Sketches

Brief reviews of current shows

Emilio Lobato and Martha Daniels. The solos that open the season at William Havu Gallery combine the disparate work of two of the area's best-known and well-regarded artists. On the walls is Emilio Lobato: Desde Siempre (Since Forever), which comprises the artist's signature abstractions. The title refers to Lobato's self-exploration and to the fact that he can't remember not being an artist; he feels he's been creating art "since forever." The title is also meant to salute his great-grandfathers, both of whom were weavers, with Lobato laying in patterns of wavy lines across his geometric compositions, giving them an almost folk-art quality. Installed around the gallery is Martha Daniels, made up of large-scale figural sculptures and architectonic towers. In her work, Daniels riffs off the history of ceramics, combining the unlikely pairing of Mediterranean and Asian influences. Among Daniels's many strengths are her surfaces, which look like paint even though they are glaze, and her signature shapes, which are outrageously expressive. Through October 28 at William Havu Gallery, 1040 Cherokee Street, 303-893-2360. Reviewed September 21.

Extended Remix. MCA curator and director Cydney Payton is doing hermeneutics by interpreting her own interpretations. This past summer, Payton oversaw the MCA's most ambitious offering, Decades of Influence, and for her followup, she organized Extended Remix, pairing some of the artists she chose for Decades with artists she had left out. The title, Extended Remix, refers to the musical process whereby DJs create new compositions by combining disparate material -- exactly what Payton did for this exhibit. Decades artists such as Bruce Price, Clark Richert and Kim Dickey are joined by artists who weren't part of that show, among them Paul Gillis, Mary Ehrin and Carley Warren. The work of several emerging talents, including Matthew Larson and Steve Read, is also here. Remix is a great idea, even if it isn't all that different from a typical museum change-out. With thirty artists, the MCA is filled to over-flowing, so the Gates Sculpture Triangle is serving as a museum annex in order to showcase additional pieces. Through January 7 at the Museum of Contemporary Art/Denver, 1275 19th Street, 303-298-7554.

Fantôme Afrique. After a couple of years in preparation, the Laboratory of Art and Ideas at Belmar has opened with Fantôme Afrique, a three-screen film by British artist Isaac Julien. In it, Julien focuses on the cinema culture in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, a center for African film. The title is a play on L'Afrique Fantôme, a book by Michel Leiris, who was a surrealist and an ethnographer. Julien's intention is to show how Western culture has affected Africa, which is the opposite of what Leiris did in his book. The images of dancers, buildings and movies set to a soundtrack are hypnotic and lyrical. Less than twenty minutes long, it will run on a continuous loop projected onto a wall. Called the Lab for short, this place aims to showcase vanguard art in the suburbs. The Lab's director, Adam Lerner, served as master teacher in the Denver Art Museum's department of modern and contemporary art. The Lab may be found amid McDonald's and Bed, Bath & Beyonds, but Lerner sees as being between McSweeney's and Burning Man. Actually, it's above Zales. Through December 30 at the Laboratory of Art and Ideas at Belmar, 404 South Upham Street, 303-742-1520.

Heaven and Earth. The Museo de las Américas is mostly given over to exhibitions of contemporary art that carry political messages. For Heaven and Earth, however, the institution turned its sights on historic art from Mexico, borrowing from the Jan and Frederick Mayer Collection of Spanish Colonial Art at the Denver Art Museum. In addition to the DAM, the Museo also collaborated with the Agency for Architecture, which designed environments for the pieces to sit in. Mexico was a Spanish colony from 1521 to 1850, thus Spain was the main source for cultural ideals. The Spanish made it their goal to convert the indigenous people to Roman Catholicism, and this show focuses on the religious art that played a role in that. Religious subjects, often commissioned by churches, convents and monasteries, represent the main aesthetic interest for Mexican artists of that time, and, as could be expected, there's no shortage of images of the Virgin, the Crucifixion and the saints. However, the exhibit ultimately reveals that Mexican art is not comparable to Spanish art, despite Spain's key role in its development. Through October 8 at the Museo de las Américas, 861 Santa Fe Drive, 303-571-4401.

James Surls, Ligia Bouton and Shark's. The Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art has gotten a jump on the upcoming season with the star attraction James Surls: A Cut Above, which features selected works by the famous sculptor who made his name in Texas in the '80s but has lived in Colorado since 1998. Surls's medium of choice is carved wood, and his signature is leaving the wood in its subtle array of natural colors. After carving, he assembles his sinuously cut forms into unlikely arrangements, often hanging them from the ceiling. Also on tap is Ligia Bouton: Hybrids, a video that explores identity though wardrobe with a decidedly feminist stamp; Bouton, who lives in Santa Fe, juxtaposes images of herself wearing different outfits like a burkha on one side and a tutu on the other. Finally there's Woodcut Prints From Shark's Ink: Out of the Woods, with works on paper by Betty Woodman, Red Grooms, John Buck, Roy De Forest and others, produced by Bud Shark in his famous print shop in nearby Lyons. Through October 14 at the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, 1750 13th Street, Boulder, 303-443-2122.

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