Realist Democracy

Local galleries are filled with representational imagery.

Magyar's methods are traditional, and as a result, there's a naturalism and crispness in his depictions. Though he's still quite young, Magyar's been exhibiting his work for a while, and there are certain things that viewers can expect from him. One regular feature is psychological and narrative content, though the meanings of these story lines are always indecipherable.

In "Cast," one of the first paintings in the show, there's a colossal head of an older man seen in profile. His facial expression is somewhat disquieting, because he's either really pissed or has the weight of the world on his shoulders. "Fašade," an enormous close-up of a wild-haired, wild-eyed young man, also includes added emotional content -- by which I mean the guy in the picture looks crazy.

In the second space at + is Introverted, a solo of new paintings by young artist Robin Schaefer. The oddball paintings, many of them concerning a potato drenched in dramatic light, reveal that Schaefer is an expert technically. The potatoes (and an orange) have been rendered skillfully, with an excruciatingly careful degree of accuracy. And Schaefer is great at orchestrating the whole light/dark dialectic and producing a luminous effect that makes the sprouts on the potatoes seem to glow. I'm not sure she's yet arrived at the ideal subject to showcase her considerable talents -- potatoes have limited appeal -- but the idea of an edgy still life really does have some potential.

"Bardos 6," by Lui Ferreyra, oil on canvas.
"Bardos 6," by Lui Ferreyra, oil on canvas.
Fa├žade, by Wes Magyar, oil on canvas.
Fa├žade, by Wes Magyar, oil on canvas.


Lui Ferreyra
Through June 16, Sandy Carson Gallery, 760 Santa Fe Drive, 303-573-8585

The Barest Trace and Introverted
Through July 8, + Gallery, 2350 Lawrence Street, 303-296- 0927

Jeff Aeling and Hidden Treasures/New Monotypes by Joellyn Duesberry
Through July 1, William Havu Gallery, 1040 Cherokee Street, 303- 893-2360

Gallery director Ivar Zeile often goes for jarring or unlikely comparisons when putting together multiple shows, but The Barest Trace and Introverted work seamlessly together.

Bill Havu, owner of the William Havu Gallery, also has a taste for weird combos, but he, too, came up with a compatible duo this time. In the main space of the gallery is Jeff Aeling, a solo of super-realistic photo-inspired landscapes and seascapes. There are abstracted Western landscapes in the intimate back space, in Joellyn Duesberry: Hidden Treasures, and on the mezzanine, in New Monotypes by Joellyn Duesberry.

Aeling lives in St. Louis for most of the year, but makes summer trips out West. This is part of a long tradition for Midwestern artists, who often come out here for inspiration when their own surroundings are scenery-deprived.

These heroically scaled paintings are mostly about the sky rising above the high plains. Aeling's technical proficiency is breathtaking, and the paintings almost look like blown-up color photos. Clearly, they're based on photos, but Aeling doesn't use projections or any other high-tech shortcuts to get these results. He simply refers to the photos, as he would to sketches.

Duesberry is one of Colorado's most famous contemporary representational artists; her split-level shows feature recent Cézannesque Western landscapes, mostly done on paper. These landscapes are highly abstracted, with smears and swirls of color standing in for the rocks and trees. In the triptych "Chama Cliffs," in Hidden Treasures, Duesberry scribbled in the rock face that runs across the back of all three sheets; the trees in the foreground were done just as loosely. Even more abstract and expressionistic are monotypes such as "Pool & Quarry II" and "Ice Breaks at Chatfield," both in New Monotypes.

The shared palette of all of these pieces is creamy and powdery, and it relies heavily on sunny and earthy tones such as ocher, umber and sienna. In some of the monotypes, Duesberry inserted transparent papers to give the scenes an added sense of depth and a misty, atmospheric quality.

Even with two shows, this is a surprisingly small outing for a big artist such as Duesberry, but it's merely a teaser for a major exhibit of her paintings that's set for this fall at Havu.

Jeff Aeling and Hidden Treasures/New Monotypes have generated brisk sales -- every Duesberry on the mezzanine has sold! -- and there's no mystery why. Though the work at Havu differs little stylistically from the pieces at Sandy Carson and +, the uncluttered subject matter of the landscape is more commercial than people or potatoes. The landscapes at Havu have all the appeal of traditional art, but with the additional glamour of being contemporary. I'm sure that makes for an easy sales pitch.

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