition catalogue. The group includes Karen McClanahan and Jenny Morgan. An opening reception is scheduled for Thursday, December 8, from 6 to 9 p.m. All shows through January 14 at + Gallery, 2350 Lawrence Street, 303-296-0927.

Iswaswillbe. Though the Mizel Center is a Jewish institution, the Singer Gallery showcases both Jewish and non-Jewish artists. Right now it's featuring Iswaswillbe, a solo of work by Geoffrey Laurence, a Jewish artist from New Mexico. The title painting depicts a robust SS officer in full Nazi regalia with his arm around a skeleton wearing a prayer shawl. It's the kind of thing only a Jewish artist could do -- and only a Jewish institution could display. And in a predictable irony, a Jewish institution is also where the people most apt to be offended by it would be -- and some have been offended and complained. It's apparent, however, that this painting and lots of others in the show are actually anti-war comments. These paintings and drawings by Laurence are meticulously crafted and obviously filled with content. Through December 30 at the Mizel Center for Arts and Culture, 350 South Dahlia Street, 303-316-6360.

Patti Cramer. Artist Patti Cramer is a Denver icon. The Westword contributor has 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, which 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.

Wyoming Expeditions. Gallery Roach is named for the late Otto Roach, a prominent commercial photographer in mid-twentieth century Denver. His lab, Roach Photography, earned a fine reputation for photo finishing. Dutch Walla, who became Roach's associate more than fifty years ago, now owns both the gallery and the lab. Wyoming Expeditions features Roach's photos of Wyoming done between the 1940s and 1960s. They're done in black and white, with Roach capturing many famous scenes, including such remarkable Yellowstone National Park subjects as the surrealistic Jupiter Terrace and the majestic falls at Yellowstone's Grand Canyon. Roach repeatedly visited nearby Wyoming to take photos, so he was able to supplement the well-known Yellowstone attractions with shots of unknown backcountry views. Surely the standout is a gigantic mural measuring seven feet by ten feet. And if the tremendous size of the photomural were not enough of an accomplishment, the entire thing has been hand-tinted! Through January 27 at Gallery Roach, 860 Broadway, 303-839-5202.

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