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Substance. Don't expect to see anything that might pass for a luxury item in Substance: Diverse Practices From the Periphery, the large and ambitious design show at the Center for Visual Art. Instead, the thoughtful and thought-provoking show, put together by Lisa Abendroth, is given over to design meant to deal with social issues such as the need for clean drinking water and affordable housing. This doesn't mean there aren't beautiful things to see; it's just that beauty is beside the point for Abendroth, who zeroed in on functional attributes to guide her selections. To shift the topic away from "aesthetics," she chose pieces based on how they "changed lives" and not on how they looked. Despite this goal, it's impossible not to observe that the key stylistic issue present is modernism, even if Abendroth didn't want the viewer to notice. This is no surprise, considering that "form follows function" is the anthem of modernism. Plus, the functionalist wing of the movement is alone among contemporary expressions in that it sets out to address human needs. Through November 9 at the Center for Visual Art, 1734 Wazee Street, 303-294-5207. Reviewed October 25.

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