Western Expansive

Local scenery comes out clear, whether it’s depicted literally or in the abstract.

In "Aspen Grove" and the similar "Tree House," Sushe lays out a predominantly vertical composition juxtaposed with diagonal elements, resulting in a grill-like arrangement of lines that resemble a gate. In a number of other paintings, she embraces spirals as the pieces' underlying structure. In works such as "Flying South and "Birds of a Feather," the viewer's eyes are led in a circular way beginning at the edges of the panels and eventually winding up at the centers. This approach is based on the Indian mandala, a depiction of the universe used as an aid in meditation. Sushe sees these spiral arrangements as infusing her paintings with spiritual content.

Surprisingly, Sushe has incorporated bird shapes into her paintings, making them appear lighthearted, if not whimsical. That's probably why I could easily imagine them being carried out as fabrics or rugs.

Like Tracy, Sushe has been collected by museums, and she, too, does work that is widely compatible with other approaches to the landscape. That may be because she also looks back at the history of regional art, though in her case it's less specific — even if Raymond Jonson does readily come to mind.

"Aspen Grove," by Sushe Felix, acrylic and collage on panel.
"Aspen Grove," by Sushe Felix, acrylic and collage on panel.
"Continuum #1," by Lui Ferreyra, oil on canvas.
"Continuum #1," by Lui Ferreyra, oil on canvas.


Through February 23 at Sandy Carson Gallery, 760 Santa Fe Drive, 303-573-8585, www.sandycarsongallery.com.Through February 23 at William Havu Gallery, 1040 Cherokee Street, 303-893-2360, www.williamhavugallery.com.

Grounded at Sandy Carson and The Nature of Things at William Havu demonstrate that there's much more to Western art than those sentimental takes on the cowboy-and-Indian tradition that are ubiquitous in the area. And with the National Western Stock Show in town, it seems the right time to think about this.

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