Five to ten years ago, there seemed to always be some kind of over-the-top installation at Edge Gallery (3658 Navajo Street, 303-477-7173), but lately such displays have been few and far between. They do take a lot of effort, after all, and are completely un-sellable.
Being outrageously ambitious and a no-go market-wise are only two of the things that make Industrial Undergrowth, by husband-and-wife team Mark Guilbeau and Rian Kerrane, unusual. The collaborative piece, currently occupying Edge's front space, also includes mown hay lining the wall and a greenhouse-style hoop tent covered in translucent plastic. The latter houses a mixed-media contraption that moves and lights up. I can't imagine what the piece means, but I'll give it a new title in the spirit of Marcel Duchamp: "In Advance of Hay Fever."
Passing from the hay-lined front space into the middle room, which is filled with elegant abstract paintings, requires viewers to go through one of the greatest shifts in sensibility imaginable. If Industrial Undergrowth is odd -- and it is -- Directions in Abstraction is absolutely gorgeous. Mark Brasuell invited four of the best abstractionists who show around here -- Dale Chisman, Clark Richert, Bruce Price and Karen McClanahan -- to join him for this very strong show. The five take individual approaches to abstraction, which is abundantly clear here because each is represented by only a single painting. This is an excellent offering, and I unreservedly recommend it.
Directions in Abstraction sets the bar pretty high, so it's notable that KATHRYN OBERDORFER, the solo ensconced in the back room, is able to clear it. Don't get me wrong: Not everything in this eponymous show is great, but some of the abstract paintings, such as "untitled" (above) are really quite good. And I admire Oberdorfer's nerve in putting her work on the line just steps away from the creations of some of the best artists who exhibit in the area.
Industrial Undergrowth, Directions in Abstraction and KATHRYN OBERDORFER all close on Sunday, April 23.