Sketches

Brief reviews of current shows

Tracy Felix, et al. Well-known Denver-area artist Tracy Felix is the subject of this self-titled show at William Havu Gallery, the artist's longtime representative. Felix has a special interest in the art history of Colorado and New Mexico, and in many ways, his idiosyncratic style is a reaction to his research. Classic Felix paintings feature meticulously painted mountain scenes that are marginally realistic and complete with seas of simplified trees, conventionalized peaks and cotton-candy clouds. In addition, he's been doing cubistic versions that are even more abstract. This is Felix's first show in years, and the first in memory without his wife, Sushe Felix. Also on display are ceramic sculptures in the form of abstracted boats by Margaret Haydon -- who lives in Boulder but teaches at the University of Wyoming -- and hyper-realistic landscapes of local scenes in drawings by Denver artist Michael Burrows. An opening reception is set for Friday, January 6, from 6 to 9 p.m. Through February 11 at the William Havu Gallery, 1040 Cherokee Street, 303-893-2360.

TRUSS THRUST. Museum of Contemporary Art director Cydney Payton put together this thematic video show by free-associating on the topic of visual perception. She considered biological processes, social and cultural conditioning and the physical and psychological perceptions of movement and space. The show addresses all these issues, though it was surely not inevitable that they would lead Payton to organize an exhibit made up of video installations exploring dance and architecture. Payton began to build the show by first selecting Peter Welz, a Berlin-based artist who is known for his exploration of movement in videos, drawings and installations. Welz is joined by The Blue Noses Group from Russia, a partnership of Viacheslav Mizin and Alexander Shaburov, who do short films based on traditional Russian humor, such as "Little Men," which depicts cavorting nudes. The last participant is Sergio Prego, a Spanish artist interested in relentless endurance. Through January 8 at the Museum of Contemporary Art/Denver, 1275 19th Street, 303-298-7554. Reviewed December 1.

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 from the 1940s through the 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. Reviewed December 8.

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