Sketches

Brief reviews of current shows

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 re-create and then revisited those locales. This time, however, he picked more views of buildings rather than depictions of the wilderness. During the show's run, the CHM gift shop will have Fielder's accompanying book, Colorado Then & Now II, for sale, as well as Volume I for those who missed it. Through April 5 at the Colorado History Museum, 1300 Broadway, 303-866-3678.

Early Colorado Contemporary Photography. Most of the photographers whose work appears in this show at Gallery Sink are fairly obscure, though one of them, Jim Milmoe, is well known. A photographer in the area for more than fifty years, Milmoe is also the primary force behind the exhibit. For the show, he includes his own work along with that of five of his contemporaries: Walter Chappell, Arnold Gassan, Syl Labrot, Nile Root and Winter Prather. This loosely affiliated group of kindred modernists worked in town in the '50s and '60s, and most of them participated in the workshops conducted in Denver by legendary photographer Minor White, who encouraged experimentation. All six explored vanguard ideas in fine-art photography. The reason the names are unfamiliar is because there is a lack of local institutional support for the topic; as a result, most of the pieces in the show are out of Milmoe's own collection. A few loans were used to beef things up, but the predictable idiosyncrasies of a personal trove are still clearly evident. Through February 12 at Gallery Sink, 2301 West 30th Avenue, 303-455-5601. Reviewed January 12.

5 Portfolios, et al. The Colorado Collection at the University of Colorado was launched in 1939 as an aid to teaching. In the intervening decades, it has become a cultural treasure that includes some 5,000 works of art. 5 Portfolios is the latest in an ongoing series of exhibitions spotlighting different aspects of CU's horde. There are a lot of big-name modernists in the collection, like the five that director Lisa Timiris Becker chose to feature this time: Alexander Calder, Salvador Dalí, Philippe Halsman, Louise Nevelson and David Álfaro Siqueiros. Each artist is represented by an entire portfolio: Calder's "Our Unfinished Revolution," Dalí's "Imaginations et Objets du Futur," Halsman's "Halsman/Dalí," Nevelson's "Façade/Homage to Edith Sitwell" and Siqueiros's "Mountain Suite." All of the portfolios were created in the '60s or '70s. In addition, the museum is presenting The Way We Live Now, a show of artist-made books from the Mark and Polly Addison collection. Through March 24 at the CU Art Museum in the Sibell-Wolle Fine Arts Building on the Boulder campus, 303-492-8300.

METALisms. This show is the first significant effort put together in its entirety since the draconian budget cuts that hit the Center for Visual Art last year. Called METALisms: Signature Works in Jewelry & Metalsmithing, it demonstrates that there's still life in the struggling institution. The show, a national survey of contemporary metalwork, was organized by the CVA's interim director, Jennifer Garner, and Yuko Yagisawa, who teaches at Metropolitan State College, which sponsors the CVA. Garner and Yagisawa invited a diverse group of more than sixty artists; many do functional work, which is expected in this kind of exhibit, while others are interested in the non-functional and the sculptural. The organizers also took on the challenge of highlighting as broad a range of techniques and materials as possible while still ensuring that everything was finely crafted. An opening reception will be held on Thursday, February 9, from 7 to 9 p.m.; on Friday, February 10, there will be an artist talk with Robert Obendorf at 9:30 a.m. followed by a workshop at 10:30 a.m. Through March 16 at the Metropolitan State College Center for Visual Art, 1734 Wazee Street, 303-294-5207.

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