Sketches

Brief reviews of current shows

 Abstract Symbols. No sooner had Tracy Felix taken down his show at the William Havu Gallery than Sushe Felix, his wife, put up her own, a major exhibit with some three dozen paintings. The show has an epic-length title -- Abstract Symbols From Nature and the Unconscious, new paintings by Sushe Felix -- that reveals the artist's debt to the transcendentalists working in New Mexico in the early twentieth century who also looked at nature and the unconscious. In these recent pieces, Felix simplifies the sky and mountains of Western scenery into spheres, solids and voids. Her technique is meticulous, with crisp edges between the colors; she orchestrates the colors from extremes of hot yellow and orange to cool blue and green, causing some parts of the paintings to recede while others come forward. In addition to Felix's work, Havu is presenting nature-based woodblock prints by Boulder artist Jean Gumpper and sculptures by Denver artist Todd Siler, who is new to the gallery. A reception is set for 6 to 9 p.m. on Friday, February 17. Through March 18 at the William Havu Gallery, 1040 Cherokee Street, 303-893-2360.

Auditioning Gods, et al. Arvada Center curator Jerry Gilmore has organized a quartet of shows devoted to recent work by Colorado artists. In the lower galleries, Bryan Andrews presents Auditioning Gods, which continues the "fetem" sculpture series he's been pursuing for years. These hand-carved wooden sculptures are an attempt to reconcile folk and modern traditions. Small temple-like structures are his latest take on primitive, devotional art. Andrews shares the space with his friend Joe Riché, who is presenting the good times are killing me, a collection of his signature kinetic sculptures made of found materials. Also on display is a short film about the Motoman Project, a very Mark Pauline-ish performance troupe that uses robotics and explosions. In the upper gallery is Testify, a grouping of large-scale chalk drawings by Riva Sweetrocket; in the nearby Theater Gallery is Jennifer Parisi's Memento Mori, a show of paintings done on found materials and incorporating found images. Memento Mori and Testify are on display through March 26; Auditioning Gods and the good times are killing me through March 31, at the Arvada Center, 6901 Wadsworth Boulevard, 720-898-7200. Reviewed February 9.

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.

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.

Lino Tagliapietra. The swank Pismo Gallery in Cherry Creek North is presenting a breathtaking glass solo, Lino Tagliapietra: il Mito e la Materia (Myth and Material). There's no question that the leading tradition in glass comes out of Venice, in particular the island of Murano, where the world-renowned Tagliapietra was born in 1934. A quick study, at the age of twelve he began an apprenticeship with the legendary Archimede Seguso, becoming a certified maestro at the tender age of 22. In the '50s, '60s and '70s, Tagliapietra worked as a glassblower and designer for a number of famous Venetian glass houses, notably the revered Venini, the Ferrari of the field. In 1988 he launched his own atelier, and the rest is decorative-art history. Tagliapietra continues to explore many traditional techniques, putting them together in new ways and in his signature shapes; the recent work at Pismo comes from several series, some of which have expected Italian names such as "Gioia" and "Vittoria," while others have unexpected English ones like "Batman" and "Piccadilly." Through March 10 at Pismo Fine Art Glass, 2770 East Second Avenue, 303-333-2879.

METALisms. This show is the first significant effort entirely put together 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, which is 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 two organizers also had a special interest in highlighting as broad a range of techniques and materials as possible, all the while making sure that everything was finely crafted. Metalwork, not including sculpture, is the stepchild of not only the fine arts, but of the crafts, too. That makes this show a rare chance to take in some of the nation's most important work in jewelry and metal. Through March 16 at the Metropolitan State College Center for Visual Art, 1734 Wazee Street, 303-294-5207.

TRINE BUMILLER, et al. There are currently three floral-themed shows at Robischon Gallery. The main attraction is TRINE BUMILLER, which spreads through the main space and into the smaller space adjacent to it. Bumiller, who lives in Denver, is a well-established artist who began to exhibit in the '80s. Her signature is the creation of mural-like compositions of abstracts on multiple panels in varying sizes. Typically, her subject is nature -- in this case, flowers. The second show, in the space near the entry, is JUDY PFAFF, filled with gorgeous prints that sport various techniques all done simultaneously by the internationally known art star. The prints have been hand-touched with paint, giving them a three-dimensional character. The frames are notable, as well, because Pfaff has printed on the moldings, essentially extending the compositions. Finally, in the Viewing Room, is ANA MARIA HERNANDO. Hernando, who lives in Boulder, is originally from Buenos Aires, and there's a definite Latin American flavor to her giant flowers, which are done with bold and slashing stokes. Through February 18 at Robischon Gallery, 1740 Wazee Street, 303-298-7788. Reviewed January 26.

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