There are two member shows at Spark Gallery (900 Santa Fe Drive, 720-889-2200) featuring work by established artists. On the gallery's west side is the self-titled Susanna Cavalletti; in the space to the east is Mysteries of Babylon, which highlights recent paintings by Peter Illig. The two are as different as night and day, with the Cavalletti exhibit filled with earthy-colored landscapes and abstractions based on landscapes, and the Illig outing made up of lurid images of forbidden lust done in brassy hues.
Cavalletti is a longtime member of Spark, having joined back in the 1980s. For most of that time she was known as Susanna Cavalletti Podboy, but since her divorce, she's gone back to her birth name. She's also making a change aesthetically, and though there is at least one literal depiction of a landscape, "East, New Light" (pictured) -- which is the kind of thing that's been her signature -- most of the other paintings are abstract. According to Cavalletti, this is the first time she's ever exhibited a body of abstract paintings. Her principal interests in these pieces is in painterly effects and surface features, and the works have an encrusted quality, with smudges of paint put on with knives as opposed to brushes.
With Mysteries of Babylon, Illig continues his exploration of pop imagery from the mid-twentieth century, transferring the graphic sensibilities of that period onto his contemporary figure studies. These paintings were inspired by the covers of dime-store novels from the '50s and '60s about lesbians. The imagery, in classic American illustration style, often features a pair of women who are visibly trying to resist each other's appeal. It was fifty years ago, and that meant that at the end of the book, one woman was going to run off and marry a man, and the other would commit suicide. Illig captures all that pathos and drama in his paintings -- using a lot of red to do it.
On the shows' final day, Saturday, May 12, Cavalletti and Illig will host a reception at Spark from noon to 5 p.m.