Sketches

Brief reviews of current shows

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.

Denver's Pictorial Photographer. The Colorado Photographic Art Center no longer has a permanent home, but it's still going. The group has held on to its impressive permanent collection, which is where the material for Denver's Pictorial Photographer at Gallery Roach comes from. The title refers to R. Ewing Stiffler's work done in the pictorialist style in the early-twentieth century. As opposed to following the documentary tradition, which dominated early photography, pictorial photographers responded to painting. A signature example is Stiffler's "Labor Glorified," from 1925. In truth, however, not everything in the show is pictorialist, which makes the title slightly misleading. Stiffler was born in 1888 in Missouri but came to Denver as a teenager, graduating from East High School in 1908. Among the several colleges he attended was the Chicago Art Institute. The CPAC show at Roach is a rare opportunity to see Stiffler's work, with some of the pieces not having been exhibited since 1935, when the Denver Art Museum mounted a pictorialist group show. This is the first of many CPAC shows that will be installed around town. Through April 29 at Gallery Roach, 860 Broadway, 303-839-5202.

Don Stinson, Kevin O'Connell and David Sharpe. One of the many strengths of the Robischon Gallery, the city's standard for contemporary art, is its support of Colorado artists. Right now, three of the state's most important artists are being given individual solos there: Don Stinson: Shared Sky/Natural Forces, made up of contemporary representational paintings of the Western landscape, depicted as both decrepit and majestic; Kevin O'Connell, which comprises meticulous little photographs from various series, including "Lightning Studies" and "False Aurora"; and David Sharpe: Lost Altars, featuring the artist's latest pinhole photographs printed as heroic enlargements. This trio of solos, along with work by Eric Paddock and Chuck Forsman in the Viewing Room, showcases some of the best artists in the state. Sadly, O'Connell, one of the finest photographers ever to have worked in Colorado, is now struggling with cancer, though he valiantly made the opening. Through April 8 at the Robischon Gallery, 1740 Wazee Street, 303-298-7788.

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.

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