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Capsule reviews of current exhibits

Muniz Remastered. Creating intelligent work with oddball materials, including Bosco chocolate syrup, string, dirt, magazine ads, backhoes and skywriting airplanes, is the signature specialty of Vik Muniz, a Brazilian-born New York artist. His actual medium is photography, which he uses to record the ephemeral images he makes or orchestrates, but in truth, he doesn't consider himself a photographer, and that's understandable. The artist's cleverness and intelligence is shown off to great effect in Muniz Remastered: Photographs From the West Collection, one of the most compelling exhibits in town during this year's strong fall season. The extravaganza was co-curated by Devon Dikeou and Lee Stoetzel and surveys Muniz's outlandish explorations of other people's work, including that of Rembrandt, Géricault and Cezanne. It's too bad the show has not been arranged chronologically, though it looks gorgeous as it is. Plus the ten-year-span covered by this presentation is a relatively short period of time, so everything is essentially from the same era. Through January 20, at the Museo de las Américas, 861 Santa Fe Drive, 303-571-4401. Reviewed November 15.

Optimiste/Pessimisteet al. Ivar Zeile has opened up the front space of his Plus Gallery for a pair of good-looking solos that were brought together as a single show. On the walls are recent abstracts by Frank Martinez that make up Optimiste/Pessimiste. Using loud colors laid out in intriguing organic shapes, Martinez harnesses drips and runs of paint to create patterns that are barely controlled for these works, which represent a major step forward for him. The vivid hues and non-narrative character allow them to work well with the otherwise very different Walk in the Park, a sculptural group by California artist Michael Whiting. A constructivist known for his non-objective sculptures in rectilinear shapes, Whiting has pushed his geometric forms toward representational imagery in his new work by creating a wilderness scene made up of hard-edged takes on nature. Finally, in the niche in the back is Sorry mom but Nipsey Russell...a tiny exhibit of handsome mixed-material paintings-cum-wall-sculptures by Hunt Rettig. Through December 7 at Plus Gallery, 2350 Lawrence Street, 303-296-0927. Reviewed November 22.

Star Power. To celebrate the new Museum of Contemporary Art/Denver by architect David Adjaye, director Cydney Payton has organized seven solos collectively titled Star Power: Museum as Body Electric. The festivities begin on the lower level, where Candice Breitz's "Legend," a grid of video screens on which Jamaicans are singing Bob Marley songs, is installed. On the first floor in the New Media Gallery is "Faces," a mixed-media installation in which a spider form and a skull shape move to music by Carlos Amorales, and in the Photography Gallery are collages by Collier Schorr that explore a really cute teenage boy. On the second floor, in the Paper Works Gallery, there's an exhibition of watercolors of female nudes by Chris Ofili, who, like Adjaye, is an African-born artist who lives in the United Kingdom. In the Project Gallery is an installation called "Whare Shakairo," by Maori-artist Rangi Kipa, meant to rehabilitate Tiki culture. In the Promenade is an installation by Wangechi Mutu. Finally, in the Large Works Gallery is an untitled installation of mirrors by David Altmejd that's really an eye-dazzler. Through February 9 at the MCA/D, 1485 Delgany Street, 303-298-7554.

Works on Paper by Bill Joseph. Bill Joseph, who died in 2003, is best remembered as a sculptor, and several of his pieces are prominently sited downtown. However, Joseph was also adept at making more intimately scaled drawings, as revealed by this display, which includes more than a score of drawings surveying the artist's career from the 1940s to the 1980s. Joseph, born in 1926, began his career in the 1940s as a traditional realist, and several beautiful portraits dating from this time are in the show. But in the late '50s and early '60s, he embraced figural abstraction and stuck with it for most of the rest of his career. This elegant exhibit was organized by Robert St. John, who chose pieces from the artist's estate. Joseph only rarely dated drawings, and once he embraced figural abstraction, his style remained consistent over many decades. This explains why the selections have not been hung chronologically. But it's a shame that neither St. John nor the Joseph family was willing to take a stab at laying them out in order so that viewers could follow his development as an artist. Through December 7 at the O'Sullivan Art Gallery, Regis University, 3333 Regis Boulevard, 303-964-3634. Reviewed November 8.

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