Round Up

Denver is buzzing with interesting, worthwhile shows.

At Havu, there are several major Brangoccios, and all of them are fanciful in their conception. "Living Water II" is almost a typical old-fashioned painting of a bear in the woods, and it actually would be if Brangoccio hadn't put a toy fire truck in the foreground. In "Stumble Bums: Audition," two bison surrounded by discarded shoes face the viewer. In the background is an incredible orange sky that is, on close examination, a scenic backdrop from a theater's stage. Taking in these idiosyncratic Brangoccios brought to mind local master Frank Sampson, who was the subject of a solo last month at Sandy Carson. Those two artists would look great together in some future show.

Gilboy's works would also qualify for this imaginary exhibit, because she also does somewhat surrealistic representational paintings. The topics of most are still-life scenes rendered with a distorted perspective that results in an oddly stilted quality. Gilboy lives in Boulder and was a protegé of Luis Eades (another candidate for that fantasy show) when she was his student many years ago at the University of Colorado.

Upstairs are three-dimensional pieces by Stan Meyer. These striking new sculptures are unexpected even if they are, in retrospect, coming straight out of his signature woven tarpaper wall panels. Maybe it's the colors, or maybe it's the totemic shapes, but for whatever reason, there's a whiff of the Ancient Egyptian to them.

"Nautilus," by Kym Bloom, acrylic on panel.
"Nautilus," by Kym Bloom, acrylic on panel.
"Stumble Bums: Audition," by Michael Brangoccio, 
acrylic on canvas.
"Stumble Bums: Audition," by Michael Brangoccio, acrylic on canvas.


Gwen Laine and Lorelei Schott< br>Through May 12, Sandy Carson Gallery, 760 Santa Fe Drive, 303-573- 8585

Through May 27, Kanon Collective, 766 Santa Fe Drive

Michael Brangoccio, Margaretta Gilboy and Stan Meyer
Through May 6, William Havu Gallery, 1040 Cherokee Street, 303-893-2360

Memory and Desire
Through May 6, Walker Fine Art, 300 West 11th Avenue, 303-355-8955

Meyer's approach has nothing to do with Brangoccio's and Gilboy's, so I was glad his work was separated from theirs by an entire floor and not scattered around through their shows, as so often happens with sculptures.

Sculpture is the matter at hand at Walker Fine Art, across the street and down the block from Havu. Walker, which is one of the city's largest spaces, is on the first floor of that big fat Greek high-rise, the Prado. Though Walker has an address on West 11th Avenue, its front door is actually on Cherokee Street, at the south end of the building.

Currently on exhibit is Memory and Desire, which pairs Montana-based artists Brian Scott and Phoebe Knapp. Scott, who has shown at Walker before, works in metal and glass, creating freestanding metal spires with thick, blown-glass windows in them. The glass is richly colored, and Scott makes most of it from scratch. Even better are his patinated-steel wall panels with thick glass tiles mounted on top. Though of uneven quality, the best of them are extremely nice.

Knapp is interested in monumental sculpture, and the gallery is filled with her gigantic works, such as "Gate," which is so big it wouldn't even fit in most of the city's other art venues. The piece is essentially made of wood, with a pair of low walls flanking an arch in the middle that viewers are able to pass through. Outside in the parking lot is an even bigger piece, also made mostly of wood. Called "Tomb," it's a cage-like pavilion that can be entered. Moving through it, viewers ultimately arrive at a small contemplative space in the middle.

Memory and Desire is admittedly a mixed bag, but Walker should be lauded for having the ambition to mount such a substantial display.

There was a reception at the Kirkland Museum of Fine and Decorative Art last week to introduce representatives of DCI -- a New York-based public-relations firm that will be working with the Denver PR firm of Linhart, McClain Finlon to promote the Mile High City's cultural explosion. Also announced was the launching of a new arts group that's grown out of the Golden Triangle Arts District. Now called the Golden Triangle Museum District, it includes the many museums in the immediate area, such as the Denver Art Museum, the Colorado History Museum, the Kirkland Museum and, soon to come, the Mizel Museum and the Clyfford Still Museum.

Now, I hate to be a party pooper, but I'd like to advocate for the dropping of the "Golden Triangle" part of the name. After all, most of these institutions are not even in the Golden Triangle, but in the greater Civic Center area. How about calling it the Civic Center Museum District? That would be so much better, partly because the Golden Triangle moniker suggests a Chinese restaurant more than it does an area of town.

Though the developers active in the Golden Triangle have argued that the Civic Center is part of their made-up neighborhood, that's hard to stomach. The Civic Center has been where it is for nearly a century and has an established character that predates the unfortunate "Golden Triangle" branding from the 1980s. Not only that, but the Civic Center already has an identity -- with no help from PR firms -- something that the Golden Triangle has failed to accomplish despite a couple of decades of trying.

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