Sketches

Brief reviews of current shows

Nowhere. Ten years ago, David Zimmer was one of the hottest young kids on Denver's alternative scene; he even got a piece into the Denver Art Museum. Today Zimmer is much less well known, though not exactly forgotten. He moved away late in 1998 and fell out of the local exhibition scene. It's been nine years since he had a solo here, which makes Nowhere a welcome reminder of just how good he is. Though all of the works are new, several touch on concerns from Zimmer's earlier pieces. There are the scientific-looking cabinets -- some with preserved insects in them -- that hark back to his Pirate days, as well as a wall-mounted installation of backlit photos in acrylic cylinders that relate to the piece shown at the DAM. The utter standouts, however, are not these self-referential retro pieces, but his newest efforts: miniature tabletop installations, some of which have tiny LCD monitors and soundtracks, sort of like a Bill Viola for the mantel. Through January 21 at Artyard Contemporary Sculpture, 1251 South Pearl Street, 303-777-3219. Reviewed January 5.

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 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.

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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