Every other year, the University of Denver's School of Art and Art History teaches a very interesting class called the Marsico Curatorial Practicum. It's an outgrowth of the special relationship DU has with Vail mega-collectors Vicki and Kent Logan, who open their collection to the school and allow art students to personally interact with the works and to meet personally with the couple. The practicum then lets students use the Logans' collection for an exhibition.
The first of these class projects was In Limbo, mounted in 2005, and now the second, Negotiating Reality, is on view at the Victoria H. Myhren Gallery (2121 East Asbury Avenue, 303-871-2846). Putting the show together began last year when gallery director Dan Jacobs led a class of nineteen students to survey the Logans' personal collection. They selected a theme for the show, came up with a title, chose works to be included, created a catalogue and prepared all the publicity materials -- everything they'll have to do when they're in the real world of exhibitions. What a great experience it must have been for those involved.
The show the students produced has no apparent theme. Instead, it struck me as a random sampling of the Logans' taste, which tends toward various styles of realism, including surrealism, with nearly all of the work falling into some conceptual framework. The students themselves acknowledge as much in the press release: "The diversity of viewpoints, mood, content, "style" and artistic strategies became central topics of the whole project." In other words, the only unifying aspect of the show is that the pieces are unrelated. But wait a minute: Since everything the Logans collect could be characterized as conceptual realism, there is an underlying pattern after all.
Among the best works are Hiraki Sawa's giant, conventionally rendered songbird in marble, Torben Giehler's neo-cubist taped painting of a mountain, and George Condo's ridiculous cartoon painting of a young woman (pictured).
Negotiating Reality runs through November 14 at DU's Myhren Gallery.