Mile High Steel, Marilyn Monroe and Erika Blumenfeld

Photography is highlighted at three central Denver galleries.

To get back to the present and the more familiar realm of contemporary art, head over to Rule Gallery, where ERIKA BLUMENFELD: Enduring Light is on display. After being closed for nearly nine months, Rule is back up and running, with the rehabbed space looking very swank -- especially with the minimalist works of Blumenfeld only minimally filling it.

The artist, who lives in New Mexico, is a conceptualist who reduces photography to nothing more than light and photo-sensitive surfaces. She doesn't even use a camera, for heaven's sake -- well, not a conventional one, anyway. Instead she builds what gallery director Robin Rule calls Blumenfeld's version of pinhole cameras.

On the south wall is a series of fifteen photos done as Chromogenic prints on corrugated aluminum and collectively titled "Light Recording: Greatest Lunar Apogee/Perigee." These images, realized on photo-sensitive papers, record the relationship of the moon to the earth. The moon can't be seen in the first few shots because it's at its apogee, but it slowly grows in the sequence of photos as it gradually reaches its perigee.

"Marilyn Monroe; Toby Beach, N.Y.," by Andre de Dienes.
"Marilyn Monroe; Toby Beach, N.Y.," by Andre de Dienes.


Mile High Steel
Through January 31, Gallery Roach, 860 Broadway, 303-839-5202.

Marilyn Monroe: Beginning to End
Through December 31, Camera Obscura Gallery, 1309 Bannock Street, 303-623-4059.

Through December 9, Rule Gallery, 227 Broadway, 303-777-9473.

Opposite these is a group dominated by luminous blue fields with glowing golden-white orbs at the centers. These photos are from Blumenfeld's "Moving Light" series of Chromogenic prints on aluminum panels, and they depict the sun as it progresses from the vernal equinox to the summer solstice. Rule has included three of these "Moving Light" photos from a set of 93 -- one was done each day between the two events -- but the entire series is being projected on the back wall in an animated DVD loop.

Between the "Moving Light" photos and the DVD is "Fractions of Light & Time," in which Blumenfeld records the light at various times of day. The pieces at Rule were all done during the last year in Marfa, Texas, which is something of a pilgrimage town for minimalism because of the many Donald Judd and Dan Flavin installations displayed on an old military base there. The images, principally blue with a streak of light on one of the edges, have been hung in a grid of fifteen. Together they are reminiscent of a basket-weave pattern because of the linear character of the light streaks and the bars created by the blue grounds.

Blumenfeld's photos are extremely abstract, as they are composed only of light and dark hues and include absolutely no recognizable imagery. They actually look more like paintings than photos. I thought they were beautiful, though I realize they will have limited appeal for some. But no one can deny that they are perfectly in keeping with the style long associated with this particular gallery, which has maintained a true continuity with the well-established sensibility of the old Rule space.

Robin Rule's new gallery looks really sharp, with dazzlingly white walls, a row of structural columns and a polished concrete floor. If you haven't been there yet, check it out before the Blumenfeld show comes down on December 9.

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