Sketches

Brief reviews of current shows

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.

roadside attractions. Justin Brunelle's newish Soke Fine Art is adjacent to Space Gallery and connected to it by a doorway. Soke was formerly in Minturn, but Brunelle it moved down to Denver this past spring. roadside attractions spotlights paintings by Scott Lowenbaum, a 22-year-old artist from St. Louis, and marks the artist's Denver debut. Lowenbaum's paintings mostly include simplified renditions of chickens, which sounds cutesy but isn't. He puts the chickens in the foreground and poses them naturalistically. The resulting chickens are flattened forms that have been carried out in bold and cheerful shades, giving them a cartoon-like quality. The backgrounds are brushy suggestions of landscape created in washed-out colors. The paintings are stylistically sophisticated because Lowenbaum refers to an unlikely set of modern movements, including regionalism, color-field abstraction and pop art -- or at least a Midwestern barnyard variant of it. Despite the rural subject, there's an urbane quality to this work. Through July 2 at Soke Fine Art, 7571/2 Santa Fe Drive, 303-718-9042. Reviewed June 1.

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