Weekend in So Show. Making a striking aesthetic statement is not of paramount importance to Liam Gillick in Weekend in So Show, now at the still-nascent Laboratory for Art and Ideas at Belmar (aka the Lab). Gillick is more interested in telling some kind of story about politics, society and culture, and he uses language along with visual elements to do it. Gillick emerged in the 1990s as part of a generation of artists showing in London dubbed the "YBAs," which stands for Young British Artists. Lab director Adam Lerner invited Gillick to come to Belmar as a visiting artist. While in residence there, he worked with around a dozen students from the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design, which is also in Lakewood. Despite this seeming collaboration, the resulting piece is signature Gillick, right down to the miles of wall text and the elegantly simple three-dimensional elements that recall the work of Donald Judd. Gillick used a documentary made by agitprop collective the Medvedkine Group about a strike in France as the starting point for his intriguing installation about rising expectations. Through April 1 at the Lab at Belmar, 404 South Upham Street, 303-934-1777. Reviewed February 15.
108 Blue Cranes. This exhibit, which showcases the efforts of Yoshitomo Saito, a Japanese-American artist who lives in Colorado, is unbelievably ambitious, with even more pieces than are referred to in the title. Despite this quantity, every single piece has been exquisitely crafted. The expertly executed hanging adds to the show's appeal, and the entire gallery exudes an air of harmony, elegance and sophistication. The show could be read as a retrospective, as there are examples of Saito's work that cover the past twenty years. The earliest pieces are a group of sculptures from his "Box" series, followed by pieces from his "Pillow" series. In 2000, Saito made the first of his flat pieces, breaking away from his interest in three-dimensionality. The oldest of these are casts of corrugated cardboard done in bronze. The "Imagiro" series is the conceptual opposite of origami -- as is the title itself. For these sculptures, Saito took folded cardboard and flattened it before casting it in bronze. His most recent works, including the title piece, "108 Blue Cranes," are bronzes of canvases that actually look like paintings. Through March 17 at Rule Gallery, 227 Broadway, 303-777-9473. Reviewed March 1.