Sketches

Brief reviews of current shows

 Apparition. The brand-new Gallery Severn, which is owned by art collector and retired executive Andy Dodd, aims to be what he has called a "launch pad" for emerging artists. This specialty in fresh faces instantly makes the place interesting. Also interesting is Dodd's decision to feature only one artist at a time so that the gallery can promote individuals, individually. Limiting inventory in this way seems like a risky business move, but who knows? It might just work. For the inaugural exhibition, Apparition: The Act of Appearing, Dodd chose to highlight abstract paintings by Dante Ortiz, a young artist who is little known in Denver. Born in Colorado, Ortiz was educated at the Rhode Island School of Design, earning degrees in landscape architecture and fine arts. This led directly to his founding of Studio Forma, a landscape design firm in Boulder. Last year he started painting again, creating the abstracts of overlapping color fields set off by enthusiastic scribbles that make up this show. These bright Ortiz paintings look pretty good in the tidy space. Through June 30 at Gallery Severn, 3210 Tejon Street, 303-532-9369.

Emmi Whitehorse et al. Joan Markowitz, senior curator and co-director of the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, has put together a trio of single-artist shows. First is Emmi Whitehorse, a solo dedicated to recent work by the nationally known New Mexico artist. Whitehorse was raised on a Navajo reservation and attended the University of New Mexico before becoming famous in New York during the 1980s. She does abstract paintings and prints that incorporate Navajo imagery and words. Whitehorse recently worked in Lyons, near Boulder, producing prints at Shark's Ink. The second show, Tracy Krumm, highlights this artist's woven-metal sculptures, which explore gender issues by juxtaposing industrial material with the domestic method. Krumm is a teacher of fiber art at the Kansas City Art Institute. The last show is Mica Chamber, a site-specific installation by Colorado artist Rebecca DiDomenico, who has used layers of thousands of mica rectangles and thousands of black-and-white photos to suggest the passage of her life. Through July 29 at the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, 1750 13th Street, Boulder, 303-443-2122.

James McNeill Whistler. For the first time in seventy years, there are no art shows on display at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, that gorgeous New Mexi-deco-style landmark by John Gaw Meem. But that doesn't mean the place is closed down. On the contrary, while the Meem building is being expanded, the CSFAC has opened an annex in downtown Colorado Springs to keep the institution up and running and in the eye of the public. The new space has been dubbed FAC Modern and is located in the Plaza of the Rockies complex. Currently on display there is James McNeill Whistler. Whistler was one of the great artists of the nineteenth century. Born in America, he spent almost his entire career in London and Paris, where he was associated with the impressionists. Despite that connection, he wasn't one of them -- even if he did do many impressionist-style works. The pieces in this show are from the collection of Scotland's Hunterian Art Gallery and include a few small paintings, a handful of objects owned by Whistler and, for the main course, his famous etchings and other works on paper. Through August 20 at FAC Modern, 121 Tejon Street, Colorado Springs, 1-719-634-5581.

New Talent. Space Gallery, one of the top spots in the Santa Fe Arts District, has presented a juried show annually for the past three years. The current edition is titled New Talent, and the jury was made up of Michael Burnett, director of Space; Tyler Aiello, formerly of Studio Aiello and now running the Tar Factory; and Justin Brunelle, owner of Soke Fine Art. There are several problems with this outing, and they can be laid firmly at the feet of the jury. Burnett, Aiello and Brunelle may have had some laughs together, but they made some very dubious picks. And the hanging leaves room for improvement, too, since the show completely falls apart toward the back. However, despite their collective efforts, a few great things did get in somehow. There are a pair of dark, patterned abstracts by Conor O'Donnell, and three mostly black expressionist compositions by Sarah Fox. But the major revelation is the striking and painterly "Michael + Molly," which depicts a male nude holding a dog. The painting is by Wyoming artist Penelope Caldwell, who is little known in Denver. Through June 17 at Space Gallery, 757 Santa Fe Drive, 720-904-1088. Reviewed June 1.

Place. For the past ten years, the Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design has emerged as a local powerhouse, producing more than its fair share of emerging artists. Place: Fine Art Alumni Invitational highlights the work of some recent graduates. But good expectations not withstanding, there are problems with the show -- no theme, for example -- making it something of a disappointment. This is not to say that there aren't things worth seeing, because there are. Those little pigment puzzles by Karen McClanahan are pretty cool. The James Morgan taped paintings showed promise. The same goes for Robin McClure's charming line drawings done directly on the wall using strips of black adhesive vinyl instead of ink. Justin Simoni continues to riff off Andy Warhol in this group of impressive conceptual works. Morgan Barnes is always good, so it's no surprise to see his heavy-duty kinetic sculptures being among the true standouts. Ditto for Colin Livingston, with three of his marvelously deadpan neo-pop pieces included. Through June 10 at the Phillip J. Steele Gallery, Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design, 1600 Pierce Street, 303-753-6046. Reviewed May 18.

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