Weilworks (3611 Chestnut Place, 303-308-9345) is an elegant little contemporary gallery in the River North area, not far from downtown. It's in a smart-looking building that's something like a post-modern farmhouse. For the current offerings, which opened late in June, owner Tracy Weil wanted to come up with something that would informally and unofficially celebrate PrideFest 2006. At first he thought about doing a group outing highlighting the work of gay and lesbian artists in the area, but ultimately he settled on a pair of interesting solos.
In the handsome and chaste main gallery, furnished in mid-century modern pieces that could have come off the set of the original Star Trek, Weil presents New Work by Jimmy Sellars, which is dominated by a group of provocative if beautiful male nudes. Sellars has made a name for himself with digital images of GI Joe dolls in lieu of actual models. The resulting works have the quality of pornographic beefcake pictures even though the dolls are not anatomically correct. That's not the case with the computer-enabled drawings at weilworks, which are executed in giclée prints: In each, the main attraction is a penis, which is placed in the center of the composition. The images look as though they are appropriated, but Sellars claims that although they were inspired by photos or web shots, he drew them by hand instead of simply copying them.
It's interesting, considering all of the references to porn, that the resulting giclées also evoke the work of Matisse, with the reclining figures set in detail-filled rooms covered with patterns, as in "Estevan's Blue Sheets".
In the exhibition tower, an innovative use of the weilworks stairway that leads up to the open-air observation deck, there's New Work by Ayn Toppin, featuring contemporary figural painting with an edgy gender-bending twist. The paintings are striking and somewhat jarring, as in the self-portrait in which the artist sports a mustache. This show marks Toppin's Denver debut, with the twenty-something having only recently graduated from Colorado State University in Fort Collins, where she still lives.
The unusual solos by Jimmy Sellars and Ayn Toppin at weilworks close on July 21, with a send-off party scheduled for that night from 6 to 9 p.m.